Plame Leak timeline

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Before the leak: 1988 - 2002 (Wilson's Trip to Niger)


January 2003

January 12

  • The State Department INR expresses concerns to the CIA that the Iraq-Niger documents are forgeries. (INR memo, p. 3)

January 13

  • The chief INR Iraq nuclear analyst circulates an e-mail to intelligence community analysts warning that "the uranium purchase agreement probably is a hoax." (SSCI)

January 24

January 25

January 22 or 26 (approx.)

  • WINPAC director Alan Foley and NSC staffer Robert Joseph talk about State of the Union speech drafting over the phone. Foley objects to the uranium claim and says it should be taken out. Joseph is insistent on keeping it in. Joseph proposes attributing the information to the British. Foley agrees to this. (SCSI; Time; emptywheel). (Note: accounts of this event are conflicting, as are estimated dates).

before January 28

  • The National Intelligence Council sends and the White House receives an unequivocal memo, drafted by Robert G. Houdek, the national intelligence officer for Africa, that the Niger story is baseless and should be laid to rest. (WaPo, DailyKos)

January 28

"The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa."

January 29

  • Joseph Wilson meets with a friend who works at the State Department and asks why the president had cited the British intelligence report about Iraq's attempt to buy uranium, when he had debunked the allegation a year earlier. (NYT)

February 2003

February 4

  • The U.S. Government sends copies of the Iraq-Niger documents to the IAEA. Included with the documents are talking points citing Wilson's trip as in support of the claim that Iraq tried to acquire uranium from Niger. (SCSI, emptywheel, eRiposte)

February 5

  • Secretary of State Colin Powell addresses the UN to make the case about WMDs and Saddam Hussein. Powell does not mention the Niger allegations. (transcript)

February 28

March 2003

March 6

March 7

March 8

  • An unnamed State Department official is quoted as saying "we fell for it" regarding the forged documents. (WaPo)
  • The DIA provides a memo to Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld citing the CIA report of Wilson's trip as supporting the idea that Iraq had sought uranium from Niger. (SSCI, pp. 69-70, eRiposte, emptywheel)
  • Joseph Wilson appears on CNN, suggesting the U.S. government knew the Niger claims were wrong. He does not mention his trip. (transcript)

March 9

  • The decision to produce a workup on Wilson in order to discredit him is made, at a meeting within the Office of the Vice President (Wilson, Politics of Truth; eriposte; USA Today; RawStory).

March 11

  • As response to the March 8 Rumsfeld tasking, a CIA senior-level report concludes "We do not dispute the IAEA Director General's conclusion--last Friday before the UN Security Council--that documents on Iraq's agreement to buy uranium from Niger are not authentic." (report, p. 3 of pdf; CIA memo, item 32)

March 16

  • Vice President Dick Cheney appears on Meet the Press. He denies ElBaradei's assertion that the Niger documents were forgeries. (transcript)

March 19

  • Invasion of Iraq begins.

March 25

April 2003

April 3

  • The CIA sends as Congressional notification a background paper titled "Purported Iraqi Attempt to Get Uranium from Niger." (transmittal and report, at p. 2 of pdf)

May 2003

May 2

  • Joseph Wilson and New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof meet on a panel. Over breakfast, Wilson tells Kristof about the Niger trip, and says Kristof can write about it, but not name him.

Wilson talks off record about Niger

May 6

May 14

May 19

  • Ari Fleischer announces his resignation as White House Press Secretary, to take effect in July.

May 29

  • Scooter Libby asks Undersecretary of State Marc Grossman for information about the unnamed ambassador's trip. Grossman does not know about it and sets to find out. He first asks Richard Armitage, who has not heard either. Grossman then emails Carl Ford and Walter H. Kansteiner, both of whom know about Wilson and who inform Grossman of details of the trip. Grossman informs Armitage. Grossman calls Joe Wilson, who he knows from the foreign service. Grossman calls Libby and tells him that Wilson is the unnamed ambassador. (Grossman testimony; Hearing transcript, pdf p. 6; Libby indictment)
  • Grossman directs INR head Carl Ford to prepare a report concerning the ambassador and his trip. Ford tasks Neil Silver with the preparation. (Ford testimony; Grossman testimony; Hearing transcript, pdf p. 6; Libby indictment, p. 4). (Grossman leaves on a trip June 1, and returns to the office June 9. It it possible the report is requested after Grossman's return, not before.)

