Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Who was at the meeting?

There was a big catch at the end of the Washington Post piece linked to earlier. Laura Rozen credits Erik Umansky for picking up on the significance passage:
Senior administration officials said there was a document circulated at the State Department -- before Libby talked to Miller -- that mentioned Plame. It was drafted in June as an administrative letter and addressed to then-Undersecretary of State Marc Grossman, who was acting secretary at the time since Secretary of State Colin L. Powell and Deputy Secretary Richard L. Armitage were out of the country.

As a former State Department official involved in the process recalled it, Grossman wanted the letter as background for a meeting at the White House, where the discussion was focused on then growing criticism of Bush's inclusion in his January State of the Union speech of the allegation that Hussein had been seeking uranium from Niger.

The letter to Grossman discussed the reasons the Bureau of Intelligence and Research (INR) did not believe the intelligence, which originated from foreign sources, was accurate. It had a paragraph near the beginning, marked "(S)," meaning it was classified secret, describing a meeting at the CIA in February 2002, attended by another INR analyst, where Plame introduced her husband as the person who was to go to Niger.
This is the same letter that ended up on Air Force One that so energized early speculation on who was responsible for the leak. It is likely that a number of people knew early on who Wilson's wife was before the leak. Perhaps even those who claimed only to have "heard" about it.

- Murphy

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