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

Sunday, December 11, 2005 The Roving Investigator -- Dec. 19, 2005 -- Page 1

In his continuing inquiry into the Valerie Plame leak, Patrick Fitzgerald questions another TIME reporter
Reporters like to be the ones asking the questions, but the Valerie Plame leak investigation just hasn't been working that way. In his quest to find out whether White House officials leaked that Plame was a cia officer as a way to punish her husband Joseph Wilson, a former ambassador and a critic of the White House case for the Iraq war, special counsel Patrick Fitzgerald has got testimony from a parade of journalists, including Judith Miller of the New York Times, Matthew Cooper of TIME, nbc's Tim Russert and Bob Woodward of the Washington Post. Now add one more to the list: TIME correspondent Viveca Novak. As TIME reported two weeks ago, Novak had recently agreed to cooperate with a request from Fitzgerald to answer questions about conversations she had had with Robert Luskin, the attorney for White House senior adviser Karl Rove. Novak cooperated because, unlike her colleague Cooper, she did not have a confidential source to protect. Last Thursday, Novak was questioned under oath by Fitzgerald for more than an hour at the Washington office of her lawyer.

What Fitzgerald wanted to know about was a conversation Novak had had over drinks with Luskin in the first half of last year. In that exchange, Luskin told Novak that Rove had not been Cooper's source for a story that Cooper had co-authored in July 2003 about how "government officials" had told TIME that Wilson's wife worked at the cia. That was in keeping with what Rove had told Fitzgerald's grand jury in February 2004. But at the restaurant that night, Novak challenged Luskin, saying she was hearing a different story around TIME's Washington bureau—namely that Rove was indeed Cooper's source. TIME editors learned about the conversation only last month, when Novak first disclosed it to the magazine's Washington bureau chief, James Carney. By then, Luskin had told Fitzgerald about the conversation, and Novak had already phoned and met with the special counsel.

Why is that conversation supposedly important? Because in October 2004, a few months after it took place, Rove made another appearance before the grand jury, saying this time that he had found an e-mail showing that he had spoken with Cooper. As Luskin tells it, his talk with Novak led him to a new search for evidence that Rove had been in contact with Cooper. That turned up an e-mail Rove had sent, shortly after speaking with Cooper, to Stephen Hadley, then Deputy National Security Adviser, telling Hadley about the conversation. Cooper later testified about his version of the chat last July, but only after receiving a specific waiver from Rove and after a costly battle by Time Inc. to keep Cooper's notes from Fitzgerald. Norman Pearlstine, Time Inc.'s editor-in-chief, relented after the Supreme Court refused to hear the company's appeal.

What will Fitzgerald do now? That's Washington's favorite parlor game. The day before he questioned Novak, the special counsel met for three hours with his new grand jury, which presumably will decide Rove's fate.


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