WH scrambles to address criticism, Niger mission INR report created

June 2003

June 1-7

June 3

  • Scooter Libby makes a note to talk to Dick Cheney about the Pincus article. (Libby testimony, p. 70; Libby note, p. 16 of pdf)

June 6

June 7

June 8

  • National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice appears on Meet the Press and This Week on ABC and claims that no one at her level knew the Niger intelligence to be bad.

June 9

  • Scooter Libby learns that President George Bush is interested in the State of the Union speech and the Kristof article. (Libby testimony, p. 45; Libby notes, p. 8 of pdf; emptywheel)
  • Libby asks CIA briefer Craig Schmall to look into whether the Office of the Vice President had made a request concerning Iraq-Niger uranium procurement. (Libby testimony, p. 36 ff.; Libby notes, p. 6 of pdf)
  • The CIA faxes documents to the attention of Libby and John Hannah in the OVP. The faxed documents do not give Wilson's name: Libby and others add "Wilson" and "Joe Wilson" by hand (Libby indictment, p. 4; ). Libby will testify that he frequently refered back to these documents before talking to reporters about the Wilson trip (Libby filing, p. 8).
    1:19 p.m. - a copy of the WINPAC report sent to Donald Rumsfeld on March 11.
    2:42 p.m. - Irag-Niger Part II: a February 14, 2002 memo to Dick Cheney.
    3:47 p.m. - Congressional notification: an April 3, 2003 CIA report.
  • Hannah sends Vice President Dick Cheney a memo passing on and highlighting the April 3 CIA report. (memo, p. 3 of pdf])

June 10

  • A classified State Department memorandum, "Niger/Iraq Uranium Story", generally called "the INR memo", is sent by Carl Ford to Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs Marc Grossman. In a paragraph marked "(SNF)" for secret, non-foreign, the memo refers to "Valerie Wilson, a CIA WMD manager and the wife of Joe Wilson". (memo as exhibit at trial; NYT,Time, WaPo).
  • Vice President Dick Cheney meets with George Tenet and the counterproliferation manager at the CIA. (Cheney 302)
  • 4:30 p.m. - Robert Grenier's executive assistant sends out an email within the CIA, seeking information on the Wilson trip, "on behalf of the Vice President". (email)
  • 5:25 and 6:21 p.m. - CIA public affairs officer Bill Harlow calls the OVP Office of Public Affairs. One possible time when Harlow tells Catherine Martin of Wilson's wife. (phone log)

June 11

  • 12:00 noon (approx.) - At a deputies meeting on June 11 or 12, Undersecretary of State Marc Grossman tells Scooter Libby that "Joe Wilson's wife works for the CIA", and that State Department personnel are saying that Wilson's wife was involved in the planning of the trip (Grossman testimony; Grossman calendar; Hearing transcript, pdf p. 6; Fitzgerald affadavit, p. 11; Libby indictment, p. 4).
  • 12:00 noon - John McLaughlin, Deputy Director of Central Intelligence, meets with Dick Cheney. McLaughin is prepared with answers to Cheney's quesions about the Wilson trip. (emptywheel)
  • 1:05 p.m. - Cheney, Libby, and Cathie Martin meet for 20 minutes at Cheney's office. (Libby calendar; emptywheel)
  • 1:15 p.m. - Libby calls Robert Grenier, Iraq mission manager at the CIA. (call slip)
  • 2:00 p.m. (approx.) - Grenier calls back. Libby complains of Wilson's story to the press, and wants to know if it is true. Grenier sets out to learn more. Grenier first asks the Deputy Chief of the Joint Task Force on Iraq (JTFI), who is unavailable. (Grenier testimony; Libby indictment, p. 4)
  • 2:37 p.m. - Cathie Martin emails Jenny Mayfield to schedule time with Libby on "Pincus stuff and Niger". (email)
  • 4:00 p.m. (approx.) - Grenier is called back by someone at the JTFI who is "fully knowledgeable" about the trip. Grenier is informed that Wilson's wife works within the CIA's Counterproliferation Division. Grenier is also told that State and Defense had been very interested in the Niger intelligence. (Grenier testimony)
  • 4:15 p.m. or somewhat after - Grenier is called out of a meeting with George Tenet by another phone call from Libby. Grenier conveys to Libby what he has learned, including the information about Wilson's wife. (Grenier testimony, Jan. 24, 2007; CIA recap of Grenier interview; David Corn)
  • 4:30 p.m. - Libby meets with Ahmad Chalabi at Libby's office. (Libby calendar)
  • 5:27 p.m - Following from the second Libby/Grenier call, in discussions over whether the CIA would be willing to go to the press with the information that it was not simply the OVP, but also the Department of Defense and the State Department who had been seeking information about Iraq's alleged attempts to purchase uranium in Niger, Bill Harlow calls Catherine Martin about the trip. Harlow tells Martin about Joseph Wilson and that his wife works for the CIA. Martin conveys to Cheney and Libby the information about Wilson and Wilson's wife. (Martin testimony; Martin notes; phone log; Grenier testimony)

