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

Friday, July 22, 2005

Lawrence O'Donnell: The Rove-Luskin Leaks

Lawrence O'Donnell

In the 21 days since I broke the story that Karl Rove was Matt Cooper's source, Rove's lawyer, Bob Luskin, has been working the press everyday with a new defense angle that, once committed to print in Newsweek, the Washington Post or the New York Times, gets added to the Republican party's talking points on the scandal. Luskin's first response to my revelation was to say that, well, yes, Rove did talk to Cooper about Joe Wilson's wife but he did not "knowingly" disclose classified information -- knowingly being the essence of Rove's criminal defense (as I have previously discussed).

After getting a lot of embarrassing attention for trying to deny to the Washington Post that Rove was the person who finally gave Cooper a specific release to testify, Luskin has gone undercover and now rarely attaches his name to the defense briefs he dictates to reporters, all of whom would love to use a source other than Luskin but no one in the prosecutor's office is leaking, so they're stuck with Luskin. The Washington Post usually identifies him as a source familiar with Rove's grand jury testimony, but Luskin has managed to negotiate a more indirect label with the Times where he appears as a source who has "been briefed on the case." The Times always points out that the source is sympathetic to Rove. Today's Times piece says that Luskin's latest description about how Rove and Lewis Libby worked together (the prosecutor might say conspired) to respond to Joe Wilson's Op-Ed piece was leaked to the the Times "to demonstrate that Mr. Rove and Mr. Libby were not involved in an orchestrated scheme to discredit Mr. Wilson or disclose the undercover status of his wife, Valerie Wilson, but were intent on clarifying the use of intelligence in the president's [State of the Union] address."

That will be Rove and Libby's defense against a possible conspiracy count in the prosecutor's eventual indictment.

It is important for Luskin to get his defense started now because he knows that what one appeals court judge in the case called "the plot against Wilson" is going to become public when the prosecutor reveals everything he has already revealed only to the judges.

Rove is obviously in charge of the day-to-day strategy of what Luskin leaks to the press. Rove is stealing a page from the Clinton scandal management playbook. He is trying to set the stage for the day the prosecutor turns over his cards. Rove-Luskin will then call it all "old news."

Everything Rove-Luskin has leaked has been printed in a form most favorable to the Rove defense without a word of leaked input from the prosecutor. When the prosecutor tells his story, don't expect him to accept Rove's currently uncontested claim that he does not recall who told him that Wilson's wife was a CIA agent and don't expect the "old news" spin to work. When the prosecutor has his day, he is going to make new news.

Does US care about Niger now?

By Derrick Z. Jackson | July 22, 2005

PRESIDENT BUSH sure cared about Niger in 2003 when he said, ''The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa." Vice President Dick Cheney sure cared about the yellowcake, so much that one of the reported reasons diplomat Joseph Wilson went to the African nation in 2002 was because of Cheney's interest in checking out any possible links between Saddam and nuclear weapons. Wilson found no evidence of uranium sales.

Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld cared enough about Niger that, like Bush, he said Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein ''has the design for a nuclear weapon" and was ''working on several different methods of enriching uranium and recently was discovered seeking significant quantities of uranium from Africa." Rumsfeld used that assumption to conflate the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11 with Saddam, a tie disproved by Bush's own 9/11 Commission.

''Americans saw the attacks on the Pentagon and World Trade towers as a painful and vivid foreshadowing of far more deadly attacks to come," Rumsfeld said. ''We looked at the destruction caused by the terrorists who took jetliners, turned them into missiles, and used them to kill 3,000 innocent men, women, and children, and we considered the destruction that could be caused by an adversary armed with nuclear, chemical, or biological weapons. Instead of 3,000 to be killed, it could be 30,000, 300,000."

Let us hope an administration that used Niger to fake out the world for its invasion of Iraq can take the time to go back to that country to prevent death to many times more people. To almost the complete silence of the United States, Niger, one of the world's poorest nations, was hit last year by natural weapons of mass destruction -- locusts and drought.

That double whammy decimated cereal production. This week, the United Nations and Oxfam pleaded for the world to pay attention. While Rumsfeld got us into war over fears of 300,000 Americans being killed, 3.6 million people in Niger -- one-third of its population -- are already malnourished, and 2.5 million of them face outright famine.

Jan Egeland, the UN relief coordinator, said this week that 150,000 children will die soon without immediate aid. This is on top of famines in other parts of Africa. Relief agencies have been warning about the possibility of this since last fall, but for all of the self-praise of wealthy nations at the recent Group of Eight summit, the response to this crisis has been appalling.

An initial call for aid by the UN in November resulted in almost nothing. This spring the UN called for $16 million and received only $3.8 million. The crisis has escalated so rapidly that Egeland revised the figure needed to $30 million, but so far, only $10 million has come in.

Egeland said the sloth of the world is a tragedy in itself. He said that if the wealthy nations had been on top of the crisis early, it would have cost only $1 a day to halt malnutrition in Niger. Now, he says, it will take $80 a day. The sloth so got under Egeland's skin that he said the $3.5 billion a year that the UN asks wealthy countries for humanitarian aid ''is one-third what Europeans eat in ice cream a year and is one-10th of what Americans spend on their pets a year."

The United States, unfortunately, stands out for standing on the sidelines. Bush has boasted of increases of aid to Africa, and, yes, the United States is by far the world's biggest giver of aid in absolute dollars. But it has taken three years for Bush's Millennium Challenge Account to start giving out aid, and as a portion of our gross domestic product, we are at the bottom of wealthy nations. British Prime Minister Tony Blair wanted the nations to commit to a target of 0.7 percent of GNP for aid at the G-8 summit. Sweden, Norway, Luxembourg, and Denmark all already give at least 0.7 percent. The United States gives 0.16 percent. It is the only wealthy nation under 0.2 percent.

The president of Niger was one of five African leaders who came to the White House last month when Bush touted increased trade to the continent. ''The United States will do our part to help the people of Africa realize the brighter future they deserve." The nation that was so concerned about yellowcake in Niger now needs to give its people the grain they deserve.

Derrick Z. Jackson's e-mail address is

© Copyright 2005 The New York Times Company

The Guardian profile: Karl Rove

Julian Borger
Friday July 22, 2005
The Guardian

When Karl Rove is in trouble - and he has been in a lot of it lately - George Bush has a simple way of showing his support. When he walks across the lawn out of the White House he has Rove walk with him, so the next day's photographs will show that familiar pink, bespectacled face at the presidential shoulder.
This is the currency in which President Bush repays loyalty, and no one is as loyal as Karl Rove. Before they met, George junior was just a genial fellow from a famous family with very good connections. Rove, the hard-nosed political geek who can reel off 20-year-old election results from obscure congressional districts, turned the callow pretender into a candidate, then a governor, then a president.

At the same time, he brought the Republican party lasting dominance by bringing protestant evangelicals and hispanic Catholics under the amorphous banner of "moral values" and a shared antipathy to abortion.
Bush acknowledged his debt at the re-election celebrations in November. He introduced Rove to the crowd simply as "The Architect", and put him in charge of White House policy, finally demolishing the crumbling wall between administration policy and politics.

There has never been a partnership like it in US political history - so close and continuing so seamlessly from campaign trail to government. Never has a consultant, a hired mechanic in the political engineroom, risen so high.

The official title, deputy White House chief of staff, does not do him justice. At the age of 54 and without a college degree, Rove is the second or third most powerful man in the US (arguably therefore the world) depending on where you place Dick Cheney.

You need to go abroad and back in time to look for parallels. He is the White House's Richelieu - or, if you ask his enemies, its Rasputin.

