rove’s on the hook

David Corn announced on his website last night that Newsweek would be confirming that it was indeed Karl Rove that had leaked the identity of Joseph Wilson’s wife (and CIA operative), Valerie Plame, to Time magazine reporter Matt Cooper. Here’s what Corn had to say:

I don’t usually log on Saturday evenings. But I’ve received information too good not to share immediately. It was only yesterday that I was bemoaning the probability that — after a week of apparent Rove-related revelations–it might be a while before any more news emerged about the Plame/CIA leak. Yet tonight I received this as-solid-as-it-gets tip: on Sunday Newsweek is posting a story that nails Rove. The newsmagazine has obtained documentary evidence that Rove was indeed a key source for Time magazine’s Matt Cooper and that Rove–prior to the publication of the Bob Novak column that first publicly disclosed Valerie Wilson/Plame as a CIA official — told Cooper that former Ambassador Joseph Wilson’s wife apparently worked at the CIA and was involved in Joseph Wilson’s now-controversial trip to Niger.

To be clear, this new evidence does not necessarily mean slammer-time for Rove. Under the relevant law, it’s only a crime for a government official to identify a covert intelligence official if the government official knows the intelligence officer is under cover, and this documentary evidence, I’m told, does not address this particular point. But this new evidence does show that Rove — despite his lawyers claim that Rove “did not tell any reporter that Valerie Plame worked for the CIA” — did reveal to Cooper in a deep-background conversation that Wilson’s wife was in the CIA.

Today, the Newsweek article came out on-line and proved Corn right. And, then, just a few hours ago, Rove’s attorney came forward to confirm the story, and establish the fact, at least in his mind, that this was simply an oversight on his client’s part, and not, as others have suggested, a deliberate act on the part of Rove meant to bully a critic of the administration, which, in the process, put the lives of CIA employees in jeopardy. (For background on all of this, see Frank Rich’s column in today’s New York Times.) Now, I guess we’ll just have to wait and see how, if at all, this piece of information will be treated in the corporate press. My guess is that Bush will make a nomination to the Supreme Court and, between that and the recent terrorist attacks in London, it’ll be forgotten about. Hopefully, however, the prosecution will press forward.

On an interesting side note, it’s been suggested by folks at the Daily Kos site that, contrary to what Corn and Newsweek allege above, that it’s possible that the Novak piece could have been available on-line just hours before Rove spoke with Cooper. If that’s the case, they fear, Rove may have a way out, as he could say that the information was already publicly available. (Of course, this would only work if they could convince us all that Rove wasn’t also the person who leaked Plame’s identity to Novak.)

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  1. john galt
    Posted July 11, 2005 at 8:37 pm | Permalink

    Rove Told Reporter of Plame’s Role But Didn’t Name Her, Attorney Says

    By Josh White
    Washington Post Staff Writer
    Monday, July 11, 2005; A01

    White House Deputy Chief of Staff Karl Rove spoke with at least one reporter about Valerie Plame’s role at the CIA before she was identified as a covert agent in a newspaper column two years ago, but Rove’s lawyer said yesterday that his client did not identify her by name.

    Rove had a short conversation with Time magazine reporter Matthew Cooper on July 11, 2003, three days before Robert D. Novak publicly exposed Plame in a column about her husband, Joseph C. Wilson IV. Wilson had come under attack from the White House for his assertions that he found no evidence Iraq was trying to buy uranium from Niger and that he reported those findings to top administration officials. Wilson publicly accused the administration of leaking his wife’s identity as a means of retaliation.

    The leak of Plame’s name to the news media spawned a federal grand jury investigation that has been seeking to find the origin of the disclosure. Cooper avoided jail time last week by agreeing to testify before the grand jury about conversations with his sources, while New York Times reporter Judith Miller was jailed for refusing to discuss her confidential sources.

    To be considered a violation of the law, a disclosure by a government official must have been deliberate, the person doing it must have known that the CIA officer was a covert agent, and he or she must have known that the government was actively concealing the covert agent’s identity.

