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Richard Lee Armitage


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I thought Richard Lee Armitage deserved his own thread. I know he was too young to be involved in the assassination of JFK but he was a close associate of those who did carry out the assassination and was an important figure in corrupt activities in Laos, Vietnam, Iran and Afghanistan. Also, there is virtually nothing on the web that illustrates his corrupt past.

Richard Lee Armitage was born on 26th April, 1945. Armitage graduated from the United States Naval Academy in 1967. He joined the United States Navy and served on a destroyer stationed in Vietnam during the Vietnam War. This eventually resulted in him becoming an advisor to the Vietnamese naval forces.

In 1973 joined the office of the U.S. Defense Attache in Saigon. Here he became involved with Ted Shackley, the CIA chief in South Vietnam. According to Joel Bainerman (The Crimes of a President) Shackley and his Secret Team (Thomas G. Clines, Carl E. Jenkins, David Morales, Raphael Quintero, Felix Rodriguez and Edwin Wilson) became involved in the drug trade while serving in Laos. They did this via General Vang Pao, the leader of the anti-communist forces in Laos. Vang Pao was a major figure in the opium trade in Laos. To help him Shackley used his CIA officials and assets to sabotage the competitors. Eventually Vang Pao had a monopoly over the heroin trade in Laos. Shackley and Clines helped Vang Pao to obtain financial backing to form his own airline, Zieng Khouang Air Transport Company, to transport opium and heroin between Long Tieng and Vientiane.

Shackley also brought others into his drug operation. This included Richard L. Armitage, a US Navy official based in Saigon's US office of Naval Operations, and Major General Richard Secord. According to Daniel Sheehan: “From late 1973 until April of 1975, Theodore Shackley, Thomas Clines and Richard Armitage disbursed, from the secret, Laotian-based, Vang Pao opium fund, vastly more money than was required to finance even the highly intensified Phoenix Project in Vietnam. The money in excess of that used in Vietnam was secretly smuggled out of Vietnam in large suitcases, by Richard Secord and Thomas Clines and carried into Australia, where it was deposited in a secret, personal bank account (privately accessible to Theodore Shackley, Thomas Clines and Richard Secord). During this same period of time between 1973 and 1975, Theodore Shackley and Thomas Clines caused thousands of tons of US weapons, ammunition, and explosives to be secretly taken from Vietnam and stored at a secret "cache" hidden inside Thailand." This money, with the help of Raphael Quintero, found its way into the Nugan Hand Bank in Sydney. The bank was founded by Michael Hand, a CIA operative in Laos and Frank Nugan an Australian businessman.

Saigon fell to the NLF in April, 1975. The Vietnam War was over and Armitage moved to Washington to serve as a consultant for the United States Department of Defense. He was immediately sent to Iran. In Tehran, Armitage, set up a secret "financial conduit" inside Iran, into which secret Vang Pao drug funds could be deposited from Southeast Asia. According to Daniel Sheehan: “The purpose of this conduit was to serve as the vehicle for secret funding by Shackley's "Secret Team," of a private, non-CIA authorized "Black" operations inside Iran, disposed to seek out, identify, and assassinate socialist and communist sympathizers, who were viewed by Shackley and his "Secret Team" members to be "potential terrorists" against the Shah of Iran`s government in Iran. In late 1975 and early 1976, Theodore Shackley and Thomas Clines retained Edwin Wilson to travel to Tehran, Iran to head up the "Secret Team" covert "anti-terrorist" assassination program in Iran.”

As a result of State Department internal investigation, Armitage was forced to resign his post. He moved to Bangkok where he ran the Far East Trading Company. According to Leslie Cockburn (Out of Control), Armitage "carried on funneling drug money out of the Southeast Asia and into Nugan-Hand and elsewhere."

In 1978 he became an aide to Bob Dole. Two years later he became foreign policy advisor to President Ronald Reagan. In 1981 he was appointed as Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for East Asia and Pacific Affairs in the Pentagon. In this post Armitage played a leading role in Middle East Security Policies.

On 17th March, 1983, Donald Gregg had a secret meeting with Felix Rodriguez and George H. W. Bush in the White House. As a result the National Security Council established a secret scheme to provide aid to the Contras in Nicaragua. Rodriguez agreed to run the Contra supply depot in El Salvador. In a memo written to Robert McFarlane, Gregg argued that the plan grew out of the experience of running "anti-Vietcong operations in Vietnam from 1970-1972". Gregg added that "Felix Rodriguez, who wrote the attached plan, both worked for me in Vietnam and carried out the actual operations outlined above."

On 21st December, 1984, Gregg met with Felix Rodriguez and George H. W. Bush. This led to Gregg introducing Rodriguez to Oliver North. Later, Bush wrote a note to North where he thanked him for "your dedication and tireless work with the hostage thing and with Central America."

In October, 1985, Congress agreed to vote 27 million dollars in non-lethal aid for the Contras in Nicaragua. However, members of the Ronald Reagan administration, including George Bush, decided to use this money to provide weapons to the Contras and the Mujahideen in Afghanistan.

Gene Wheaton was recruited to use National Air to transport these weapons. He agreed but began to have second thoughts when he discovered that Richard Secord was involved in the operation and in May 1986 Wheaton told William Casey, director of the CIA, about what he knew about this illegal operation. Casey refused to take any action, claiming that the agency or the government were not involved in what later became known as Irangate.

Wheaton now took his story to Daniel Sheehan, a left-wing lawyer. Wheaton told him that Thomas G. Clines and Ted Shackley had been running a top-secret assassination unit since the early 1960s. According to Wheaton, it had begun with an assassination training program for Cuban exiles and the original target had been Fidel Castro.

Wheaton also contacted Newt Royce and Mike Acoca, two journalists based in Washington. The first article on this scandal appeared in the San Francisco Examiner on 27th July, 1986. As a result of this story, Congressman Dante Facell wrote a letter to the Secretary of Defense, Casper Weinberger, asking him if it "true that foreign money, kickback money on programs, was being used to fund foreign covert operations." Two months later, Weinberger denied that the government knew about this illegal operation.

