Monday, July 11, 2005

The ten steps that have implicated Karl Rove...

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The evidence has been accumulating over the course of the last two weeks, and finally, with the information we've learned via Time reporter Matthew Cooper's decision to co-operate with Special Council Fitzpatrick... we now possess a pretty clear idea of how Valerie Plame's identity as a CIA operative was leaked to the press. There is an awful lot involved in this complicated web of conspiritorial intrigue, and I can imagine it's difficult to digest all of the information for people who are just discovering the story. These ten steps are a brief overview of all of the pertinent details as I see them... some of these notes comprise information from previous entries I've made.

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To begin with Robert Novak published a story in 2003 to discredit Ambassador Joseph Wilson's visit to Niger. Plame, Wilson's wife, was based there as a CIA operative, and Novak inferenced that her nepotism lead to Wilson's investigation into the British Intelligence that had claimed Iraq attempted to purchase enriched Uranium in Niger. The enriched uranium allegation had found its way into the 2003 State of the Union address, implying substantive proof that Saddam Hussein was actively pursuing a nuclear arsenal. Wilson's findings were, to the contrary, that there was no evidence to support the verdict of the British intelligence.

It would emerge later that his report was one of three that the CIA conducted, which all reached the same conclusion.

Novak's article revealed to the world that Valerie Plame was a CIA operative, undercover in the field accruing info on WMD's. Plame's cover was blown, and allegedly, her personal safety was threatened. Novak said he received this information from two senior officials in the White House.

Time Inc. editor in chief Norman Pearlstine agreed to hand over documents to an investigation into the Whitehouse leak, including Time reporter Matthew Cooper's emails.

Cooper had claimed, like Novak, to also have received information about Plame from the White House.

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O'Donnell, a Democratic pundit, then stated on the television show, "The Mclaughlin Group," that the emails in question would reveal Karl Rove, Senior political advisor to the president, as Matthew Cooper's source on Valerie Plame's identity.

Robert Novak made a deal with Special Council Fitzpatrick investigating the leak, while Cooper, and NY Times reporter, Judith Miller, another journalist who had received information on Plame from the White House, refused to co-operate with the investigation.

Rove's lawyer, Robert Luskin, admitted that his client DID have discussions with Cooper a full week before Robert Novak's article was originally published. He made two fascinating statements about what Rove did not say to Cooper in his conversations with him. Luskin stated that Rove "never knowingly disclosed classified information" and "he did not tell any reporter that Valerie Plame worked for the CIA."

The first statement implies that Rove did pass on classfied information, but just wasn't aware that he was doing so. The second implies that Rove DID discuss Valerie Plame with Cooper but simply didn't make reference to the fact that she was a CIA operative.

Lawrence O'Donnell, on his website column, insightfully noted Robert Luskin's use of the word "knowingly" during the attorney's description of what Rove didn't do in his conversations with Mathew Cooper. O'Donnell said: "Not coincidentally, the word 'knowing' is the most important word in the controlling statute (U.S. Code: Title 50: Section 421). To violate the law, Rove had to tell Cooper about a covert agent 'knowing that the information disclosed so identifies such covert agent and that the United States is taking affirmative measures to conceal such covert agent's intelligence relationship to the United States."

Tangential evidence pointed to Rove's involvement:

According to Newsweek, a couple of days after Novak's column was published, Rove called Chris Mathews and told him that Wilson's wife was "fair game."

In the 1992 campaign Karl Rove worked for Bush Sr. he was was fired for smearing chief campaign fundraiser Robert Mosbacher, Jr. Rove partly employed these smear tactics by planting a negative story with, none other than, Bob Novak. Once this was discovered he departed the campaign. This proves that using Robert Novak as a means to leak information in an attempt to discredit a political foe was a tactic Rove had used in the past.

When faced with jail, Matthew Cooper received sudden information from his source (Rove) allowing him to co-operate with the investigation. NY Times reporter, Judith Miller, however, stuck to her journalistic principles, and is now serving time in prison for the duration of the inquiry for protecting her sources.


...finally, the email's between Karl Rove and Matthew Cooper were leaked to Newsweek.

From Newsweek:
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... 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 ... "

The email establishes that Rove DID reveal to Matthew Cooper that Wilson's wife was working for the CIA. It also reveals Rove implied that she was repsonsible for Wilson's trip to Niger.

However, what the email does not establish is whether Rove disclosed information KNOWINGLY about Valerie Plame's undercover status in the CIA. The email also does not establish whether Rove disclosed Valerie Plame's actual name to Matthew Cooper (which would contradict an earlier statement he made).

It seems unlikely then, that considering Bob Novak's full co-operation with the investigation, causing little concern in the whitehouse, that Karl Rove will have committed perjury to the Grand Jury. (shucks)

What we do know now is precisely what was responsible for the Whitehouse leak: A concerted, co-ordinated smear campaign against Joseph Wilson, of which Rove was at least involved. In response to this controversy George Bush stated "If there's a leak out of my administration, I want to know who it is...If the person has violated the law, that person will be taken care of."

If the person has violated the law? What if the whole episode was wrong regardless of the legal implications. As each framgment of truth slowly emerges into the public sphere the most disturbing thing to me is the way in which everybody involved... including the President himself... has been cleverly parsing their words cogniscent of the potential for controversy...