Yet now, at the zenith of his career, Rove seems at his most vulnerable. A Washington scandal he tried to brush off two years ago has broken the surface again and threatens to pull him under.

As with many of the White House's current difficulties, this tale starts with the decision to go to war in Iraq. On July 6 2003, a former US ambassador, Joseph Wilson, had an article published in the New York Times that cast doubt on one of the justifications for the invasion. Contrary to the president's claims, Wilson wrote, there was scant evidence that Saddam Hussein had been buying uranium in Africa. He knew because he had gone on a fact-finding trip to Niger the previous year and found the claims hollow. In all the controversy over pre-war intelligence, this seemed like a smoking gun. Eight days later, a veteran conservative columnist, Robert Novak, wrote a piece playing down the importance of the Niger trip, claiming Wilson had been sent at the suggestion of his wife, Valerie Plame, a CIA "operative on weapons of mass destruction".

Ms Plame was indeed Wilson's wife, but she was also an undercover agent and the leak of her identity was a potential felony under the intelligence identities protection act, punishable by up to 10 years in prison. The White House stonewalled, denying the involvement of senior people, specifically Rove.

For nearly two years, the investigation went nowhere, even after the special prosecutor, Patrick Fitzgerald, threatened journalists with jail for failing to reveal sources on the story. Novak seems to have struck a deal. Judith Miller, of the New York Times, meanwhile, went to prison rather than talk.

It was Time magazine that cracked. Faced with heavy fines, it handed over the computer notes of its journalist, Matthew Cooper, against his wishes. With the cat out of the bag, Cooper announced his source had waived confidentiality. Cooper's evidence confirmed what many had suspected - that Rove was in the thick of it.

In a telephone conversation on July 11, Rove told Cooper that Wilson had been sent to Niger by his wife, who worked on WMD issues at "the agency". Cooper said: "This was the first time I had heard anything about Wilson's wife."

Despite this bombshell, Rove has yet to be "frogmarched out of the White House in handcuffs", as Wilson once imagined. Intelligence identity law makes life hard for prosecutors, who have to prove the perpetrator knew the agent was undercover and leaked the identity "with intent to injure" the US.

But Fitzgerald is exploring other possible charges, including perjury and obstruction of justice. It is one of the iron laws of White House scandals that the cover-up is always worse than the crime, and this might be the case again. There are rumours of imminent indictments, but also of different targets: Lewis "Scooter" Libby, Cheney's chief of staff, also talked to Cooper at the time.

Even if Rove escapes prosecution, the political damage is done. Several times in 2003 and 2004, the White House spokesman, Scott McClellan, denied Rove was "involved", calling such suggestions "ridiculous", and McClellan and the president pledged to sack anyone involved. The Cooper revelations forced Bush this week to re-phrase that vow, saying he would dismiss anyone who "committed a crime" - a penalty that most Americans would hope was standard White House policy, at least since Richard Nixon's days.

Bush's poll ratings for integrity have subsequently plummeted. Even Americans who hated him often noted that he was the plainspoken sort who said what he meant. Now even some who love him are wondering what to believe. The man who got Bush to the White House and won him four more years, is sullying the second term - the time when all presidents try to find a place in history but mostly spend fighting off scandals.

So far Bush has shown no sign of ditching his mentor. The president believes in loyalty, in receiving and giving it. He is also knows Rove has got them out of scrapes before. Bush's shrugging nonchalance - so attractive to voters - is only possible because Rove has determination and calculation enough for them both. Bush meandered into politics. Rove had much further to come but made a beeline.

According to a Rove biography, cheekily entitled Bush's Brain, Rove was once asked when he started thinking about presidential campaigns. He replied: "December 25 1950." That was the day of his birth, in Denver, Colorado.

There are no easy explanations for where Rove's political drive comes from. He was born into a modest, not very political or religious family. His father, a geologist, was away a lot and eventually left. Rove discovered, aged 20, that the man was not his biological father. A few years later his mother committed suicide.

Out of this turmoil came a determination breathtaking in its single-mindedness, and a bent for hero worship. At the age of nine Rove backed Nixon for the 1960 elections; and endured a beating by a little girl next door, a Kennedy fan. He was able to recall the incident, talking to journalists, four decades on.

Throughout the1960s, Rove was the perfect Republican, going to school each day in jacket, tie, and horn-rimmed glasses, carrying a briefcase. He later described himself as a "big nerd". But he was a nerd who got even.

Alongside his ambition and fixation on politics he appears to have believed that the end always justified the means. At school debates he had a mountain of reference cards. Every debater on the team brought a shoebox of cards, but he would bring up to 10 boxes and dump them down, intimidatingly. A team-mate said "there wasn't a thing on 99% of them". He seems to have been a natural at what he called "pranks". Working on one of his first proper campaigns, aged 19, in Illinois, he infiltrated the Democratic campaign and stole its headed notepaper, which he used on the streets to distribute invitations to their HQ promising "free beer, free food, girls and a good time for nothing".

Three years later, he was caught on tape boasting about such exploits to student Republicans; the party chairman at the time, Bush's father (George HW Bush) was so impressed he hired him as an assistant.

One of his menial jobs was to hand over the Bush car keys whenever George junior went to Washington. Rove's description sounds like the start of a love affair. "I can literally remember what he was wearing," he said of an occasion in 1973, "an Air National Guard flight jacket, cowboy boots, blue jeans. He was exuding more charisma than any one individual should be allowed to have."

Since that day, nothing has stood in the way of their political marriage: Bush's opponents have been smeared as lesbians (Ann Richards, the ousted Texas governor), crazed veterans with illegitimate Asian children (Senator John McCain) and cowards falsifying their war records (Senator John Kerry).

The dirty tricks out of the bag, Rove has been close at hand but leaving no discernible fingerprints. Until this week. For the first time in 32 years, he has been caught, and his survival now depends on the gratitude of his partner and protege in the White House.

Life in short

Born December 25 1950 in Denver, Colorado. Discovered at age 19 that the man who raised him was not his father.

Family Married twice, with a son from second marriage.

Education University of Utah (left without graduating in 1971).

Career Volunteer on Republican campaign at high school; chair, then president, College Republicans, 1973; worked for former President Bush at Republican national committee, 1973; assisted former President Bush's 1980 presidential campaign; began consultancy in 1981; adviser to President Bush in campaigns for Texas governor (1994, 1998) and president (2000, 2004); senior adviser in current administration, and teaches at University of Texas

On Bush "... the kind of candidate and officeholder political hacks like me wait a lifetime to be associated with."

Political consultant Mark McKinnon "The Bobby Fischer of politics. He not only sees the board, he sees about 20 moves ahead."

Ex-CIA Officers Rip Bush Over Rove Leak

By Donna De La Cruz / Associated Press

WASHINGTON - Former U.S. intelligence officers criticized President Bush on Friday for not disciplining Karl Rove in connection with the leak of the name of a CIA officer, saying Bush's lack of action has jeopardized national security.

In a hearing held by Senate and House Democrats examining the implications of exposing Valerie Plame's identity, the former intelligence officers said Bush's silence has hampered efforts to recruit informants to help the United States fight the war on terror. Federal law forbids government officials from revealing the identity of an undercover intelligence officer.

"I wouldn't be here this morning if President Bush had done the one thing required of him as commander in chief — protect and defend the Constitution," said Larry Johnson, a former CIA analyst. "The minute that Valerie Plame's identity was outed, he should have delivered a strict and strong message to his employees."

Rove, Bush's deputy chief of staff, told Time magazine reporter Matthew Cooper in a 2003 phone call that former U.S. Ambassador Joseph Wilson's wife worked for the CIA on weapons of mass destruction issues, according to an account by Cooper in the magazine. Rove has not disputed that he told Cooper that Wilson's wife worked for the agency, but has said through his lawyer that he did not mention her by name.

