Rashomon at WaPo - Benign Senile Forgetfulness and Human Nature Account for Disparities in Accounts of "Leak" of Plame's ID, Prosecutor Concludes

Thursday, November 17, 2005
After struggling for several hours to understand a long article in The New York Times detailing the history of the Valerie Plame affair, Special Prosecutor Patrick J. Fitzgerald admitted today that he has closed his case, withdrawn his indictment of "Scooter" Libby, and shut down his two-year investigation into the matter.

Disgusted with the self-serving behavior and convenient "memories" on all sides of the controversy, Fitzgerald said he is retiring from the law altogether, and plans to indulge his life-long passion, the breeding of champion Rhodesian Ridgebacks on his Virginia farmstead.

"Reading the New York Times article by Todd S. Purdum (assisted by David Johnston and Douglas Jehl), I was particularly distressed by their characterization of Joe "Say-It-Ain't-So" Wilson, who has been shown to be an inveterate liar, as a "prominent administration critic" and further on as

former Ambassador Joseph C. Wilson IV, [who] has sharply criticized the administration's rationale for war with Iraq...

as though this clown had some sort of credibility."

"Throughout a painstaking investigation," Mr. Fitzgerald continued, "it never ceased to amaze me how guys in their fifties and sixties, who couldn't remember what they had eaten for breakfast, let alone the name of the restaurant where they'd had dinner with their girlfriends less than a week ago, could recall not only what they themselves had said, but what their interlocutors had said, in casual conversations about CIA nonentities two years prior. Let me just quote from the New York Times piece, by way of example:"

"The way [Washington Post reporter Bob Woodward] describes it, which is he walked by and said something about Wilson's wife being at C.I.A., I have absolutely no memory of it at all," Mr. Pincus said in a telephone interview. "And I think he may say that my reaction was 'What!' " like I was surprised. He now thinks I may never have heard him, and said, 'What?' "

Mr. Pincus did recall a later conversation with Mr. Woodward, in October 2003, after Mr. Pincus wrote about administration officials' efforts to discredit Mr. Wilson. He said Mr. Woodward stopped by his desk to tell Mr. Pincus that he "wasn't the only one who had been told," about Ms. Wilson's identity before it was publicly revealed in a syndicated column by Robert D. Novak on July 14, 2003. Mr. Pincus said Mr. Woodward "asked me to keep him out of my reporting, and I agreed to do it."

Mr. Pincus said he agreed not to pursue the question of whether anyone in the administration might have contacted Mr. Woodward because "he hadn't written a story." He continued, "I was writing that they had talked to a group of people. I don't think I named everybody."

"I'm supposed to get a skeptical jury to buy accounts like these? Give me a freakin' break!" Fitzgerald snorted, tossing The New York Times onto his desk, where it nearly collided with a twenty-seven-foot stack of affidavits.

Vice President Cheney could not be reached for comment, but top-level administration sources denied that any sighs of relief had been heard coming from undisclosed locations.


Syl said...


Great piece, Jamie!

Fitz had a narrative that Libby was the first to plant the 'seed' into reporters' ears.

That's been shot to hell and back.

And since it's possible Woodward himself may have told Libby, the whole idea that Libby was lying when he said he heard it from reporters is cast into doubt.

It doesn't matter that Libby also had heard from official sources, it was still wrong to pass the info on, but now it's likely that those false statement and perjury charges concerning Libby's belief he had also heard it from reporters have no basis.

Without the 'lying', the underlying obstruction cannot be proven.

I mean, so what if Libby didn't remember exactly who told him, somebody did. The info was out there independently of Libby.

Yep, the little scooter wagon certain parties got for fitzmas will be returned to Santa.

Lovin' it!

Peter UK said...

This read slike Scrappleface - Life imitating art.

Knucklehead said...

Can someone remind me why this was important enough to warrant a special investigation? I read the NYT piece and there was a whole lotta "administration officials had chats with reporters" and "only a handful, no more than 90 or 100 administration officials" knew about Val Dahlin, but not the slightest hint of why we should care that anybody in the "administration" talked to anyone about her.