It seems, with the facts apparently out in the open... we all have to place our faith in the honesty and integrity of the Special Prosecutor. I desperately hope he can cut through the semantic games being played and lay responsibility for these reckless and cynical activities firmly where it belongs... Karl Rove's doorstep.

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InsaneHippie said...

In all seriousness, I haven't kept up with this whole story but I have one question for someone like you, that has kept up with the story. (First of all, I'm a Conservative and GW Bush and Karl Rove supporter, but if he's found guilty he should be fired, but not until then. I don't keep up with the scandals of the day, I don't have that much time on my hands, and I'd rather ask someone like you who knows more about the subject than myself.)

1. If Karl Rove is the source for Valerie Plame's identity, and he both Mr. Cooper and the lady from Time Magazine know that Karl Rove is the source, why would the lady from Time Magazine risk going to jail if she knows it was Karl Rove?

It seems kinda nuts to go to prison if/when the other person has leaked out your source and it's old news.

Or is the source someone else, or has the Time magazine lady's source been proven false, and she doesn't want to be seen as a sucker?

Please email me if you can since I can't check a "Email me when someone replies to this" button. Thank you!

Graham said...

Hey IH,

What we know is that Karl Rove IS Matthew Cooper's source.

There can only be two reasons as to why Judith Miller has gone to jail to protect her source.

1. That Karl Rove more elaborately detailed Valerie Plame's CIA status to Miller, in which case he would be found to have committed perjury... and therefore refuses to give Miller permission to reveal him as her source.

2. That her source was not Karl Rove.

Personally, I believe it is the latter. Matthew Cooper admitted early on that he also had contact with a top Cheney aide, discussing Valerie Plame, and Robert Novak said he received his information from TWO senior white house aides.

I think the issue for me isn't that Karl Rove has been clearly identified as THE source. It's more that his actions seem to imply a co-ordinated smear campaign against Wilson... which was ultimately responsible for Bob Novak's column. Novak was just a minion perpetuating this new perspective on Wilson's trip to Niger.

I know it's not easy when you support someone to see that something is inherently wrong... Left of center blogs like mine are perhaps overstating Rove's responsibility...

But, just juxtapose the events against Bush's declared sentiment to identify and deal with the culprits... which ultimately killed the story back when it started... this is just really hard to take seriously when the main culprit had just scripted those exact words for him.

When Karl Rove had months earlier been calling up journalists and telling them Valerie Plame was "fair game."

It's just waayyyy depressing.

h said...

That Rove is a genius! He institutes a coordinated smear campaign against Wilson by accepting a call from Cooper, ostensibly on the issue of welfare reform, knowing that Cooper will eventually change the topic to Wilson's op-ed column! Then he tells Cooper not to believe Wilson because, among other things, he was just an out-of-work ex-ambassador whose wife, a CIA employee, got him the job, something that happens to be true. Brilliant! Smearing a man with the truth in such an off-hand manner that no one would be able to tell its a smear campaign.
Now, all we have to do is show that Wilson wasn't lying when he said that his wife didn't recommend him for the job, and wasn't lying when he said that his report disproved that Saddam was seeking uranium from Niger, and our little conspiracy theory is complete. I got it: the bipartisan Senate committee that found him to be a liar is in on the conspiracy. Brilliant!

Graham said...

I respect your POV but one essential ingredient is missing from your assessment of events...

The investigation in question was into British Intelligence that claimed Iraq purchased enriched Uranium from Niger.

A claim that later turned up as substantive evidence of Saddam's nuclear designs in the 2003 State of the Union address.

To reduce Rove and the administration's activities to a simply off handed remark upon the basis upon which Wilson, an esteemed, non politically affiliated ambassador got the job, is an incredibly naive underestimation of what took place here.

1) More information than that Rove disclosed to Cooper was released to Novak and Miller.

2) More Whitehouse political aides were involved in disseminating this exact same story (narrative: Wilson's claim is not credible because wife got him job) to other journalists... just a coincidence, huh? Not evidence of any co-ordinated campaign at all..? No, of course not.

3) Rove contacted Chris Matthews after Novak's column outted Plame as an undercover CIA operative and stated she was "fair game." This is this totally consistent with the offhand conversation you describe, right? Or justification for something he, or people working under him were responsible for?

4) Wilson's wife did not get him the job... it was Dick Cheney's request to the CIA to investigate the Intelligence that resulted in Wilson's trip to Niger. This is on record. Do you really think Wilson would be fighting this so vociferously if this was just a case of nepotism?

5) Wilson's CIA report was one of THREE others that reached exactly the same conclusion. Hmmm, now, why weren't the author's of those reports' personal details haulled through multiple press outlets... maybe because they weren't criticizing the president's use of the intelligence in the State of the Union. Don't you think that the fact his conclusions about the report weren't an isolated POV in the CIA is a more pertinent fact to divulge to the press than the information about his wife?

h said...

I appreciate your POV, too, and your thoughtful response.Obviously, we disagree about both wha the facts are, and the significance of those facts on which we agree. I'm pressed for time, but I hope to leave a reply this weekend.

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