Sunday, May 21, 2006

[political-researchp] Bloglines - "A Complete Straight Shooter"

Riding With The Virtual Mongol Horde 24/7.... Would You Believe, 2/5?.

"A Complete Straight Shooter"

By Tom Maguire

The defenders of the true faith are braced for a long weekend. No, we aren't talking about the Da Vinci code - we are talking about Joe Wilson's defenders and the pushback on Steve Clemons' story that former Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage is "in the crosshairs" of the Fitzgerald investigation into the Plame leak.

Let's go to the latest Clemons column, with multiple pushbacks from Armitage supporters:

(1) Bobby Ray Inman's claims are "BS", claimed one very prominent Washington insider;

(2) Another well-placed insider who has interacted directly with many of the key personalities involved in the investigation wrote this to me:

I'm sure Inman is wrong on Armitage...

(3) Another person whom I can't identify but has direct knowledge of the direction of Fitzgerald's investigation as it pertains to Armitage and Rove stated that what Inman claims "is not the case". This source offered further that one "would be on 100 percent solid ground" with the claim that Armitage would NOT be indicted.

Let's score those as denials. But now, on to the hagiography:

Two sources have reported that Richard Armitage has testified three times before the grand jury and has completely cooperated and has been, as one source reported, "a complete straight-shooter" and "honest about his role and mistakes".

Oh, stop - Armitage did not even mention to Special Counsel Fitzgerald his leak to Woodward until after Libby's indictment was handed down. How honest was that?

And there does not seem to be any question of his having forgotten - per Woodward's account to Viveca Novak, Woodward had approached his source "twice before, once in 2004 and once earlier this year, to persuade the source to remove the confidentiality restriction, but with no success."

Or per the timeline offered by the Armitage supporters, "as soon as Armitage realized mistakes he had made, he marched into Colin Powell and laid out "everything" in full detail.".

Well, Condi Rice became Secretary of State in January 2005; unless Armitage was overcome by a desire to rehash old times and errors with his former boss, he must have spoken to Powell long before Libby was indicted in October 2005.

Steve Clemons also tells us "I have learned from several other sources that Richard Armitage was neck deep in the Valerie Plame story."

But what is missing from all this pushback is any attempt to claim that Stephen Hadley was the source for the Woodward and Novak leaks. That is a position held by Raw Story, TruthOut's Jason Leopold, and maybe not many others. So perhaps we can take it as settled that Armitage leaked to Woodward and Novak.

But why do Joe Wilson's fans care that Armitage be kept out of this story if possible? Because the original framing of this leak as told by Joe Wilson and the media on the talk show circuit was that it was a vicious smear campaign organized by the White House to punish a noble whistleblower who had dared to expose Bush's lies about the war. (And notice how Katie Couric plays along - Joe Wilson correctly attributes the leak to "administration" official, which was what Novak cited, but she locks in on "White House" officials, and never lets go.)

Since Richard Armitage was in the State Department and not known as a vigorous war advocate, he does not fit well into the story line about a brutal Cheney-led conspiracy. Awkward. Well, my guess is that in order to preserve a bit of the Armitage street-cred, his supporters have told Steve Clemons this:

...the information provided by Richard Armitage is -- more than any other information -- what has put Karl Rove at major risk of indictment.

There you go - Richard Armitage leaked about Plame to Woodward, leaked about her to Novak, forgot to disclose the Woodward chat to Fitzgerald, and... he is a hero of the investigation because he nailed Rove. Uh huh.

Interestingly, this Armitage spin is being greeted with skepticism by some left-leaning observers and commenters. Troubling - with Armitage in the story the relevant attack theme can be expanded from the Evil Neocons to the Incompetent Republicans. But can the anti-war left switch gears, expand their target zone and sideline Joe Wilson on this story? Doubtful.

And I am still contemplating my talking points. De facto confirmation that Armitage leaked to Woodward and Novak is delightful, since it puts a torpedo in the vicious White House conspiracy theory. However, if Armitage actually were indicted for having a bad memory, that would make it harder to squawk about Libby and Rove being victims of a selective prosecution. And it seems that Armitage is under no threat of a indictment for actually outing a covert agent, which lends weight to the "no-underlying crime" theme.

Right now, it's all good.

And if anyone hears about a Rove indictment, do let us know. Last fall, Drudge put up a flash the night before, but maybe it will go down at 7 PM today. Maybe. Keep hope alive!

MORE: As the sun sets on my good mood - setting aside the denials above, some of which are implausible anyway, why can't Fitzgerald indict both Rove and Armitage for obstruction/perjury/bad memory/bad attitude? And in the country at large, won't headlines blaring "Two Senior Admin Officials Indicted" be ghastly? Will the focus be on lying Republicans, or forgetful ones?

I understand that some folks think Fitzgerald will only indict the architects of the war, but if he focuses instead on the people who disrupted his investigation, Rove and Armitage would be plausible targets.


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