Condi Rice, the Smear Joe Wilson Campaign, and PlameGate

Before I launch into the possible role of Condi Rice, let’s review what we have learned just since in the last couple of days:

Scooter Libby is blaming Tim Russert.

The memo taken onto Air Force One on July 7, 2003 had an “S” to denote that it was secret – as in classified.

George Tenet’s mea culpa regarding those sixteen words may have been drafted by Karl Rove and Scooter Libby.

Now to my little speculation. The Bush Administration and its minions have been on an overzealous campaign to smear Joseph Wilson for over two years. Part of this campaign involved the revelation that his wife – Valerie Plame – was a CIA operative. One of these minions is our own Patrick R. Sullivan (aka Roland Patrick) who somehow believed that Wolf Blitzer’s 7/13/2003 interview vindicated Karl Rove’s telling reporters about the fact that Wilson’s wife worked for the CIA:

BLITZER: Who sent him?
RICE: Well, it was certainly not a level that had anything to do with the White House, and I do not believe at a level that had anything to do with the leadership of the CIA.
BLITZER: Supposedly, it came at the request of the vice president.
RICE: No, this is simply not true, and this is something that’s been perpetuated that we simply have to straighten out. The vice president did not ask that Joe Wilson go to Niger. The vice president did not know. I don’t think he knew who Joe Wilson was, and he certainly didn’t know that he was going. The first that I heard of Joe Wilson mission was when I was doing a Sunday talk show and heard about it. The other thing is that the reporting, at least, of what Ambassador Wilson told the CIA debriefers says that, yes, Niger denied that there had been such a deal made, that they had sold uranium to the Iraqis. It also apparently says, according to this report, it also apparently says that one of the people who was meeting with the Iraqis thought that they might, in fact, be trying to use commercial activity to talk about yellow cake. So what the director says in his statement is that they believed, when they looked at what was reported about the Wilson trip, that it was inconclusive. They therefore did not brief it to the president, the vice president or any senior officials. So no, the Wilson trip was not sent by anyone at a high level. It wasn’t briefed to anyone at high level. And it appears to have been inconclusive in what it found.
BLITZER: Did George Tenet know about the Joe Wilson trip to Africa?
RICE: I am not aware that George Tenet was aware that this happened before it happened.
BLITZER: Let me read to you what Joe Wilson wrote in “The New York Times” in that op-ed piece on July 6th. “I have little choice but to conclude that some of the intelligence related to Iraq’s nuclear weapons program was twisted to exaggerate the Iraqi threat.”

At the time, the “who sent him” did not seem to be a big deal. In fact, it is still not a relevant matter except for one aspect of the smear Joe Wilson mantra. The rightwing wants us to believe that Wilson lied in his 7/6/2003. After all – they claim that Wilson said Cheney sent him. Or they claim that Wilson said Tenet sent him. But if one reads what Wilson wrote, he did not say either Cheney or Tenet sent him. Now I’ll concede one could be part of the smear Joe Wilson campaign but not part of the outing of Valerie Plame.

Now we see that Daxman over at TPMCafe is wondering if Condi Rice was in on the outing of Ms. Plame:

But a key exchange on the Wilson trip did occur in the July 11, 2003 press gaggle aboard Air Force One with both Ari Fleischer and Condoleezza Rice and it wasn’t Ari pushing the Wilson story. The transcript of the July 11, 2003 press gaggle has this interesting exchange:
Q Dr. Rice, when did you all find out that the documents were forged?
DR. RICE: Sometime in March, I believe. Is that right?
MR. FLEISCHER: The IAEA reported it.
DR. RICE: The IAEA reported it I believe in March. But I will tell you that, for instance, on Ambassador Wilson’s going out to Niger, I learned of that when I was sitting on whatever TV show it was, because that mission was not known to anybody in the White House. And you should ask the Agency at what level it was known in the Agency.
Q When was that TV show, when you learned about it?
DR. RICE: A month ago, about a month ago.
Q Can I ask you about something else?
DR. RICE: Yes. Are you sure you’re through with this?

Daxman continues with his interpretation of what Dr. Rice was up to here. While Bush minion Roland Patrick was trying to convince us that the press was very interested in “who sent him” on July 13, they were not interested in this aspect of Dr. Rice’s mantra two days earlier. I guess Dr. Rice got Wolf interested over the next couple of days. What I find hilarious is that the more the rightwing tries to divert attention from Rove’s misdeeds, the more members of the White House they drag into this scandal.

Let me close with the insights from Molly Ivins via Mark Thoma:

If the Washington press corps had a memory bank longer than 10 minutes, it could have exposed this years ago. The lies so often directly contradict one another.

Read the rest of what Ms. Ivins has to say.