The Facts Machine

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Sunday, July 10, 2005

ROVE BUSTED?

Newsweek has the story.
In a brief conversation with Rove, Cooper asked what to make of the flap over Wilson's criticisms. NEWSWEEK obtained a copy of the e-mail that Cooper sent his bureau chief after speaking to Rove. (The e-mail was authenticated by a source intimately familiar with Time's editorial handling of the Wilson story, but who has asked not to be identified because of the magazine's corporate decision not to disclose its contents.) Cooper wrote that Rove offered him a "big warning" not to "get too far out on Wilson." Rove told Cooper that Wilson's trip had not been authorized by "DCIA"—CIA Director George Tenet—or Vice President Dick Cheney. Rather, "it was, KR said, wilson's wife, who apparently works at the agency on wmd [weapons of mass destruction] issues who authorized the trip." Wilson's wife is Plame, then an undercover agent working as an analyst in the CIA's Directorate of Operations counterproliferation division. (Cooper later included the essence of what Rove told him in an online story.) The e-mail characterizing the conversation continues: "not only the genesis of the trip is flawed an[d] suspect but so is the report. he [Rove] implied strongly there's still plenty to implicate iraqi interest in acquiring uranium fro[m] Niger... "
Now we see why Rove's lawyer came out and said he did not identify "Valerie Plame".

At DKos, Hunter wonders whether Rove saw Novak's column after it was distributed to AP (7/11/03) but before it was published (7/14/03). If Rove saw it, then the implication would be that, perhaps, he was not the principal leaker, and that he was relating info seen in Novak's column to Cooper. This would, in theory, get him off the hook.

But here's the problem with that. Novak's original column didn't say "Joe Wilson's wife", it said "Valerie Plame". If Rove saw Novak's column before talking to Cooper, that would eliminate the "I didn't know she was undercover" excuse some have erected for him (see his lawyer's "knowingly" statement).

I wonder what Occam would say about this situation...

--Someone talked to Bob Novak, leaking Plame's name and CIA status. Novak writes a column based on the info given to him by that source.

--At around the same time, someone talked to Time journalist Matt Cooper, identifying Wilson's wife.

--At around the same time, someone talked to Judith Miller.

--Novak's article goes public three days later, Cooper's soon after that, as does Miller's.

You with me? Good, let's continue...

--Cooper steadfastly defends the anonymity of his source.
--Miller steadfastly defends the anonymity of her source.
--Novak steadfastly defends the anonymity of his source.

--Miller is sentenced to a short jail term for not revealing her source.
--Novak cuts a deal with the prosecutor, and his source remains anonymous.

--Last week we found out that Cooper's source is Karl Rove. We don't find out about this until the other two journalists have further solidified the anonymity of their respective sources.

When you inject Occam into all this information, the most likely conclusion is that Rove talked to all three. Let's operate on that assumption. Cooper's source (Rove) gave him an OK regarding grand jury testimony knowing that he (Rove) told Cooper less than he (Rove) told Novak -- little enough, perhaps, that Cooper's testimony wouldn't be enough to warrant an indictment.

Also remember -- and I'm using very restrained words here -- Bob Novak is a shamless right-wing hack apologist for the administration, while Matt Cooper is a mainline journalist for a major weekly magazine. Which of those two would be more likely to protect Karl Rove? Having answered that question, which of those to would Karl Rove be likely to say more to regarding Valerie Plame? (Miller -- who believes she will be "proved fucking right" about Iraq after all those poorly-sourced WMD stories, and by "poorly" I mean "Chalabi" -- falls in the Novak category in this regard)

Operating on the assumption that Rove was the source for all three of them, we begin to see that he's really been in control of the situation from the beginning. If he (and, by extension, the administration) wanted to exact political revenge against Joe Wilson while keeping the chance of an indictment at a minimum, what he has done seems like a good way to go about it. They don't call him "Bush's Brain" for nothing.

The info in the Newsweek story is not enough, on its own, for a Karl Rove frog-march. However, there is a lot of smoke here, certainly a lot more than his attorney wanted us to believe a week ago.

UPDATE: Craig Crawford is thinking along these lines too.

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