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Plame, By Any Other Name

Isikoff was on MSNBC this morning and said: "Karl Rove has never before acknowledged that he had spoken to Matthew Cooper or anybody else about the Wilson matter prior to the Novak column. The White House initially dismissed claims that Karl Rove was involved, in any way involved, in the outing of Valerie Plame as totally ridiculous and even as recently as last week, Karl Rove's lawyer was saying that it was -- that Rove was never a confidential source for any reporter on this matter. The e-mail conclusively disproves those statements."

Joe Hagan writes in the Wall Street Journal: "After a week of seemingly contradictory reports, one fact appears to have solidified: Karl Rove, the White House deputy chief of staff and architect of President Bush's election victories, was a key confidential source used by Time magazine correspondent Matthew Cooper in his July 2003 article about a Central Intelligence Agency operative. . . .

"The unmasking of Mr. Rove marks an important milestone in the case. On the one hand, the details of Mr. Rove's discussion with Mr. Cooper -- especially if he didn't name Ms. Plame -- may exculpate him of the intentional, illegal disclosure of the identity of a covert CIA operative. Much will depend on whether Mr. Rove truthfully described any conversations in testimony before the grand jury. If he did, that would clear him of even a perjury charge and any criminal liability.

"That said, the disclosure that Mr. Bush's top political strategist discussed the CIA employment of Mr. Wilson's wife amounts to a political embarrassment for Mr. Rove and the White House. A presidential spokesman had previously given what appeared to be an unequivocal public assurance that Mr. Rove hadn't been involved in the disclosure of Ms. Plame as a CIA operative. Discovery that earlier denials may have been carefully parsed would represent another blow to the administration's credibility, compounding damage from the underlying issue that initially brought Mr. Wilson into the spotlight."

Josh White writes in The Washington Post: "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'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.

"While 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."

Adam Liptak writes in the New York Times: " 'A fair reading of the e-mail as well as the context in which the conversation took place makes it clear that the information conveyed was not part of an organized effort to disclose Plame's identity,' Mr. Luskin said."

Over at Time, where they certainly know what's going on, Bill Saporito simply writes: "And who was Cooper's source? A number of news organizations named Karl Rove, President Bush's senior political adviser. Time's editors have decided not to reveal the source at this time."

On TV

ABC's Good Morning America show today reported that "Presidential adviser Karl Rove may be in hot water with his boss now that his lawyer admitted he gave sensitive info to a reporter -- a leak that's at the center of a federal investigation. Here's ABC's Jessica Yellin."

Yellin: "He is one of the president's most trusted advisors, credited as the architect of the Bush campaign but now Newsweek magazine is reporting that Karl Rove is also one of the people who leaked secret information about a covert C.I.A. Agent to the media.. . . .

"Since the beginning of the investigation, President Bush has taken the position he does not tolerate leaks. . . .


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