What they did, what they said, why it matters

The timeline in the Plame investigation stretches on for years. Here are the dates that may matter most.

Published October 25, 2005 4:55PM (EDT)

We could spend days -- and people have -- constructing timelines related to the Valerie Plame investigation. But if Patrick Fitzgerald is planning to bring a case charging somebody in the White House with perjury, obstruction of justice or making false statements, we're betting that he cares most about a handful of dates and the conflicting stories that have been told about what happened on them. Here's our version of an essential Plame calendar. If you have other entries, post them in the comments below, and we'll amend our list as appropriate.

June 12, 2003: Vice President Dick Cheney tells his chief of staff, Scooter Libby, that Joseph Wilson's wife works for the CIA and may have helped arrange Wilson's trip to Niger. Although the conversation is reflected in Libby's notes, Libby subsequently tells Patrick Fitzgerald that he first learned of Plame's identity from NBC's Tim Russert.

June 23, 2003: Libby meets with the New York Times' Judy Miller in the Old Executive Office Building, where he suggests to her that Wilson's wife works for the CIA. Miller initially fails to mention the meeting when she testifies before the grand jury but begins to remember it when shown Secret Service logs suggesting that it happened. Later, she says she finds notes from the meeting that indicate that Libby told her about Wilson's wife.

July 6, 2003: The New York Times publishes an Op-Ed piece in which Wilson says that he has "little choice but to conclude that some of the intelligence related to Iraq's nuclear weapons program was twisted to exaggerate the Iraqi threat." In the wake of Wilson's column, a still-unidentified "senior administration official" tells Robert Novak that Wilson was sent to Niger "by the CIA's counter-proliferation section at the suggestion of one of its employees, his wife." Patrick Fitzgerald apparently knows who this "senior administration official" is, even if the rest of us don't.

Sometime before July 14, 2003: Rove and Libby discuss the fact that Wilson's wife works for the CIA.

July 8, 2003: Rove confirms for Novak that Wilson's wife works for the CIA. Asked by an ABC producer two months later whether he'd had "any knowledge" or the CIA leak, Rove said, "No."

July 11, 2003: Rove tells Time's Matthew Cooper that Wilson's wife works for the CIA. He fails to mention the conversation when he is first interviewed by investigators several months later.

July 14, 2003: Robert Novak publishes his column identifying Wilson's wife as Valerie Plame, whom he identifies as "an Agency operative on weapons of mass destruction."

Oct. 10, 2003: White House press secretary Scott McClellan says that Scooter Libby and Karl Rove have "assured" him that they were "not involved" in leaking Plame's identity to the press.

Sept. 15, 2005: Scooter Libby sends a letter to Judy Miller in jail in which he says that he always thought it would be in his "best interests" to have all reporters testify about their contacts with him. "As I'm sure will not be news to you," he writes, "the public report of every other reporter's testimony now makes clear that they did not discuss Ms. Plame's name or identity with me, or knew about her before our call." Miller subsequently testifies that one could read Libby's letter as a hint she and Libby had not discussed Plame's identity when, in fact, they had.

By Tim Grieve

Tim Grieve is a senior writer and the author of Salon's War Room blog.

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