On 5th October, 1986, a Sandinista patrol in Nicaragua shot down a C-123K cargo plane that was supplying the Contras. That night Felix Rodriguez made a telephone call to the office of George H. W. Bush. He told Bush aide, Samuel Watson, that the C-123k aircraft had gone missing.

Eugene Hasenfus, an Air America veteran, survived the crash and told his captors that he thought the CIA was behind the operation. He also provided information that several Cuban-Americans running the operation in El Salvador. This resulted in journalists being able to identify Rafael Quintero, Luis Posada and Felix Rodriguez as the Cuban-Americans mentioned by Hasenfus.

In an article in the Washington Post (11th October, 1986), the newspaper reported that George Bush and Gregg were linked to Felix Rodriguez. It gradually emerged that Armitage, William Casey, Thomas G. Clines, Oliver North, Edwin Wilson and Richard Secord were also involved in this conspiracy to provide arms to the Contras.

On 12th December, 1986, Daniel Sheehan submitted to the court an affidavit detailing the Irangate scandal. He also claimed that Thomas G. Clines and Ted Shackley were running a private assassination program that had evolved from projects they ran while working for the CIA. Others named as being part of this assassination team included Rafael Quintero, Richard Secord, Felix Rodriguez and Albert Hakim. It later emerged that Gene Wheaton and Carl E. Jenkins were the two main sources for this affidavit.

Six days after the publication of Sheehan's affidavit, William Casey underwent an operation for a "brain tumor". As a result of the operation, Casey lost the power of speech and died, literally without ever talking. On 9th February, Robert McFarlane, another person involved in the Iran-Contra Scandal, took an overdose of drugs.

In November, 1986, Ronald Reagan set-up a three man commission (President's Special Review Board). The three men were John Tower, Brent Scowcroft and Edmund Muskie. Armitage was interviewed by the committee. He admitted that he had arranged a series of meetings between Menachem Meron, the director general of Israel's Ministry of Defence, with Oliver North and Richard Secord. However, he denied that he discussed the replenishment of Israeli TOW missiles with Meron.

Armitage also claimed that he first learned that Israel had shipped missiles to Iran in 1985 when he heard William Casey testify on 21st November, 1986 that the United States had replenished Israel's TOW missile stocks. According to Lawrence E. Walsh, who carried out the official investigation into the scandal (Iran-Contra: The Final Report), claims that Armitage did not tell the truth to the President's Special Review Board. "Significant evidence from a variety of sources shows that Armitage's knowledge predated Casey's testimony. For instance, a North notebook entry on November 18, 1986, documents a discussion with Armitage about Israel's 1985 arms shipments to Iran - three days before Armitage supposedly learned for the first time that such shipments has occurred."

Walsh also adds that "classified evidence obtained from the Government of Israel... and evidence from North and Secord show that during the period Meron met with Armitage, Meron was discussing arms shipments to Iran and Israel's need for replenishment. Secord and North, on separate occasions, directed Meron to discuss these issues with Armitage."

The report implicated Oliver North, John Poindexter, Casper Weinberger and several others but did not mention the role played by George H. W. Bush. It also claimed that Ronald Reagan had no knowledge of what had been going on.

The House Select Committee to Investigate Covert Arms Transactions with Iran was also established by Congress. The most important figure on the committee was the senior Republican member, Richard Cheney. As a result George H. W. Bush was totally exonerated when the report was published on 18th November, 1987. The report did state that Reagan's administration exhibited "secrecy, deception and disdain for the law."

Oliver North and John Poindexter were indicted on multiple charges on 16th March, 1988. North, indicted on twelve counts, was found guilty by a jury of three minor counts. The convictions were vacated on appeal on the grounds that North's Fifth Amendment rights may have been violated by the indirect use of his testimony to Congress which had been given under a grant of immunity. Poindexter was also convicted of lying to Congress, obstruction of justice, conspiracy, and altering and destroying documents pertinent to the investigation. His convictions were also overturned on appeal.

When George H. W. Bush became president he set about rewarding those who had helped him in the cover-up of the Iran-Contra Scandal. Bush appointed Armitage as a negotiator and mediator in the Middle East. Donald Gregg was appointed as his ambassador to South Korea. Brent Scowcroft became his chief national security adviser and John Tower became Secretary of Defence. When the Senate refused to confirm Tower, Bush gave the job to Richard Cheney. Several others, including Casper Weinberger, who was indicted for lying to the Independent Counsel, and Robert McFarlane, were pardoned by Bush.

In 1991 Armitage became special emissary to King Hussein of Jordan. In 1992 Bush sent Armitage to Europe where he directed U.S. foreign aid to the states that had been formed out of the old Soviet Union.

Armitage lost office when George Bush was defeated by Bill Clinton. He returned to the private sector but remained involved in politics. In 1998 Armitage was one of those who signed "The Project for the New American Century" that was sent to President Clinton in 1998. The letter urged Clinton to target the removal of Saddam Hussein from Iraq before he created weapons of mass destruction. The main intention of the letter was to protect Israel from Arab countries in the Middle East.

During the 2000 U.S. Presidential election campaign Armitage served as a foreign policy advisor to George W. Bush. After his victory, Bush appointed Armitage as his Deputy Secretary of State. He left office on 22nd February, 2005 when he was replaced by Robert Zoellick.

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I have now created a web page for Richard Lee Armitage:

http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/JFKarmitage.htm

Namebase entry for Armitage:

http://www.namebase.org/main4/Richard-L-Armitage.html

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  • 3 months later...

According to an article in Newsweek written by David Corn and Michael Isikoff, it was Richard L. Armitage who identified Valerie Plame as a CIA officer. They argue that Armitage was an "administration moderate" who "enjoyed a gossip". The authors conclude that: "The initial leak, seized on by administration critics as evidence of how far the White House was willing to go to smear an opponent, came from a man who had no apparent intention of harming anyone."

