White House “Discovers” Emails Related to Plame Leak

Truthout (via Memeorandum):

The White House turned over last week 250 pages of emails from Vice President Dick Cheney’s office. Senior aides had sent the emails in the spring of 2003 related to the leak of covert CIA operative Valerie Plame Wilson, Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald revealed during a federal court hearing Friday.

The emails are said to be explosive, and may prove that Cheney played an active role in the effort to discredit Plame Wilson’s husband, former Ambassador Joseph Wilson, a vocal critic of the Bush administration’s prewar Iraq intelligence, sources close to the investigation said.

Sources close to the probe said the White House “discovered” the emails two weeks ago and turned them over to Fitzgerald last week. The sources added that the emails could prove that Cheney lied to FBI investigators when he was interviewed about the leak in early 2004. Cheney said that he was unaware of any effort to discredit Wilson or unmask his wife’s undercover status to reporters…

Cheney said he was unaware that Ambassador Wilson was chosen to travel to Niger to look into the uranium claims, and that he never saw a report Wilson had given a CIA analyst upon his return which stated that the Niger claims were untrue. He said the CIA never told him about Wilson's trip.

However, the emails say otherwise, and will show that the vice president spearheaded an effort in March 2003 to attack Wilson’s credibility and used the CIA to dig up information on the former ambassador that could be used against him, sources said.
The emails reportedly also reference Plame’s identity and CIA status, issues about having not uncovered WMD in Iraq, and suggestions by “senior officials in Cheney’s office” about how the White House should respond to Joe Wilson’s criticism of the administration.

I’m not sure what this means, exactly, in terms of the law. Cheney was, as you’ll no doubt remember, not put under oath when he was interviewed by investigators, so I suspect there’s no chance for any kind of perjury charge, though I don’t think obstruction would be off the table—if, indeed, the “discovery” of these emails leads to any kind of charges at all.

On its face, this seems rather explosive to me, but at the same time, I can’t imagine these emails weren’t carefully scrubbed before they were miraculously rediscovered. On the other hand…Cheney is clearly a liability. He’s got abysmal approval ratings, his handling of his hunting accident created a whole new scandal for the administration, and he’s never been an heir apparent for the conservatives, who would undoubtedly prefer to have a veep in place to walk into a leadership role on a successive administration. There’s a small part of me that wonders if we’re not about to witness a partial coup.

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