Stuff I think you should know

Friday, July 15, 2005

Who’s lying is the question to ask after both The New York Times and The Washington Post published front-page articles that reported that Karl Rove did speak to conservative columnist Bob Novak before Novak wrote an article revealing the CIA identity of Valerie Wilson and that Rove had confirmed to Novak that Valerie Wilson worked at the CIA.

Each account is attributed to a single unnamed source. The Times identifies its sourced as "someone who has been officially briefed on the matter." The Post cited "a lawyer involved in the case." And the account provided is one that apparently would help Rove fend off a criminal charge. Both newspapers say that Novak called Rove on July 8, 2003 (six days before Novak published the piece that outed Valerie Wilson), that Novak said he had learned that Valerie Wilson worked at the CIA (he referred to her by her maiden name, Valerie Plame), and that Rove confirmed that he had heard that, too. Each story says its source claimed that Rove had learned about Valerie Wilson's CIA position from other journalists.

The point here is to show that Rove was not peddling the information, that he had not received it from a classified source, and that he did not have reason to know that Valerie Wilson was working at the CIA under cover. Under the relevant law--the Intelligence Identities Protection Act--it is only a crime for a government official to disclose identifying information about a covert US intelligence officer if the government official received that information from a classified source and is aware that the officer is a clandestine employee of the CIA in the past 6 years. Consequently, Rove defenders can cite the account planted in the Times and the Post and claim that he did not violate the law because he had heard about Valerie Wilson from a journalist (not a classified source) and because there is no indication he knew of her covert status. Rove can also claim that Valerie Plame had not been stationed over seas in the past six years. Rove also has a counter to Mr. Wilson citing Wilson statements that he was sent by the vice-president, and that his wife did not get him the assignment he was not qualified for. And now, both statements by Mr. Wilson have been proven false.

This might work. But, of course, it is up to a judge to determine if Rove or anyone else broke the law or engaged in perjury or obstruction of justice. And there is no telling if this account is indeed accurate. But this new disclosure does lead to an obvious conclusion: somebody has lied. Was is Karl Rove, Mr. & Mrs. Wilson, or has the special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald been the one lying trying to settle a grudge against Republicans?


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