WaPo, Corn on Rove’s Plame-Outing Role

The Washington Post has a page 1 story today on the evidence linking Karl Rove with the outing of undercover CIA agent Valerie Plame: Rove told reporter of Plame’s role but didn’t name her, attorney says.

It seems that Rove’s lawyer, Robert Luskin, has slightly altered the story he’s telling the media (or maybe the media was sloppy in handling the quotes he gave them over the past few days). In the LA Times article from July 3, we read this:

In confirming the conversation between Rove and Cooper, Rove’s attorney, Robert Luskin, emphasized that the presidential advisor did not reveal any secrets.

But in today’s Washington Post article, we read the following:

Luskin said yesterday that Rove did not know Plame’s name and was not actively trying to push the information into the public realm.

Instead, Luskin said, Rove discussed the matter — under the cloak of secrecy — with Cooper at the tail end of a conversation about a different issue. Cooper had called Rove to discuss other matters on a Friday before deadline, and the topic of Wilson came up briefly. Luskin said Cooper raised the question.

“Rove did not mention her name to Cooper,” Luskin said. “This was not an effort to encourage Time to disclose her identity. What he was doing was discouraging Time from perpetuating some statements that had been made publicly and weren’t true.”

In particular, Rove was urging caution because then-CIA Director George J. Tenet was about to issue a statement regarding Iraq’s alleged interest in African uranium and its inaccurate inclusion in President Bush’s 2003 State of the Union address. Tenet took the blame for allowing a misleading paragraph into the speech, but Tenet also said that the president, vice president and other senior officials were never briefed on Wilson’s report.

Um, right. But if Cooper’s notes are to be believed, Rove did tell him that Wilson’s wife worked for the CIA. And it sounds from this as if Luskin isn’t challenging the accuracy of those notes. So if both of these newspaper articles accurately reflect what Luskin said, he had to be lying at least one of those times. Rove could not have both discussed with Cooper that Joe Wilson’s wife worked for the CIA, and failed to reveal any secrets. Because the fact that she worked for the CIA was itself a secret. So as of this point I think I’ll be putting a big flashing asterisk next to anything sourced to Robert Luskin.

For a reality check, be sure to read what David Corn has to say on his blog today: Why Bush has to fire Rove:

But let’s put aside the legal issues for a moment. This e-mail demonstrates that Rove committed a firing offense. He leaked national security information as part of a fierce campaign to undermine Wilson, who had criticized the White House on the war on Iraq. Rove’s overworked attorney, Robert Luskin, defends his client by arguing that Rove never revealed the name of Valerie Plame/Wilson to Cooper and that he only referred to her as Wilson’s wife. This is not much of a defense. If Cooper or any other journalist had written that “Wilson’s wife works for the CIA”–without mentioning her name–such a disclosure could have been expected to have the same effect as if her name had been used: Valerie Wilson would have been compromised, her anti-WMD work placed at risk and national security potentially harmed. Either Rove knew that he was revealing an undercover officer to a reporter or he was identifying a CIA officer without bothering to check on her status and without considering the consequences of outing her. Take your pick: In both scenarios Rove is acting in a reckless and cavalier fashion, ignoring national security interests to score a political point against a policy foe.

This ought to get Rove fired–unless he resigns first.

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