It amazes me that Armitage could be described as a moderate. Nor am I convinced that he had no intention of "harming anyone". It seems that David Corn and Newsweek are involved in a disinformation campaign.

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  • 2 weeks later...

There has been a unanimous chorus of agreement by the media that Richard Armitrage was the source of the leak in the so-called Valerie Plame affair. I think I believe that about as much as I believe Mark Felt was Deep Throat.

Speaking of Deep Throat, and Bob Woodward, and the Washington Post.... according to today's New York Times article by David Johnston:

Mr. Armitage also confirmed what had long been speculated — that he was the anonymous government official who talked to Bob Woodward, the Washington Post editor and reporter, about the Central Intelligence Agency officer, Valerie Wilson, in June 2003. It is the first known conversation between an administration official and a journalist about her.

http://www.nytimes.com/2006/09/08/washingt...amp;oref=slogin

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According to an article in Newsweek written by David Corn and Michael Isikoff, it was Richard L. Armitage who identified Valerie Plame as a CIA officer. They argue that Armitage was an "administration moderate" who "enjoyed a gossip". The authors conclude that: "The initial leak, seized on by administration critics as evidence of how far the White House was willing to go to smear an opponent, came from a man who had no apparent intention of harming anyone."

It amazes me that Armitage could be described as a moderate. Nor am I convinced that he had no intention of "harming anyone". It seems that David Corn and Newsweek are involved in a disinformation campaign.

Yes, they certainly are at the forefront of a disinformation campaign. The chronology of events is not quite what they would have their readers believe, and details of this fact can be gleaned at:

http://mediamatters.org/items/200609010001

Media figures repeat false claim that Armitage role in Plame leak exonerates Libby and Rove

Summary: Numerous media figures have asserted that a recent report purportedly identifying former deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage as Robert Novak's original source for Valerie Plame's identity as a CIA operative prove that Karl Rove and I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby were not involved in the leak of her identity. However, Armitage's role as Novak's first source is not inconsistent with Rove's and Libby's involvements in the leak -- both were original sources of the information for two other reporters.

Following a report that a forthcoming book purportedly identifies former deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage as columnist Robert D. Novak's original source for the identity of former CIA operative Valerie Plame, several media figures have asserted that this report proves that White House senior adviser Karl Rove and former vice presidential chief of staff I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby were not involved in the leak. However, as Media Matters for America has noted, the revelation that Armitage was Novak's original source is not inconsistent with Rove's and Libby's involvements in the leak, as both were reportedly the original sources of the information for at least two reporters during the summer of 2003.

The book, Hubris: The Inside Story of Spin, Scandal, and the Selling of the Iraq War (Crown), by Newsweek investigative correspondent Michael Isikoff and The Nation Washington editor David Corn, is due out in September. A Newsweek article by Isikoff, posted on the magazine's website on August 27, reveals the authors' contention that Armitage was Novak's primary source for his July 14, 2003, column, which first publicly identified Plame as a CIA operative.

However, as Media Matters noted, then-Time magazine White House correspondent Matthew Cooper, in his first-person account (subscription required) of his testimony before the grand jury in the CIA leak investigation, identified Rove as his original source for Plame's identity and Libby as his confirming source. Former New York Times reporter Judith Miller identified Libby as her primary source for Plame's identity. Corn noted in an August 27 entry on his Capital Games weblog for The Nation that Armitage's role in the Plame leak -- whatever it may have been -- does not undermine the allegation that there was a "concerted action" by "multiple people in the White House" to "discredit, punish, or seek revenge against" Plame's husband, former ambassador Joseph C. Wilson IV. Wilson had accused the Bush administration of manipulating intelligence about Iraq's purported weapons of mass destruction. Corn wrote:

The Armitage leak was not directly a part of the White House's fierce anti-Wilson crusade. But as Hubris notes, it was, in a way, linked to the White House effort, for Amitage [sic] had been sent a key memo about Wilson's trip that referred to his wife and her CIA connection, and this memo had been written, according to special counsel Patrick Fitzgerald [who was appointed to investigate the Plame leak], at the request of I. Lewis Scooter Libby, the vice president's chief of staff. Libby had asked for the memo because he was looking to protect his boss from the mounting criticism that Bush and Cheney had misrepresented the WMD intelligence to garner public support for the invasion of Iraq.

The memo included information on Valerie Wilson's role in a meeting at the CIA that led to her husband's trip. This critical memo was -- as Hubris discloses -- based on notes that were not accurate. (You're going to have to read the book for more on this.) But because of Libby's request, a memo did circulate among State Department officials, including Armitage, that briefly mentioned Wilson's wife.

In addition, as Media Matters has also noted, according to a July 12 column by Novak, Fitzgerald knew who Novak's primary source was as early as January 12, 2004. Nevertheless, Fitzgerald wrote in court filings released on April 6 that "it is hard to conceive of what evidence there could be that would disprove the existence of White House efforts to 'punish' Wilson." Fitzgerald has also alleged that Cheney and Libby were "acutely focused" on the Wilson column and on rebutting his criticisms of the White House's handling of pre-Iraq war intelligence.

Further, the Associated Press reported in an August 22 article that Armitage met with Libby a week prior to his meeting with Washington Post reporter Bob Woodward, during which he reportedly disclosed Plame's identity. The meeting between Armitage and Libby also occurred prior to Armitage's conversation with Novak during which he disclosed Plame's identity:

That meeting occurred as State officials were about to prepare a report outlining how Plame's husband was sent to Niger before the Iraq war to check unverified intelligence that Iraq was seeking nuclear materials from Africa.

