The Second Source

By Dan Froomkin
Special to
Friday, July 15, 2005; 1:00 PM

Two newspapers and the Associated Press have stories this morning -- sparked by what appears to be a strategically crafted leak from Karl Rove's camp -- that shed a little more light on the role the president's chief political strategist played in the disclosure of Valerie Plame's CIA affiliation.

Here's what the stories say:

· Rove was apparently the "second source" for Robert Novak's July 14, 2003, column about Ambassador Joseph C. Wilson IV, in which Plame, Wilson's wife, was first outed.

· While Rove was the first source for Time magazine Matthew Cooper's July 17, 2003, story, in neither case was Rove reportedly pushing the Plame angle aggressively.

· And Rove claims that he initially learned about the role of Wilson's wife from a reporter whose name he can't remember -- and then first learned her actual name from Novak.

The new leak is clearly intended to suggest that Rove's actions were neither criminal nor particularly unethical.

But many serious questions remain. Among them:

· Even under the circumstances described in today's stories, was Rove's behavior ethically acceptable? And if so, why didn't he come forward sooner?

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