Libby's new filing: Hadley and Armitage named, press ignores Hadley

Larisa Alexandrovna
Published: Sunday March 19, 2006

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In a late night Friday filing (made available by RAW STORY here,) attorneys for Vice President Dick Cheney's former Chief of Staff, I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby, named key witnesses in the outing of CIA operative Valerie Plame.

Included for the first time in formal documents was National Security Advisor Stephen Hadley.

In the documents, Libby’s team listed former Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage, former Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Marc Grossman, current National Security Advisor Stephen Hadley, and former CIA spokesman Bill Harlow all as potential witnesses for the defense.

Plame's status as a CIA operative first became known to the public when her identity was disclosed by conservative columnist Robert Novak in a July 14, 2003 column. The piece ran just one week after her husband, former ambassador Joseph Wilson, had written an op-ed for the New York Times asserting that White House officials twisted pre-war intelligence on Iraq. Some believe that her outing was retaliation for her husband’s public criticism of the war-bent White House.

Libby, who was indicted on five counts of perjury and false statements in the case late last year, is hoping to demonstrate that he was not the first government official to leak Plame Wilson's name to reporters by revealing the sources of journalist Bob Woodward.

Woodward’s source, however, has become as much a source of intrigue as the leak case itself. While there has been much speculation that the new anti-Deep Throat may be Richard Armitage, RAW STORY confirmed late last year that, according to attorneys close to the investigation, Woodward’s source was actually Stephen Hadley, who at the time of the Plame Wilson outing was serving as Deputy National Security Advisor under Condoleezza Rice.

The attorneys provided RAW STORY with a rare glimpse into the secretive Grand Jury proceedings in which Woodward had testified as to his own involvement in the leak case and how he came to learn of Plame Wilson’s identity:

“Testifying under oath Monday to Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald, Woodward recounted a casual conversation he had with Hadley, these sources say. Hadley did not return a call seeking comment.”

According to attorneys close to the case, Woodward had been given access to classified National Security Council documents for his book Plan of Attack, something Woodward also confirms in the book. He worked closely with Hadley and Rice during that period of time.

The Sunday London Times later confirmed that Hadley was Woodward’s source, becoming the only mainstream publication to do so:

“If so, according to Woodward’s timeline, he will have disclosed the information in mid-June 2003, roughly a week before Libby talked to other reporters on June 23. Supporters of Cheney’s disgraced aide are jubilant that this casts doubt on special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald’s contention that Libby was the first to spread the word about Plame.”

Others in the media have focused almost entirely on former Deputy Secretary of State, Richard Armitage, claiming that Hadley has publicly denied that he was Woodward's source.

But Hadley’s denial is hardly that; rather, it is a cryptic answer, a non-denial denial. In response to RAW STORY’s article fingering him as Woodward’s source, Hadley replied that he had heard from White House officials that he was not:

“I’ve also seen press reports from White House officials saying that I am not one of his sources,” Hadley said with a smile. Asked if this was a yes or no he replied: “It is what it is.”

This cryptic statement was made even more mysterious by a spokesperson for the National Security Council, who would not go on the record to issue a formal denial and, more bizarre still, wanted very specific attribution:

“The spokesperson asked that RAW STORY attribute denials of Hadley’s role in the leak case to a White House official instead of a National Security Council spokesperson.

RAW STORY refused, telling the official that our policy does not allow the attribution of quotes to sources in a way that might be considered as misconstruing the source's identity.”

Armitage, Hadley and the Press

Although Armitage and Hadley both appear as potential witnesses in the filing by Libby’s defense team, both appearing seven times each, only Armitage is mentioned by most press accounts.

Moreover, the context in which Armitage is mentioned is itself strange. The filing cites a recent Vanity Fair article as having reported that Armitage was Woodward’s source, through a comment made by the Washington Post’s former executive editor, Ben Bradlee.

“This week, Vanity Fair, the Washington Post and The New York Times, as well as other media outlets, reported that Richard Armitage, former Deputy Secretary of State, told Bob Woodward of the Washington Post that Ms. Wilson worked for the CIA. There has been media speculation that Mr. Woodward’s source and Mr. Novak’s source are the same person. If the facts ultimately show that Mr. Armitage or someone else from the State Department was also Mr. Novak’s primary source, then the State Department (and certainly not Mr. Libby) bears responsibility for the “leak” that led to the public disclosure of Ms. Wilson’s CIA identity. Mr. Grossman worked closely with Mr. Armitage, who was then the second-highest ranking official in the State Department.”

(Libby filing)

The Vanity Fair article, which was written by Marie Brenner, a close friend of scandalized New York Times reporter Judith Miller, alleges that Bradlee said that it was a "fair assumption" that Armitage was Woodward’s "likely source."

Judith Miller made headlines when she was jailed for refusing to disclose that Libby was her source.

In addition to citing the Vanity Fair article as having identified Woodward’s source, the filing by Libby’s attorneys references the Washington Post and the New York Times as “having reported” that Woodward’s source was Armitage.

The reality is that the two publications reported on the Vanity Fair piece, not through their own separate investigations. Furthermore, the Post article actually may have defused the Bradlee Vanity Fair story, when Woodward commented for the article that he had not told Bradlee who his source was, and Bradlee even denied having told Vanity Fair who Woodward’s source was.

The near-total silence by the press on Hadley’s involvement, even when he is finally named in a legal filing for the case, is perplexing considering Hadley’s alleged involvement in so much of the pre-war intelligence on Iraq.

Hadley, the War, and the Sell

Hadley was part of the White House Iraq Group (WHIG), an ensemble put together by White House chief of staff, Andrew Card, to sell propaganda on Iraq’s threat to US national security in the form of a “mushroom cloud.” Armitage, like his then boss Secretary of State Colin Powell, was an outsider in this administration and as such was not part of WHIG.

Hadley was intimately implicated in the trips taken by one-time foreign policy advisor to Karl Rove, Michael Ledeen, Pentagon Iran expert Harold Rhode, and DIA analyst Larry Franklin. Franklin has since pleaded guilty in an espionage case involving an Israeli lobby.

In a recent interview with RAW STORY, Michael Ledeen confirmed that Hadley had approved the trip (and subsequent trips by Rhode and Franklin). While Hadley at first denied approving the trips and later claimed not to have known what their purpose was, Ledeen points out that Hadley would have had to authorize the trips and do so with approval from his higher ups:

“Obviously Hadley did not unilaterally do anything. The Pentagon paid for the expenses of the two DOD officials, and the American ambassador in Rome was fully briefed both before and after the meetings,” said Ledeen.

In the lead up to the Iraq war it was Stephen Hadley who met with the head of Italian intelligence (SISMI), Nicolo Pollari, in the fall of 2002 to discuss allegations that Iraq was attempting to purchase yellowcake uranium from Niger. Armitage was not part of this meeting.

During the President’s 2003 State of the Union Address, he cited as evidence the Iraq/Niger uranium claim. When Wilson wrote his NYT op-ed about his own trip to Niger and disputed the White House’s story on the evidence, it was Hadley who took responsibility for the President’s references in the SOTU. Again, Armitage was not in the picture.

Yet in all mainstream press accounts, Hadley is not even discussed as a potential source for Woodward.

Read the full filing in PDF format here.