by James Corbett
October 8, 2013
Even going by the official story of Plamegate, the Department of Justice’s investigation into the Plame Affair headed by Special Counsel Patrick Fitzgerald makes no sense. The entire purpose of the Fitzgerald investigation into the matter, after all, was to find out who had leaked Plame’s status as a CIA operative to Robert Novak, the journalist who then published that information in a July 2003 Washington Post column. But according to the official story, this wasn’t even a mystery. By 2006, Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage had publicly confirmed that he had been Novak’s primary source for the story, and that when the scandal broke he had immediately contacted the FBI to admit to his role. Despite this, Fitzgerald was appointed as Special Counsel in the case in December 2003 and continued to pursue his investigation through to the 2007 conviction of Vice President Cheney’s Chief of Staff, Lewis “Scooter” Libby. In the end, Libby was the only one to be convicted of anything in the entire affair, and even this conviction was not for any leak related to Plame, but for perjury and obstruction of justice related to the DOJ investigation. In effect, even the official story admits that the entire Fitzgerald investigation was a sham.
But as we’ve examined in this special investigative series on the Plame affair, the official story of the “leaking” of Plame’s identity is itself a sham. Richard Armitage may have been Novak’s source, but even Fitzgerald’s investigation confirmed that the first documented leak of Plame’s status came from Marc Grossman, the number three in Colin Powell’s State Department. And as FBI whistleblower Sibel Edmonds confirmed in sworn testimony, Grossman had exposed Brewster Jennings & Associates–the phony company that Plame and other counter-proliferation operatives were using as their employment cover–as a CIA front a full two years before the whole scandal broke, in 2001. Grossman later went on to be a key witness in the Libby trial.
There is no way that Fitzgerald could claim ignorance of Grossman’s role in the affair. After all, Grossman himself admitted that he had been the first one to leak Plame’s status to Libby on June 11, 2003, two days before Armitage first told it to journalist Bob Woodward. More importantly, however, Grossman’s role in blowing the Brewster Jennings operation in 2001 had been provided to the Justice Department on multiple occasions. Firstly it had been provided by Edmonds to the DOJ when she first blew the whistle after being forced out of the Bureau in 2002.
Secondly, and even more directly, according to Edmonds Fitzgerald’s office was provided with documentation on Grossman’s role in blowing the Brewster Jennings cover by a senior FBI official. After that, Edmonds herself followed up with Fitzgerald’s office, contacting it on multiple occasions to set up a meeting to go over her knowledge of the case. That meeting was never scheduled.
Instead, Libby’s attorneys were leaked or provided with the information about Grossman’s role in blowing Plame’s cover in 2001. As a result, according to Washington-based reporter Barbara Hollingsworth, Libby’s lawyers asked to meet with Edmonds to discuss the case in a highly unusual meeting at the bar of the Willard Hotel, late in the evening.
In the end, that information was never raised during the Libby trial. Despite the fact that the Department of Justice in general and Fitzgerald’s office and Libby’s lawyers in particular, had been provided with information proving that the real Plamegate scandal had started in 2001 with Grossman’s phone call to his Turkish contacts warning them about Brewster Jennings, nothing at all came of this scandalous information. Instead, one low-ranking neocon was convicted and had his sentence commuted by President Bush for obstruction of justice.
Some of the connections surrounding this case make it even more fascinating. The first is that Fitzgerald himself was appointed to head the investigation by James B. Comey, the Deputy Attorney General acting on John Ashcroft’s behalf after Ashcroft recused himself from the affair for conflicts of interest. It was ultimately Comey’s decision to proceed with the sham Fitzgerald investigation despite knowing that Plame’s CIA cover had been blown two years earlier by Marc Grossman.
So who is James Comey? He was the Deputy Attorney General and former US Attorney General who later went on to become General Counsel and Senior Vice President of Lockheed Martin, the defense contractor that benefits from contracts providing F-16s, Hellfire Missiles, and other military equipment to Turkey. These contracts are facilitated at least in part by the American-Turkish Council, which boasts one Lockheed official on its board. This is the same American-Turkish Council which is currently chaired by Richard Armitage, Marc Grossman’s former boss at the State Department. The same American-Turkish Council that had been using Brewster Jennings as a consulting firm before Grossman exposed it as a CIA front to his Turkish contact. Just last month, Comey was sworn in as the new Director of the FBI.
Another strange connection in the case revolves around the Federal Judge who presided over the Libby case, Reggie Walton. First appointed to the Superior Court of the District of Columbia by Ronald Reagan in 1981, Walton was until 2007 a judge of the US Disctrict Court for the District of Columbia. In that role, he not only presided over the sham trial of Libby, eventually convicting the vice-presidential aide on obstruction charges completely unrelated to the issue of Plame’s CIA cover, he also happened to uphold the Bush administration’s invocation of “state secrets privilege” in the Sibel Edmonds case, and then presided over her later, separate lawsuit under the Federal Tort Claim Act.
As Edmonds told NarcoNews in 2005:
“Walton was the original judge on my case (the Supreme Court case), when we filed our case (in District Court in Washington, D.C.) in July 2002,” Edmonds says. “Another judge was assigned to it, then, mysteriously and with no reason, it was transferred to another judge, and then again, a few weeks later, it was transferred to Walton.
“Walton is now assigned to my (new) case, … another random one.”
Perhaps even more unlikely, Walton’s “financial disclosure report”–required under ethics rules to be filed for all federal judges–obtained by Judicial Watch in 2005, was redacted in its entirety. Every single line of it.
In 2007, Walton was appointed as a judge on the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, the rubber stamp court now under scrutiny for its order for Verizon to provide all of its call detail records to the NSA, including domestic calls.
The web of connection is tangled and convoluted. This might have presented an impediment to any would-be reporters who were interested in reporting on this remarkable case…but as we shall see next week, the media’s silence on this issue is not so innocent after all, and the complicity of reporters who were jailed for their supposed role in the false Plamegate affair continues to pose one of the central riddles of the scandal…