Rove Takes a Leak…

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Or is that he gives one?

In any case, Lawrence O'Donnell, appearing on The McLaughlin Group, has fingered President Bush's No. 1 Guy as the one who told reporters that Valerie Plame was a CIA agent. O'Donnell says that will come out in the data dump provided by Time mag to the grand jury investigating the case.

Whole story here.

Way, way back when, Reason's Ron Bailey offered a nice-and-easy strategery for the Bush admin to deal with this: The prez should demand the guilty party to come forward. While that never happened, Karl Rove did publicly deny involvement. Which might just be a problem if O'Donnell (who, it's worth pointing out, is one of those mysterious pundits who seemed, like Jay Gatsby, to appear out of nowhere a few years back) is correct.

Read Ron's piece here.

Tip o' the pixel to reader Attack the Messenger and Craig Crawford's blog.

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  1. From everything I’ve read it seems like there were multiple leakers. If it was just Rove, Novak will have some explaining to do as well: he said the leaker was “no partisan gunslinger”. I think “Partisan Gunslinger” is Rove’s official White House title.

  2. There’s the Duke of Wellington’s advice to newly commissioned officers : Never neglect an opportunity to pump ship.

  3. The prez should demand the guilty party to come forward.

    Didn’t that happen, at least through McClellan? Here are two McClellan quotes, on behalf of the Prez:

    “if anyone — inside or outside the government — has information that can help the investigators get to the bottom of this, they should provide that information to the officials in charge.” – 6/24/04

    “if anyone in this administration was involved in it, they would no longer be in this administration.” -9/29/04

  4. That should be “9/29/03”. My mistake.

  5. Besides his career at a TV journalist, O’Donnell has served as a producer and writer for the series “The West Wing.”

    There’s a lot of things about this story that doesn’t add up. How does a half-assed “journalist” and fiction writer get his hands on a sealed federal document presumably delivered straight from Time to the court?

    Sounds like he just made a guess to me. I can’t see how he could have known for sure. Considering he went from McLaughlin to Huffington in two days, it just seem like he’s carrying a sharpened political ax.

  6. Don’t let the fact that Larry is a hair-on-fire screaming lunatic swerve your perception of his veracity.

  7. kmw,

    It’s not a stretch of the imagination that a Time journalist would tell O’Donnell.

    Rove has testified under oath to a grand jury about this leak, and a enormous pile of White House personnel have been interviewed by the FBI about it, including the President and Vice President. If Rove is behind the leak, he’s going down. Although I do wonder why Rove would lie to the FBI and a grand jury if he knows that journalists have notes naming him as the source. He could explain away the leak as accidental and get in minimal trouble, but with perjury he’s toast. Did he trust the reporters to go to jail for him? That’s a hell of a gamble.

  8. What puzzles me is this: How would (should) Karl Rove be in a position to know who is an undercover CIA operative?

  9. Maybe Rove’s not quite the supergenius he’s made out to be.

  10. That last was for phocion.

    Mona raises a good point I hadn’t considered, though, how would Rove know that? And wouldn’t that very knowledge itself break security clearance rules?

  11. From Newsweek (Luskin is Rove’s lawyer):

    Luskin told NEWSWEEK that Rove “never knowingly disclosed classified information” and that “he did not tell any reporter that Valerie Plame worked for the CIA.” Luskin declined, however, to discuss any other details. He did say that Rove himself had testified before the grand jury “two or three times” and signed a waiver authorizing reporters to testify about their conversations with him. “He has answered every question that has been put to him about his conversations with Cooper and anybody else,” Luskin said.

    Things are getting curious.

  12. When fame is on the line, if you’re wrong you just fade into the memory hole; if you’re right, you get treated like a hero. But if you’re already famous, like Dan Rather, you sink like a lead balloon

    O’Donnell has nothing to lose, and everything to gain by just making a guess in public.

    And I’m guessing that some eager young intern spread the word to reporters, in order to move up the Administration ladder. Rove will come out of this clean.

  13. How did Rove know that?

    From what I’ve read, it was pretty commong knowledge that Plame worked for the CIA. Which is one reason it wasn’t a crime to leak the info. Slimy, yes, criminal, no.

