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Monday, January 29

Oh What a Tangled Web We Weave

It's quite juicy. When will Cheney be charged with treason and sent before the firing squad?

At the Libby trial, Ex-Cheney aide and spokeswoman Cathie Martin revealed the details of the Plame Leak. FYI: Cathie Martin was hired by Mary Matalin. She is married to Kevin Martin, the chairman of the Federal Communications Commission. How convenient.
Ex-Cheney Aide Details Media Tactics
" July 6, 2003, Wilson wrote his own account in the Times and appeared on "Meet the Press" on NBC.

After that much exposure, Cheney, Libby and Martin spent the next week trying get out word that Cheney did not know Wilson, did not ask for the mission to Niger, never got Wilson's report and only learned about the trip from news stories in 2003.

Cheney personally dictated these points to Martin. She e-mailed them to the White House press secretary for relay to reporters.

...she had to call National Security Council and CIA press officers to learn which reporters were still working on stories. Once Martin got names, Cheney ordered his right-hand man, Libby, rather than lowly press officers, to call _ a signal of the topic's importance.

Top levels of the Bush administration decided that CIA Director George Tenet would issue a statement taking the blame for allowing Bush to mention the Niger story. Cheney and Libby worried Tenet would not go far enough to distance the vice president from the affair. Libby asked Martin to map a media strategy in case Tenet fell short.
Dana Milbank in WaPo reports more on Martin's testimony. Turns out that Cheney's office believes they can control the news with Tim Russert on Meet the Press. The strategy to alter the truth by Martin was shown at the trial directly from her notes for all the world to see:
Option 1: "MTP-VP," she wrote, then listed the pros and cons of a vice presidential appearance on the Sunday show. Under "pro," she wrote: "control message."

"I suggested we put the vice president on 'Meet the Press,' which was a tactic we often used," Martin testified. "It's our best format."
And it gets more juicy:
She walked the jurors through how the White House coddles friendly writers and freezes out others. To deal with the Wilson controversy, she hastily arranged a Cheney lunch with conservative commentators.
and this...
She put "Meet the Press" at the top of her list of "Options" but noted that it might appear "too defensive." Next, she proposed "leak to Sanger-Pincus-newsmags. Sit down and give to him." This meant that the "no-leak" White House would give the story to the New York Times' David Sanger, The Washington Post's Walter Pincus, or Time or Newsweek. Option 3: "Press conference -- Condi/Rumsfeld." Option 4: "Op-ed."

Martin was embarrassed about the "leak" option; the case, after all, is about a leak. "It's a term of art," she said. "If you give it to one reporter, they're likelier to write the story."

For all the elaborate press management, things didn't always go according to plan. Martin described how Time wound up with an exclusive one weekend because she didn't have a phone number for anybody at Newsweek.
When further questioned, she replied:
"Few of us in the White House had had hands-on experience with any crisis like this."
TPM comments further at how Darth Cheney's office refuses to reveal who works there and how many staffers he has. From American Prospect:
His press people seem shocked that a reporter would even ask for an interview with the staff. The blanket answer is no -- nobody is available. Amazingly, the vice president’s office flatly refuses to even disclose who works there, or what their titles are. “We just don’t give out that kind of information,” says Jennifer Mayfield, another of Cheney’s “angels.” She won’t say who is on staff, or what they do? No, she insists. “It’s just not something we talk about.”
UPDATE: Hannah informed us in the comments that TPM Muckracker has the staff list from Darth's office. You can get your copy here. Thanks Hannah

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