News and events revolving around the ousting of CIA agent Valerie Plame.

Monday, July 11, 2005

Bush's adviser Rove revealed as exposing CIA agent

By Mark Coultan Herald Correspondent in New York
July 12, 2005

The US President's closest political adviser has been revealed to be the source that Time magazine tried to keep secret from an inquiry into who revealed the identity of the CIA agent Valerie Plame.

Time's rival, Newsweek, has obtained the internal emails between the journalist who was threatened with prison last week and his bureau chief, Michael Duffy, that named Karl Rove as the source.

Matthew Cooper narrowly avoided imprisonment for refusing to reveal his source when Mr Rove released him from his promise of confidentiality hours before a court hearing. A reporter for The New York Times, Judith Miller, is serving up to four months in jail for refusing to reveal her source for the same story.

In his email, Cooper wrote: "Spoke to Rove on double super secret background for about two mins before he went on vacation."

Newsweek says Cooper asked Rove what to make of the controversy over an op-ed article by Ms Plame's husband, the former US ambassador Joseph Wilson, which revealed that the Administration had been warned that a crucial claim in the case for war with Iraq - that it had tried to buy uranium from Niger - was false.

In what appears to be a classic case of spinning the story, Mr Rove gave Mr Cooper a "big warning" not to "get too far out on Wilson".

Mr Rove alleged that Mr Wilson's investigative visit to Niger had not been authorised by the director of the CIA, George Tenet, or the Vice-President, Dick Cheney.

The email recounts: "it was, KR [Karl Rove] said, wilson's wife, who apparently works at the agency on wmd [weapons of mass destruction] issues who authorized the trip". (sic)

The email is significant because it refers to a conversation before Ms Plame was publicly named by the conservative columnist Robert Novak a few days later.

Mr Rove's lawyer has already admitted that Mr Rove spoke to Cooper. He has also said that Mr Rove has revealed everything about his contacts with journalists about Ms Plame, but claimed that he was not the target of an investigation by the special prosecutor, Patrick Fitzgerald.

Mr Rove is on the record as denying he named the CIA agent. "I didn't know her name. I didn't leak her name," he once told CNN.

In a case about journalistic sources, the Newsweek article adds another layer of intrigue. How did it get its rival's internal emails? The story says the email was authenticated by an unnamed 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".

Against the wishes of its journalist, Time management turned over his notes and emails to the special prosecutor.

"A source close to Karl Rove" tried to spin the Newsweek story, claiming to the magazine that there was "absolutely no inconsistency" between Cooper's email and what Mr Rove has testified during his three grand-jury appearances in the case.

Newsweek quotes this source as saying: "A fair reading of the email makes clear that the information conveyed was not part of an organised effort to disclose Plame's identity, but was an effort to discourage Time from publishing things that turned out to be false." The falsehoods, the source says, were claims at the time that the Vice-President and high-level CIA officials arranged for Mr Wilson's trip to Africa.

Although Mr Rove has now been named as identifying Mr Wilson's wife as a CIA official, it is unclear if he faces prosecution. It is illegal for someone with a security clearance to knowingly reveal the identity of an undercover CIA agent.

The email, on its own, does not make it clear if Mr Rove knew she was an undercover agent or if he had the necessary security clearance.


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