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State Department reportedly knew for years ex-Powell aide Armitage 'outed' CIA's Plame

RAW STORY
Published: Saturday August 26, 2006

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According to a soon-to-be-released book, the State Department has known for years that former deputy secretary of state Richard L. Armitage "outed" ex-CIA operative Valerie Plame Wilson to syndicated columnist Robert Novak and Bob Woodward of The Washington Post.

"Armitage's central role as the primary source on Plame is detailed for the first time in 'Hubris,' which recounts the leak case and the inside battles at the CIA and White House in the run-up to the war," reports Newsweek's Michael Isikoff, who also co-authored the book with David Corn.

"The disclosures about Armitage, gleaned from interviews with colleagues, friends and lawyers directly involved in the case, underscore one of the ironies of the Plame investigation: that the initial leak, seized on by administration critics as evidence of how far the White House was willing to go to smear an opponent, came from a man who had no apparent intention of harming anyone," the article continues.

Excerpts from Newsweek article:

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Armitage, a well-known gossip who loves to dish and receive juicy tidbits about Washington characters, apparently hadn't thought through the possible implications of telling Novak about Plame's identity. "I'm afraid I may be the guy that caused this whole thing," he later told Carl Ford Jr., State's intelligence chief. Ford says Armitage admitted to him that he had "slipped up" and told Novak more than he should have. "He was basically beside himself that he was the guy that f---ed up. My sense from Rich is that it was just chitchat," Ford recalls in "Hubris," to be published in early September by Crown and co-written by the author of this article and David Corn, Washington editor of The Nation magazine.

...Armitage himself was aggressively investigated by special counsel Patrick Fitzgerald, but was never charged. Fitzgerald found no evidence that Armitage knew of Plame's covert CIA status when he talked to Novak and Woodward. The decision to go to the FBI that panicky October afternoon also may have helped Armitage. Powell, Armitage and Taft were aware of the perils of a cover-up—all three had lived through the Iran-contra scandal at the Defense Department in the late 1980s.

Taft, the State Department lawyer, also felt obligated to inform White House counsel Alberto Gonzales. But Powell and his aides feared the White House would then leak that Armitage had been Novak's source—possibly to embarrass State Department officials who had been unenthusiastic about Bush's Iraq policy. So Taft told Gonzales the bare minimum: that the State Department had passed some information about the case to Justice. He didn't mention Armitage. Taft asked if Gonzales wanted to know the details. The president's lawyer, playing the case by the book, said no, and Taft told him nothing more. Armitage's role thus remained that rarest of Washington phenomena: a hot secret that never leaked.

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FULL NEWSWEEK ARTICLE CAN BE READ AT THIS LINK