Monday, April 10, 2006

Who Wanted What January 24th 2003 Document Declassified ?

Emptywheel Quotes from Fitzgerald's latest filing and comments

Defendant testified in the grand jury that he understood that even in the days following his conversation with Ms. Miller, other key officials – including Cabinet level officials – were not made aware of the earlier declassification even as those officials were pressed to carry out a declassification of the NIE, the report about Wilson’s trip and another classified document dated January 24, 2003.

I've got a really good idea about what that document is. I'm betting it's a draft of Bush's State of the Union address, dated after the time when Bush's speechwriter took out damaging references to Niger and amounts of yellowcake.

I would like to mention another possibility. Recall from the Gellman Linzer article in the Washington Post

The [national intelligence] council's reply, drafted in a January 2003 memo by the national intelligence officer for Africa, was unequivocal: The Niger story was baseless and should be laid to rest. Four U.S. officials with firsthand knowledge said in interviews that the memo, which has not been reported before, arrived at the White House as Bush and his highest-ranking advisers made the uranium story a centerpiece of their case for the rapidly approaching war against Iraq.

Could the January 24th document be the memo from the national intelligence council. the timing is roughly correct. Of course the White House would not press anyone to declassify the memo, but note Fitzgerald's use of the passive voice "those officials were pressed to carry out a declassification." Perhaps they were being pressed by the CIA which was eager to prove that they were not to blame for the 16 words in the State of the Union Address. If someone from the CIA did so so, he was told "Sorry George that document can not be released because it is too sensitive" and it just would not do for that person (who happens to be of cabinet rank) to know that the President had suddenly leaked, sorry declassified, lies about the exact same issue in the equally sensitive national intelligence estimate would it ?

My guess is that the document that someone was pressed to declassify in July 2003 was the memo which said the Niger story was baseless.

Emptywheel also has a great quote of Rice basically admitting that the White House had been so informed before the state of the union address.

in a botched comment in a press gaggle on July 11 in Africa, Condi admitted the following:

Q If I could just follow up. On that sentence, you said that the CIA changed the -- that things were done to accommodate the CIA. What was done?

DR. RICE: Some specifics about amount and place were taken out.

Q -- taken out then?

DR. RICE: Some specifics about amount and place were taken out.

Q Was "place" Niger?

Q You won't say what place --

DR. RICE: No, there are several -- there are several African countries noted. And if you say -- if you notice, it says "Africa," it doesn't say "Niger."

Rice is clearly wrong footed. She is usually quite good at misleading without lying, but in this case she says something about an early draft of the state of the union address, then attempts to retract that statement by discussing the final version delivered by Bush. Clearly she realised that she had said too much about communication about Niger from the intelligence community to the White House in January 2003.

Finally click on the link already and wonder if Robert Joseph and Alan Foley committed perjury in their testimony before the SSCI.

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