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Saturday, July 09, 2005

The Sun'll Come Out! Tomorrow! 

Via Zemblan patriot K.Z.: David Corn has carefully examined his crystal balls, and says there's a frog-march in our future:
[O]n 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. No wonder special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald pursued Cooper so fiercely. And Fitzgerald must have been delighted when Time magazine -- over Cooper's objection--surrendered Cooper's emails and notes, which, according to a previous Newsweek posting by Michael Isikoff, named Rove as Cooper's source. In court on Wednesday, Fitzgerald said that following his receipt of Cooper's emails and notes "it is clear to us we need [Cooper's] testimony perhaps more so than in the past." This was a clue that Fitzgerald had scored big when he obtained the Cooper material.

This new evidence could place Rove in serious political, if not legal, jeopardy (or, at least it should). If what I am told is true, this 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?
UPDATE: Here's the Newsweek story, "Matt Cooper's Source," by Michael Isikoff:
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... "

Nothing in the Cooper e-mail suggests that Rove used Plame's name or knew she was a covert operative. Nonetheless, it is significant that Rove was speaking to Cooper before Novak's column appeared; in other words, before Plame's identity had been published. Fitzgerald has been looking for evidence that Rove spoke to other reporters as well.
UPDATE II: Our august colleague Jeralyn Merritt has a motherlode of relevant links and info at Talk Left.

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