Newsweek is out with a rather curious piece this morning by Michael Isikoff: CIA Leak: Karl Rove and the Case of the Missing E-mail. It may well portend the beginning of a White House effort to throw Karl Rove under the bus (perhaps along with Scooter Libby), as the Plamegate sacrificial lamb. In any event, the article suggests that the White House sees indictments coming from Patrick Fitzgerald’s grand jury, and efforts may be underway to insulate and distance George W. Bush from the growing scandal surrounding the outing of covert CIA operative Valerie Plame.

Isikoff cites “lawyers close to the case, who asked not to be identified,” but they are almost certainly White House sources. They indicate that Fitzgerald “appears to be focusing in part on discrepancies in testimony between Rove and Time reporter Matt Cooper about their conversation of July 11, 2003:”

In Cooper’s account, Rove told him the wife of White House critic Joseph Wilson worked at the “agency” on WMD issues and was responsible for sending Wilson on a trip to Niger to check out claims that Iraq was trying to buy uranium.

Isikoff’s piece goes on to suggest that Rove covered up his conversation despite the White House’s best efforts to come clean:

But Rove did not disclose this conversation to the FBI when he was first interviewed by agents in the fall of 2003—nor did he mention it during his first grand jury appearance, says one of the lawyers familiar with Rove’s account. (He did not tell President George W. Bush about it either, assuring him that fall only that he was not part of any “scheme” to discredit Wilson by outing his wife, the lawyer says.) But after he testified, [Rove attorney Robert] Luskin discovered an e-mail Rove had sent that same day—July 11—alerting deputy national-security adviser Stephen Hadley that he had just talked to Cooper, the lawyer says. In the e-mail, Rove said Cooper pushed him on whether the president was being hurt by the Niger controversy. “I didn’t take the bait,” Rove wrote Hadley, adding that he warned Cooper not to get “far out in front on this.” After reviewing the e-mail, Rove then returned to the grand jury last year and reported the Cooper conversation. He testified that the talk was initially about “welfare reform”—a topic mentioned in the e-mail—and that Cooper then changed the subject. Cooper has written that he doesn’t recall a discussion of welfare reform.

Isikoff then tells us that the e-mail remained un-discovered through no fault of the White House:

Why didn’t the Rove e-mail surface earlier? The lawyer says it’s because an electronic search conducted by the White House missed it because the right “search words” weren’t used. (The White House and Fitzgerald both declined to comment.)…

A question left unasked by Isikoff is why, if Rove hid his role in the outing of Valerie Plame from the president, the president continued to proclaim full confidence in Rove once his involvement became known. Clearly the president evidenced no public feeling of betrayal.

Isikoff wraps up his piece with the newly discovered June 28, 2003 Judith Miller notes concerning her meeting that day with Scooter Libby:

But the e-mail isn’t the only belatedly discovered document in the case. Fitzgerald has also summoned New York Times reporter Judith Miller back for questioning this week: a notebook was discovered in the paper’s Washington bureau, reflecting a late June 2003 conversation with Vice President Dick Cheney’s chief of staff, Lewis (Scooter) Libby, about Wilson and his trip to Africa, says one of the lawyers. The notebook may also be significant because Wilson’s identity was not yet public. A lawyer for the Times declined to comment.

The words “may be significant” are a major understatement. The first known document naming “Valerie Wilson” as Joseph Wilson’s wife and connecting her (in an exaggerated manner) with her husband’s trip to Niger was a State Department memo dated June 10, 2003. Joseph Wilson went public with an op-ed piece in The New York Times on July 6, 2003. Miller’s conversations with Libby roughly two weeks after that memo was written, over a week before Wilson went public, and roughly two weeks before Robert Novak outed “Valerie Plame” (Valerie Wilson’s maiden name) raise stark new questions about whether Miller’s role in this affair was that of “leaker” or “leakee.”

0 0 votes
Article Rating