Saturday, July 02, 2005

Newsweek: Rove Talked to Matt Cooper

Pundit Lawrence O'Donnell announced on this weekend's "McLaughlin Group" that internal Time communications handed over to special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald reveal that Time reporter Matthew Cooper talked with White House deputy chief of staff Karl Rove about the outing of CIA operative Valerie Plame. In a Friday evening followup on The Huffington Post, O'Donnell writes "I have known [Rove was Cooper's source] for months but didn't want to say it at a time that would risk me getting dragged into the grand jury ... Since I revealed the big scoop, I have had it reconfirmed by yet another highly authoritative source. Too many people know this. It should break wide open this week. I know Newsweek is working on an 'It's Rove!' story and will probably break it tomorrow."

He was certainly right, at least in part. In a story released today, Newsweek reports that the e-mails given to Fitzgerald (communications between Matt Cooper and his editors, for the most part) "show that one of Cooper's sources was White House deputy chief of staff Karl Rove," according to two lawyers familiar with the case. The story Cooper wrote for Time back in July 2003 said "Some government officials have noted to Time in interviews... that Wilson's wife, Valerie Plame, is a CIA official who monitors the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction."

What is now clear is that Cooper spoke with Rove prior to releasing his July 2003 story. What remains unclear is exactly what Rove told Cooper, and whether he was one of the "government officials" who identified Plame as a CIA operative. The conversation between Cooper and Rove is said (by Rove's lawyer) to have taken place several days before Bob Novak first outed Plame as a CIA agent - so was Rove fishing around for someone to leak the story, and Novak beat Cooper to it? Rove's lawyer says his client "'never knowingly disclosed classified information' and that 'he did not tell any reporter that Valerie Plame worked for the CIA,'" according to the Newsweek report.

Newsweek says that one of the two lawyers close to the case cited a growing 'concern' in the White House that Fitzgerald may be looking closely at Rove's role in the case, possibly investigating allegations of perjury if Rove misled the grand jury about his conversations with reporters.

Editor and Publisher today runs an article containing a transcript of O'Donnell's remarks on the "McLaughlin Group," and quotes a Friday Chicago Tribune article which said in part "The breadth of Fitzgerald's inquiry has led to speculation that it has evolved into an investigation of a conspiracy to leak Plame's identity, or of an attempt to cover up White House involvement in the leak."

If Rove (or some high-level White House official) did in fact mislead the grand jury about the Administration's role in revealing Ms. Plame's identity, we could have a much bigger story on our hands than has been hinted at. It would certainly explain the wide-ranging inquiry of Mr. Fitzgerald, as well as his dogged pursuit of the information from Mr. Cooper and the New York Times' Judith Miller (although I agree with both reporters in their principled stance against revealing their sources). Much more remains to be seen as to where this case goes from here - things could get pretty interesting.

I haven't yet commented on the decision of Time, Inc. to turn over the materials regarding Mr. Cooper's story, and will just briefly say now that I think it's one of the many deleterious side-effects resulting from having media outlets owned/controlled by public companies. If Time were a stand-alone news organization, it would not have faced the same pressure from corporate masters to turn over the information, and could stand on principle and refuse, as the New York Times continues to do.


At 7:35 PM, Blogger M. Takhallus. said...

Just a quick note to let you know we've linked to this story.

Michael Reynolds

At 11:46 PM, Anonymous Phil S said...

Thanks for helping make this twisted story somewhat clearer! Stay on top of this; your links are invaluable!!!

At 7:59 AM, Anonymous Analytical Liberal said...

Investigatiing a White House cover-up can explain two things: (1) why Fitzgerald has not yet wrapped up his investigation, and (2) that, under existing case law, Fitzgerald needs Miller and Cooper to sustain a conspiracy charge.

Regarding the propriety of Miller and Cooper's refusal to disclose their sources, they were used -- along with, apparently, four other reporters, including Novak -- to further a crime (outing a deep under cover CIA spy for crass, partisan political reasons). The federal case law providing a shield for reporters DOES NOT extend to those situations where the source's disclosure IS THE CRIME ITSELF. Too many so-called journalists, and bloggers, have chosen to ignore this subtle but crucial distinction.

The reporter's shield is not absolute -- just as the priest-penitent, doctor-patient, attoney-client privileges are not -- nor should it be. To claim that limiting the shield will limit access to governmental sources is absurd: whistleblowers WILL be protected by the principle upheld in the Miller/Cooper case; CRIMINALs leaking information that is required to be kept secret for our national security will not.

Miller and Cooper were part of the crime -- unwitting, maybe, but certainly necessary -- without whom the crime could not have been committed. If an attorney knows, in advance, that his/her client intends to commit a specific crime, the attorney MUST report that to the police IMMEDIATELY. Is that a violation of the attorney-client privilege? Most say it is not; that the protection of society outweighs the privacy expectations of the soon-to-be-criminal. Why should a person using a reporter as a necessary component of actually committing the crime expect greater protection? As posited above, that is logically inconsistent and an absurd outcome in our present schema for getting information to our citizens.

At 9:30 AM, Blogger UrbanRepublican said...

Thanks for posting this and as you say if this trule comes back to Rove he will and should be arrested. If there are ties back to GWB he should be impeached. If he is impeached and walks away not guilty from the impeachment end of story. At least if that happens it will save the reputation of congress. Of course two impeachments in two presidencies is a bad trend to start.


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