In July 2003, Robert Novak, citing unnamed administration officials, identified Plame by name in his syndicated column and wrote that she worked for the CIA. The column has led to a federal criminal investigation into who leaked Plame's undercover identity. New York Times reporter Judith Miller — who never wrote a story about Plame — has been jailed for refusing to testify.

Bush said last week, "I think it's best that people wait until the investigation is complete before you jump to conclusions. And I will do so, as well."

Dana Perino, a White House spokesman, said Friday that the administration would have no comment on the investigation while it was continuing.

Patrick Lang, a retired Army colonel and defense intelligence officer, said Bush's silence sends a bad signal to foreigners who might be thinking of cooperating with the U.S. on intelligence matters.

"This says to them that if you decide to cooperate, someone will give you up, so you don't do it," Lang said. "They are not going to trust you in any way."

Johnson, who said he is a registered Republican, said he wished a GOP lawmaker would have the courage to stand up and "call the ugly dog the ugly dog."

"Where are these men and women with any integrity to speak out against this?" Johnson asked. "I expect better behavior out of Republicans."

Former agents criticize Bush over CIA leak

President Bush's failure to take action against a top aide involved in the outing of a covert CIA operative sends "the wrong message" overseas, former U.S. intelligence officials said on Friday.

At a hearing sponsored by Democrats, the retired agents said U.S. intelligence gathering had been damaged by the leak of Valerie Plame's name two years ago after her husband, former diplomat Joseph Wilson, criticized the White House's justification for going to war in Iraq.

Time magazine reporter Matthew Cooper told a federal grand jury that presidential adviser Karl Rove told him that Wilson's wife worked for the CIA, but did not disclose her name.

Cooper has also said he discussed the Wilsons with Lewis "Scooter" Libby, Vice President Dick Cheney's chief of staff.

"What has suffered irreversible damage is the credibility of our case officers when they try to convince an overseas contact that their safety is of primary importance to us," Jim Marcinkowski, a former CIA case officer, said.

He also criticized Republican efforts to minimize the damage caused by the leak.

"Each time the political machine made up of prime-time patriots and partisan ninnies display their ignorance by deriding Valerie Plame as a mere paper pusher or belittling the varying degrees of cover used to protect our officers or continuing to play partisan politics with our national security, it's a disservice to this country," he added.

Bush vowed this week to fire anyone found to have acted illegally in the controversy, backing away from a broader pledge to dismiss anyone found to have leaked information in the case.


Marcinkowski said the criminal standard was too high and that Bush should take action against those involved.

"Inaction itself sends the message -- the wrong message," he said.

As controversy over the matter heated up in recent weeks, the White House has refused to answer questions about Rove, who is credited with being the architect of the president's election victories.

So far, the only person to suffer legal sanction in the case is New York Times reporter Judith Miller, who has been jailed for refusing to testify about her sources.

Congressional Republicans have rushed to defend Rove and criticize Wilson, who took a CIA-funded trip in 2002 to investigate a charge that Iraq tried to buy nuclear materials in Africa, and later accused the Bush administration of exaggerating the Iraqi weapons threat. They said Rove is a "whistleblower" because Wilson told lies about the trip and he was trying to set the Time reporter straight.

Larry Johnson, a former CIA analyst who said he was a registered Republican, spoke harshly of the criticisms of Wilson and efforts to minimize his wife's job at the CIA.

"This is wrong. This should stop. And it could stop in a heartbeat if the president would simply put a stop to it -- he hasn't," Johnson said. "That speaks volumes."

White House officials have sought to put the controversy behind them pending the outcome of a federal investigation.

But the matter continues to dog the administration, with key Bush aide Karen Hughes facing questions from reporters on Friday after testifying on Capitol Hill.

"There's an ongoing investigation," she said.

Copyright © 2005 Reuters Limited

CIA Vet's Harsh Retort to Rove's Spinners

David Corn

The Nation -- I first posted the following on my blog: If you're obsessed with the Rove scandal, visit that site for more news and anlysis.

I've wasted too many hours of my life going on talking head shoutfests with conservatives who pooh-pooh the Plame/CIA leak matter (now known as the Rove scandal), who claim there was little damage done, who say that Valerie Wilson was only a desk jockey and dismiss her undercover status as "light" or "flimsy," who argue that no crime was broken and no wrongdoing occurred, and who are lightning quick to depict the controversy as nothing but a game of politics. These folks are spinning to save Rove and to protect the White House, and they distort, disinform, and dissemble for the team.

Today, the Senate Democratic Policy Council and the Democratic side of the House Government Reform Committee held an unofficial hearing in the Senate Dirksen Office Building, in which former intelligence professionals discussed the Plame/CIA leak, especially its impact on the intelligence community, current officers, and Valerie Wilson. (The Democrats had no choice but to hold such a session because the Republicans in the House and Senate refuse to examine or investigate the leak.) The testimony was not expected to contain many surprises. And the media presence at the hearing was not heavy. But as I watched the proceedings on C-SPAN 3 and saw James Marcinkowski, a former CIA case office and a former prosecutor, testify, I realized his statement was perhaps the most powerful rebuttal of and rebuke to the rightwingers who have been pushing disinformation about the Valerie Wilson case. I wish they all could have been tied to a chair and forced to listen to him. (Ken Mehlman, Tucker Eskew, Clifford May, William Safire--this means you.) Referring to those who have derided Valerie Wilson and belittled the seriousness of this leak, an angry Marcinkowski said, "Before you shine up your American flag lapel pin and affix your patriotism to your sleeve, think about what the impact your actions will have on the security of the American people....Those who take pride in their political ability to divert the issue from the fundamental truth ought to be prepared to take their share of the responsibility for the continuing damage done to our national security." For the spinners engaged in "partisan obfuscation," he has this message: "a true patriot would shut up." As a public service, I am posting below the bulk of his testimony.

Testimony of James Marcinkowski

July 22, 2005

What is important now is not who wins or loses the political battle or who may or may not be indicted; rather, it is a question of how we will go about protecting the citizens of this country in a very dangerous world. The undisputed fact is that we have irreparably damaged our capability to collect human intelligence and thereby significantly diminished our capability to protect the American people.

Understandable to all Americans is a simple, incontrovertible, but damning truth: the United States government exposed the identity of a clandestine officer working for the CIA. This is not just another partisan "dust-up" between political parties. This unprecedented act will have far-reaching consequences for covert operations around the world. Equally disastrous is that from the time of that first damning act, we have continued on a course of self-inflicted wounds by government officials who have refused to take any responsibility, have played hide-and-seek with the truth and engaged in semantic parlor games for more than two years, all at the expense of the safety of the American people. No government official has that right.

For an understanding of what is at stake it is important to understand some fundamental principles. No country or hostile group, from al Qaeda to any drug rings operating in our cities, likes to be infiltrated or spied upon. The CIA, much like any police department in any city, has undercover officers--spies, that use "cover."

To operate under "cover" means you use some ruse to cloak both your identity and your intentions. The degree of cover needed to carry out any operation varies depending on the target of the investigation. A police officer performing "street buys" uses a "light" cover, meaning he or she could pose as something as simple as a drug user, operate only at night and during the day and, believe it or not, have a desk job in the police station. On the other hand, if an attempt were made to infiltrate a crime syndicate, visiting the local police station or drinking with fellow FBI agents after work may be out of the question. In any scenario, your cover, no matter what the degree, provides personal protection and safety. But it does not end there. Cover is also used to protect collection methodology as well as any innocent persons a CIA officer may have regular contact with, such as overseas acquaintances, friends, and even other U.S. government officials.

