Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Ari vs. Dickerson

Ari Fleischer put another nail in Libby's coffin with testimony that Libby told him about Plame during a July 7th lunch.

But ... uh oh ... it appears Ari's testimony as to his role an unwitting source of the leak is being challenged by John Dickerson, formerly of Time now of Slate.

Here's the paraphrase of Ari's leak testimony:

I recall I said to these reporters, If you want to know who sent Amb Wilson to Niger, it was his wife, she works there. Tamara Lippert Newsweek, David Gregory and John Dickerson, Time Magazine.

But Dickerson was at the trial and found himself in an alternate reality. He says:

My recollection is that during a presidential trip to Africa in July 2003, Ari and another senior administration official had given me only hints. They told me to go inquire about who sent Wilson to Niger. As far as I can remember—and I am pretty sure I would remember it—neither of them ever told me that Wilson's wife worked at the CIA. In a piece I wrote about a year ago, I figured that the very reason I'd never been subpoenaed in the case or questioned by any lawyers was that I'd been given only vague guidance and not the good stuff.

And this:

I had talked to Ari on July 11 and remember him telling me to investigate who sent Wilson. When I landed in Nigeria late that night, I found a few e-mails from Cooper. He was trying to get me to call him and wouldn't tell me why. I was a little irritated. I hadn't eaten, didn't trust the Nigerian food, and was filing to the Web site and closing three stories, including a long piece for the European edition that would run on the cover in Africa. But then, when I talked to Cooper, I learned why he wanted to get me on the phone. He had talked to Karl Rove, and Rove had told him about Wilson's wife. (Cooper would talk to Libby the next day.) When I realized that, a light bulb went off in my head. I realized that was what Ari had been trying to point me toward in our earlier conversation. It made perfect sense: It immediately undermined Wilson's report by making his errand look at best like nepotism and at worst like busy work from a CIA spouse who needed to find errands for her househusband. If Ari had told me that Wilson's wife had sent him, Matt's news wouldn't have been new to me.

Dickerson's version implies that Ari did know the confidential nature of Plame's identity and was being cute in his effort to get the info out.


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