Saturday, May 20, 2006

NY Daily News: Armitage Is Key Witness In CIA leak Case

From Ken Bazinet and James Gordon Meek at The NY Daily News:

WASHINGTON - Former Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage has emerged as a key witness in the CIA leak probe, the Daily News has learned.

Armitage has been questioned several times, but is not expected to be indicted by the federal grand jury investigating who outed CIA spy Valerie Plame to journalists in 2003, sources said.

Armitage's testimony could hurt Vice President Cheney's indicted former chief aide Lewis (Scooter) Libby, or President Bush's political guru, Karl Rove.

Two sources familiar with the case said Armitage, Rove and Libby all had contacts with the press about Plame. Unlike Rove and Libby, Armitage appears to have tried to dissuade reporters from writing about her.

Special Counsel Patrick Fitzgerald recently had to sneak Armitage into a Washington courthouse to get past reporters - a sign of his value in the case, according to one source.

"Rich has been cooperating with Fitzgerald since day one," said another source, who has close ties to Armitage. "He was one of the first people to offer his testimony."

Armitage's office said he was was not available to comment.

The Daily News also raises the possibility that Rove might not be indicted in the case but instead be named as an unindicted co-conspirator:

Rove has testified five times as a subject of the grand jury probe.

Even if Rove escapes indictment, he could still be forced to resign for talking about Plame with a Time magazine reporter.

"People don't seem to want to talk about the possibility that Karl could be named an unindicted co-conspirator," a third source close to the case said. "Can an unindicted co-conspirator remain at the White House? Personally, I don't think so."

This Daily News report comes on the heels of Armitage being named by former NSA head Bobby Ray Inman as Fitzgerald's real target in the CIA leak case and some unnamed Washington insiders telling Washington Note's Steve Clemons that Inman is full of shit.

If Bazinet and Meek are right (and I have to say that I am familiar with Bazinet both as a Daily News reader and a Countdown viewer and I trust him on this), then Inman sure is full of shit and you have to wonder who or what was behind his statements earlier this week to Clemons. Perhaps Inman heard Armitage had been secretly herded before the GJ recently and took that to mean Armitage is the guy in real legal jeopardy in the case? Or perhaps Inman was simply parroting something he heard for reasons unknown?

I dunno about Inman. But frankly, he doesn't matter in the big scheme of things. What does matter is this: If the Daily News report is accurate, Armitage has been cooperating with the investigation since Day One, Armitage tried to dissuade reporters from writing about Valerie Plame (unlike Rove/Libby) and Armitage has some information to tell the GJ that puts Libby and Rove in the hot seat.

Very interesting developments. No wonder the rumor-mongers have been trying to slime Armitage. He may be the reason why Fitzgerald knows so much about the behind the scenes goings-on in Plamegate.

Thanks a ton for the pointer, I'm gonna mention the article and link back to you.

I agree that the Daily News is credible, and with Armitage cooperating, but I don't get the unindicted co-conspirator bit.

There's ample evidence that Fitzgerald is looking at conspiracy around the coverup, but I don't see how Rove goes unindicted unless he gives everybody up including Cheney, and even then I really don't see it.

Just speculation, but I would think that might be a trial ballon out of Rove's defense team to check the response. The question posed is pretty clearly as a "talk amongst yourselves" question. Start the conversations anonymously and see what the consensus is. See if Rove can keep his job if he deals way down.

(And that Inman thing I always thought was kindof bogus. If the guy truly had inside information, he probably wouldn't be including it in his speeches, ya know?)

I wrote a longer version over at my place.

I think its a bunch of hooey that Armiage is a co-inspirator. Its a none-issue.
Mike,I wonder if they're trying to get the CW to become: Rove's going to be an unindicted co-conspirator in the case?

Dusty, I agree that Armitage is not a co-conspirator in the case. I think he did talk about Plame to reporters (probably Bob Woodward and maybe more), but it seems that he told investigators right from the beginning that he did this, so he can't be accused of covering up. Whatever slime we've heard about Armitage is no doubt coming from Libby's side, Rove's side or both.
There are so many of washington's elite involved in this that someone has to talk..not everyone is going to think of saving those on top over themselves. The lower rung has kids and mortgages.

Has Woodward become a heel? Thats kind of the take I am getting on him.He went from outing these guys during Nixon's time to protecting them under the cover of a "source" for PlameGate?
dusty - in my opinion, Bob Woodward is an arrogant, self-centered, self-aggrandizing, egotisitcal asshole. Pure and simple. Woodward's statements about Fiztgerald and the CIA leak case in general have exposed him as a phony. He was all for haunting the Nixon admin and hammering them for their crimes, but his buddies in the Bush admin get a free pass - even when they commit an egregious crime by exposing a covert CIA operative whose area of expertise is nuclear proliferation and Iran.
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