While cover provides a degree of safety for the case officer, it also provides security for that officer's informants or agents. In most human intelligence operations, the confidentiality of the cover used by a CIA officer and the personal security of the agent or asset is mutually dependent. A case officer cannot be identified as working for the CIA, just as the informant/agent cannot be identified as working for the CIA through the case officer. If an informant or agent is exposed as working for the CIA, there is a good chance that the CIA officer has been identified as well. Similarly, if the CIA officer is exposed, his or her agents or informants are exposed. In all cases, the cover of a case officer ensures not only his or her own personal safety but that of the agents or assets as well.

The exposure of Valerie Plame's cover by the White House is the same as the local chief of police announcing to the media the identity of its undercover drug officers. In both cases, the ability of the officer to operate is destroyed, but there is also an added dimension. An informant in a major sophisticated crime network, or a CIA asset working in a foreign government, if exposed, has a rather good chance of losing more than just their ability to operate.

Any undercover officer, whether in the police department or the CIA, will tell you that the major concern of their informant or agent is their personal safety and that of their family. Cover is safety. If you cannot guarantee that safety in some form or other, the person will not work for you and the source of important information will be lost.

So how is the Valerie Plame incident perceived by any current or potential agent of the CIA? I will guarantee you that if the local police chief identified the names of the department's undercover officers, any half-way sophisticated undercover operation would come to a halt and if he survived that accidental discharge of a weapon in police headquarters, would be asked to retire.

And so the real issues before this Congress and this country today is not partisan politics, not even the loss of secrets. The secrets of Valerie Plame's cover are long gone. What has suffered perhaps irreversible damage is the credibility of our case officers when they try to convince our overseas contact that their safety is of primary importance to us. How are our case officers supposed to build and maintain that confidence when their own government cannot even guarantee the personal protection of the home team? While the loss of secrets in the world of espionage may be damaging, the stealing of the credibility of our CIA officers is unforgivable....

And so we are left with only one fundamental truth, the U.S. government exposed the identity of a covert operative. I am not convinced that the toothpaste can be put back into the tube. Great damage has been done and that damage has been increasing every single day for more than two years. The problem of the refusal to accept responsibility by senior government officials is ongoing and causing greater damage to our national security and our ability to collect human intelligence. But the problem lies not only with government officials but also with the media, commentators and other apologists who have no clue as to the workings of the intelligence community. Think about what we are doing from the perspective of our overseas human intelligence assets or potential assets.

I believe Bob Novak when he credited senior administration officials for the initial leak, or the simple, but not insignificant confirmation of that secret information, as I believe a CIA officer in some far away country will lose an opportunity to recruit an asset that may be of invaluable service to our covert war on terror because "promises of protection" will no longer carry the level of trust they once had.

Each time the leader of a political party opens his mouth in public to deflect responsibility, the word overseas is loud and clear--politics in this country does in fact trump national security.

Each time a distinguished ambassador is ruthlessly attacked for the information he provided, a foreign asset will contemplate why he should risk his life when his information will not be taken seriously.

Each time there is a perceived political "success" in deflecting responsibility by debating or re-debating some minutia, such actions are equally effective in undermining the ability of this country to protect itself against its enemies, because the two are indeed related. Each time the political machine made up of prime-time patriots and partisan ninnies display their ignorance by deriding Valerie Plame as a mere "paper-pusher," or belittling the varying degrees of cover used to protect our officers, or continuing to play partisan politics with our national security, it is a disservice to this country. By ridiculing, for example, the "degree" of cover or the use of post office boxes, you lessen the level of confidence that foreign nationals place in our covert capabilities.

Those who would advocate the "I'm ok, you're ok" politics of non-responsibility, should probably think about the impact of those actions on our foreign agents. Non-responsibility means we don't care. Not caring means a loss of security. A loss of security means a loss of an agent. The loss of an agent means the loss of information. The loss of information means an increase in the risk to the people of the United States.

There is a very serious message here. Before you shine up your American flag lapel pin and affix your patriotism to your sleeve, think about what the impact your actions will have on the security of the American people. Think about whether your partisan obfuscation is creating confidence in the United States in general and the CIA in particular. If not, a true patriot would shut up.

Those who take pride in their political ability to divert the issue from the fundamental truth ought to be prepared to take their share of the responsibility for the continuing damage done to our national security.

When this unprecedented act first occurred, the president could have immediately demanded the resignation of all persons even tangentially involved. Or, at a minimum, he could have suspended the security clearances of these persons and placed them on administrative leave. Such methods are routine with police forces throughout the country. That would have at least sent the right message around the globe, that we take the security of those risking their lives on behalf of the United States seriously. Instead, we have flooded the foreign airwaves with two years of inaction, political rhetoric, ignorance, and partisan bickering. That's the wrong message. In doing so we have not lessened, but increased the threat to the security and safety of the people of the United States.



Larry C. Johnson

I submit this statement to the Congress in an effort to correct a malicious and disingenuous smear campaign that has been executed against a friend and former colleague, Valerie (Plame) Wilson. Neither Valerie, nor her husband, Ambassador Joseph Wilson has asked me to do anything on their behalf. I am speaking up because I was raised to stop bullies. In the case of Valerie Plame she is facing a gang of bullies that is being directed by the Republican National Committee.

I entered on duty at the CIA in September 1985 as a member of the Career Trainee Program. Senator Orin Hatch had written a letter of recommendation on my behalf and I believe that helped open the doors to me at the CIA. From the first day all members of my training class were undercover. In other words, we had to lie to our family and friends about where we worked. We could only tell those who had an absolute need to know where we worked. In my case, I told my wife. Most of us were given official cover, which means that on paper we worked for some other U.S. Government Agency. People with official cover enjoy the benefits of an official passport, usually a black passport--i.e., a diplomatic passport. If we were caught overseas engaged in espionage activity the black passport was a get out of jail free card. It accords the bearer the protections of the Geneva Convention.

Valerie Plame was a classmate of mine from the day she started with the CIA. At the time I only knew her as Valerie P. Even though all of us in the training class held Top Secret Clearances, we were asked to limit our knowledge of our other classmates to the first initial of their last name. So, Larry J. knew Val P. rather than Valerie Plame. Her name did not become a part of my consciousness until her cover was betrayed by the Government officials who gave columnist Robert Novak her true name.

Although Val started off with official cover, she later joined a select group of intelligence officers a few years later when she became a NOC, i.e. a Non-Official Cover officer. That meant she agreed to operate overseas without the protection of a diplomatic passport. She was using cover, which we now know because of the leak to Robert Novak, of the consulting firm Brewster-Jennings. When she traveled overseas she did not use or have an official passport. If she had been caught engaged in espionage activities while traveling overseas without the black passport she could have been executed.

We must put to bed the lie that she was not undercover. For starters, if she had not been undercover then the CIA would not have referred the matter to the Justice Department. Some reports, such as one in the Washington Times that Valerie Plame's supervisor at the CIA, Fred Rustman, said she told friends and family she worked at the CIA and that her cover was light. These claims are not true. Rustman, who supervised Val in one of her earliest assignments, left the CIA in 1990 and did not stay in social contact with Valerie. His knowledge of Val's cover is dated. He does not know what she has done during the past 15 years.

Val only told those with a need to know about her status in order to safeguard her cover, not compromise it. Val has never been a flamboyant, insecure person who felt the need to tell people what her "real" job was. She was content with being known as an energy consultant married to Joe Wilson and the mother of twins. Despite the repeated claims of representatives for the Republican National Committee, the Wilson's neighbors did not know where Valerie really worked until Novak's op-ed appeared.