  14. My gut feeling is that the prosecutor thinks Rove is guilty of something but hasn’t been able to pin anything on him yet. On the other hand, the Boston Globe did report near the end of the presidential campaign that the prosecutor assured Rove he was not a target of the investigation.

    O’Donnell has a problem though. He says here, “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.”

    Well, the Newsweek story is here, and all it says was that Rove was a source for Cooper’s story, and that Rove gave permission to Cooper to reveal everything they discussed together. What it conspicuously doesn’t say is that Rove leaked Plame’s name and info.

  15. O’Donnell is a raving lunatic with zero credibility, but Rove’s an ass, so I’m not sure what to think.

  16. Steve writes: “From what I’ve read, it was pretty commong knowledge that Plame worked for the CIA. ”

    Then why bother telling the Washington cocktail party barnacles like Novak? Surely they’d already know something that is “pretty common knowledge”.

    Fact is, the only people pushing the “pretty common knowledge” idea are people like Cliff May, who are in cahoots with the PNAC types who would have wanted Plame outed in the first place.

  17. From what I’ve read, it was pretty commong knowledge that Plame worked for the CIA.

    So, the CIA has undercover agents whose cover is long since blown? I doubt W even knows the specific identities of any or most CIA agents who are undercover. While I’m no expert, my understanding is that that sort of thing is a strictly “need to know” basis.

    How would Karl Rove know it, unless she was no longer undercover, her cover already having been blown?

  18. “How would Karl Rove know it, unless she was no longer undercover, her cover already having been blown?”

    I imagine someone who did know told him.

    Might have been Iraq Hawk James Woolsey, who as ex-director of the CIA, may have known.

  19. You’re not as dumb as you’re portraying yourself as, Mona, so I suspect you are being disingenuous. Let’s review the known history here:

    1. US intelligence agencies receive phony Niger documents.

    2. Decision is made to investigate veracity of documents.

    3. Plame volunteers her husband, Wilson, for the mission.

    4. Wilson goes to Niger, talks to people, reports back that the documents are inaccurate at best, false at worst.

    5. Bush gives speech relying on documents.

    6. Wilson goes public with criticism of documents.

    7. Mystery source outs Plame.

    Given that Karl Rove had near-daily access to Bush and routinely counsels him on political strategy, isn’t it within the realm of possibility that after Wilson went public Rove said, “Hey, let’s discredit this guy. How did he get the job of going to Africa in the first place?” Someone with appropriate security clearance calls the CIA, reports back and says, “His wife suggested him.” (That sort of information would probably not be carefully guarded.) That Plame was Wilson’s wife was definitely public knowledge (I’ve never seen anyone claim Plame and Wilson were secretly married.) Rove then outs Plame without thinking about the possibility that sort of leak could be the subject of a criminal investigation.

  20. I imagine someone who did know told him.

    Might have been Iraq Hawk James Woolsey, who as ex-director of the CIA, may have known.

    That’s a serious crime. Is there any evidence for it?

  21. You’re not as dumb as you’re portraying yourself as, Mona, so I suspect you are being disingenuous.

    Well, thanks, I guess. But I’m quite sincere. It cannot be the case that the CIA informs the White House of the identities of its undercover agents. Hell, in the late 40s the FBI did not even inform Truman, who never knew (most scholars believe) about some 3,000 decrypted Soviet cables proving domestic espionage for Stalin. They held it tight to their vest. But you think some “mystery source” in the CIA spilled to W/Rove in this instance?

    Someone, somewhere, would have had to violate security clearance protocols, if Karl Rove knew the identity of an undercover CIA operative whose cover was not already blown.

  22. “Someone, somewhere, would have had to violate security clearance protocols, if Karl Rove knew the identity of an undercover CIA operative whose cover was not already blown.”

    Cheney visited the CIA a few times, perhaps he met with her, or saw her, while there.

  23. Two words:
    Impeach Dubya.

  24. Not to brag… okay, to brag, I called for Slick’s impeachment long before it materialized.

    (I also hated country music before it was cool. I hated it before it was cool to love/hate it… whatever.)

    Nashville is my hometown, so I speak with some authority here.

  25. Cheney visited the CIA a few times, perhaps he met with her, or saw her, while there.

    So, the CIA just has Executive branch or other folks roaming around and able to pick up on their undercover agents they “see” also walking the halls.

