Sunday, July 10, 2005
Froggy Went A-Marchin'
...well, not yet, but can a resignation "to spend more time with his family" be far behind? David Corn -- who up until twenty-four hours ago was skeptical that we'd ever see Turd Blossom do the perp walk -- excitedly alerted everyone to the imminent bombshell that Newsweek was dropping today. Here's the beef -- and for once, it's right up front where it should be:
It was 11:07 on a Friday morning, July 11, 2003, and Time magazine correspondent Matt Cooper was tapping out an e-mail to his bureau chief, Michael Duffy. "Subject: Rove/P&C," (for personal and confidential), Cooper began. "Spoke to Rove on double super secret background for about two mins before he went on vacation..." Cooper proceeded to spell out some guidance on a story that was beginning to roil Washington. He finished, "please don't source this to rove or even WH [White House]" and suggested another reporter check with the CIA.It gets better:
For two years, a federal prosecutor, Patrick Fitzgerald, has been investigating the leak of Plame's identity as an undercover CIA agent. The leak was first reported by columnist Robert Novak on July 14, 2003. Novak apparently made some arrangement with the prosecutor, but Fitzgerald continued to press other reporters for their sources, possibly to show a pattern (to prove intent) or to make a perjury case. (It is illegal to knowingly identify an undercover CIA officer.) Rove's words on the Plame case have always been carefully chosen. "I didn't know her name. I didn't leak her name," Rove told CNN last year when asked if he had anything to do with the Plame leak. Rove has never publicly acknowledged talking to any reporter about former ambassador Joseph Wilson and his wife. But last week, his lawyer, Robert Luskin, confirmed to NEWSWEEK that Rove did - and that Rove was the secret source who, at the request of both Cooper's lawyer and the prosecutor, gave Cooper permission to testify."Didn't know her name" -- but he knew that she was a CIA operative, all right:
In a brief conversation with Rove, Cooper asked what to make of the flap over Wilson's criticisms. 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 and suspect but so is the report. he [Rove] implied strongly there's still plenty to implicate iraqi interest in acquiring uranium from Niger... "1) This was three days before Novak's July 14th column outing Plame. 2) Plame's name is not mentioned, but her being married to Wilson sure is. Since Wilson is not a bigamist, there can be only one person who fits the current description of Wilson's wife. Plus, Rove's suggestion to check with the CIA is, well, suggestive as hell, especially in view of the timing. 3) This is in connection with a very big story 'that was beginning to roil Washington'. And the biggest thing: 4) "Double super secret background" --What would require such caution from Rove? How about the knowledge that he's about to burn a person who has been a 20-year undercover CIA operative and who is running the CIA network tasked with finding out if Saddam still had any usable WMD left over from the stockpiles Reagan and Rumsfeld gave him in the 1980s? Regardless of whether Plame's name can be linked to this meeting -- and Cooper will most likely be doing just that in his testimony this week -- Rove now can't say that he didn't know that outing Plame would be a big deal. (The Sergeant Schultz Defense has been a staple of conservatives discussing this case.) Why else would he go to such lengths to make sure Cooper didn't in turn blow Rove's own cover? Fitzgerald is going for a twofer: Perjury AND Treason. And he's going to get it. Don't be surprised if Rove tries to quietly slip away sometime in August. If not sooner. He'll want to do it when everyone's distracted. Look for it to happen when either Rehnquist's own resignation letter is made public -- the scuttlebutt is that BushCo already has the letter, but are holding onto it for a few days because they want the media to be talking about the London bombings and nothing else right now -- or when Bush announces O'Connor's replacement. (My own guess is that Rove will schedule a "vacation trip" to coincide with the hearings and then make the announcement while on vacation, so as to force the White House press corps to choose between the hearings and Rove.) In any event, it's got to happen well before the 2006 mid-terms gear up. Of course, there's always the possibility that Rove will stay in place and try to ride it out. This is my fervent hope, because this is what will give us the best chance of getting pictures of an actual frog-march from the White House. (Though knowing Rove's hold over the press, they'll make sure that they don't get any pictures of this.)
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