Plame Game: All Roads Lead to Africa

From Holden:

On January 22 the grand jury investigating the illegal revelation of Valerie Plame’s status as a covert CIA operative issued three subpeonas to the white house:

It requested records of telephone calls to and from Air Force One from July 7 to 12, while Bush was visting several nations in Africa. The White House declined Thursday to release a list of those on the trip.

That subpoena also sought a complete transcript of a July 12 press “gaggle,” or informal briefing, by then-White House press secretary Ari Fleischer while at the National Hospital in Abuja, Nigeria.

Yesterday we learned that Colin Powell appeared beore the grand jury, where he, too, was questioned about the President’s trip to Africa:

Sources close to the case say prosecutors were interested in discussions Powell had while with President George W. Bush on a trip to Africa in July 2003, just before Plame’s identity was leaked to columnist Robert Novak.

A senior State Department official confirmed that, while on the trip, Powell had a department intelligence report on whether Iraq had sought uranium from Niger—a claim Plame’s husband, Joseph Wilson, discounted after a trip to Niger on behalf of the CIA. The report stated that Wilson’s wife had attended a meeting at the CIA where the decision was made to send Wilson to Niger, but it did not mention her last name or undercover status. At the time, White House officials were seeking to discredit Wilson, who had become a public critic of the Bush administration.

Robert Novak revealed Ms. Plame’s identitiy in an article published July 14.

Reading the tea leaves, here, I wonder if the go-ahead in the smear campaign against Joseph Wilson was given during that trip to Africa.

And the larger question is, was it President Bush who gave the order to reveal Valerie Plame’s position in violation of federal law?