As Corn wrote in the August 27 entry of his Capital Games weblog:

Armitage's role aside, the public record is without question: senior White House aides wanted to use Valerie Wilson's CIA employment against her husband. Rove leaked the information to Cooper, and Libby confirmed Rove's leak to Cooper. Libby also disclosed information on Wilson's wife to New York Times reporter Judith Miller.*

In reporting on the book's impending release, numerous media figures ignored the reports that Rove and Libby were original sources for other reporters besides Novak in the leaking of Plame's identity:

In an August 30 editorial, the Wall Street Journal argued that, given the identification of Armitage as Novak's original source in Hubris, "the leaker wasn't Karl Rove or Scooter Libby or anyone else in the White House who has been accused of running a conspiracy against Ms. Plame as revenge for her husband Joe Wilson's false accusations against the White House's case for war with Iraq," and that the White House "in short, was not engaged in any campaign to 'out' Ms. Plame."

On the August 28 edition of MSNBC's Tucker, host Tucker Carlson noted Isikoff and Corn's revelation and asked, "Why have we made such a big deal out of such a minor story from day one?" He then concluded that "the lunatic, paranoid, conspiracy-theory-ridden left has made [the leak] into example A of the Bush administration's evil deeds. This story, they say, is a metaphor, this is an example of the Bush administration crushing someone."

In his August 31 New York Times column, David Brooks wrote: "Perhaps you remember the left-wing bloggers foaming so uncontrollably at the thought of Rove's coming imprisonment that they looked like little Chia Pets of glee. ... And yet now it has been revealed that the primary leaker was not Rove at all, but Richard Armitage, a former deputy secretary of state."

Los Angeles Times columnist Jonah Goldberg similarly concluded in his August 31 column: "[T]he Bush-bashers have lost credibility. The most delicious example came this week when it was finally revealed that Colin Powell's oak-necked major-domo Richard Armitage -- and not some star chamber neocon -- "outed" Valerie Plame, the spousal prop of Washington's biggest ham, Joe Wilson. Now it turns out that instead of "Bush blows CIA agent's cover to silence a brave dissenter" -- as Wilson practices saying into the mirror every morning -- the story is, "One Bush enemy inadvertently taken out by another's friendly fire."

Vanity Fair columnist Christopher Hitchens wrote in an August 29 column appearing on Slate.com that "now we have the final word on who did disclose the name and occupation of Valerie Plame, and it turns out to be someone whose opposition to the Bush policy in Iraq has -- like Robert Novak's -- long been a byword in Washington. It is particularly satisfying that this admission comes from two of the journalists -- Michael Isikoff and David Corn -- who did the most to get the story wrong in the first place and the most to keep it going long beyond the span of its natural life."

In an August 30 editorial, the editors of the National Review Online concluded, "This revelation lays waste to the notion that Vice President Dick Cheney, former Cheney chief of staff Lewis Libby, and top White House aide Karl Rove conspired to "out" Plame as a way of smearing her husband, the anti-Bush gadfly Joseph Wilson. But it does more than just debunk left-wing conspiracy theories. It also raises a vitally serious question about the CIA leak investigation itself: Why did it happen?" The editorial criticized Fitzgerald's investigation for focusing on Libby and Rove, but never mentioned Miller or Cooper.

New York Post columnist John Podhoretz wrote in an August 29 column: "Corn has put a stake in the heart of one of the foundational theories behind the 'Bush Lied' lie -- after having spent several years promoting that very theory."

On the August 30 edition of CNN's Lou Dobbs Tonight, guest host Kitty Pilgrim discussed Armitage with New York Daily News columnist Errol Louis, Washington Times columnist Diana West and syndicated columnist Miguel Perez. Louis asserted that the revelation "sort of weakens the case against the White House, I think. Now people can argue, look, the White House really wasn't after Valerie Plame and her husband because this came -- the original source wasn't Karl Rove after all." Louis added, "[T]he big loser in this is Armitage himself because ... people on both sides of the aisle are going to say, how could you have known that you were the source of this ... and you didn't take a bullet for the team and you didn't clear this up and let the public business move on to something else?" West then added, "[T]he media has a lot of eating crow to do because we've seen three long years of conspiracy theories being spun out about a Bush, Rove, Cheney, Scooter Libby conspiracy to blacken the name of an anti-war critic." Pilgrim concluded the discussion by asserting that there is, "Plenty of blame to go around."

During the "All-Star Panel" segment on the August 28 edition of Fox News' Special Report with Brit Hume, which featured Weekly Standard executive editor Fred Barnes, Roll Call executive editor Morton M. Kondracke, and Fortune magazine Washington correspondent Nina Easton, host Brit Hume asked: Host Brit Hume asked: "Well, what to make of this new revelation?" Kondracke responded, "[T]his whole conspiracy theory of Karl Rove and Dick Cheney masterminding this entire plot to out Valerie Plame and reveal -- and violate the Intelligence Agents' Identities Act [sic: Intelligence Identities Protection Act] and all this stuff ... it's empty. There is a hole here, there's nothing there, but countless people have been put through hell over this -- as a result of this." Easton agreed: "[T]his was not a Rove-directed, Libby-directed conspiracy." Barnes concluded: "[T]he only explanation for what Fitzgerald was doing is that somehow he bought the left-wing conspiracy theory, that there was this coordinated effort in the Bush administration to smear Joe Wilson, because he'd written that Bush had said something untrue in his State of the Union Address."

From the August 30 edition of The Wall Street Journal:

From its very start, the ballyhooed case of who leaked the name of CIA analyst Valerie Plame to columnist Robert Novak has been drenched in partisan politics and media hypocrisy. The more we learn, however, the more it also reveals about the internal dysfunction of the Bush Administration and the lack of loyalty among some of its most senior officials.

The latest news is that the Bush official who first disclosed Ms. Plame's identity was none other than former Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage. According to a new book by liberal journalists David Corn and Michael Isikoff, Mr. Armitage was Mr. Novak's primary source for his now famous column of July 14, 2003, that first publicly revealed Ms. Plame's CIA pedigree.