I would note that not a single member of our training class has come forward to denounce Valerie or question her bona fides. To the contrary, those we have talked to have endorsed what those of us who have left the CIA are doing to defend her reputation and honor.

As noted in the joint letter submitted to Congressional leaders earlier this week, the RNC is repeating the lie that Valerie was nothing more than a glorified desk jockey and could not possibly have any cover worth protecting. To those such as Victoria Toensing, Representative Peter King, P. J. O'Rourke, and Representative Roy Blunt I can only say one thing—you are wrong. I am stunned that some political leaders have such ignorance about a matter so basic to the national security structure of this nation.

Robert Novak's compromise of Valerie caused even more damage. It subsequently led to scrutiny of her cover company. This not only compromised her "cover" company but potentially every individual overseas who had been in contact with that company or with her.

Another false claim is that Valerie sent her husband on the mission to Niger. According to the Senate Intelligence Committee Report issued in July 2004, it is clear that the Vice President himself requested that the CIA provide its views on a Defense Intelligence Agency report that Iraq was trying to acquire uranium from Niger. The Vice President's request was relayed through the CIA bureaucracy to the Director of the Counter Proliferation Division at the CIA. Valerie worked for a branch in that Division.

The Senate Intelligence Report is frequently cited by Republican partisans as "proof" that Valerie sent her husband to Niger because she sent a memo describing her husband's qualifications to the Deputy Division Chief. Several news personalities, such as Chris Matthews and Bill O'Reilly continue to repeat this nonsense as proof. What the Senate Intelligence Committee does not include in the report is the fact that Valerie's boss had asked her to write a memo outlining her husband's qualifications for the job. She did what any good employee does; she gave her boss what he asked for.

The decision to send Joe Wilson on the mission to Niger was made by Valerie's bosses. She did not have the authority to sign travel vouchers, issue travel orders, or expend one dime of U.S. taxpayer dollars on her own. Yet, she has been singled out by the Republican National Committee and its partisans as a legitimate target of attack. It was Karl Rove who told Chris Matthews, "Wilson's wife is fair game".

What makes the unjustified and inappropriate attacks on Valerie Plame and her reputation so unfair is that there was no Administration policy position stipulating that Iraq was trying to acquire uranium in February 2002. That issue was still up in the air and, as noted by SSCI, Vice President Cheney himself asked for more information.

At the end of the day we are left with these facts. We went to war in Iraq on the premise that Saddam was reacquiring weapons of mass destruction. Joe Wilson was sent on a mission to Niger in response to a request initiated by the Vice President. Joe Wilson supplied information to the CIA that supported other reports debunking the claim that Saddam was trying to buy yellow cake uranium from Niger. When Joe went public with his information, which had been corroborated by the CIA in April 2003, the response from the White House was to call him a liar and spread the name of his wife around.

We sit here more than two years later and the storm of invective and smear against Ambassador Wilson and his wife, Valerie, continues. I voted for George Bush in November of 2000 because I wanted a President who knew what the meaning of "is" was. I was tired of political operatives who spent endless hours on cable news channels parsing words. I was promised a President who would bring a new tone and new ethical standards to Washington.

So where are we? The President has flip flopped and backed away from his promise to fire anyone at the White House implicated in a leak. We now know from press reports that at least Karl Rove and Scooter Libby are implicated in these leaks. Instead of a President concerned first and foremost with protecting this country and the intelligence officers who serve it, we are confronted with a President who is willing to sit by while political operatives savage the reputations of good Americans like Valerie and Joe Wilson. This is wrong.

Without firm action by President Bush to return to those principles he promised to follow when he came to Washington, I fear our political debate in this country will degenerate into an argument about what the meaning of "leak" is. We deserve people who work in the White House who are committed to protecting classified information, telling the truth to the American people, and living by example the idea that a country at war with Islamic extremists cannot expend its efforts attacking other American citizens who simply tried to tell the truth.

Element by Element Legal Analysis

The Intelligence Identities Protection Act and Why Karl Rove
and Others Legitimately Face Prosecution Under It
by David G. Mills
July 22, 2005

In the last few weeks, the media and others have been questioning whether Karl Rove and others have committed a crime under the Intelligence Identities Protection Act [IIPA], sometimes referred to as the “outing” statute. Many reporters and Republican partisan pundits claim that legal experts seem to agree that the IIPA has not been violated. The IIPA’s detractors claim that a case cannot be made for its violation because the proof required of the individual elements of the IIPA present a very high bar for the prosecution. Even Democratic partisans seem to concede that it is likely the IIPA has not been violated. This writer wonders why so many people seem to have summarily concluded the IIPA does not apply to what is (many would say finally) becoming a national scandal.

Despite the national implications of the IIPA at this moment, there so far has been no diligent or thorough analysis by any legal scholar of the elements of this crime or of the application of the known facts to the elements of this crime. Most analyses to date have been cursory and faulty. When the elements of this federal crime are properly analyzed, the IIPA will likely become a very serious hammer for the prosecution. Rove and others and their lawyers better beware.

The known facts of the case will be applied to each element of the IIPA, and show why Rove and others need to be genuinely concerned about having violated the IIPA.

Factual Background of the National Scandal

This national scandal begins with President Bush's January 2003 State of the Union Address, in which the President stated: “The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa.” The implication of the now infamous “sixteen words” was that Saddam Hussein was attempting to acquire nuclear capability and that he posed an eminent threat to the United States. In March 2003, the United States initiated military action against Iraq. No Weapons of Mass Destruction were ever found. No evidence of any attempt by Saddam Hussein to reconstitute a nuclear program has ever been found.

But shortly after the initiation of the US’s military action, when it began to look like no WMDs would be found, Joseph Wilson, a former US ambassador, authored an op-ed essay in The New York Times in which he accused the Bush administration of "exaggerating the Iraqi threat" in order to justify war. The bulk of Wilson's July 6, 2003 op-ed dealt with a trip he made to Niger in February of 2002. In this op-ed, Wilson stated that he had been sent to Niger on behalf of the CIA to investigate the possibility that Saddam Hussein had attempted to buy enriched uranium. Wilson had concluded at the end of his investigation that rumors and documents suggesting that Hussein was attempting to acquire uranium from Niger were false and that he had reported his findings to the CIA.

It was Wilson’s contention that the sixteen words in the State of the Union address should have never been used in the State of the Union Address. Within days of the op-ed, the administration and the CIA conceded that these sixteen words should not have made it into the State of the Union Address. Also within days of the op-ed, it appears that a memo was circulating among the administration’s staff about Wilson and his family and which contained information that his wife, Valerie Plame was a CIA operative. It now has been revealed that days after the publication of Wilson’s op-ed, Karl Rove, and one or more other administration officials, spoke to as many as six reporters about Wilson and to some of them at least, it was revealed that Wilson’s wife was an agent for the CIA. At the time, Karl Rove was the president’s senior political advisor and chief political strategist.

Soon thereafter, in a syndicated article published on July 14, 2003, Robert Novak discussed Ambassador Wilson's CIA-sponsored trip to Niger. In it, Novak stated: “Wilson never worked for the CIA, but his wife, Valerie Plame, is an Agency operative on weapons of mass destruction. Two senior administration officials told me Wilson's wife suggested sending him to Niger.”

Wilson’s wife, Valerie Plame, had been “outed”.

A federal investigation ensued after a complaint by the CIA, a special prosecutor was assigned to the case, testimony has been presented to the grand jury, and after a long protracted legal battle, a reporter, Judith Miller has been jailed for contempt, apparently for refusing to reveal the source or sources of her information.

If there are indictments presented to the grand jury, will the IIPA be one of the laws alleged to have been violated? Should it be? The legal analysis follows.

