Rove/Plame: Cooper's KR notes leaked, the Miller mystery

class=img_thumbleft>Michael Isikoff of Newsweek has the text of Time reporter Matt Cooper's notes on his talk with Karl Rove about the Joe Wilson/Valerie Plame affair. "Spoke to Rove on double super secret background for about two mins before he went on vacation," Cooper wrote in a July 11, 2003 email to editors. Rove was warning the magazine not to "get too far out on Wilson," the notes continue. Rove told Cooper that Wilson's trip to Niger wasn't requested by CIA head George Tenet or VP Dick Cheney: "It was, KR said, Wilson's wife, who apparently works at the agency on WMD issues who authorized the trip."

[Read Isikoff's story.]

Cooper's account would seem to leave Rove a lot of wiggle room with respect to the limited question of whether he knowingly blew the cover of a working CIA asset. But that conversation is just one piece of special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald's inquiry. It's become clear through the course of a long investigation (he was appointed by Ashcroft deputy James B. Comey at the end of 2003) that Fitzgerald is trying to establish a conspiracy by figures inside the White House, either to leak Plame's name or to cover up the fact they had done so. One of the key predicate questions is when, and how, Rove and his pals came to know that Plame was a secret agent. Which brings us back to the matter of jailed New York Times reporter Judith Miller.

The past week has seen a lot of speculation that Miller may be something more or less than the tight-lipped champion of a free and vigorous press that circumstance has made her out to be, most of it touched off by this aside in last Wednesday's WashPost story by Carol Leonnig: "Sources close to the investigation say there is evidence in some instances that some reporters may have told government officials--not the other way around--that Wilson was married to Plame, a CIA employee."

Does Fitzgerald think it was Judy? She seems to be the only reporter who's still on the hot seat. Miller is also very well-connected, and has a long track record of chumminess and pliability with her sources. It was Miller, remember, who last year became the poster child for the US press's eager amplification of the Bush administration's rush to war in Iraq. (Jack Shafer of Slate runs down some of her sins here.)

Alex Cockburn and Jeff St. Clair pursue this line of speculation at Counterpunch:

"We could conjecture that when Fitzgerald interviewed White House political adviser Karl Rove and Cheney's chief of staff, Scooter Libby, one or other or both had said that they learned Plame was married to Wilson and in the CIA from Miller, who ­ again this is surmise ­ might well have learned this from one of her other sources, whether Perle or Chalabi or someone else in the intelligence world.

After all, this is Miller's style of reporting. Learn something (entirely false in the case of the WMDs) from one source, then bounce it off another, and then put together a story citing two sources. In the case of the WMDs Chalabi would give her a 'defector' who would duly impart his fantasies about Saddam's arsenal. She would relay the defector's story to 'a high intelligence source' who would confirm it." [Read Cockburn/St. Clair]

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