June 11 (approx.)

Around June 12

  • Vice President Dick Cheney tells Libby that Wilson's wife works for the CIA's counter-proliferation division. Libby understands the information to have come from George Tenet. (Libby notes; Fitzgerald response, p. 4; Libby indictment, p. 5).

June 12

  • After the June 12 article by Pincus, "there was general discussion with the National Security Council and the White House and State Department and others" regarding Wilson and his trip, says a former intelligence officer. (Time)
  • Richard Armitage asks intelligence officers in the State Department for more information. He is forwarded a copy of the June 10 INR memo. (LATimes)
  • Jonathan Landay of Knight Ridder quotes an anonymous senior CIA officer "an agency source who had traveled to Niger couldn't confirm European intelligence reports that Iraq was attempting to buy uranium." (Knight Ridder)

Plame outed to reporters

June 13

  • Wilson calls some present and former senior administration officials who know national security adviser Condoleezza Rice. He wanted them to tell Rice that she was wrong in her June 8 NBC's Meet the Press comments. (WaPo)

June 14

June 17

  • CIA Director George Tenet receives a memo from analysts that there is no credible information that Iraq pursued uranium from abroad. (Murray Waas)

June 18 or shortly after

June 19 or 20

  • Spencer Ackerman and John Judis publish an article in the New Republic, anonymously quoting Wilson that administration officials "knew the Niger story was a flat-out lie."
  • Shortly after publication of the article, Scooter Libby and Eric Edelman discuss it. Edelman asks if details of the trip can be shared with the press. Libby cites "complications at the CIA" with public disclosure. Edelman understands that the subject cannot be further discussed on an unsecure line. (Libby Indictment, p. 6; Hearing transcript, pp. 42-43)

June 20

June 23

  • 3:00 p.m. - Second known outing to reporters: Libby tells Miller. New York Times reporter Judith Miller meets with Scooter Libby in Libby's office. Libby tells Miller that Wilson’s wife might work at a bureau of the CIA. (Libby indictment, p. 6; Miller in NYT)

June 27

July 2003

July 2

July 5

  • A senior administration official tells Washington Post reporter Walter Pincus that Joseph Wilson's mission to Africa originated within the CIA's clandestine service after Vice President Dick Cheney aides raised questions during a briefing. "It was not orchestrated by the vice president," the official says. Also according to the official, the trip was reported in a routine way, and the report did not mention Wilson's name and did not say anything about forgeries. (WaPo)

Wilson's op-ed published

July 6

  • The New York Times publishes an Op-Ed article by Joseph Wilson titled "What I Didn't Find in Africa," revealing details of his 2002 trip to Niger, and stating "intelligence related to Iraq's nuclear weapons program was twisted to exaggerate the Iraqi threat". (NYT, Dick Cheney's annotated copy)
Wilson also appears on Meet the Press, interviewed by Andrea Mitchell, and is quoted on the record about the trip in an article by Richard Leiby and Walter Pincus in the Washington Post.
  • Robert Novak, also appearing on Meet the Press, takes a dislike to Wilson, and will testify that Wilson gave "kind of an obnoxious performance" backstage, criticizing the Bush administration in a "very loud voice." (Source: Novak testimony)
  • In response to the Wilson article, Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage calls INR director Carl Ford at home, seeking explanation and background on the Wilson-Niger claims. Armitage asks Ford to forward this information to Secretary of State Colin Powell. (AP, NYT, WaPo)

