Monday, October 31, 2005

Addington named as new chief of staff to Cheney (updated twice since original post)

Vice President Dick Cheney earlier today named David Addington to replace I. Lewis Libby as his new chief of staff. The appointment comes just as the man he is succeeding-- Libby-- is to be arraigned on Thursday before Federal District Court Judge Reggie Walton on five felony counts of making false statements to federal investigators, perjury, and obstruction of justice, for his role in the CIA leak case.

Paul Singer and myself wrote a long investigative profile of Addington on the National Journal's website that appeared yesterday. For a further idea as to what is to come, one senior government official who has worked closely with Addington simply told me today that "he is more Libby than Libby."

Cheney also today named John Hannah to be his new national security advisor. (Libby, before his five-felony indictment on Friday, was simultaneously Cheney's staff of staff, his national security adviser, and special assistant to the President.) Hannah has been Cheney's deputy national security adviser since the first days of the Bush administration. Like Addington, Hannah has been at the center of very much related controversies regarding the misuse of pre-war intelligence by the Bush administration to make the case to go to war, and the Plame affair. This NYT story, by Doug Jehl, is perhaps the best background.

Below are some excerpts from the story that I wrote with Paul Singer about Addington for the National Journal:

On the morning of July 8, 2003, I. Lewis (Scooter) Libby, then-chief of staff to Vice President Cheney, had a two-hour meeting with New York Times reporter Judith Miller at which Libby gave information to Miller in an attempt to discredit former ambassador and Bush administration critic Joseph Wilson.
When Libby returned to the White House, he immediately sought out David Addington, the vice president's counsel, according to court records and interviews. During their breakfast at the St. Regis Hotel, Libby had promised Miller he would try to find out more about Wilson, and Wilson's wife, CIA officer Valerie Plame. As the former general counsel to the CIA and counsel to the House Intelligence Committee, Addington was the right man for Libby to see.
Libby's and Addington's fates have dramatically changed as a result of the events of that day. Libby, long Cheney's most trusted aide, resigned as the vice president's chief of staff on Friday following his felony indictment on five counts of making false statements, perjury, and obstruction of justice in the CIA leak case. A federal grand jury accused Libby of trying to cover up that he had disclosed the identity of Plame, a covert CIA operative, in an effort to discredit Wilson and his criticism of the administration.
Addington is currently considered the leading candidate to succeed Libby as the chief of staff to a weakened but still powerful Cheney. But Addington's own role in the Plame matter is emerging just as the vice president considers whether to name him as his next chief of staff.
There is no evidence that Addington has done anything outside the law, or that Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald has regarded him as anything other than a witness during the two-year probe that led to Libby's indictment...
But Addington was deeply immersed in the White House damage-control campaign to deflect criticism that the Bush administration misrepresented intelligence information to make the case to go to war with Iraq, according to administration and congressional sources.
Moreover, as a pivotal member of the vice president's office, Addington also attended strategy sessions in 2003 on how to discredit Wilson when the former ambassador publicly charged that the Bush administration misled the country in pushing its case for war, according to attorneys in the CIA leak probe.
Further, Addington played a leading role in 2004 on behalf of the Bush administration when it refused to give the Senate Intelligence Committee documents from Libby's office on the alleged misuse of intelligence information regarding Iraq. Because Addington may be in line to succeed Libby, the Intelligence Committee-White House battle over the documents has sparked new interest on Capitol Hill...
When Libby and Miller met on July 8, 2003, Cheney's office was involved in an effort to discredit Wilson. The former ambassador had been sent on a CIA-sponsored mission to Niger in 2002 to investigate claims that Iraq was attempting to buy uranium material from the African nation in order to build a nuclear weapon...
At their breakfast meeting, Libby told Miller that Plame worked at the CIA, and also alleged that the CIA sent Wilson to Niger on Plame's recommendation, according to the grand jury indictment.
During the breakfast, according to attorneys familiar with Libby's previously undisclosed statements to federal investigators, Miller insisted that Libby provide her with additional information on Wilson and Plame to bolster any story she might write. Miller testified to the grand jury that it was Libby who offered to find additional evidence to verify what he had told the Times reporter, according to legal sources familiar with Miller's version of events.
Whatever the case, when Libby returned to the White House after meeting with Miller, he sought out Addington. Attempts to reach Addington for comment for this story were unsuccessful. He did not return messages left on his White House voice mail over the course of several days.
According to the grand jury indictment, Libby met with Addington "in an anteroom outside the Vice President's office," and asked Addington, "in sum and substance, what paperwork there would be at the CIA if an employee's spouse undertook an overseas mission."

The indictment does not say what actions, if any, Addington took to learn more about Plame's CIA employment.
Four days after the Libby-Miller breakfast and Libby's discussion with Addington, Libby gave Miller additional information on Wilson and Plame, according to legal sources familiar with Miller's testimony...

To read the article in its entirety, click here. has this story tonight on the Addington and Hannah appointments. And I will be on my friend's, Amy Goodman's radio show, Democracy Now, on Tuesday and Wednesday to discuss the CIA leak probe, the Libby indictment, and the Addington appointment. I personally don't get up at such an early, wretched hour, but if any of you are awake...

Update: 9:32 P.M.: The New York Times has now posted a story on their website about the Addington and Hannah appointments. Some key passages:

Lea Anne McBride, Mr. Cheney's press secretary, said Mr. Addington's new job would also carry with it another title that had been held by Mr. Libby, assistant to the president, placing him in the senior ranks of the White House staff.
Mr. Addington was referred to by job title in the indictment of Mr. Libby on Friday, and appears likely to be called as a witness should Mr. Libby's case go to trial. The indictment referred to a conversation Mr. Libby held with the vice president's counsel on July 8, 2003, in which Mr. Libby asked what paperwork the Central Intelligence Agency might keep if an employee's spouse took an overseas trip...

The appointments, which are not subject to Senate confirmation, suggest that the White House has little intention of bringing in fresh faces in the wake of the indictment...
Known as a strong advocate of presidential power, he has favored a broad reading of the president's power to detain terrorism suspects and to use interrogation techniques that critics say amount to torture. He has also backed the administration's efforts to conduct much of its business behind closed doors, taking a role in the fight over whether Mr. Cheney's energy task force would have to release information about its meetings.
Asked about Mr. Addington and Mr. Hannah at his news briefing on Monday, Scott McClellan, the White House spokesman, said, "These are two individuals that have served the vice president very well since 2001, and the vice president selected them because he values their judgment and their insight and looked to their experience as people that could fill these two positions."
The choices brought immediate criticism from Democrats, who suggested that Mr. Cheney was thumbing his nose at calls for accountability in the leak case.
"I've called for a thorough house-cleaning in the vice president's office," said Senator Charles E. Schumer, Democrat of New York, "but what they've done is just rearrange some office furniture. It is time for the president and vice president to bring in a new team of advisers who are above ethical reproach, like Reagan did in his second term, not stonewall like Nixon did during Watergate."
Mr. McClellan said Mr. Bush had no plans to overhaul the top ranks of the White House, despite pressure from Republicans as well as Democrats to bring in new people and new ideas after months in which the administration has stumbled from crisis to crisis.

Second update, Nov. 1, 9:08 A.M. : The LAT has since posted thier own story on the Addington and Hannah appointments, with some more background, written by a good friend of mine, Tom Hamburger, and Peter Wallensten.

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