Saturday, July 23, 2005

Air Force One Leakers:
And Who Told?

Secretary Powell speaks to Peace Corps volunteers at the Mokolodi Game Reserve in Botswana, July 10, 2003. He was visiting the reserve as part of his and President Bush's July 7-12, 2003 trip to Africa. State Department Photo/Craig Kelly.
And that is Andy Card and Dan Barlett in the background.

There is much speculation as to who may have been on Air Force One to leak the State Deptartment memo to Rove and Libby.
From Needlenose:
I wrote in my previous post about the possibility of Colin Powell being the anonymous "senior administration official" (SAO) who told the Washington Post about seeing two White House officials call six or more reporters with information about Valerie Plame Wilson working for the CIA. Also, I mentioned that other bloggers (Digby and Weldon Berger of BTC News) were theorizing about the same question.

From a storyline point of view, I'd love for the Post's anonymous SAO to have been Powell (and I still think those quotes sound like him). But if Mike Allen, who cowrote the original story, says it was a "senior White House official," then I have to assume it's someone who works in the White House, not a Cabinet department. And as far as I can tell, Fleischer, Bartlett, and Card were the only three "senior White House officials" with Bush in Africa.Assuming that neither Fleischer nor Bartlett blew the whistle on themselves, Card is left as the only remaining option.

But from Bloomberg we learn:
On the flight to Africa, Fleischer was seen perusing the State Department memo on Wilson and his wife, according to a former administration official who was also on the trip.

So I agree with Needlenose that Fleisher and either Card or Bartlett are most likely the leakers with Bartlett more likely given :

On July 22, 2003, White House communications director Dan Bartlett and Deputy National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley briefed reporters on CIA memos urging the deletion of a line in a forthcoming presidential speech asserting that Iraq had recently sought significant quanitities of uranium from Africa.

I don't know that I would see Card as the one who has blown the whislte. Note Bloomberg says a "former administration official" and Card is not a former official and I think there is a reason Bloomberg says "administration official" and not White House official.

So does this take us back to Powell???

I think Yes and No. I don't see Powell getting directly involved but I can see Powell's former Cheif of Staff, Larry Wilkerson doing so.
So who is Larry Wilkerson? Well here are a few items that tell me he's just the kind of guy to possibly talk:

  • And just before speech is to be given: Dick Cheney's chief of staff, Lewis “Scooter” Libby, attempts to telephone Colin Powell's chief of staff, Larry Wilkerson, in order to persuade Powell to link Saddam Hussein to al-Qaeda and include the widely discredited claim (see October 21, 2002) that Mohammed Atta had met in Prague with an Iraqi intelligence officer in April 2001 (see April 8, 2001). Wilkerson refuses to take the call.

  • And more quotes from GQ interview: Mr Wilkerson even makes jibes at the war record of Mr Bush's inner circle, comparing their desire for military conflict with their reluctance to serve as young men: "I make no bones about it. I have some reservations about people who have never been in the face of battle, so to speak, who are making cavalier decisions about sending men and women out to die." He then goes on to name former neo-conservative adviser, Richard Perle. He said: "Thank God [he] tendered his resignation and no longer will be even a semi-official person in this administration."

  • And it was Wilkerson who first put it out that Powell was going to retire.

  • And Wilkerson spoke to Senate Bolton hearing investigators : Wilkerson questioned Bolton's leadership abilities and disputed the Bush administration's often-stated view that the undersecretary of state is a brilliant diplomat, committee sources have said. And more: "But do I think John Bolton would make a good ambassador to the United Nations? Absolutely not," Mr. Wilkerson said. "He is incapable of listening to people and taking into account their views. He would be an abysmal ambassador."
But the big question which I am still trying to discern and could prove me wrong .........Was Wilkerson on Air Force One????????
So back to the last post.....Please send any tips on who was on Air Force One , particularly if Larry Wilkerson was on the trip.

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