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What Karl Rove told Time magazine's reporter

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  • Greg Cannon
    http://msnbc.msn.com/id/8525978/site/newsweek/ Matt Cooper s Source What Karl Rove told Time magazine s reporter. By Michael Isikoff Newsweek July 18 issue -
    Message 1 of 1 , Jul 10, 2005

      Matt Cooper's Source
      What Karl Rove told Time magazine's reporter.

      By Michael Isikoff

      July 18 issue - It was 11:07 on a Friday morning, July
      11, 2003, and Time magazine correspondent Matt Cooper
      was tapping out an e-mail to his bureau chief, Michael
      Duffy. "Subject: Rove/P&C," (for personal and
      confidential), Cooper began. "Spoke to Rove on double
      super secret background for about two mins before he
      went on vacation ..." Cooper proceeded to spell out
      some guidance on a story that was beginning to roil
      Washington. He finished, "please don't source this to
      rove or even WH [White House]" and suggested another
      reporter check with the CIA.
      Story continues below ↓ advertisement

      Last week, after Time turned over that e-mail, among
      other notes and e-mails, Cooper agreed to testify
      before a grand jury in the Valerie Plame case.
      Explaining that he had obtained last-minute "personal
      consent" from his source, Cooper was able to avoid a
      jail sentence for contempt of court. Another reporter,
      Judith Miller of The New York Times, refused to
      identify her source and chose to go to jail instead.

      For two years, a federal prosecutor, Patrick
      Fitzgerald, has been investigating the leak of Plame's
      identity as an undercover CIA agent. The leak was
      first reported by columnist Robert Novak on July 14,
      2003. Novak apparently made some arrangement with the
      prosecutor, but Fitzgerald continued to press other
      reporters for their sources, possibly to show a
      pattern (to prove intent) or to make a perjury case.
      (It is illegal to knowingly identify an undercover CIA
      officer.) Rove's words on the Plame case have always
      been carefully chosen. "I didn't know her name. I
      didn't leak her name," Rove told CNN last year when
      asked if he had anything to do with the Plame leak.
      Rove has never publicly acknowledged talking to any
      reporter about former ambassador Joseph Wilson and his
      wife. But last week, his lawyer, Robert Luskin,
      confirmed to NEWSWEEK that Rove did—and that Rove was
      the secret source who, at the request of both Cooper's
      lawyer and the prosecutor, gave Cooper permission to

      The controversy arose when Wilson wrote an op-ed
      column in The New York Times saying that he had been
      sent by the CIA in February 2002 to investigate
      charges that Iraq was trying to buy uranium from the
      African country of Niger. Wilson said he had found no
      evidence to support the claim. Wilson's column was an
      early attack on the evidence used by the Bush
      administration to justify going to war in Iraq. The
      White House wished to discredit Wilson and his
      attacks. The question for the prosecutor is whether
      someone in the administration, in an effort to
      undermine Wilson's credibility, intentionally revealed
      the covert identity of his wife.

      In a brief conversation with Rove, Cooper asked what
      to make of the flap over Wilson's criticisms. NEWSWEEK
      obtained a copy of the e-mail that Cooper sent his
      bureau chief after speaking to Rove. (The e-mail was
      authenticated by a source intimately familiar with
      Time's editorial handling of the Wilson story, but who
      has asked not to be identified because of the
      magazine's corporate decision not to disclose its
      contents.) Cooper wrote that Rove offered him a "big
      warning" not to "get too far out on Wilson." Rove told
      Cooper that Wilson's trip had not been authorized by
      "DCIA"—CIA Director George Tenet—or Vice President
      Dick Cheney. Rather, "it was, KR said, wilson's wife,
      who apparently works at the agency on wmd [weapons of
      mass destruction] issues who authorized the trip."
      Wilson's wife is Plame, then an undercover agent
      working as an analyst in the CIA's Directorate of
      Operations counterproliferation division. (Cooper
      later included the essence of what Rove told him in an
      online story.) The e-mail characterizing the
      conversation continues: "not only the genesis of the
      trip is flawed an[d] suspect but so is the report. he
      [Rove] implied strongly there's still plenty to
      implicate iraqi interest in acquiring uranium fro[m]
      Niger ... "

      Nothing in the Cooper e-mail suggests that Rove used
      Plame's name or knew she was a covert operative.
      Nonetheless, it is significant that Rove was speaking
      to Cooper before Novak's column appeared; in other
      words, before Plame's identity had been published.
      Fitzgerald has been looking for evidence that Rove
      spoke to other reporters as well. "Karl Rove has
      shared with Fitzgerald all the information he has
      about any potentially relevant contacts he has had
      with any reporters, including Matt Cooper," Luskin
      told NEWSWEEK.

      A source close to Rove, who declined to be identified
      because he did not wish to run afoul of the prosecutor
      or government investigators, added that there was
      "absolutely no inconsistency" between Cooper's e-mail
      and what Rove has testified to during his three
      grand-jury appearances in the case. "A fair reading of
      the e-mail makes clear that the information conveyed
      was not part of an organized effort to disclose
      Plame's identity, but was an effort to discourage Time
      from publishing things that turned out to be false,"
      the source said, referring to claims in circulation at
      the time that Cheney and high-level CIA officials
      arranged for Wilson's trip to Africa.

      Fitzgerald is known as a tenacious, thorough
      prosecutor. He refused to comment, and it is not clear
      whether he is pursuing evidence that will result in
      indictments, or just tying up loose ends in a messy
      case. But the Cooper e-mail offers one new clue to the
      mystery of what Fitzgerald is probing—and provides a
      glimpse of what was unfolding at the highest levels as
      the administration defended a part of its case for
      going to war in Iraq.
      © 2005 Newsweek, Inc.
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