July 7

  • 6:45 a.m. - At the morning briefing, Dick Cheney or Scooter Libby likely ask briefer Craig Schmall for more information about Wilson and the trip. (Libby testimony)
  • 7:33 a.m. - Scooter Libby prints out and underlines a copy of the Wilson article. (trial exhibit)
  • 8:45 a.m. - At the senior staff meeting, Karl Rove states the need to get the message out about Wilson, that the Vice President had not sent him. George Bush, Dick Cheney, Scooter Libby, Condolezza Rice, and Andrew Card are present. (Libby testimony, p. 88-89]
  • 9:22 a.m. - Cathie Martin sends talking points to White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer, that the Vice President had not requested Wilson's trip, had not been aware of it, and had not seen the results. (Martin email; Motion hearing, p. 13)
  • 9:34 a.m. - Ari Fleischer says at the press gaggle that the Vice President had not requested Wilson's trip, had not been aware of it, and had not seen the results. (transcript)
  • Robert Novak places a call to Ari Fleischer (Bloomberg). Fleischer has testified he did not return the call.
  • 12:00 noon - Scooter Libby and Ari Fleischer have lunch. Libby tells Fleischer that Wilson was sent by his wife, who works in the counterproliferation division of the CIA. Libby refers to her by name, Valerie Plame, and says the subject is "hush hush" and "on the QT". Fleisher does not take the information to be classified. (Fleischer testimony; Fleisher calendar; Fitzgerald affadavit, pp. 2, 12; Libby indictment, p. 7). Fleischer will testify that the conversation was "kind of weird" (Tatel opinion, p. 32) .
  • Evening - The President leaves on his trip to Africa.
  • Meetings are held to decide whether the White House will continue to stand by the 16 words. (Fleisher testimony)
  • A unnamed senior Bush administration official says in a statement authorized by the White House "Knowing all that we know now, the reference to Iraq's attempt to acquire uranium from Africa should not have been included in the State of the Union speech" (Pincus in WaPo)
  • According to anonymously-sourced leaks about the case: Colin Powell is seen walking around Air Force One with the INR memo (NYT); Powell circulates the memo among those traveling with him in the front section of Air Force One (LA Times)

Around July 7

On or before July 8

  • "People at the CIA" tell Andrea Mitchell that "high-level people at the CIA did not really know that it was false, never even looked at Joe Wilson's verbal report or notes from that report, didn't even know that it was he who had made this report, because he was sent over by some of the covert operatives in the CIA at a very low level, not, in fact, tasked by the vice president." (Capitol Report, July 8)
A Reuters reporter is fed a similar story: "A U.S. intelligence official said Wilson was sent to investigate the Niger reports by mid-level CIA officers, not by top-level Bush administration officials. There is no record of his report being flagged to top level officials, the intelligence official said." (Josh Marshall)