    If this is so, revealing Plame’s identity is not the bigger problem.

  26. I’m with Mona here on this one. The identity of a CIA agent would seem to be something covered by strict awareness protocols, due to the grave danger of the outed agent, should their identity become known outside the agency.

    The agency cannot take the risk that “Karl is cool,” and nudge him in the ribs and spill Plame’s identity.

    If Karl admits that he knew, we need to find out how he came to know.

  27. O’Donnell isn’t just an opinion journo turned TV hack. He is, like Matthews, Russert, Stephanopoulos, Tony Snow, McLaughlin, etc. one of an annoyingly growing list of White House and Capitol Hill apparatchiks who, out of power, have been reborn as “journalists.” Check his MSNBC bio:

    From 1993 through 1995, O’Donnell was the Democratic Chief of Staff of the United States Senate Committee on Finance. The Committee has jurisdiction over legislation involving taxation, international trade, health care, Social Security, welfare, and other income security programs. In 1992, he was Chief of Staff of the United States Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works.

    From 1989 until 1992, O’Donnell served as Senior Advisor to Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan. He began his professional association with Senator Moynihan as Director of Communications in the Senator’s 1988 re-election campaign.

    Now, why do I think that LO’D might have some friend on the Hill with access to classified briefings, or at CIA – probably not a political appointee – who wants to even a score against a rival, or stick up for their fellow Agency types? Maybe a career civil servant at Justice who is a loyal Democrat fed him something. Who knows? But he’s no more a talking head who just happens to support the Dems than Pat Buchanan is just a former newspaper editorialist.

    Kevin

  28. No big stories on TV or in the newspapers about this today. Must not be a big deal then. Anybody here watch “American Dad” that show probably has a more accurate picture of the CIA than any of the squared away versions that some of you posters are offering. I am sure people probably come in to the agency bright eyed, bushy tailed and ready to work for the good of america. After a couple years though they become cynical barely do whats required of their job and just work on sucking as much money and benefits out of the American taxpayer as possible…

  29. I think some of you are underestimating the extent to which “secret” information of this sort manages to get around within certain D.C. social circles without being widely disseminated in some genuinely compromising way. Spend a few years in this town and you’re going to have at least one acquaintance or colleague who goes to work for (nominally) some more prosaic part of the government but it’s generally understood they’ve gone to CIA. “True Lies” notwithstanding, it’s fairly tough to make sure that it remains totally unknown to anybody without a security clearance what people with social lives and families do for a living.

  30. I believe it has been firmly established – including an admission by the New York Times – that there was no crime in discussing Valerie Plame.

    So those Bush opponents who can think of no higher calling than trying to crush Karl Rove are simply spending their energy circling the drain.

    Yawn.

  31. “I believe it has been firmly established – including an admission by the New York Times – that there was no crime in discussing Valerie Plame.

    Tentatively, I’ll accept that discussing Valerie Plame, technically, isn’t a crime, if you’ll accept that using the media to intimidate the intelligence community into finding a non-existent cause for war is, broadly speaking, treasonous.

  32. O’Donnell ran the Senate Finance Committee under Moynihan (as a helpful commenter has already pointed out).

    Anyone who considers him “mysterious,” or better yet, a “raving lunatic,” clearly gets all of their news from right-wing weblogs and is ignorant.

  33. GoLakers writes: “I believe it has been firmly established – including an admission by the New York Times ”

    Since when does the New York Times set Federal Law?

  34. Kim Philby did it to cover the fact that he was a Soviet agent.

  35. “After a couple years though they become cynical barely do whats required of their job and just work on sucking as much money and benefits out of the American taxpayer as possible…”

    So, basically, they’re just like everyone else in government.

    The only people who manage to come in bushy-tailed for very long are probably the ones who are on the take, and every day is an opportunity for self-enrichment.

  36. What do we know?

    Hardly anything.

    How much more evidence do you need?

  37. I think Plame outed herself as a career move.

    She needs to do a stretch at Levenworth.

    It is self evident.

    Motive. Opportunity.

  38. It is all about a book deal.

  39. Use your imagination folks.

    Oh. Wait.

    Most of you are.

