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

Saturday, August 06, 2005 - Rove, Novak and the leak debate

20-year pals involved in similar incident in Texas in 1992 campaign
New York Times

WASHINGTON - These hot months will be remembered as the summer of the leak, a time when the political class obsessed on a central question: Did Karl Rove, President Bush's powerful adviser, commit a crime when he spoke about a CIA officer with the columnist Robert Novak?

Whatever a federal grand jury investigating the case decides, a small political subgroup is experiencing the odd sensation that this leak has sprung before.

In 1992, in an incident well-known in Texas, Rove was fired from the state campaign to re-elect President George H.W. Bush on suspicions that Rove had leaked damaging information to Novak about Rob Mosbacher, the campaign manager and the son of a former commerce secretary.

Since then, Rove and Novak have denied that Rove was the source, even as Mosbacher, who no longer talks on the record about the incident, has never changed his original assertion that Rove was the culprit.

But the episode, part of the bad-boy lore of Rove, is a telling chapter in the 20-year friendship between the presidential adviser and the columnist.

The story of that relationship, a bond of mutual self-interest of a kind that is long familiar in Washington, does not answer the question of who might have leaked the identity of the CIA officer, Valerie Plame, to reporters, potentially a crime.

But it does give a clue to Rove's frequent and complimentary mentions over the years in Novak's column, and to the importance of Rove and Novak to each other's ambitions.

"They've known each for a long time, but they are not close friends," said a person who knows both men and who asked not to be named because of the investigation into a conversation between Novak and Rove in July 2003 about Plame.

Other people who know both men say they share a love of history and policy, as well as reputations for being aggressive.


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