July 8

  • White House officials assemble a briefing book, which they fax to the Bush entourage in Africa in order to allow Condoleezza Rice to prepare on the long flight home to D.C for appearances on the Sunday talks shows. This briefing book was primarily prepared by her National Security Council staff. It contains classified information, likely including the INR memo. The entire binder is labeled TOP SECRET. (Newsweek)
  • 7:35 a.m. - Vice President Dick Cheney instructs or gives the O.K. to Scooter Libby to leak something to Judith Miller. Libby understands the authorization for the leak to come directly from the President. (Libby notes, p. 62 of pdf; Motion hearing, p. 31; emptywheel).
  • Libby confers with Counsel to the Vice President David Addington about the legality of the leak. Addington tells Libby "that Presidential authorization to publicly disclose a document amounted to a declassification of the document." Libby also inquires of Addington what paperwork would exist at the CIA if an employee's spouse undertook an overseas trip. (Libby notes, transcribed; Addington testimony, Jan 29, 2007; Libby indictment p. 7; Fitzgerald affadavit, p. 12)
  • 8:30 a.m. - Third known outing to reporters: Libby again tells Miller. Scooter Libby meets with New York Times reporter Judith Miller over a two-hour breakfast at the St. Regis Hotel in Washington, D.C. They discuss CIA operative Valerie Plame (Libby indictment p. 7). Miller's notes contain the phrase "Wife works at Winpac" (Miller in NYT). Libby will later testify that the purpose of the meeting was to disclose information from the NIE to Miller, and that the disclosure was authorized by his superiors (OSC letter, p. 6).
  • 3:00 p.m. - Fourth known outing to reporters: Armitage tells Novak. Robert Novak interviews Richard Armitage at Armitage's office. Armitage tells Novak that Wilson's wife is a CIA employee. According to Armitage, Novak asked him at the end of the interview why the CIA had sent Wilson to Niger. His recollection is that he replied, "I don't know, but his wife works out there." According to Novak at trial, Armitage says that Wilson was suggested by wife Valerie who was employee in CPD at the CIA. (Novak testimony; Corn, Novak, CBS, McClatchy Newspapers)
  • 3:30 p.m. - Cheney dictates talking points to Cathie Martin. The talking points include a reference to leaking the NIE, which concerns Martin, as she believes them to be still-classified. In an edit, Libby mentions Wilson's 1999 trip. (Martin testimony; Murray Waas)
  • At Cheney's direction, Libby starts to call journalists himself, possibly to leak the NIE. He speaks to David Martin and Andrea Mitchell.
  • 4:00 p.m. (approx.) - Robert Novak talks to a nominal stranger (a friend of Wilson) who approaches him on the way to taping Crossfire, that he believes that Wilson's wife had something to do with Wilson's appointment to investigate the yellowcake claim in Africa. (Wilson, Politics of Truth; truthout)
My friend, without revealing that he knew me, asked Novak about the Uranium controversy. It was a minor problem, Novak replied, and opined that the administration should have dealt with it weeks before. My friend then asked Novak what he thought about me, and Novak answered: "Wilson's an asshole. The CIA sent him. His wife, Valerie, works for the CIA. She's a weapons of mass destruction specialist. She sent him." (Politics of Truth)
  • Wilson's friend goes directly to Wilson's office and they document the exchange.
  • Wilson contacts Eason Jordan, the head of the news division at CNN, and Novak’s titular boss, about the exchange.
  • Novak calls Karl Rove, leaves a message. (Novak testimony)
  • 4:46 p.m. - Novak calls Libby seeking confirmation of the story, leaves a message. (phone log, p. 34 of pdf; Fitzgerald affidavit, p. 18)
  • 6:40 p.m. - On the NBC Nightly News, Andrea Mitchell reports blame-pushing to the CIA: "The White House blamed an October CIA report for ignoring Wilson's information and not requesting the original documents on which the charge was based for more than a year." Scooter Libby is likely the source.

July 8 or 9

  • In Novak's telling, Rove responds by saying "Oh, you know about it."(Townhall)
  • In Rove's telling, Rove responds by saying "I heard that, too." (WaPo)
  • The conversation is usually dated to July 9. Novak has variously said July 9, or maybe July 8 or 9. A July 8 date, after the Armitage conversation, might explain details of Novak's knowledge in the conversation with Wilson's friend. (Source: emptywheel)

July 9

  • Following this, there is a "decision to keep communicators uninvolved" with the Tenet statement. Martin meets with Libby and Cheney to tell them she did not say that to Mitchell. For the next few days Martin does not much speak with senior officials.

Around July 7 or July 9 to July 11

  • George Tenet and top aides begin drafting the July 11 responsibility statement. There is departmental skirmishing and positioning. (emptywheel)

