Little Green Footballs

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Rove and Libby To Face Perjury Charges?

Just when they thought they managed to cover the Rove affair, something else hits the press.

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.

Murray Waas also picks up the story here

White House deputy chief of staff Karl Rove did not disclose that he had ever discussed CIA officer Valerie Plame with Time magazine reporter Matthew Cooper during Rove’s first interview with the FBI, according to legal sources with firsthand knowledge of the matter.

The omission by Rove created doubt for federal investigators, almost from the inception of their criminal probe into who leaked Plame's name to columnist Robert Novak, as to whether Rove was withholding crucial information from them, and perhaps even misleading or lying to them, the sources said.

Also leading to the early skepticism of Rove's accounts was the claim that although he first heard that Plame worked for the CIA from a journalist, he said could not recall the name of the journalist. Later, the sources said, Rove wavered even further, saying he was not sure at all where he first heard the information.

Rove's attorney, Robert Luskin, has said that Rove never knew that Plame was a covert officer when he discussed her CIA employment with reporters, and that he only first learned of her clandestine status when he read about it in the newspaper. Luskin did not return a telephone call today seeking comment for this story.

If recently disclosed press accounts of conversations that Rove had with reporters are correct, Novak and Rove first spoke about Plame on July 8, 2003. It was three days later, on July 11, that Rove also spoke about Plame to Time magazine correspondent Matthew Cooper. Three days after that, on July 14, Novak's column appeared in which he identified Plame as an "agency operative." According to Novak's account, it was he, not Rove, who first broached the issue of Plame's employment with the CIA, and that Rove at most simply said that he, too, had heard much the same information.

Novak's column came during a period of time when senior White House officials were attempting to discredit Plame's husband, former Ambassador Joseph Wilson, who was then asserting that the Bush administration had relied on faulty intelligence to bolster its case to go to war with Iraq. Wilson had only recently led a CIA-sponsored mission to Niger to investigate claims that Saddam Hussein was covertly attempting to buy enriched uranium from the African nation to build a nuclear weapon. Wilson reported back that the claims were most likely the result of a hoax. But President Bush had still cited them during a State of the Union address as evidence that Hussein had an aggressive program to develop weapons of mass destruction.

In the column, Novak called Plame an "agency operative," thus identifying her as a covert CIA agent. But Novak has since claimed that his use of the phrase "agency operative" was a formulation of his own, and that he did not know, or mean to tell his readers, that she had a covert status with the agency.

Rove, too, has told federal investigators he did not know that Plame had a covert status with the CIA when he spoke with Novak, and Cooper, about Plame.

The distinction as to whether Rove specifically knew Plame’s status has been central to the investigation led by special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald; under the law, a government official can only be prosecuted if he or she knew of a person's covert status and "that the information disclosed so identifies such covert agent."

But investigators were also skeptical of Novak's claim that his use of the term "operative" was a journalistic miscue because it appeared to provide legal protection for whoever his source or sources were. And although Novak's and Rove's accounts of their conversations regarding Plame were largely consistent, they appeared to be self-serving.

It has been, in large part, for all of these reasons that Fitzgerald so zealously sought the testimony of reporters Cooper and Judith Miller of The New York Times, according to sources sympathetic to Fitzgerald. Cooper testified to Fitzgerald's grand jury last week, after earlier having been found in civil contempt for refusing to do so. In contrast, Miller has refused to testify, and is currently serving a sentence in an Alexandria, Virginia, jail.

Finally, also driving Fitzgerald's investigation has been Rove's assertions that he only found out about Plame's status with the CIA from a journalist -- and one whose name he does not recall. But as The New York Times first disclosed on July 16, senior Bush administration officials first learned that Plame worked for the CIA from a classified briefing paper on July 7, 2003, exactly a week before Novak's column naming Plame appeared and at the time that senior Bush administration officials were devising a strategy to discredit Wilson.

The classified memorandum, dated June 10, 2003, was written for Marc Grossman, then the undersecretary of state for political affairs, and reportedly made claims similar to those made by Wilson: that the Bush administration had relied on faulty intelligence to exaggerate the threat posed by Hussein to make the case to go to war with Iraq. The report was circulated to then-Secretary of State Colin Powell and a slew of other senior administration officials who were then traveling with President Bush to Africa.

Fitzgerald has focused on whether Rove might have learned of Plame's identity from one of the many senior White House officials who read the memo, according to the Times account and attorneys whose clients have testified before the federal grand jury.

Murray Wass is covering the whole saga on his blog Whatever Already.


Pablo said...

Just charge them with murder and be done with it. This is taking way too long.

/channeling demo

Pablo said...

Oh yeah...FIRST!

How long has this post been up?

MJ said...

How little does your life amount to when your sad little LGF games have to be played out elsewhere. Did Iron Fist make you cry?

Pablo said...

What, exactly, are you talking about bd? You're not making any sense.

Me, I'm poking a bit of fun at our hosts, who have pointed out that I've had a number of first posts here. I'm certain that you just don't get the joke.

See, it's funny because unlike LGF where people get silly and do that FIRST! crap, meaning they beat everyone else to posting, anyone with an internet connection can get a first post here because...well, let's just say there's not a lot of competition. So, it's sort of ironic to post FIRST! here.

Do you see how that works now, sweetie?

Oh, why would Iron Fist make me cry? Because he made you cry? Is that it? Why are we even talking about Iron Fist?

Ah, silly me. Because you're obsessed with him! Of course.

MJ said...

the only one obsessing here is the end of the day how long has this obsession with LGFW been going on....I mean you went as far as setting up a watch blog, spamming, posting links to child porn.....what's left powderfinger?

Pablo said...

bd, paranoia and delusion aren't going to help you make your case.

There is one true claim in your list of high crimes, though. I once started a blog specifically to make fun of our friends across the pond who used to make the messes on this here rug. A "watch" blog, as you say. You will recall that this came about as a result of this blog refusing to accept comments, in a jackbooted attempt to restrict freedom of speech and push forward a fascist, totalitarian agenda. I felt like I needed to keep an eye on those Putrid Plotters.

That blog, as you know, morphed into Discarded Lies which now ranks #944 in the TTLB and is right around it's first anniversary.

Please explain to me what you find so wrong about Watch blogs. And if you can figure out why the TTLB can't even find this place, that would be cool too.

/off to read the title of this blog

Pablo said...

the only one obsessing here is the end of the day how long has this obsession with LGFW been going on...

Almost as long as you goons have been stalking Charles and various other LGFers.

How long is it going to continue?