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Plame, By Any Other Name

"Legal experts say based on these e-mails Rove did not break the law, he did not name the woman or reveal that she was an undercover agent. But Rove must still answer to the president. The White House has maintained that anyone who leaked the identity of a C.I.A. Operative is not welcomed in the administration."

CNN, which happens to be owned by the same people who own Time magazine, is being oddly silent on the Rove issue this morning.

And on Fox News, they're not taking it too seriously.

On Fox News's Fox and Friends this morning, Kelly Wright reported: "Amid the difficult task of choosing a candidate for the Supreme Court and waging the war on terror, the White House is also dealing with a report about top White House adviser Karl Rove."

But, he concluded: "Bottom line here, guys, when you read between the lines, Karl Rove never mentioned anyone's name. "

Steve Doocy had a follow-up question: "Kelly, did I hear you right? Matthew Cooper wrote that the information that he had received was on double supersecret background ?

Wright: "That's right. According to this report that we're getting. . . .

Doocy: "Well, it must not be too double supersecret because we know about it now!"

Hairsplitting . . . From Cooper?

Adam Liptak in the Times attempts to reconstruct the events of Wednesday morning, when Cooper announced: "A short time ago, in somewhat dramatic fashion, I received an express personal release from my source."

Sounds like a phone call directly from his source, doesn't it?

But Liptak writes: "Mr. Cooper, it turns out, never spoke to his confidential source that day, said Robert D. Luskin, a lawyer for the source, who is now known to be Karl Rove, the senior White House political adviser.

"The development was actually the product of a frenzied series of phone calls initiated that morning by a lawyer for Mr. Cooper and involving Mr. Luskin and the special prosecutor in the case, Patrick J. Fitzgerald. . . .

"Mr. Cooper and his personal lawyer, Richard A. Sauber, declined to comment on the negotiations, but Mr. Sauber said that Mr. Cooper had used the word 'personal' to mean specific."

But what Cooper said he got -- and what Miller says she hasn't gotten from her source -- is an explicit assurance that he was no longer bound by his confidentiality pledge. And Liptak writes: "Mr. Luskin said he had only reaffirmed the blanket waiver, in response to a request from Mr. Fitzgerald."

Liptak, by the way, also raises the question of whether Cooper got an explicit assurance before he testified in August about his conversations with I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, Vice President Cheney's chief of staff.

Previous Statements

Blogger Billmon has put together an excellent collection of previous White House statements vouching for Rove, so I don't have to.

Questions for the Media

Here are some questions for my fellow journalists:

· For those covering the latest developments: How does it matter whether Rove literally used Plame's name or not?

· Why, as the Think Progress blog has been asking, did no one in the White House press corps ask McClellan even one question about Rove's involvement last week as the story was starting to unfold?

· Has Karl Rove routinely hidden behind confidentiality to spread damaging information about the White House's enemies?

· Should there maybe be a new category of "I'll-go-to-jail-for-you" on background reserved exclusively for whistle-blowers?

· Will any of you ever grant Karl Rove confidentiality again?

The Wild, Wild Web

The left side of the Web is in a state of near ecstasy. And the right side is enraged -- primarily by the left side's ecstasy and the media's presumed feeding frenzy.

On the left:

The Nation's David Corn writes: "There now is clear-cut evidence that Rove was involved in -- if not the chief architect of -- the actions that led to the outing of Plame/Wilson. If he's not in severe legal trouble, he ought to be in political peril. . . .

"[T]his is proof that the Bush White House was using any information it could gather on Joseph Wilson -- even classified information related to national security -- to pursue a vendetta against Wilson, a White House critic. Even if it turns out Rove did not break the law regarding the naming of intelligence officials, this new disclosure could prove Rove guilty of leaking a national security secret to a reporter for political ends. What would George W. Bush do about that?"

Here's Tim Grieve on Salon.com: "It's plainly no defense to the crime of leaking the identity of a CIA agent to say that you didn't actually use her name: Federal law prohibits the intentional disclosure of 'any information identifying' a covert agent."

On Huffingtonpost.com, Rep. John Conyers Jr. (D-Mich.) writes: "Remember during the 2000 Presidential campaign when the Republican mantra was that President Bush was going to 'restore honesty and dignity to the White House?' How's that going?"

On the right:

Blogger Tom Maguire writes: "This Newsweek revelation may create some political heat for Karl, but it is far from clear that, if these notes accurately describe the conversation, Karl Rove had the intent and knowledge that are also elements of a crime under the Intelligence Identities Protection Act."

A post on the Powerline blog suggests: "The media feeding frenzy will, indeed, be massive. But absent a serious claim of a statutory violation or perjury, it's questionable whether anyone apart from liberal bloggers and other pre-existing Bush haters will partake in the media's dog food. This isn't a top presidential aide accepting an expensive gift, or engaging in lewd sexual conduct. It's a top aide providing truthful information to journalists in response to lies told to embarrass the administration and our government."

Blogger Hugh Hewitt says its all particularly unseemly in the wake of the London transit bombings. "[T]he president values and trusts Rove, and the assault on Rove has nothing to do with outrage over injury to the national security and everything to do with bleeding Bush. The idea that the forces that defended Clinton's bald lies under oath are now 'outraged' over spun-up pretend perjury charges would be wildly amusing but for the fact that the tragic losses of the past few days have not interrupted the vendettaists for even a decent interval."

Rove Speaks

Rove was in Nebraska on Friday, talking about . . . Social Security.

In town primarily for a fundraiser, Rove also stopped by the offices of Ameritrade.

Nate Jenkins writes in the Lincoln Journal Star: "Rove spoke for about 15 minutes at the online brokerage firm, answered a few written questions from employees, and then left without taking questions from reporters. He stuck solely to the Social Security message, not mentioning the bombings that left at least 50 dead in London. Nor did he address the pending investigation into whether Bush administration officials in 2003 illegally leaked the name of a CIA agent to reporters after the agent's husband, former ambassador Joseph C. Wilson IV, publicly criticized the Bush administration's arguments for going to war in Iraq. . . .

"The event Friday was closed to the public, and Rove's message was delivered to a company that Ameritrade Chief Operating Officer J. Peter Ricketts said would not directly benefit from partially privatizing Social Security but that he said could 'in the grand scheme of things.' "


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