We get a senator, vice-chairman of the intelligence committee, who gets on national TV and informs the world he'd taken upon himself to run around the mid-east discussing US war intentions and nobody thinks that warrants an investigation.

Yet the CIA taps some loopey halfwit of former ambassador who's apparently toking from Al Gore's bong and sends him on a "mission" to Africa, doesn't require any secrecy, let's him write a NYT op-ed piece, and all anyone is worried about is who said what when to reporters or "administration officials".

Why aren't about a dozen yoyos from the CIA sitting in chairs with the bunwarmers cranked to max + 10 while being grilled about what they heck made them think sending Joe "I just wannabee a Leftist conferences speaker and consultant to French sellers of African uranium" Wilson on anything more important than a coffee run to Dunkin' Donuts?

Jamie Irons said...


Excellent questions, all.


I wrote this piece, FWIW, because I was (a) sick and tired of reading about this absurd investigation and (b) reading today's NYT piece made me wonder whether I'd lost even more neurons than I had imagined: I found the story nearly impossible to track.

A scientific and (in part) mathematical education has lead me to believe, perhaps more than I should, in Occam's razor. When the recounting of a story becomes this complicated, and when the "linking pieces" become this tenuous and seemingly random/ arbitrary, I am led to conclude that there ain't no there there, and we really are seeing a tale full of sound and fury, told by (in this case literal) idiots, and if one just parsimoniously assumes that ordinary human nature, and ordinary human failures of recall, are the "causes" as work, well, then it starts to make sense.

terrye said...

It just gets wackier and wackier.

Washington really is a small town and these people are acting like a bunch of old women down at the beauty parlor.

This is about gossip.

Syl said...

This is about gossip

Yes. But it is important gossip. It's not about the content in this case, but the normal gossipy stuff that goes back and forth between the govt and the press.

The normal workings of a free press and government sources. It's how both good actoras and bad actors get the word out.

We really don't want that to end. The press, after pushing for the investigation, suddenly says 'uh-oh'.

I think you'll see a push from the press to see the whole thing end.

Though I doubt you'll find anyone following Plamegate who isn't partisan one way or the other, if one sits back a moment and looks at the whole picture, it can be very instructive.

Like the things we can learn about how intel is analyzed from all the investigations concerning pre-war intel.

There are learning experiences for everyone in all of this. But it will take time before the partisan clouds clear enough for that process to occur.

Knucklehead said...

Here's Michael Barone's article about The Woodward Firecracker.

Jamie Irons said...


Thanks for that terrific Barone essay.

In much more sophisticated detail, and without trying (as I lamely did) to be funny, it sort of supports my view of this case.

And the last paragraph about abolishing the CIA -- you've got to love that. A position that I have held both in my former lefty days, and now as a NeoCon TheoCon Reactionary warmongering arch-conservative Clinton-bashing, knuckle-dragging...well, you get the idea.


Jamie Irons

Rick Ballard said...



Syl said...

The WaPo, internally, is faring much better than the NY Times, but still some of their internal bickering is reaching the outside.


Maria Arana (I don't know her politics) is their book editor, I believe. I've seen her on BookTV. She read a few pages of her book and I was in tears. Damn good writer.

Anyway, who is Andy Mosher? name seems familiar.

Jamie Irons said...


How did you come across that!

It's fascinating.

But how did it come to light? It seems to be an "internal chat" (whatever that is). I'm puzzled.

I am going to take the soul-searching at face value, and as sincerely meant, as that is how it rings to me.

As a person who went to both high school and college with Woodward, and who delivered the Chicago Tribune to his house (on Prairie Avenue in Wheaton, Illinois), as a kid, and who was good friends with his sister, Anne, (not that any of this gives me any special status or insight, it's just a coincidence)...it's fascinating to watch the ins and outs of his career.

Jamie Irons

RogerA said...

Jaime--great piece! I am just puzzling this whole thing out--I am tempted to say gossip, but I am more tempted to want to see this whole thing go to trial to expose a whole lot of miscreants whom I believe have skated so far--

Syl--Please please pull something together so those of us who havent spent the time to fathom this can have the cliff notes version!

topsecretk9 said...

