July 10, 2005
Newsweek hedges on Rove
Turns out Rove did out Valerie Plame to Matt Cooper:
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.
Newsweek says that Rove’s lawyer, Robert Luskin, confirmed that Rove talked with Cooper—and was also the secret source who gave Cooper permission to testify. But then the magazine goes soft:
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.
Actually, it’s more than significant. It doesn’t matter that Rove didn’t use Plame’s name (which would have been readily discoverable once Rove had referred to Wilson’s wife). Nor does it matter whether Rove did or didn’t know that Plame was undercover—unless he was absolutely sure that she wasn’t, he shouldn’t have mentioned her to a reporter. Rove would have known that—he would also have known that any agent working on WMDs was likely to be covert.
Then there’s the other Big Loose End: who revealed the identity of an undercover CIA agent to Rove? The answer to that question will cause the Bush administration much more pain than the Rove revelations.
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