1. Does Valerie Plame Meet the Requirements of a Covert Agent?

The first question to be answered under the IIPA is simple: Was Valerie Plame a covert agent as the statute defines that term?

Larry Johnson, a CIA agent, and CIA classmate of Plame, from the very beginning of this scandal has been a persistent defender of his colleague Valerie Plame. He has always maintained that she was a covert agent. Johnson has recently once again come to Plame's defense and you may find his most recent defense of Plame here.

For purposes of the IIPA, here are the pertinent parts of Johnson’s article that are of major significance in proving Plame's status as a covert agent:

A few of my classmates, and Valerie was one of these, became a non-official cover [NOC] officer. That meant she agreed to operate overseas without the protection of a diplomatic passport. If caught in that status she would have been executed.... The lies by people like Victoria Toensing, Representative Peter King, and P.J. O'Rourke insist that Valerie was nothing, just a desk jockey.... For the first time a group of partisan political operatives publicly identified a CIA NOC.... She was not a division director, instead she was the equivalent of an Army major.

The pertinent part of the IIPA, defining what constitutes a covert agent states:

(4) The term "covert agent" means --
(A) a present or retired officer or employee of an intelligence agency or a present or retired member of the Armed Forces assigned to duty with an intelligence agency --
(i) whose identity as such an officer, employee, or member is classified information, and
(ii) who is serving outside the United States or has within the last five years served outside the United States....

The IIPA detractors have always claimed that the prosecution would not be able to prove that she was a covert agent. As Johnson suggests, many detractors claim she was just a “desk jockey.” It is clear that she was not, having been the military equivalent of an Army major.

The detractors also claim that the prosecution will have to prove that she had a long-standing assignment outside the US during the five-year period prior to her “outing.” However, there is nothing in the statute to suggest that her service needs to be for an extended period of time as some detractors have suggested. After all, if a soldier were killed five minutes after landing on foreign soil, wouldn’t everyone consider that soldier to have “served” outside the US?

Until Johnson’s article, there was still some reason to believe she might not have been outside the United States at all during the five years prior to her “outing.” It has always seemed logical that the CIA could prove Plame had been outside the US within the past five years but there was nothing firm to indicate that fact. But if Johnson is correct when he says that Plame had the equivalent status of an Army major, it seems almost certain that she would have been sent outside the US on not just one but on many occasions in the 5 years prior to her “outing.” Thus, Plame would meet the "outside the United States" requirement of the statute.

Moreover, the CIA initially filed the complaint to the Justice Department. It is very doubtful that their legal counsel would have missed this requirement before making a complaint.

On this first element, it is highly unlikely that Plame’s status will not meet the IIPA’s covert requirement.

2. Did Rove and/or Others Intentionally Disclose Plame’s Identity?

Within the main body of the IIPA, three different crimes are enumerated, with three different levels of punishment: ten years, five years, and three years.

Generally speaking, the greater the authorization a person has to acquire or to know the identity of a covert agent, the greater the punishment he faces if he illegally discloses the identity of the covert agent.

But under every provision, the first element of the provision is that the “leaker” has to disclose the "identity" of the covert agent.

The detractors of the IIPA claim, and Rove advocates claim, that Rove and/or others never “leaked” her name. They claim that she was referred to as “Wilson’s wife.” The “I didn't identify her by name” defense has been thoroughly discussed on the internet and to some extent in the mainstream media. It should suffice to say: the statute uses the word “identity” and not the word “name”. People are identified in lineups, as the person being seated at counsel's table, as the person living at a certain address, as a relative (as is the case here) or friend of someone, etc. All that is necessary is that the person be identified with particularity. Once Plame was identified as “Wilson’s wife,” she was clearly identified.

The statute also requires that the identity be disclosed “intentionally.” “Intentionally” is synonymous with “willfully.” It is not believed Rove and the others disclosed Plame’s identity in anything other than a willful manner. Rove and the others were not under any legal duress when they disclosed her identity. Political duress is not legal duress.

On element two, the disclosure of the identity requirement has been met.

3. Did Rove and/or Others Identify Plame “Knowing” that She Was Covert and That the US Was Attempting to Keep Her Intelligence Relationship Secret?

The “leaker” must also identify the agent “knowing” that the agent was covert and that the US was trying to keep the agent’s intelligence relationship to the United States secret. To be sure, the element of “knowledge”, is more complex and more difficult to prove, and no doubt, it is this element that provides the detractors of the IIPA with their best arguments. But on analysis, the proof required of this element is not nearly as difficult as it seems. Nowhere in the federal criminal statutes is the term “knowledge”, or its derivatives “knowing” and “knowingly”, defined. We must look to case law for the definition of this legal concept.

Usually, knowledge means actual knowledge, but not always. Sometimes one can be “willfully blind” as to what one is required to “know”. When that happens, the courts hold that being “willfully blind” is the equivalent of actual knowledge. In US v. Ladish Malting Co., the 7th Circuit had this to say about the proof of the knowledge element of a federal crime:

Courts often say that knowledge may be proved by demonstrating that the defendant was conscious of a substantial chance that some fact [occurred] but averted his eyes for fear of learning more. See United States v. Ramsey, 785 F.2d 184 (7th Cir. 1986); United States v. Giovannetti, 919 F.2d 1223 (7th Cir. 1990), rehearing denied, 928 F.2d 225 (1991). “An ostrich instruction informs the jury that actual knowledge and deliberate avoidance of knowledge are the same thing. When someone knows enough to put him on inquiry, he knows much. If a person with a lurking suspicion goes on as before and avoids further knowledge, this may support an inference that he has deduced the truth and is simply trying to avoid giving the appearance (and incurring the consequences) of knowledge.” Ramsey, 785 F.2d at 189. Behaving like an ostrich supports an inference of actual knowledge....

The key language here is that: “actual knowledge and deliberate avoidance of knowledge are the same thing.”

The court gives the jury an “ostrich instruction” in a case where the evidence suggests that the defendant has been sticking his head in the sand and has acted in a manner that suggests he is “willfully blind” to something he has the obligation to know. You can find an excellent article on the “ostrich instruction” here on page 6.

This article is from a newsletter of the National Association of Public Defenders. It is a technical primer to federal criminal defense attorneys on how best to argue to the Court that an ostrich instruction should not be submitted to the jury. It is interesting to note that the writer of the article concludes that overcoming the ostrich instruction is an “uphill battle” and that such instructions are likely not to be reversible. Moreover, it appears that giving a clear instruction to the jury that they are not to decide the case on negligence grounds (lessening the burden of proof) but instead on “willful blindness” makes the likelihood of reversible error even more remote.

Is there enough evidence that Rove and others were “willfully blind”? Was Rove “conscious of a substantial fact” which would indicate to him that he should not disclose Plame’s identity? Was he guilty of deliberately avoiding things he had an obligation to know?

To begin with, we are talking about an agent of the CIA. Just the initials, “CIA”, immediately bring images to mind to most of us of matters of covertness, clandestine activity, secrecy, and confidential and highly classified information. One would have to be pretty blind to one’s duty of confidentiality just to ignore any mention of the CIA.

But there are a couple of other things that indicate Rove was being consciously blind.

Recently Matthew Cooper of Time magazine wrote an article about his very recent testimony before the Grand Jury. One thing he said was of particular interest on the issue of willful blindness: “I have a distinct memory of Rove ending the call by saying, ‘I've already said too much.’”

This statement is highly indicative that Rove knew he was disclosing something he was not supposed to be disclosing and that if he didn’t know the details of Plame’s covert status and the US’s desire to keep her status secret, he clearly had a suspicion of it.

