A startling detail emerged from testimony Wednesday in U.S. v. Libby: the CIA briefer for Vice President Richard Cheney and Lewis Libby, Cheney’s chief of staff, kept each Table of Contents from his briefing binders when he sent the contents of the binders to shredder and burn bag. CIA manager Craig Schmall testified, matter-of-factly, in response to defense attorney questioning about those informative subject headings: “They still exist.”
Schmall’s cross-examination by Libby’s attorneys corroborates that the CIA morning briefing covered dozens of topics each day deemed important to U.S. security. Twenty-seven topics from a single day mentioned by Libby’s lawyer included terrorist strikes and threats, any actions deemed worthy of attention by foreign governments or other entities, and any significant actions by North Korea, Iran, and Iraq.
Schmall, as noted in a previous post, was I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby’s morning intelligence briefer six days a week from summer 2002 through fall 2003 and served Vice President Cheney as intelligence briefer to the end of May 2004. In winter 2002-2003, he briefed both Libby and Cheney on Mondays and Tuesdays of each week and briefed Libby on Saturdays at Libby’s home. The briefings began at 7:00 a.m. and lasted about 40 minutes; results and taskings were then typed into a database and pooled with results from briefers of other senior government officials (“principals”).
Presumably CIA briefers raised equally critical topics each morning for the president, the Secretary of State, the National Security Advisor and the Secretary of Defense.
Each topic was clearly titled in the Table of Contents in the daily briefing binder. Investigators should look at those tables of contents in regard to White House efforts to cover up the unraveling of the Iraq WMD fable. When bogus intelligence was floated, for example, or when reports corrected the misinformation, presumably those items were reflected in the briefings.
Schmall testified that the principals spent most of the time in briefings reading their binders, with any questions or requests noted for follow-up by the Intelligence Community.
The fragmentary list below illustrates a few of the critical events that Bush, Cheney, their top aides and their Cabinet members may have known and reacted to. The basic starting question is the same for each item:
Did this appear in a table of contents for a briefing, and if so, on what date?...