October 6, 2005

NOTHING TO HIDE:

Rove Said to Testify in CIA Leak Case (JOHN SOLOMON, 10/06/05, Associated Press)

Federal prosecutors have accepted an offer from presidential adviser Karl Rove to give 11th-hour testimony in the case of a CIA officer's leaked identity but have warned they cannot guarantee he won't be indicted, according to people directly familiar with the investigation.

The persons, who spoke only on condition of anonymity because of grand jury secrecy, said Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald has not made any decision yet on whether to file criminal charges against the longtime confidant of President Bush or others.

The U.S. attorney's manual requires prosecutors not to bring witnesses before a grand jury if there is a possibility of future criminal charges unless they are notified in advance that their grand jury testimony can be used against them in a later indictment.


The funniest thing about this whole "scandal" has always been that it requires everyone to accept that exposing Joe Wilson -- entirely accurately -- as the spouse of a CIA functionary discredited him, because, as we all know, the CIA opposes the elected administration, The Plame Game (James Bowman, September 30, 2005, The New Criterion )
[W]what could be more ridiculous than the spectacle of the media so full of wrath and warming to the task of blackguarding Karl Rove right and left for speaking to, um, the media? Damn you, sir, for telling us things that we then felt obliged to publish! Have you no shame?

At least one commentator whose sympathies are generally with the left also noticed another difference from Watergate. Michael Kinsley of the Los Angeles Times pointed out that the heroic refusal of Judith Miller and the New York Times to reveal their sources, even for a story that was never written, was undertaken not to protect some vulnerable whistle-blower from the retribution of a wrong-doer he had exposed but to protect the wrong-doer himself — assuming that any wrong had been done. If there was to be a scandal, it arose solely out of the leak itself. For The Times to protect the leaker was then to suppress the scandal and to hide the truth whose exposure was the excuse for claiming the privilege of confidentiality in the first place. Moreover, Mr Rove and the other probable source for the story, Vice-President Cheney’s chief of staff, I. Lewis Libby, both waived any claims to protection under the original confidentiality agreement with either Mr Cooper or Miss Miller. Both reporters originally claimed to believe such waivers "coerced," though there appeared to the naked eye to be no reasons for thinking so. Mr Cooper eventually accepted them anyway rather than go to jail. Miss Miller was — and still is at the time of writing — a harder case.

But if it was dubious, first, that Miss Plame had any secret or undercover status left to be revealed and, second, that Rove had revealed it, there were a couple of other details of the story that might have seemed to offer much more promising lines of inquiry. One was that Cooper’s original article in Time did not take Rove’s line about the information he was imparting — which was the reason for the leak. It did not, that is, regard as newsworthy the fact that the wife of one of the administration’s most vocal critics was in the CIA. To Rove that had seemed the salient detail, but Cooper took the line that the media as a whole have been vigorously pursuing ever since, namely that the administration was trying to "smear" Ambassador Wilson by revealing the CIA connection. Yet how do you "smear" a man by revealing that his wife works for the CIA? Most of us would not consider this to be any kind of a reason to be ashamed or a slur upon the character either of the wife or of the husband. But if you take the peculiar and, I think, fundamentally mistaken view of the world taken by the media, it does look like a smear. Shall I tell you why? For the same reason that they are outraged by the "smears" of Bernard Goldberg and others who tell us that the media are biased — as if we didn’t know. In other words, Rove was hinting that Ambassador Wilson, in reporting from Niger on the possibility or otherwise that Saddam Hussein had sought nuclear materials there, might not have been an entirely disinterested witness, that he might have had an agenda of his own in saying what he said.

And, lo, subsequently it became obvious that such was the case. His denunciation of the administration antedated the "outing" of his wife and was clearly the cause of it. Wilson had accused the Bush people of "misrepresenting the facts" and asked: "What else are they lying about?" But in charging the administration with lying, the Ambassador had wished to claim the same privileged position that the media claim: the privilege of "objectivity" and non-partisanship which alone imparts credibility to cries of scandal. The media could not allow to pass the suggestion that Wilson was anything but politically neutral for the same reason that they could not allow to pass the same suggestion with respect to themselves. I don’t see how it can be other than perfectly obvious to anyone without a vested interest in denying it that (a) the media are biased and do have an agenda of their own in deciding what to report and how to report it and (b) that Ambassador Wilson was a committed opponent of the administration and of its plans to go to war in Iraq before he ever went to Niger. His political bias must have colored both his report from there to the CIA, which apparently found it unpersuasive and never passed it along to the President, and his subsequent insistence that it had been disregarded for political reasons. Again, he has in common with the media the propensity for accusing everyone else of having political motives while insisting that his own are above reproach.

