I’ve been snooping around the story that Time reporter, Viveca Novak, has been asked to give a deposition to Patrick Fitzgerald in the Valerie Plame case. And, via a July 31 2005 post at Reality-Based Educator, I found something interesting. It involves a Time magazine piece that Viveca Novak contributed to that was published that day. The article revealed something interesting that we have since come to learn more about.

As the investigation tightens into the leak of the identity of covert CIA operative Valerie Plame, sources tell TIME some White House officials may have learned she was married to former ambassador Joseph Wilson weeks before his July 6, 2003, Op-Ed piece criticizing the Administration. That prospect increases the chances that White House official Karl Rove and others learned about Plame from within the Administration rather than from media contacts. Rove has told investigators he believes he learned of her directly or indirectly from reporters, according to his lawyer.

Rove’s lawyer is Robert D. Luskin. I had assumed that this Time piece was sourcing Luskin from previous public statements. But perhaps Ms. Novak interviewed him for this article.

From the New York Times piece:

…Viveca Novak, who has written about the leak investigation, has been asked to testify by the special counsel in the case, Patrick J. Fitzgerald, about her conversations with Robert D. Luskin, a lawyer for Mr. Rove, the magazine said.

The request for Ms. Novak’s testimony is the first tangible sign in weeks that Mr. Fitzgerald has not completed his inquiry into Mr. Rove’s actions and may still be considering charges against him.

And this theory starts to come together as we look a little closer at the July 31st Time article:

The previously undisclosed fact gathering began in the first week of June 2003 at the CIA, when its public-affairs office received an inquiry about Wilson’s trip to Africa from veteran Washington Post reporter Walter Pincus. That office then contacted Plame’s unit, which had sent Wilson to Niger, but stopped short of drafting an internal report. The same week, Under Secretary of State Marc Grossman asked for and received a memo on the Wilson trip from Carl Ford, head of the State Department’s Bureau of Intelligence and Research. Sources familiar with the memo, which disclosed Plame’s relationship to Wilson, say Secretary of State Colin Powell read it in mid-June.

Deputy Secretary Richard Armitage may have received a copy then too.

When Pincus’ article ran on June 12, the circle of senior officials who knew about the identity of Wilson’s wife expanded. “After Pincus,” a former intelligence officer says, “there was general discussion with the National Security Council and the White House and State Department and others” about Wilson’s trip and its origins. A source familiar with the memo says neither Powell nor Armitage spoke to the White House about it until after July 6. John McLaughlin, then deputy head of the CIA, confirms that the White House asked about the Wilson trip, but can’t remember exactly when. One thing he’s sure of, says McLaughlin, who has been interviewed by prosecutors, is that “we looked into it and found the facts of it, and passed it on.”

There is a lot of information in this snip, and we have learned a lot more details about this time period since last July. What concerns us now is how this article may have piqued Fitzgerald’s interest and led him to subpoena Ms. Novak to discuss her conversations with Rove’s lawyer.

Does it have something to do with Woodward’s revelation, or is this just tying the final bows on the Rove indictments? Or both? Interestingly, Ms. Novak co-wrote a piece on Woodward as recently as November 21st, but there is not too much of interest in it.

The night before Scooter Libby was indicted Bob Woodward appeared on Larry King Live and had this exchange with Michael Isikoff:

ISIKOFF: No, look, this is the biggest mystery in Washington, has been really for two years and now as we come down to the deadline of tomorrow the city is awash with rumors. There’s a new one every 15 minutes and nobody really knows what’s going to happen tomorrow. Nobody knows what Fitzgerald’s got.

I talked to a source at the White House late this afternoon who told me that Bob is going to have a bombshell in tomorrow’s paper identifying the Mr. X source who is behind the whole thing. So, I don’t know, maybe this is Bob’s opportunity.

KING: Come clean.

WOODWARD: I wish I did have a bombshell. I don’t even have a firecracker. I’m sorry. In fact, I mean this tells you something about the atmosphere here. I got a call from somebody in the CIA saying he got a call from the best “New York Times” reporter on this saying exactly that I supposedly had a bombshell.

So, right before Fitzgerald indicted Libby on October 28th, someone started leaking heavily that Woodward had some hot information. Then, on November 1, the Washington Post gave an explanation for why Rove had not been indicted:

Fitzgerald appeared prepared to indict Rove heading into last week for making false statements, according to three people close to the probe. But that changed during a private meeting last Tuesday between Fitzgerald and Rove’s attorney, Robert Luskin. It’s not clear precisely what happened in that meeting, but two sources briefed on it said Luskin discussed new information that gave Fitzgerald “pause.”

It seems highly likely that the ‘pause’ that Fitzgerald received was related to the leaks going around Washington that Woodward knew about a “Mr. X source who (was) behind the whole thing.”

Woodward claims that he first became concerned when, during Fitzgerald’s press conference, Scooter Libby was named as the first ‘known’ government official to leak Valerie Wilson’s employment to a member of the press. I submit that he first became concerned the night before when people from the CIA started calling him and saying things like “(I) got a call from the best “New York Times” reporter on this saying exactly that (you) supposedly had a bombshell.”

This sent a clear signal to Woodward that his little secret was up. In fact, I believe the signal was sent to Woodward a few days earlier and this led him to break down and confess his sins to Len Downie on or about October 24th.

Indeed, things are clearly not what they seem. It appears that Rove dropped a dime on Woodward’s source. Then he sent feelers out to Woodward by leaking all around town that Woodward has some big scoop. Woodward panicked and went to his editor, thinking that a subpoena was imminent. Then he went on Larry King the night before the indictments and sent the signal back that he would be a friendly witness by minimizing the importance of the investigation.

But I think Fitzgerald smells a rat. He’s bringing in Ms. Novak because he is now investigating Rove’s lawyer. He wants to know what Luskin was leaking to reporters. The Time piece says, “Ms. Novak had been asked to discuss conversations she had with Mr. Luskin, starting in May 2004, when she was covering the investigation.” But my guess is that the conversations that most interest Fitz occurred in October 2005.

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