July 10

  • Novak and Wilson speak by telephone. "I told him I couldn’t imagine what had possessed him to blurt out to a complete stranger what he had thought he knew about my wife. Novak apologized, and then asked if I would confirm what he had heard from a CIA source: that my wife worked at the Agency. I told him that I didn’t answer questions about my wife."
Wilson noted the story co-written in 1990 by Novak and suggested that Novak "check his files" before writing about him. Wilson went on to claim he was "hardly anti-war, just anti-dumb-war." (Wilson, Politics of Truth)
  • Robert Novak publishes an article about the appointment of Frances Fragos Townsend as deputy national security adviser. The significance relates to the primary subject of the July 8 Rove - Novak phone call. (Murray Waas)
  • Scooter Libby calls Mary Matalin for advice on countering Wilson. Matalin advises Libby to call Tim Russert and complain about Chris Matthews coverage of the story. Matalin also advises "get NYT, Sanger or someone, to expose Wilson story." (Libby testimony, p. 150 ff.; Libby notes, p. 43 of pdf)
  • Late afternoon or early evening - Libby calls Tim Russert of NBC. Libby complains about coverage of the Niger issue by Chris Matthews. Libby and Russert do not discuss Wilson's wife, though Libby will later testify that they did. (Libby Indictment, p. 8; Fitzgerald affadavit, pp. 9-11; Tatel opinion, p. 31). [The conversation may have been on July 11; or perhaps one call on the 10th, a second on the 11th]

July 10 or 11

  • Libby speaks with Karl Rove. Libby is advised of Rove's earlier-that-week conversation with Robert Novak, that Wilson's wife was discussed, and that Novak will be writing a column (Libby Indictment, p. 8). Libby has testified he told Rove about Russert.
  • Novak calls CIA spokesman Bill Harlow to confirm information regarding Plame and Wilson. (WaPo, Tatel opinion, p. 38, TownHall)

July 11

  • National security advisor Condoleezza Rice informs CIA Director George Tenet that she and the president will be telling the media that Bush's speech "was cleared by intelligence services." (LA Times)
  • 5:15 a.m. EST - Condoleezza Rice in a press gaggle with Ari Fleischer aboard Air Force One skirts the responsibility regarding the 16 words, claiming that the speech conformed to the October 2002 National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) and that the DCIA had cleared the speech. She says she learned of the document forgery in March, and of Wilson's trip "on whatever TV show it was" "about a month ago".
  • A meeting is held in the senior staff cabin of Air Force One. Declassification of the CIA report of Wilson's trip is discussed. Ari Fleischer wants to see the report, because Rice had said part of it backs up what the President had said. (Fleischer testimony)
  • On board Air Force One, Communications Director Dan Bartlett is reading a document about the Wilson trip. Bartlett, venting, says "I can't believe he [Wilson] is saying the Vice President sent him to Niger. His wife sent him, she works at CIA." Ari Fleischer hears this. (Fleischer testimony)
  • Fleischer and Bartlett prompt reporters, including John Dickerson, to look into the bureaucratic origins of the Wilson trip. (OSC letter, p. 4; Dickerson in Slate; Newsweek, NYT)
  • around 8:00 a.m. EST - Sixth known outing to reporters: Fleischer tells Gregory and Dickerson. Ari Fleischer is talking with reporters David Gregory of NBC and John Dickerson of Time by the side of a road in Uganda. Fleisher tells them, "If you want to know who sent Ambassador Wilson to Niger, it was his wife, she works there." Reporter Tamara Lippert of Newsweek is present for parts of the conversation. (Fleisher testimony).
  • Dickerson recalls differently, that Fleischer merely pushed him to investigate the origins of the trip, and did not tell him about Wilson's wife. (Slate)
  • 11:00 a.m. - Clifford May puts up a piece on NRO which attacks Wilson in a number of ways but does not include any reference to Valerie Wilson/Plame. The piece also states: "Wilson was sent to Niger by the CIA to verify a U.S. intelligence report about the sale of yellowcake — because Vice President Dick Cheney requested it, because Cheney had doubts about the validity of the intelligence report."
  • Before 11:07 a.m. - Seventh known outing to reporters: Rove tells Cooper. White House Deputy Chief of Staff Karl Rove has a short conversation with Time magazine reporter Matthew Cooper. Rove tells Cooper that Wilson's wife works for the CIA and had a hand in sending him to Niger, and that the story will be coming out. Rove does not mention her by name. (Cooper's notes)
  • 11:07 a.m - Cooper emails his bureau chief after speaking to Rove. (Newsweek)
[...] Cooper wrote that Rove offered him a "big warning" not to "get too far out on Wilson." Rove told Cooper that Wilson's trip had not been authorized by "DCIA"--CIA Director George Tenet--or Vice President Dick Cheney. Rather, "it was, KR said, Wilson's [sic] wife, who apparently works at the agency on WMD (weapons of mass destruction) issues who authorized the trip."
  • After 11:07 a.m. - Karl Rove e-mails deputy national security adviser Stephen Hadley after speaking to Cooper. (AP)
Matt Cooper called to give me a heads-up that he’s got a welfare reform story coming. When he finished his brief heads-up he immediately launched into Niger. Isn’t this damaging? Hasn’t the president been hurt? I didn’t take the bait, but I said if I were him I wouldn’t get Time far out in front on this.
  • 12:45 p.m. - Cooper emails a set of questions about the Vice President's handling of the Niger allegations to Catherine Martin.
  • After 1:00 p.m. - John Dickerson and Matthew Cooper trade the information they have learned. They agree that Cooper will follow up on "the wife business". (Slate)
  • 3:09 p.m. - George Tenet issues a statement taking the heat for the 16 words, and saying the decision to send Wilson was the CIA's alone. (Cooperative Research)