Sly said:
I think you'll see a push from the press to see the whole thing end.

Oh I think so too.

1. The clothes come off...the inside insidious gossip and source manipulation of the press. This has definitely tarnish the whole press enchilada.

2. Now that Woodward and Pincus are at odds. They (Wood, Pinc, The Post) KNOW how RIPE this is for Libby's lawyers. The irony, if faulty recollections between Pincus and Woodward gets Libby a pass.

3. Wilson just became radioactive (calling for a Woodward probe) The press collectively are NOT going to take Wilson's side...and the knives are gonna start coming out for him (for getting the whole mess started) ...get ready for more honest reporting regarding Joe Wilson. He ceases to be the MSM and elected officials hero, but a HUGE thrown in their side. This the strat on the medias war on Wilson.

topsecretk9 said...

Thrown?---becomes "Thorn"

Peter UK said...

Karl Rove " Scooter we need something to get them into court and make them testify,nothing serious,but something that appeals to their sense of power".

Looks incredibly like getting the mark greedy so he can't see the scam,is this payback time, it is running concurrently with a lot of other offensives?

Syl said...


I think I found the link at Instapundit but I went through Memeorandum and it might have been there.

Howard Kurtz already leaked some of it in a piece of his. I don't know who leaked the stuff on the page I linked. Someone from the inside letting it out. Internal message board thingy.

But, I must say the WaPo people don't sound like whiners and backstabbers like the NY Times folks did. Except for one guy, they were talking principle. And it's a conflict for them because of the respect they have for Woodward.

The NY Times people, on the other hand, already hated Judy because she, singlehandedly, should have been able to debunk the entire WMD picture and therefore Bush couldn't have had his war. You see.


I've started THREE pieces trying to outline the Plame thing. The most promising is long, but not finished. And, actually, in that one the Fitz investigation plays only a minor role. Maybe I'll get back to work on it tonite.

(I confess I got hooked over at Tom's place. Lotsa moonbats, but some semi-sensible dems too, over there. So the comment threads can get heated and long. And sometimes we actually have some fun. Oh, and when the Plame Play is cast, I nominated Danny DeVito for Rove's roll. Nobody can hate Danny. Heh )

Syl said...


BTW, great to see you over here. I've noticed you have commented in a couple threads. Hope I said 'Hi' before.

Jamie Irons said...


What's "Tom's Place" (besides a place on the east side of the Sierra's I know!)

Jamie Irons

Syl said...


Sorry. Tom is Tom Maguire at Just One Minute.

I hope I got the link right, typed it blind.

markg8 said...

Well Libby testified he heard Plame was a CIA agent on a Thursday from Russert but was telling Fleischer about it on the Monday before. He also disccused it with other admin officials (who testified to that fact I guess) before his conversation with Russert.

I think this changes nothing except we have another law breaker who has come forward and turned himself in.
Libby still threw sand in the umpire's eyes as the ump tried to determine if the pitcher threw at
Wilson's head intentionally.

Woodward ought to resign his position at the Post. He's been running from one talk show to another acting as a partisan shill, saying there's nothing there, calling Fitzgerald names, pretending to be an outside observer when he's part of the case and all the while has been withholding information from his editor and a federal prosecutor in a felony crime case. And for what? To protect his inside sources for his books that have made him filthy rich. We know where his loyalties lie and they aren't with the Post, it's readership or justice.

markg8 said...

Andrea Mitchell said this morning on Imus that the only Woodward contact that so far has not flatly denied he was the one who told him is Armitage. I haven't seen where Cheney has denied it yet. But I don't see Cheney coming forward and admitting this to Fitzy. Why throw Libby overboard if he's going to fall on his sword and admit guilt?

For that matter why would Armitage unless he's just completely fed up. As the former number three man at state he's in the Powell, Wilkerson camp. If it's him he may have just fallen on a grenade and ratted out the whole Wilson smear campaign. Whatever this is, the fact that Fitzy has impaneled another GJ isn't good news for the Admin.