In other words, the leaker wasn't Karl Rove or Scooter Libby or anyone else in the White House who has been accused of running a conspiracy against Ms. Plame as revenge for her husband Joe Wilson's false accusations against the White House's case for war with Iraq. So what have the last three years been all about anyway? Political opportunism and internal score-settling, among other things.

Mr. Armitage, recall, was part of Colin Powell's team at State and well known as an internal Administration opponent of the "neo-cons" who supported the ouster of Saddam Hussein. The book alleges that Mr. Armitage knew as early as October 2003 that he was Mr. Novak's prime source, yet he kept quiet about it even as his colleagues in the Administration were dragged through years of criminal investigation and media accusations as the possible leaker. Even now Mr. Armitage hasn't admitted to being the leaker, though doing so would help to clarify several things about the case.

For starters, fessing up would put to rest the conspiracy theories once and for all. Bush opponents have continued to promote this myth, with Mr. Wilson writing in June 2004 that "the conspiracy to destroy us was most likely conceived -- and carried out -- within the office of the vice president of the United States." Not a word of that was true.

Mr. Novak hasn't himself confirmed that Mr. Armitage was his primary source, since Mr. Armitage hasn't yet given him leave to do so. But Mr. Novak has written that his source was not a "partisan gunslinger," and the columnist has also said that he himself put in the call to Mr. Rove to confirm what he'd first heard from his main source (presumably Mr. Armitage). The White House, in short, was not engaged in any campaign to "out" Ms. Plame.

All of this matters because it also casts doubt on the thoroughness and fairness of special counsel Patrick Fitzgerald's probe that began in December 2003. The prosecutor never did indict anyone for leaking Ms. Plame's name, though this was supposedly the act of "treason" that triggered the political clamor for a probe. Instead, he has indicted Mr. Libby for perjury and obstruction of justice.

From the August 28 edition of MSNBC's Tucker:

CARLSON: Now to something I really don't get. There's new insight surrounding outed CIA operative Valerie Plame and her husband, former ambassador Joe Wilson.

ISIKOFF [video clip]: White House officials were deliberately targeting Joe Wilson and did indeed -- tipping off reporters to Valerie Plame.

CARLSON: That was Newsweek correspondent Mike Isikoff. He and writer David Corn have a new tell-all book about who blew Plame's cover and why. They point the finger at this guy, Richard Armitage. The former deputy secretary of state, and Colin Powell's best friend reportedly admits he spilled the beans to newspaper columnist Bob Novak three years ago. But colleagues claim Armitage was not out to get Wilson for his ardent criticism of the Iraq war. They say it was merely a slip of the tongue. Here's what I don't get: Why have we made such a big deal out of such a minor story from day one? I'll tell you why. Because the lunatic, paranoid, conspiracy-theory-ridden left has made it into example A of the Bush administration's evil deeds. This story, they say, is a metaphor, this is an example of the Bush administration crushing someone. The neocons in the administration crushing someone to get their war in Iraq. Oh, wait a second, though, Richard Armitage is not a neocon. He's close friends with Colin Powell, that liberal icon. He was not out there pushing the war like Richard Perle and all the evil neocons. Wait a second, the story doesn't make sense, does it? Will the liberals admit this? I hope they will. If you dislike the Bush administration, dislike the Bush administration for honest reasons -- Iraq, immigration, Social Security -- but not for some stupid, made-up story about Valerie Plame. Please. What an insult.

From David Brooks's August 31 New York Times column:

Perhaps, dear reader, you are perplexed. Perhaps you remember the scandal surrounding the outing of the C.I.A. agent Valerie Plame, a crime so heinous that her husband was forced to endure repeated magazine photo-shoots. Perhaps you remember Karl Rove's face on the covers of magazines and newspapers, along with hundreds of stories and driveway stakeouts.

Perhaps you remember the left-wing bloggers foaming so uncontrollably at the thought of Rove's coming imprisonment that they looked like little Chia Pets of glee. Perhaps you remember a city of TV bookers periodically canceling their lunch plans because of rumors that the Rove indictment was imminent, thus leaving behind a dangerous oversupply of salad entrees.

Perhaps you remember how much this all mattered.

And yet now it has been revealed that the primary leaker was not Rove at all, but Richard Armitage, a former deputy secretary of state. And this news produces no outrage at all. Nothing. A piffle. Perhaps you are wondering how this could happen.

Well, dear reader, there are four things you must remember about your political class. First, there is a big difference between politically useful wrongdoing and politically useless wrongdoing, the core of which is that politically useless wrongdoing is not really wrongdoing at all.

Back in its glory days, the Plame affair was a way to expose the black heart of the Bush administration. It was used to support accusations by [sens.] John Kerry [D-MA], Barbara Boxer [D-CA] and other truth-seekers that the Bushies were so vicious they would use classified information to discredit anyone who dared to criticize them.

Senator Frank Lautenberg [D-NJ] accused Rove of treason. [Democratic National Committee chairman] Howard Dean and a cast of thousands called for his firing. But now it turns out that the leaker cannot be used to discredit the president, that he was a critic of the Iraq war. And with the political usefulness of the scandal dissolving, a sweet cloud of indifference has settled upon the metropolis.

From Jonah Goldberg's August 31 Los Angeles Times column:

But you know what? It's time to cut the guy some slack.

Of course, I will get hippo-choking amounts of e-mail from Bush-haters telling me that all I ever do is cut Bush slack. But these folks grade on the curve. By their standards, anything short of demanding that a live, half-starved badger be sewn into his belly flunks.

Besides, the Bush-bashers have lost credibility. The most delicious example came this week when it was finally revealed that Colin Powell's oak-necked major-domo Richard Armitage -- and not some star chamber neocon -- "outed" Valerie Plame, the spousal prop of Washington's biggest ham, Joe Wilson. Now it turns out that instead of "Bush blows CIA agent's cover to silence a brave dissenter" -- as Wilson practices saying into the mirror every morning -- the story is, "One Bush enemy inadvertently taken out by another's friendly fire."