July 12

  • Ari Fleischer discusses Wilson and Wilson's report in a press gaggle from Nigeria (transcript; emptywheel). The transcript will later be subpoenaed.
  • Dick Cheney and Scooter Libby are disappointed that the Tenet statement did not go far enough.
  • 7:00 a.m - At his morning briefing, Cheney receives a CIA document that refers to Wilson's trip, without naming Wilson directly. (Fitzgerald affidavit; Cheney 302)
  • Aboard Air Force Two, Libby discusses with Dick Cheney and with press aide Catherine Martin how to reply to pending media inquiries, including questions from Matthew Cooper and Glenn Kessler. (Libby indictment p. 8; Martin testimony; WaPo). The Vice President directs Libby to speak to the press in place of Martin regarding the NIE and Wilson, and dictates talking points. On the record, background, and deep background statements are prepared (Fitzgerald motion response, p. 20; emptywheel; Swopa).
  • Cheney and Libby may have discussed the possibility of leaking about Wilson's wife. (Bond testimony, Feb. 1, 2007; emptywheel)
  • Anonymous lawyers will say the Vice President told Libby to direct reporters to the statement released the previous day by George Tenet, that Wilson had been sent on the mission by CIA counter-proliferation officers "on their own initiative" (NYT, RawStory).
  • The Vice President instructs Libby to alert reporters of the attack launched that morning on Wilson's credibility by Ari Fleischer (WaPo).
  • The Vice President directs Libby to leak details from a March 2002 intelligence report from the debriefing of Wilson's trip (Murray Waas).
  • While returning to D.C. on Air Force One, Fleischer and Bartlett agree to call reporters. Fleischer will call the Washington Post and the New York Times, Bartlett will call the Sunday talk shows. (Fleischer testimony}
  • 1:26 p.m. - Eighth known outing to reporters: Fleischer tells Pincus. Fleisher calls Walter Pincus of the Washington Post. Fleisher tells Pincus that the White House had not paid attention to Wilson's trip to Niger because it was set up as a boondoggle by his wife, an analyst with the agency working on weapons of mass destruction (Pincus testimony; call log; Pincus article). "The Bush administration official, according to attorneys familiar with his testimony, told a federal grand jury that he made the claim to the Post reporter and others in an effort to undermine Wilson's credibility" (Murray Waas).
  • Fleischer says about it "No sir. I would have remembered it if it happened." (Fleischer testimony)
  • Pincus calls Wilson and alerts him that “they are coming after you.” Wilson tells Plame, who alerts the press liaison at the CIA. (Wilson, Politics of Truth)
  • 2:24 p.m. - Ninth known outing to reporters: Libby confirms to Cooper. Libby calls Time magazine reporter Matthew Cooper from Andrews Air Force base. Libby tells Cooper that Dick Cheney had not been responsible for Wilson's mission. Speaking on the record, Libby denies that Cheney knew about or played any role in the Wilson trip to Niger. Speaking on background, Cooper asks Libby if he had heard anything about Wilson's wife sending her husband to Niger. Libby replies, "Yeah, I've heard that too." (Libby indictment p. 8; Tatel opinion pp. 32-33; Cooper's notes; Cooper email; Time). Catherine Martin and Libby aide Jenny Mayfield are present for the call (Libby motion).
  • Libby has a phone conversation with Washington Post reporter Glenn Kessler. According to Kessler, Plame and Wilson are not discussed. According to Libby, Libby tells Kessler that Wilson's wife works at the CIA. (Kessler testimony; Fitzgerald affadavit, pp. 9, 17; WaPo)
  • 4:03 p.m - Scooter Libby and Judith Miller have a three minute phone conversation. Libby has returned home, Miller is getting into a cab.
  • Late Afternoon - Tenth known outing to reporters: Libby tells Miller for the third time. Libby has a phone conversation with New York Times reporter Judith Miller about Valerie Plame and Joe Wilson. Miller is at her home in Sag Harbor. (Libby indictment p. 8; Fitzgerald affadavit, pp. 2, 8; NYSun; Miller in NYT)
  • Bush returns to Washington DC aboard Air Force One, from his Africa trip.