    Cooper, according to an internal Time e-mail obtained by Newsweek magazine, spoke with Rove before Novak’s column was published. In the conversation, Rove gave Cooper a “big warning” that Wilson’s assertions might not be entirely accurate and that it was not the director of the CIA or the vice president who sent Wilson on his trip. Rove apparently told Cooper that it was “Wilson’s wife, who apparently works at the agency on [weapons of mass destruction] issues who authorized the trip,” according to a story in Newsweek’s July 18 issue.

    Rove’s conversation with Cooper could be significant because it indicates a White House official was discussing Plame prior to her being publicly named and could lead to evidence of how Novak learned her name.

    Although the information is revelatory, it is still unknown whether Rove is a focus of the investigation. Rove’s lawyer, Robert Luskin, has said that Special Prosecutor Patrick J. Fitzgerald has told him that Rove is not a target of the probe. Luskin said yesterday that Rove did not know Plame’s name and was not actively trying to push the information into the public realm.

    Instead, Luskin said, Rove discussed the matter — under the cloak of secrecy — with Cooper at the tail end of a conversation about a different issue. Cooper had called Rove to discuss other matters on a Friday before deadline, and the topic of Wilson came up briefly. Luskin said Cooper raised the question.

    “Rove did not mention her name to Cooper,” Luskin said. “This was not an effort to encourage Time to disclose her identity. What he was doing was discouraging Time from perpetuating some statements that had been made publicly and weren’t true.”

    In particular, Rove was urging caution because then-CIA Director George J. Tenet was about to issue a statement regarding Iraq’s alleged interest in African uranium and its inaccurate inclusion in President Bush’s 2003 State of the Union address. Tenet took the blame for allowing a misleading paragraph into the speech, but Tenet also said that the president, vice president and other senior officials were never briefed on Wilson’s report.

    After the investigation into the leak began, Luskin said, Rove signed a waiver in December 2003 or January 2004 authorizing prosecutors to speak to any reporters Rove had previously engaged in discussion, which included Cooper.

    “His written waiver included the world,” Luskin said. “It was intended to be a global waiver. . . . He wants to make sure that the special prosecutor has everyone’s evidence. That reflects someone who has nothing to hide.”

    Cooper had indicated he would go to jail rather than expose a confidential source, but he agreed last week to cooperate with the grand jury after getting clearance from his source to testify. Luskin said Cooper had been clear to testify all along — because of the waiver signed 18 months ago — but that the waiver was “reaffirmed” on Wednesday, the day of a hearing to decide whether he and Miller would go to jail.

  2. mark
    Posted July 11, 2005 at 9:35 pm | Permalink

    As long as we’re exerpting huge tracts of text, I thought that you might like the transcription from today’s White House press briefing:

    Q: Does the president stand by his pledge to fire anyone involved in a leak of the name of a CIA operative?

    MCCLELLAN: I appreciate your question. I think your question is being asked related to some reports that are in reference to an ongoing criminal investigation. The criminal investigation that you reference is something that continues at this point.

    And as I

  3. mark
    Posted July 11, 2005 at 11:51 pm | Permalink

    And here’s the video of McClellan:

    Amazing stuff.

    Watch it.

  4. dorothy
    Posted July 12, 2005 at 9:21 am | Permalink

    why is no one questioning the fact that robert novak is getting a free ride? HE’s the one who did the public outing but other reporters are going to jail. novak, a right wing-nut seems to be made of teflon. it’s good that humpty dumpty, oops i meant rove, is feeling the heat, though.

  5. john galt
    Posted July 12, 2005 at 7:52 pm | Permalink

    July 12, 2005, 4:26 p.m.
    Lawyer: Cooper

  6. mark
    Posted July 12, 2005 at 9:42 pm | Permalink

    Did Bush, or did Bush not, when all of this started, say that he’d fire the person in his administration responsible for the leak?

  7. Posted July 13, 2005 at 7:07 am | Permalink

    He did, but I guess he was figuring that his best bud Karl wasn’t going to be fingered. He’ll just ignore it and bring up the London bombings whenever anybody asks him about it.

    And what a load of spindoctoringbullshit that comes out of McClellan’s mouth!

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