Thursday, October 13, 2005

Mrs. Greenspan fingers Ari Fleischer

viaDemocratic Underground - Andrea Mitchell IDs Colin Powell's role in Plamegate
Plame obsessives will remember a Washington Post article in which a "Senior administration source" is quoted as having seen several administration officials, including Ari Fleischer, peruse a classified memo that identified Valerie Plame. This occurred on July 7, aboard AF1, as Bush and his entourage were en route to Africa. The memo was prepared for Colin Powell, who was aboard the flight. Many have assumed that it was Powell himself who not only observed these administration officials read the memo, but also saw them call reporters while still on board. Many have guessed that Powell testified to this before Fitzgerald and also leaked this information to the WP. According to the WP, the "senior official" said of the leak: "Clearly, it was meant purely and simply for revenge."

Tonight on Hardball, Mrs. Greenspan was discussing the possibility of indictments that went beyond the usual suspects, Libby and Rove. Mitchell said (I'm paraphrasing), yes, there definitely could be other indictments--Colin Powell said he saw Ari Fleischer read the memo identifying Valerie Plame aboard AF1.

Sure, the fact that Ms. Mitchell fingered Powell as loose-lipped matters, but not the way it would have a few months ago. Powell has already made himself at home in his own political twilight zone, and the White House is no longer capable of muzzling the multiude of whisperers these days.

But publicly fingering Fleischer is interesting. From an old Talk Left post:
People familiar with the inquiry say Fitzgerald also is reviewing testimony by former White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer, though it is not clear whether the prosecutor is focusing on him or seeking information about higher-ups. Fleischer last night refused to comment.
We know that Fitzgerald subpoenaed the complete transcript of his July 12, 2003 press gaggle conducted at a hospital in Nigeria. We know that he subpoenaed telephone records for Air Force One during a portion of the trip. We also know that he subpoenaed the July 6 to July 30, 2003 records of the White House Iraq Group, a public relations kind of task force formed by Cheney's staff to promote the Administrations' view of the war.

We also know that the White House won't release the names of those who accompanied President Bush on the trip, although we know that Condoleeza Rice, Colin Powell and Andrew Card were with him.

Why would Fitzgerald want these documents? I don't think it's to get Ari Fleischer. I think it's to catch Lewis Libby and others on Vice President Cheney's staff, and/or Karl Rove, who attended almost all the White House Iraq Group meetings, in a lie. Ari Fleischer's statements may lead Fitzgerald to the lie - and establish a conspiracy to out a covert agent or obstruct justice - or perjury or false statements to federal investigators by these White House officials.

Getting to the inflection point in prosecuting a complex, multi-layer conspiracy is a tough, long slog. But the fun part is where we are right now -- the prosecutor has enough to make sure someone falls hard, and those who once marched in lockstep begin to stumble about randomly in their attempts to dodge the blow.

Ari Fleischer probably stonewalled when he thought the thousand year reich would reward his adherence to omerta. Now that the junta has retreated to its bunker, and is likely to complete its fall by year's end, my guess is Ari is merely one of many offering up the goods in exchange for the indugence of Patrick Fitzgerald.


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