Moreover, recently Representative Waxman has written an article about Rove’s disclosure agreement.

It is clear that the disclosure agreement Rove signed did not allow him to even confirm any confidential information. It further states that he has “been advised that the unauthorized disclosure … of confidential information … could cause damage or irreparable injury to the United States or could be used to advantage by a foreign nation.”

Do we have sufficient evidence that Rove was “willfully blind” to his obligation to determine whether Plame was covert before he confirmed anything about her? Yes. Do we have sufficient evidence that Rove was “willfully blind” to his obligation to determine whether the US was seeking to keep her identity secret? Yes.

My conclusion to the third element: Rove and others had the requisite knowledge the statute says they must have to commit a crime.

4. Did Rove and Others Have Authorized Access to the Confidential Identity of Plame?

Under the main body of the statute, the first and second provisions require, as an element of both provisions, that the “leaker” have “authorized access” to the confidential identity of the agent. Under the first provision, the “leaker” must be a person with specific access to the confidential identity of the agent. Under the second provision, the “leaker” must have general access to confidential information and through general access learn of the agent’s identity. The first carries a penalty of ten years; the second five.

Many pundits have assumed that this access means the person must be a governmental employee. No such governmental employee status is required, although, as a practical matter, most people who have access to confidential information are governmental employees. But clearly, a governmental contractor with confidential clearance would have access as well.

Note also that the statute uses the term “access” and not the term “possession”. The “leaker” doesn’t have to have confidential material in his hot little hands; he just has to have “access” to it. With the security clearances of the White House staff, it would seem quite logical that they possess the specific access of the first provision and not some lower level of general access.

Under the third provision of the statute, authorized access is not even required as an element. All that is required is that one be part of a “pattern of activities intended to identify and expose covert agents.” Violation of the third provision carries with it a penalty of three years. Thus, this provision is clearly a problem for non-governmental employees, hence perhaps the reluctance of reporters and the media to be keen on the IIPA.

On element four -- Rove and others had the authorized access the statute requires and being part of a “pattern of activities intended to identify and expose covert agents” could even pose problems for the reporters involved if they knew she was undercover.


In summary, legal scholars, pundits and media alike should rethink their analyses of the IIPA. It certainly seems that the prosecution can legitimately seek indictments under the IIPA that previously have been represented as having been unlikely.

David G. Mills has been a licensed attorney for 27 years. He is licensed in Texas and Tennessee and currently practices in Memphis, Tennessee. This article may be reproduced provided it is not changed. The author encourages its dissemination.

Rove, Libby Accounts in CIA Case Differ With Those of Reporters

July 22 (Bloomberg) -- Two top White House aides have given accounts to a special prosecutor about how reporters first told them the identity of a CIA agent that are at odds with what the reporters have said, according to people familiar with the case.

Lewis ``Scooter'' Libby, Vice President Dick Cheney's chief of staff, told special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald that he first learned from NBC News reporter Tim Russert of the identity of Central Intelligence Agency operative Valerie Plame, the wife of former ambassador and Bush administration critic Joseph Wilson, one person said. Russert has testified before a federal grand jury that he didn't tell Libby of Plame's identity, the person said.

White House Deputy Chief of Staff Karl Rove told Fitzgerald that he first learned the identity of the CIA agent from syndicated columnist Robert Novak, according a person familiar with the matter. Novak, who was first to report Plame's name and connection to Wilson, has given a somewhat different version to the special prosecutor, the person said.

These discrepancies may be important because Fitzgerald is investigating whether Libby, Rove or other administration officials made false statements during the course of the investigation. The Plame case has its genesis in whether any administration officials violated a 1982 law making it illegal to knowingly reveal the name of a covert intelligence agent.

`Twisted' Intelligence

The CIA requested the inquiry after Novak reported in a July 14, 2003, column that Plame recommended her husband for a 2002 mission to check into reports Iraq tried to buy uranium from Niger. Wilson, in a July 6, 2003, article in the New York Times, had said President George W. Bush's administration ``twisted'' some of the intelligence on Iraq's weapons to justify the war.

Robert Luskin, Rove's attorney, said yesterday that Rove told the grand jury ``he had not heard her name before he heard it from Bob Novak.'' He declined in an interview to comment on whether Novak's account of their conversation differed from Rove's.

There also is a discrepancy between accounts given by Rove and Time magazine reporter Mat Cooper. The White House aide mentioned Wilson's wife -- though not by name -- in a July 11, 2003, conversation with Cooper, the reporter said. Rove, 55, says that Cooper called him to talk about welfare reform and the Wilson connection was mentioned later, in passing.

Cooper wrote in Time magazine last week that he told the grand jury he never discussed welfare reform with Rove in that call.

Miller in Jail

One reporter, Judith Miller of the New York Times, has been jailed on contempt of court charges for refusing to testify before the grand jury about her reporting on the Plame case.

Cooper testified only after Time Inc. said it would comply with Fitzgerald's demands for Cooper's notes and reporting on the Plame matter, particularly regarding his dealings with Rove.

Libby, 54, didn't return a phone call seeking comment.

The varying accounts of conversations between Rove, Libby and reporters come as new details emerge about a classified State Department memorandum that's also at the center of Fitzgerald's probe.

A memo by the department's Bureau of Intelligence and Research included Plame's name in a paragraph marked ``(S)'' for ``Secret,'' a designation that indicated to anyone who read it that the information was classified, the Washington Post reported yesterday.

State Department Memo

The memo, prepared July 7, 2003, for Secretary of State Colin Powell, is a focus of Fitzgerald's interest, according to individuals who have testified before the grand jury and attorneys familiar with the case.

The three-page document said that Wilson had been recommended for a CIA-sponsored trip to Africa by his wife, who worked on the CIA's counter-proliferations desk.

Bush had said in his State of the Union message in January 2003 that Iraq was trying to purchase nuclear materials in Africa. Days after Wilson's article -- in which he said there was no basis to conclude that Iraq was trying to buy nuclear material in Africa and that the administration had exaggerated the evidence -- the White House acknowledged that the Africa assertion shouldn't have been included in the speech.

The memo summarizing the Plame-Wilson connection was provided to Powell as he left with Bush on a five-day trip to Africa. Fitzgerald is exploring whether other White House officials on the trip may have gained access to the memo and shared its contents with officials back in Washington. Rove and Libby didn't accompany Bush to Africa.

One key to the inquiry is when White House aides knew of Wilson's connection to Plame and whether they learned about it through this memo or other classified information.

Some Bush allies hope that the Fitzgerald investigation, which dominated the news in Washington for the first part of July, will subside as attention shifts to Bush's nomination of Judge John Roberts to fill the first vacancy on the Supreme Court in 11 years.

Fitzgerald's term of service lasts until October, which is also the length of time remaining for the grand jury hearing evidence in the case.

Rove back in the crosshairs

Democrats to hold unofficial hearing on investigation
Cox News Service

WASHINGTON — Congressional Democrats will conduct an unofficial hearing today that may return public attention to White House deputy chief of staff Karl Rove.

The president’s adviser has been saddled with allegations that he had a role in disclosing the identity of a covert intelligence officer whose husband criticized prewar intelligence President Bush used to justify the war in Iraq.

Congressional Republicans complained that Democrats had arranged the hearing because the president’s nomination of John Roberts Jr. to the Supreme Court this week has distracted much of Washington from developments in a federal investigation of the White House leaks that resulted in the public identification of CIA agent Valerie Plame.

Democrats “will do everything they can … to keep Karl Rove on the front page,” said Sen. Larry Craig, an Idaho Republican and the former chairman of the Republican Policy Committee, which develops the legislative agenda of the GOP leadership.