  40. So let me see.

    You can get in big trouble for repeating cocktail party gossip?

    What do we know?

    The righties – Rove, Novak, etc. are co-operating fully in the investigation.

    The lefty reporters are not co-operating.

    So just as a guess – when the source is finally outed which side do you suppose it will help?

    I blame Dick Durbin.

  41. M., is your cursor stuck on the “Post” button?

  42. Ard, you must have n’o been around for the joe & jean bart tag-teaming days, M’s string there wasn’t even a throat-clearing compared to those guys.

  43. Nice to see another Ard at this site. Maybe libertarianism is in our genes. Although most posters here would call my positive views on Iraq hardcore GOP.

  44. You know what I like about reading the hit’n run comments these days? It’s like listening to a bunch of Castro supporters. (not everyone, but some folks like Mona are just way too pro-government not to make my skin crawl)

    Cute, but weirdly pro-government, weirdly trusting of Big Government.

    But to all of you Republican/Libertarians. I want to thank you. I have no fourth amendment rights. I have fewer REAL freedoms every day. But at least Iraq won’t nuke us. Ho Hum.

  45. Why are these pals of Rove and Bush waging war on public education? They must looking to put those public school tax dollars into their pockets. Whatever the motivation these families are not friends of public education.

    http://www.inthesetimes.com/site/main/article/717/P40/

  46. Is it “hey, look over there!” in here, or is it just me?

    Nervous, M. Simon?

    As for Mona, she can be counted on to appear with the absolute top grade pro-administration spin whenever something genuinely threatening to them pops up. I mean it, she’s a real pro.

  47. BTW, the “widely known in inside circles” shtick in no way gets the leaker off from legal consequences.

    I’m pretty sure the military has a super-sonic spy plane called “Aurora.” There have been rumors to the effect for years in various places. My repeating these rumors is in no way a crime.

    However, if I worked at the base where it was kept, or if a friend of mine did and blabbed to me, it would be a crime for me to talk about what I actually knew.

  48. Let’s see:

    You (Ken Shultz, Skeptikos) think that Time Magazine and the New York Times reporters are willing to go to jail to protect a source implicating Karl Rove?

    BWAAAAHAHAHAHA!

  49. Spend a few years in this town and you’re going to have at least one acquaintance or colleague who goes to work for (nominally) some more prosaic part of the government but it’s generally understood they’ve gone to CIA.

    What gave me away? 😉

    I was assigned to this forum for an operation to track down a dangerous terrorist and former French Special Ops commando code-named “Jean Bart.” Now I’m here to keep an eye on you subversive libertarians.

    Just kidding 😉

  50. Whatever the motivation these families are not friends of public education. – R. Heckler.

    Heck, this is a libertarian site. We’re not such good friends of publik skools, either.

    Kevin

  51. “You (Ken Shultz, Skeptikos) think that Time Magazine and the New York Times reporters are willing to go to jail to protect a source implicating Karl Rove?”

    I merely suggested that if someone tried to intimidate the intelligence community into producing a non-existent piece of evidence in the hope of swaying the American people to war, it would be treasonous, broadly speaking. You agree, don’t you?

    …I agree that, tentatively speaking, a discussion regarding Valerie Plame may not be a crime. …of course, neither is appearing in gay porno, cheating on a spouse with a donkey or swearing allegiance to Satan. …but just because something isn’t a crime, doesn’t mean it shouldn’t raise a red-flag with the American people. Don’t you agree?

    …Anyway, this is all probably moot. I’m sure both Karl Rove and the Bush Administration will welcome a thorough investigation as an opportunity to clear this up once and for all. I mean, only latte-swilling, tin foil hat wearing straw men really believe that the Bush Administration went fishing for a cause for war. …I’m sure.

  52. joe claims: As for Mona, she can be counted on to appear with the absolute top grade pro-administration spin whenever something genuinely threatening to them pops up. I mean it, she’s a real pro.

    I admit I support Bush’s foreign policy, but I did not vote for him in ’00. However, it has seemed to me that there is a salivating going on to find a crime, any crime or malfeasance, to take him down, and little that his critics are unwilling to entertain to do so. Such is politics.