From Christopher Hitchens' August 29 Slate.com column:

In his July 12 column in the Washington Post, Robert Novak had already partly exposed this paranoid myth by stating plainly that nobody had leaked anything, or outed anyone, to him. On the contrary, it was he who approached sources within the administration and the CIA and not the other way around. But now we have the final word on who did disclose the name and occupation of Valerie Plame, and it turns out to be someone whose opposition to the Bush policy in Iraq has -- like Robert Novak's -- long been a byword in Washington. It is particularly satisfying that this admission comes from two of the journalists -- Michael Isikoff and David Corn -- who did the most to get the story wrong in the first place and the most to keep it going long beyond the span of its natural life.

As most of us have long suspected, the man who told Novak about Valerie Plame was Richard Armitage, Colin Powell's deputy at the State Department and, with his boss, an assiduous underminer of the president's war policy. (His and Powell's -- and George Tenet's -- fingerprints are all over Bob Woodward's "insider" accounts of post-9/11 policy planning, which helps clear up another nonmystery: Woodward's revelation several months ago that he had known all along about the Wilson-Plame connection and considered it to be no big deal.) The Isikoff-Corn book, which is amusingly titled Hubris, solves this impossible problem of its authors' original "theory" by restating it in a passive voice:

The disclosures about Armitage, gleaned from interviews with colleagues, friends and lawyers directly involved in the case, underscore one of the ironies of the Plame investigation: that the initial leak, seized on by administration critics as evidence of how far the White House was willing to go to smear an opponent, came from a man who had no apparent intention of harming anyone.

In the stylistic world where disclosures are gleaned and ironies underscored, the nullity of the prose obscures the fact that any irony here is only at the authors' expense. It was Corn in particular who asserted -- in a July 16, 2003, blog post credited with starting the entire distraction -- that:

The Wilson smear was a thuggish act. Bush and his crew abused and misused intelligence to make their case for war. Now there is evidence Bushies used classified information and put the nation's counter-proliferation efforts at risk merely to settle a score. It is a sign that with this gang politics trumps national security.

After you have noted that the Niger uranium connection was in fact based on intelligence that has turned out to be sound, you may also note that this heated moral tone ("thuggish," "gang") is now quite absent from the story. It turns out that the person who put Valerie Plame's identity into circulation was a staunch foe of regime change in Iraq. Oh, that's all right, then. But you have to laugh at the way Corn now so neutrally describes his own initial delusion as one that was "seized on by administration critics."

From John Podhoretz's August 29 New York Post column:

The get-Wilson cabal of leftist fantasy was made up primarily of political honcho Karl Rove, deputy national security adviser Stephen Hadley and vice-presidential aide Scooter Libby -- all of whom had spent years at daggers drawn with the State Department and, therefore, with Armitage. As one White House official told me, "Rich wouldn't have given Scooter a glass of water on the road to Hell."

For those of us obsessed with the case, it isn't exactly news. Indeed, I thought back in October 2003 that Novak's source was probably Armitage because a) Novak said his source was "not a partisan gunslinger" -- Armitage to a T -- and :) everybody in Washington knows that the only thing Richard Armitage loves more than Colin Powell is a reporter's off-the-record phone call.

Still, the revelation is a blockbuster for one reason: It comes in a book co-authored by David Corn, whose column in The Nation and blog have been central clearinghouses for the notion that everybody and his mother in the Bush administration should be tried and convicted, then drawn and quartered for the monstrous evil of deliberately exposing the uniquely delicate secret-agent woman Valerie Plame to all but certain murder.

Corn has put a stake in the heart of one of the foundational theories behind the "Bush Lied" lie -- after having spent several years promoting that very theory.

From the August 30 edition of CNN's Lou Dobbs Tonight:

PILGRIM: We have one other topic I'd like to get to, and that's former Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage, actually the source of the leak in the Valerie Plame case. What do you make of this? This is yet another episode in that epic.

PEREZ: Well, it sort of weakens the case against the White House, I think. I -- you know -- now they -- people can argue, look, you know, the White House really wasn't after Valerie Plame and her husband because this came -- the original source wasn't Karl Rove after all.

PILGRIM: Right.

PEREZ: So --

LOUIS: The big -- I mean, the big loser in this is Armitage himself because I think people on both sides of the aisle are going to say, "How could you have known that you were the source of this and just sat month after month while your colleagues were being investigated and dragged in front of grand juries and indicted and all of this kind of bad stuff coming down and you didn't take a bullet for the team and you didn't clear this up and let the public business move on to something else?"

WEST: I completely --

PILGRIM: Yeah, the Sunday talk shows alone -- go ahead, Diana.

WEST: Well, I completely agree with that. This was a situation also -- I mean, come on, guys, the media has a lot of eating crow to do because we've seen three long years of conspiracy theories being spun out about a Bush, Rove, Cheney, Scooter Libby conspiracy to blacken the name of an anti-war critic. When it turns out that Armitage himself, who is anti-war and coming out of the State Department who had no intention of blackening any anti-war critic, is the source of the leak. And I'm waiting for the media to acknowledge this and come around and do the honorable thing. And I would agree that Armitage does not come out well. And I would also say by extension, Colin Powell also was another one of the people who sat quietly through several years, according to the stories, not fessing up, not helping out his former colleagues in the White House and allowing the presidency to be seriously distracted if not damaged.

PILGRIM: Plenty of blame to go around. Thank you very much for being with us, Errol Louis, Miguel Perez and Diana West. Thank you.

From the August 28 edition of Fox News' Special Report with Brit Hume:

HUME: Well what to make of this new revelation? A lot of people suspected Armitage. This appears, with enough detail, that it's credible to name him.