MORE:
Rove Assured Bush He Was Not Leaker (Murray Waas, Oct. 7, 2005, National Journal)

White House Deputy Chief of Staff Karl Rove personally assured President Bush in the early fall of 2003 that he had not disclosed to anyone in the press that Valerie Plame, the wife of an administration critic, was a CIA employee, according to legal sources with firsthand knowledge of the accounts that both Rove and Bush independently provided to federal prosecutors.

During the same conversation in the White House two years ago-occurring just days after the Justice Department launched a criminal probe into the unmasking of Plame as a covert agency operative-Rove also assured the president that he had not leaked any information to the media in an effort to discredit Plame's husband, former ambassador Joe Wilson. Rove also did not tell the president about his July 2003 a phone call with Time magazine reporter Matthew Cooper, a conversation that touched on the issue of Wilson and Plame.

But some 22 months later, Cooper's testimony to the federal grand jury investigating the Plame leak has directly contradicted Rove's assertions to the president. Cooper has testified that Rove was the person who first told him that Wilson's wife worked for the CIA, although Rove did not name her. Cooper has also testified that Rove told him that Plame helped arrange for Wilson to make a fact-finding trip for the CIA to the African nation of Niger to investigate allegations that then-Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein was trying to buy uranium with which to build a nuclear bomb.

In his first interview with FBI agents working on the leak probe, Rove similarly did not disclose that he had spoken to Cooper, according to sources close to the investigation,

But in subsequent interviews with federal investigators and in his testimony to the grand jury, Rove changed his account, asserting that when the FBI first questioned him, he had simply forgotten about his phone conversation with Cooper. Rove also told prosecutors that he had forgotten about the Cooper conversation when he talked to the president about the matter in the fall of 2003.

In his own interview with prosecutors on June 24, 2004, Bush testified that Rove assured him he had not disclosed Plame as a CIA employee and had said nothing to the press to discredit Wilson, according to sources familiar with the president's interview. Bush said that Rove never mentioned the conversation with Cooper. James E. Sharp, Bush's private attorney, who was present at the president's interview with prosecutors, declined to comment for this story.

Sources close to the leak investigation being run by Special Prosecutor Patrick J. Fitzgerald say it was the discovery of one of Rove's White House e-mails-in which the senior Bush adviser referred to his July 2003 conversation with Cooper-that prompted Rove to contact prosecutors and to revise his account to include the Cooper conversation.

Posted by Orrin Judd at October 6, 2005 3:25 PM
Comments

Right-o. Looks promising.

"...Rove offered in July to return to the grand jury for additional testimony and Fitzgerald accepted that offer Friday after taking grand jury testimony from the formerly jailed New York Times reporter Judith Miller..."

Posted by: Rick Perlstein at October 6, 2005 4:58 PM

Ricky-poo,

I read the article, and I didn't see that quote. Where did you get it from?

Posted by: AllenS [TypeKey Profile Page] at October 6, 2005 5:11 PM

"The persons, who spoke only on condition of anonymity because of grand jury secrecy... "

Wasn't it anonymous sources that started this mess in the first place? And shouldn't Fitzgerlad now look into the source of this leak?

Posted by: Raoul Ortega at October 6, 2005 5:38 PM

If Ms. Miller's testimony was so damaging to Karl Rove, and hence, George W. Bush, why didn't the New York Times (a partisan opponent of the administration) have her speak out during the election year?

Methinks that to do so would have called their bluff - that there is nothing there.

Posted by: Mikey at October 7, 2005 8:24 AM

I don't know if Rove will be indicted or not. Neither does the AP. If he is, it is a short term political problem but frankly, the President could use some new political blood in the White House.

Does anyone think Rove will spend a day in jail?

Posted by: Bob at October 7, 2005 10:10 AM
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