July 13

  • Condoleezza Rice makes the talk show rounds. She defends the 16 words as "technically accurate" and talks about the Wilson trip with Wolf Blitzer on CNN Late Edition; Bob Schieffer on Face the Nation; and Tony Snow on Fox News Sunday. (Newsweek; NYT)

Novak's column published: Plame outed to public

  • Prior to the Novak column, five reporters are known to have known that Wilson's wife worked at the CIA: Bob Woodward, Judith Miller, Bob Novak, Walter Pincus, and Matthew Cooper (OSC letter, p. 13 of PDF). Also John Dickerson, having heard from Matthew Cooper and perhaps Ari Fleischer; and David Gregory, having perhaps heard from Ari Fleischer.

July 14

"Wilson never worked for the CIA, but his wife, Valerie Plame, is an Agency operative on weapons of mass destruction. Two senior administration officials told me Wilson's wife suggested sending him to Niger to investigate the Italian report. The CIA says its counter-proliferation officials selected Wilson and asked his wife to contact him. "I will not answer any question about my wife," Wilson told me."
  • Ari Fleischer holds his final press briefing as White House Press Secretary. The Niger trip is raised in questions. (transcript)
  • Wilson calls Novak for a clarification about his article's sources as it cited not a CIA source, as Novak had indicated in the phone call four days earlier, but rather two senior administration sources. Novak replies “I misspoke the first time we talked.” (Wilson, Politics of Truth)

July 14 or 15

July 16

  • Andrea Mitchell of NBC attends a White House reception for Gerald Ford's 90th birthday. The guest list for the reception will later be subpoenaed.
  • Corn telephones Wilson personally to inform him that this leak was a crime.

July 17

  • Matthew Cooper coauthors a "A War on Wilson?" in Time. "Some government officials have noted to TIME in interviews ... that Wilson's wife, Valerie Plame, is a CIA official who monitors the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction."
An earlier article was released on July 14. The Office of the Vice President complained to Time about omission of the "on the record" component of Libby's remarks, and Time put that into the online version. (Fitzgerald motion, p. 6)

July 18

July 20

July 21

July 22

  • In a press briefing with Communications Director Dan Bartlett, Rice subordinate Stephen Hadley admits the 16 words should have been deleted from the Presidents speech and admits being warned by the CIA about the Niger claims in October 2002. (transcript)
  • Timothy Phelps and Knut Royce publish "Columnist Blows CIA Agent's Cover" in Newsday. A senior intelligence official confirms to them that Plame was a Directorate of Operations undercover officer.
  • The intelligence official is likely CIA public affairs officer Bill Harlow. (Fitzgerald affidavit, p. 26)
  • Robert Novak is quoted as saying "I didn't dig it out. It was given to me. They thought it was significant. They gave me the name, and I used it."

July 24

  • A CIA attorney leaves a phone message for the Chief of the Counterespionage Section with concerns about the articles, and noticing that a crimes report would be forthcoming.

July 25 or 28

July 30

  • A letter is sent to the Criminal Division reporting a possible crime. It also explains that the CIA's Office of Security would be looking into the matter.
  • Condoleezza Rice "grudgingly" admits that the contents of the speech were her responsibility; she never offered her resignation (Wilson 352).

Investigation begins

Plame investigation 2004

Plame investigation 2005

Plame investigation 2006

Plame investigation 2007

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