KONDRACKE: I mean, if this is all right, then the whole -- this whole conspiracy theory of Karl Rove and Dick Cheney masterminding this entire plot to out Valerie Plame and reveal -- and violate the Intelligence Agents Identities Act [sic] and all this stuff, which, by the way, David Corn, who helped write this book -- David Corn of The Nation magazine is one of the co-authors of this, he's the one who started this whole thing. When that -- when this column came out, he's the one who said, "Ah-ha, the Bush administration is violating this law that was designed to protect agents overseas who were being outed and then killed during the 1970s and 80s." Anyway, so it's empty. There's a hole here, there's nothing there, but, countless people have been put through hell over this -- as a result of this. They've been -- Scooter Libby is under indictment. He lost his job, Cheney's chief of staff. I don't know, hundreds and hundreds of thousands of dollars of legal expenses people have had to shell out for lawyers and the government's wasted a lot of money with the special prosecutor.

HUME: Well, what to make, though, Nina, of the special prosecutor who came to this job with the fact of Armitage having been the leaker of the Novak column already known to the Justice Department, the FBI, and therefore to him? What was he investigating?

EASTON: Right. It does raise some serious questions because this was clearly a case of -- it wasn't -- it was not a conspiracy if we were to believe the facts, it was a case of bureaucratically defending yourself. Let's step back a second. Armitage was very involved in that U.N. speech that Colin Powell gave, a few months prior, in which he staked his reputation on the fact that Iraq had chemical weapons stockpiles, biological weapons and was looking for nuclear weapons. This was a searing moment in Colin Powell's political career and suddenly, Armitage is forced to defend that, and I think he -- and this was not -- again, as Mort points out, this was not a Rove-directed, Libby-directed conspiracy, which comes out also when you -- from what we've heard from them, it sounds like it was almost a beside the point, it wasn't a directed matter, even from them.

HUME: Which is what the journalists have been kind of saying all along that it was mentioned to them or they brought it up and asked about it, but nobody made a big point of calling them up and giving them the information, not even Armitage, it came up in passing which is what's been said all along. So --

BARNES: So, the Bush White House, Karl Rove, Scooter Libby and others were hung out to dry and the charge grew and was widely proclaimed in the press and among Democrats and among critics of the White House, that the White House had smeared an innocent man, Joe Wilson, who merely told the truth. And it turns out that was wrong from the beginning. Obviously, there was no coordination between Richard Armitage and Karl Rove at the White House. And all Rove did was when asked about -- when told by Robert Novak that --

HUME: He'd heard this, yeah.

BARNES: That Novak had heard this, he said, well, he'd heard it, too. Mort's right, I mean this conspiracy theory dies entirely.

HUME: So what are we --

BARNES: But , you know, the only explanation for what Fitzgerald was doing is that somehow he bought the left-wing conspiracy theory, that there was this coordinated effort in the Bush administration to smear Joe Wilson, you know, because he'd written that Bush had said something that was untrue in his State of the Union Address.

—R.M.

*Correction: Due to an editing error, the original version of this item inadvertently included the following paragraph without attribution: "Armitage's role aside, the public record is without question: senior White House aides wanted to use Valerie Wilson's CIA employment against her husband. Rove leaked the information to Cooper, and Libby confirmed Rove's leak to Cooper. Libby also disclosed information on Wilson's wife to New York Times reporter Judith Miller." In fact, this paragraph is from an August 27 entry on David Corn's Capital Games weblog. Media Matters for America regrets the error.

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It has to be remembered that David Corn is a CIA disinformation agent. He is very good at it as well. Take a look at his book on Ted Shackley (Blond Ghost). I will be posting on this later today.

It is completely misleading to portray Armitage as a moderate not closely connected to Bush. In fact, Armitage played an important role as a cut-out for George Bush senior for the Iran-Contra Scandal. Here is a passage from Lawrence E. Walsh's official report on Iran-Contra (1993):

As North was trying to bridge the gap in contra aid until official funds were resumed, his activities were the subject of a second wave of media speculation and congressional inquiry. Newspaper and television accounts of North's involvement with contra resupply coincided with the House's June 1986 debate on contra aid. Earlier, Representative Ron Coleman introduced a Resolution of Inquiry directing the President to provide information and documents to the House about NSC staff contacts with private persons or foreign governments involved in contra resupply; any contra, involving contra military activities; and Robert Owen, Maj. Gen. Singlaub, and an American expatriate living in Costa Rica, John Hull.

Coleman's resolution prompted the chairmen of the House Intelligence and Foreign Affairs committees to request comments from the President. Poindexter replied on behalf of the President and knowingly repeated McFarlane's earlier lie that NSC staff "were in compliance with both the spirit and letter" of the Boland Amendments.

Not satisfied with Poindexter's response, members of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence asked to meet with North. North met with 11 members of the Committee on August 6, 1986, assuring the group that he had not violated the spirit or the letter of the Boland Amendment. He also denied that he had raised funds for the contras, offered them military advice, or had contacts with Owen that were more than "casual." North's responses satisfied the Committee and effectively killed Coleman's resolution. After learning of North's false and misleading remarks to the Committee, Poindexter replied to North, "Well done."

While he endeavored to hide his activities from the Congress in the summer of 1986, North was becoming progressively more explicit in his discussions with other U.S. officials about what he was doing for the contras. His efforts to sell "his planes" to the CIA were only the beginning. On August 28, 1986, during a breakfast with the RIG at the offices of Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs Richard Armitage, North ran through a list of his contra activities, including his cash payments to contra leaders and organizations, provisions of food, and money for air operations. North's question for the RIG was simple: Should he continue his efforts? Fiers told North yes.

The Enterprise was pushing ahead on an accelerated schedule of deliveries in August and September 1986. Crews were making more sorties into both northern and southern Nicaragua, some during daylight hours. San Jose station chief Fernandez, who was in direct contact with Quintero, ordered CIA personnel to relay drop zone and other information to contra forces on the Southern Front, as well as report news of deliveries.this"including dissolving Udall and covering its tracks.