“This issue deserves to be vetted, but it has been vetted for three years,” Craig told Roll Call, a newspaper that covers Capitol Hill.

For Two Aides in Leak Case, 2nd Issue Rises

This article was reported by David Johnston, Douglas Jehl and Richard W. Stevenson and was written by Mr. Johnston.

WASHINGTON, July 21 - At the same time in July 2003 that a C.I.A. operative's identity was exposed, two key White House officials who talked to journalists about the officer were also working closely together on a related underlying issue: whether President Bush was correct in suggesting earlier that year that Iraq had been trying to acquire nuclear materials from Africa.

The two issues had become inextricably linked because Joseph C. Wilson IV, the husband of the unmasked C.I.A. officer, had questioned Mr. Bush's assertion, prompting a damage-control effort by the White House that included challenging Mr. Wilson's standing and his credentials. A federal grand jury investigation is under way by a special counsel to determine whether someone illegally leaked the officer's identity and possibly into whether perjury or obstruction of justice occurred during the inquiry.

People who have been briefed on the case said the White House officials, Karl Rove and I. Lewis Libby, were helping prepare what became the administration's primary response to criticism that a flawed phrase about the nuclear materials in Africa had been in Mr. Bush's State of the Union address six months earlier.

They had exchanged e-mail correspondence and drafts of a proposed statement by George J. Tenet, then the director of central intelligence, to explain how the disputed wording had gotten into the address. Mr. Rove, the president's political strategist, and Mr. Libby, the chief of staff for Vice President Dick Cheney, coordinated their efforts with Stephen J. Hadley, then the deputy national security adviser, who was in turn consulting with Mr. Tenet.

At the same time, they were grappling with the fallout from an Op-Ed article on July 6, 2003, in The New York Times by Mr. Wilson, a former diplomat, in which he criticized the way the administration had used intelligence to support the claim in Mr. Bush's speech.

The work done by Mr. Rove and Mr. Libby on the Tenet statement during this intense period has not been previously disclosed. People who have been briefed on the case discussed this critical time period and the events surrounding it to demonstrate that Mr. Rove and Mr. Libby were not involved in an orchestrated scheme to discredit Mr. Wilson or disclose the undercover status of his wife, Valerie Wilson, but were intent on clarifying the use of intelligence in the president's address. Those people who have been briefed requested anonymity because prosecutors have asked them not to discuss matters under investigation.

The special counsel in the case, Patrick J. Fitzgerald, has been examining this period of time to determine whether the officials' work on the Tenet statement led in some way to the disclosure of Ms. Wilson's identity to Robert D. Novak, the syndicated columnist, according to the people who have been briefed.

It is not clear what information Mr. Rove and Mr. Libby might have collected about Ms. Wilson as they worked on the Tenet statement. Mr. Rove has said he learned her name from Mr. Novak. Mr. Libby has declined to discuss the matter.

The effort was striking because to an unusual degree, the circle of officials involved included those from the White House's political and national security operations, which are often separately run. Both arms were drawn into the effort to defend the administration during the period.

In another indication of how wide a net investigators have cast in the case, Karen Hughes, a former top communications aide to Mr. Bush, and Robert Joseph, who was then the National Security Council's expert on weapons proliferation, have both told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that they were interviewed by the special prosecutor.

Ms. Hughes is to have her confirmation hearing on Friday on her nomination to lead the State Department's public diplomacy operation. Mr. Joseph was recently confirmed as under secretary of state for arms control and international security. As part of their confirmation proceedings, both had to fill out questionnaires listing any legal matters they had become involved in.

Mr. Rove and Mr. Libby did not meet face to face while hammering out the critical points that were desired for the Tenet statement, the people briefed on the case said.

In its final version, the Tenet statement, through its language and tone, supported the contention that senior White House officials were focused on addressing the substance of Mr. Wilson's claims. It did not mention Mr. Wilson or his wife, and Mr. Libby made it clear that Vice President Cheney did not send Mr. Wilson to Africa, a notion some said Mr. Wilson had suggested in his article. The defenders of Mr. Rove and Mr. Libby contend that the statement underscores that they were not trying to punish Mr. Wilson.

A former government official, though, added another element to how the statement was prepared, saying that no one directed Mr. Tenet to issue it and that Mr. Tenet himself felt it was needed. The statement said that the "C.I.A.'s counterproliferation experts, on their own initiative, asked an individual with ties to the region to make a visit to see what he could learn."

In Mr. Wilson's article, he recounted a mission he undertook to Niger in 2002 seeking information about a purported effort by President Saddam Hussein of Iraq to acquire uranium there, his conclusion that the effort had not occurred and the filing of his report.

In his State of the Union address in January 2003, Mr. Bush cited reports that Iraq had sought to acquire a form of uranium in Africa as evidence of Mr. Hussein's intentions to gain weapons that he might provide to terrorists, use to threaten the United States or employ against other nations in the Middle East.

Lawyers with clients in the case said Mr. Fitzgerald and his investigators have shown interest in a classified State Department memo that was provided to Colin L. Powell, then the secretary of state, as he left for Africa on Air Force One with Mr. Bush and his top aides on July 7, 2003, a day after Mr. Wilson made his accusations public.

The memorandum identified Ms. Wilson by name and described her as having a role in her husband's selection for the mission to Niger. A government official said the paragraph in the memorandum identifying Ms. Wilson was preceded by the letter S in brackets, a designation meaning that contents of the paragraph were classified secret. The designation was first reported on Thursday by The Washington Post.

The investigators have been trying to determine who else within the administration might have seen the memo or learned of its contents.

Among those asked if he had seen the memo was Ari Fleischer, then the White House press secretary, who was on Air Force One with Mr. Bush and Mr. Powell during the Africa trip. Mr. Fleischer told the grand jury that he never saw the document, a person familiar with the testimony said, speaking on the condition of anonymity because of the prosecutor's admonitions about not disclosing what is said to the grand jury.

Mr. Fleischer's role has been scrutinized by investigators, in part because his telephone log showed a call on the day after Mr. Wilson's article appeared from Mr. Novak, the columnist who, on July 14, 2003, was the first to report Ms. Wilson's identity.

In his column, Mr. Novak referred to her by her maiden name, Valerie Plame, which she had used when first employed by the C.I.A. Mr. Fleischer has told the grand jury that he did not return Mr. Novak's call, a person familiar with the testimony said.

Mr. Rove has also told the grand jury that he never saw the memorandum, a person briefed on the case said. Democrats who have been eager to focus attention on the case have urged reporters to look into the role of several other administration officials, including John R. Bolton, who was then under secretary of state for arms control and international security and has since been nominated by Mr. Bush to be ambassador to the United Nations.

In his disclosure form for his confirmation hearings, Mr. Bolton made no mention of being interviewed in the case, a government official said. In the week after Mr. Wilson's article appeared, Mr. Bolton attended a conference in Australia.

In addition to ferreting out the original leak, the grand jury is examining the truthfulness of its witnesses, comparing each account with previous testimony. One apparent area of interest is the conflicting accounts given by Mr. Rove and Matthew Cooper, a Time magazine correspondent who has said he spoke to Mr. Rove about Ms. Wilson, about why they spoke on July 11, 2003.

Mr. Rove, according to a source familiar with his testimony, told prosecutors that the conversation began under the pretext of discussing welfare reform.

But Mr. Cooper said he had no record or memory of actually talking to Mr. Rove about welfare reform, instead only discussing the Wilson case in their brief chat. The grand jury focused on that apparent discrepancy, Mr. Cooper wrote in an account in Time this week.

Anne E. Kornblut contributed reporting for this article.

Copyright 2005 The New York Times Company