    But that said, I sincerely cannot fathom how Karl Rove could have been positioned to know who any undercover CIA operatives are. Cocktail circuit gossip a la what Julian surmises? If that is how Rove purportedly knew, the problem is larger than Karl Rove.

  53. Watching the anti-Bush conspirazoids trying, for how many years later is it now?, to put a bruise on somebody, anybody, for la affaire Plame, is just hilarious.

    It is highly, highly, unlikely that any charges will be brought for the “leak”, for reasons that even the NYT seems to grasp. Although one source of amusement is how the highly principled NYT’s position changed once its chestnuts were in the fire.

    That means the investigation is continuing for possibly a couple of reasons.

    First, for the odious practice of bringing charges for secondary crimes when no primary crime will ever be charged (think Martha Stewart).

    Second, because some folks in government who have, perhaps, been burned by these nasty little political leaks in the past have noticed that the people suffering from this investigation are the leakers and their enablers in the press, especially the latter. I imagine that sweating the journalists in this case is going to depress the leak economy in Washington for awhile, and that is just fine with a lot of folks.

    But if you think any of the reporters or publications now in the cross-hairs would sit on information that would hang Rove, you are smoking crack. What’s even more entertaining than parsing Rove’s denials is parsing the greasy semi-accusations of his enemies in the press. They never really accuse him of doing the dirty, but they sure manage to leave that impression, don’t they?

  54. See, Mona, that’s what I mean by “absolute top grade spin.” First, you “poison the well” with a characterization of Bush’s critics and their psychological state.

    Then, to cover up the stink, you change the subject to a highminded meditation about a broad theme, one that will both appeal to political junkies like us, and subtly shift the conversation from Rove to “Washington culture.”

    Tip o’ the had, Mona. Watch and learn, kiddies, she’s a real pro.

  55. “However, it has seemed to me that there is a salivating going on to find a crime, any crime or malfeasance, to take him down, and little that his critics are unwilling to entertain to do so.”

    “Watching the anti-Bush conspirazoids trying, for how many years later is it now?, to put a bruise on somebody, anybody, for la affaire Plame, is just hilarious.”

    I think you’re both missin’ the boat on what drives fascination with this case. Sure, there are plenty of anti-Bush fanatics hopin’ for a big fall, but there are others, count me among them, who still hold out hope that the American people are yet to come to terms with having been hoodwinked.

    …The alternative is heartbreaking.

  56. Ken writes:

    I merely suggested that if someone tried to intimidate the intelligence community into producing a non-existent piece of evidence in the hope of swaying the American people to war, it would be treasonous, broadly speaking.

    You think this never got discussed before with the Thomas Kean 9/11 Commission or the Charles Deulfer Iraq Study Group report? Which, by the way, showed absolutely NO coercion of CIA analysts by the government. Nor did Bob Woodward’s (of Watergate fame) book “Bush at War.” None. No pre-decision. No pressure. Hence – no lie. NO LIE.

    Wow. The Angry Left is going to be upset when they look at the facts, and actually pay attention.

  57. Had there been a report saying that Saddam Hussein had yellowcake crumbs all over his fingers, that would have been a lie, right? …Or, at least, it would have been wrong. …Like the Al Qaeda collaboration and mobile WMD labs. Those claims weren’t crimes, were they? …I found them interesting anyway.

    So after a couple of tries, I guess you’re conceding that if someone attempted to intimidate a member of the intelligence community into reporting something false, it would have been a terrible thing?

    …Somebody may or may not have revealed the name of a CIA agent, right? …He or she may have revealed that name for some reason? …Or not, right? Well I’d like to know more about that, wouldn’t you?

    “Wow. The Angry Left is going to be upset when they look at the facts, and actually pay attention.”

    You may be right about that–tell me when they get here! Me? …I’m an old school conservative.

  58. “You think this never got discussed before with the Thomas Kean 9/11 Commission or the Charles Deulfer Iraq Study Group report?”

    As a matter of fact, the Congressional investigation into intelligence failures was specifically directed not to look at “political failures,” such as putting pressure on analysts or distorting information. At the time, it was explained that these matters would be covered in a second phase of the investigation, to be held after the elections.

    Immediately upon the release of the initial report, the Republicans on the committee announced that the case was closed, and that there would not be a second investigation into political failures.

    So, you were saying something about looking up facts?

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