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It is completely misleading to portray Armitage as a moderate not closely connected to Bush. In fact, Armitage played an important role as a cut-out for George Bush senior for the Iran-Contra Scandal.

Indeed. Further proof that Armitage is being used as a semi-voluntary scapegoat for a more pervasive attack upon Wilson and Plame now comes from Robert Parry, who also notes the discrepancies regarding the timing of who told what to whom:

http://www.truthout.org/docs_2006/091506R.shtml

New Clues in the Plame Mystery

By Robert Parry

Consortium News

Friday 15 September 2006

A well-placed conservative source has added an important clue to the mystery of the Bush administration's "outing" of CIA officer Valerie Plame after her husband, former Ambassador Joseph Wilson, became one of the first Establishment figures to accuse George W. Bush of having "twisted" intelligence to justify the Iraq War.

The source, who knows both White House political adviser Karl Rove and former Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage, told me that the two men are much closer than many Washington insiders understand, that they developed a friendship and a working relationship when Bush was recruiting Colin Powell to be Secretary of State.

In those negotiations, Armitage stood in for Powell and Rove represented Bush - and after that, the two men provided a back channel for sensitive information to pass between the White House and the State Department, the source said.

The significance of this detail is that it undermines the current "conventional wisdom" among Washington pundits that Armitage acted alone - and innocently - in July 2003 when he disclosed Plame's covert identity to right-wing columnist Robert Novak, who then got Rove to serve as a secondary source confirming the information from Armitage.

This new revelation that Armitage and Rove worked together behind the scenes also lends credence to Novak's version of his contacts with Armitage and other administration officials, both as Novak sketched out those meetings in 2003 and then filled in the details in a column on Sept. 14, 2006.

A week after Novak revealed Plame's identity in a July 14, 2003, column, he told Newsday that "I didn't dig it out, it was given to me," adding that Bush administration officials "thought it was significant, they gave me the name and I used it." [Newsday, July 22, 2003]

In the Sept. 14, 2006, column, Novak wrote that Armitage divulged Plame's identity toward the end of an hour-long interview on July 8, 2003. According to Novak, he asked Armitage, who was then deputy Secretary of State, why former Ambassador Wilson had been sent on the trip to Africa.

Novak wrote that Armitage "told me unequivocally that Mrs. Wilson worked in the CIA's Counter-proliferation Division and that she had suggested her husband's mission. As for his [Armitage's] current implication that he [Armitage] never expected this to be published, he [Armitage] noted that the story of Mrs. Wilson's role fit the style of the old Evans-Novak column - implying to me that it continued reporting Washington inside information."

In other words, Novak is challenging the version spun out in the last two weeks by Armitage and his supporters who have claimed that Armitage let Plame's name slip out "inadvertently," almost as gossip, and never intended for it to be published.

When I asked my well-placed conservative source about that scenario, he laughed and said, "Armitage isn't a gossip, but he is a leaker. There's a difference."

Nevertheless, the Armitage version was embraced by leading Washington pundits as the final proof that Rove and the White House had gotten a bum rap on the Plame affair. Washington Post columnist David Broder even demanded that those who had implicated Rove in what appeared to be a dirty trick "owe Karl Rove an apology."

But the new information from Novak's column and my conservative source points to a very different conclusion: that Armitage was much more part of the White House team than the "conventional wisdom" understood and that Broder and other big-time pundits were snookered again.

Key Timing Question

Novak also contradicted the Armitage scenario on another key point, that Novak supposedly had arranged the interview with the help of longtime Republican operative Kenneth Duberstein. Instead, Novak reported that Armitage's granting of the interview came out of the blue.

"During his quarter of a century in Washington, I had had no contact with Armitage before our fateful interview," Novak wrote in his Sept. 14, 2006, column. "I tried to see him in the first 2 ½ years of the Bush administration, but he rebuffed me - summarily and with disdain, I thought.

"Then, without explanation, in June 2003, Armitage's office said the deputy secretary would see me." [Emphasis added]

Novak dated that call from Armitage's office at about two weeks before Wilson published his July 6, 2003, Op-Ed in the New York Times, entitled, "What I Didn't Find in Africa." The time frame of the call fits with when the White House was initiating a preemptive strike against Wilson's anticipated criticism of Bush's bogus claims about Iraq seeking uranium ore from Niger.

On June 23, 2003, also two weeks before Wilson's article, Vice President Dick Cheney's chief of staff, Lewis Libby, gave an interview to New York Times reporter Judith Miller about Wilson and, according to a later retrospective by the Times, may then have passed on the tip that Wilson's wife worked at the CIA.

In other words, just as Bush's operatives were launching their smear campaign against Wilson by briefing "friendly" reporters, Armitage reversed his longstanding refusal to meet with Novak and "without explanation" granted an interview. During that interview, according to Novak, Armitage encouraged him to write about Plame's identity, much as Rove and Libby were doing with other journalists simultaneously.

After the Armitage interview, Novak got confirmation about his highly sensitive tip - a covert CIA officer's identity - from Rove, who - according to my conservative source - had been working behind the scenes sharing sensitive information with Armitage since the earliest days of the Bush administration.

Despite all that's been written on the Plame affair, there has never been an adequate explanation of why the President's political adviser would ever have been granted access to a detail as discrete and dangerous as the identity of a CIA officer, the kind of information that is traditionally disseminated only on a strict need-to-know basis.

In this case, that "need to know" may have been that the Bush administration put discrediting and damaging Joe Wilson ahead of protecting the identity of a covert officer and her undercover operation, which involved investigating the spread of dangerous weapons in the Middle East.

These new clues in the Plame mystery suggest that - contrary to Washington's "conventional wisdom" which holds that Armitage's confession clears Rove and the White House of wrongdoing - Armitage may have simply been another participant in the ugly scheme.

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