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

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Karl Rove implicated in leak of CIA agent's name

The World Today - Tuesday, 12 July , 2005 12:40:37
Reporter: Leigh Sales
ELEANOR HALL: In the United States, one of President George W. Bush's most trusted advisers has been implicated in a scandal about the leaking of an undercover CIA (Central Intelligence Agency) agent's name.

The saga has already led to the jailing of a New York Times journalist.

Now, Presidential Adviser, Karl Rove, has been revealed as a source for another journalist involved in the case.

While some say this means Mr Rove has broken the law, the legal implications at this stage remain unclear, as North America Correspondent, Leigh Sales, reports from Washington.

LEIGH SALES: The CIA leak controversy gets more complicated by the day.

Here's the story so far.

In July 2003, a former US ambassador, Joseph Wilson, wrote an opinion piece in The New York Times, claiming the Bush administration had twisted intelligence to exaggerate the threat posed by Iraq.

A short time later, his wife Valerie Plame, was outed as an undercover CIA agent in the media.

Ambassador Wilson alleges government officials leaked her name as payback for his criticism of the administration. But the leak could have constituted a crime.

A grand jury started investigating and ordered journalists to reveal who had told them Valerie Plame's name. One journalist refused to do so, citing source confidentiality, and has already been to sent to jail. That's Judith Miller of The New York Times.

Time Magazine agreed to hand over the notes of its journalist, Matt Cooper.

In the latest development, Newsweek magazine has obtained emails between Mr Cooper and his bureau chief, which prove the journalist spoke to one of the President's most important advisers, Karl Rove, just before the Plame story broke.

The reporter on the Newsweek story was Michael Isikoff.

MICHAEL ISIKOFF: We obtained an internal Time magazine email that Matt Cooper wrote, in which he says double super secret background not to be attributed to the White House or Rove, but Rove gave me a big warning about some of what Joe Wilson has been saying. He wasn't sent to Niger by George Tenet or Vice President Cheney. It was Wilson's wife who apparently works at the agency on WMD issues who authorised the trip. That's the quote from Matt Cooper to his editor right after talking to Karl Rove.

What that tells us is that Karl Rove did indeed discuss Joe Wilson, Joe Wilson's wife, Joe Wilson's wife's employment with a reporter, Matt Cooper.

LEIGH SALES: Karl Rove is considered one of the President's most important and trusted advisers.

He has a reputation as a brilliant strategist who's been instrumental in George W. Bush's political victories.

Previously, Mr Rove has denied he leaked Valerie Plame's name. That led to a heated exchange at the today's White House briefing, when spokesman, Scott McClellan, refused to answer questions on the topic.

SCOTT MCCLELLAN: As part of helping the investigators move forward on the investigation we're not going to get into commenting on it.

REPORTER: I mean this is ridiculous, the notion that you're going to stand before us after having commented with that level of detail and tell people watching this that somehow you've decided not to talk?

SCOTT MCCLELLAN: And again David, I am well aware, like you, of what was previously said, and I would be glad to talk about it at the appropriate time. The appropriate time is when the investigation…

REPORTER: …when it's appropriate and when it's inappropriate…

SCOTT MCCLELLAN: If you'll let me finish…

REPORTER: No, you're not finishing, you're not saying anything. You stood at that podium and said that Karl Rove was not involved, and now we find out that he spoke about Joseph Wilson's wife.

So don't you owe the American public a fuller explanation? Was he involved or was he not? Because contrary to what you told the American people, he did indeed talk about his wife, didn't he?

SCOTT MCCLELLAN: David, there will be a time to talk about this, but now is not the time to talk about it.

LEIGH SALES: It's not clear yet whether Karl Rove could be indicted. For a crime to have been committed, he would have had to identify Valerie Plame by name, and he would have had to have known she was a covert operative. The investigation is continuing.

This is Leigh Sales in Washington for The World Today


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