Media Losing the Plot…Again

The AP is reporting that Rove learned of Valerie Plame’s identity from Robert Novak:
Chief presidential adviser Karl Rove testified to a grand jury that he talked with two journalists before they divulged the identity of an undercover CIA officer but that he originally learned about the operative from the news media and not government sources, according to a person briefed on the testimony.

The person, who works in the legal profession and spoke only on condition of anonymity because of grand jury secrecy, told The Associated Press that Rove testified last year that he remembers specifically being told by columnist Robert Novak that Valerie Plame, the wife of a harsh Iraq war critic, worked for the CIA.


Rove told the grand jury that by the time Novak had called him, he believes he had similar information about Wilson's wife from another member of the news media but he could not recall which reporter had told him about it first, the person said.

When Novak inquired about Wilson's wife working for the CIA, Rove indicated he had heard something like that, according to the source's recounting of the grand jury testimony.

Rove told the grand jury that three days later, he had a phone conversation with Time magazine reporter Matt Cooper and — in an effort to discredit some of Wilson's allegations — informally told Cooper that he believed Wilson's wife worked for the CIA, though he never used her name, the source said.
Okay, first of all—I’m getting really fucking tired of anonymous sources who just happen to be parroting whatever Bush administration line of defense they’re shoveling that day. What a stroke of luck for them that, even though their hands are suddenly tied by this gad-blasted ongoing investigation, there is a never-ending supply of anonymous sources to provide information to the media. Well, seemingly never-ending—although when the credentials are “working in the legal profession,” that’s getting pretty dodgy in terms of credibility. It’s probably Rove’s lawyer, although they’ve made him sound like a paralegal temp.

Anyway, to the bones of the matter, here’s the deal: It doesn’t matter where Rove found out about Valerie Plame; he still leaked her identity to Matt Cooper. And John Aravosis points out the obvious about an investigative tactic so basic that anyone who’s ever been a kid trying to pump their parents for info knows:
Rove now claims he confirmed for Novak that he heard Plame was CIA, but that Novak asked him about her CIA connections first. Again, irrelevant. He confirmed an undercover CIA agent to a journalist, is he mad? I mean, if a journalist said "so, I hear we're invading Syria on August 15" would Rove respond, "yeah I heard that too"? No, he wouldn't. This kind of journalist prying happens all the time. But Rove decided to answer this time, putting our national security at risk.
A Washington Post article, which is slightly better than the AP report, but not by much, notes:
In accounts of both conversations that have been made public, Rove does not give Plame's name and discusses the matter only at the end of an interview on an unrelated topic.
What the fuck is that—the “By the Way” Defense?! Good grief. It doesn’t matter what the impetus for the call was, how long they spoke, whether Rove used her name or said “Wilson’s wife,” whether he overtly provided information or off-handedly confirmed it to someone fishing for information. It’s a semantic smokescreen. And once again, the media swallows it—hook, line, and sinker.

Good analysis by Liberal Oasis, who note:
The news today should be about how a Bush Administration leak of the name of an Al Qaeda member turned double agent in Aug. 2004, hurt a British counterterror operation, allowing suspected terrorists to escape -- including possibly the eventual London Bombers.

As the leak was part of justifying a politically timed terror alert, right after the Dem Convention, this would be a second example of the Bush Administration misusing classified information for political purposes, harming our national security.

But more likely, the punditocracy will ignore the pattern that’s emerging, and flock to today’s NY Times report, claiming that Karl Rove didn’t leak Plame’s name to Bob Novak, but Novak told it to Rove.
Read the rest, in which they rightly take the NY Times to task for picking up where Judy Miller left off.

And I would add to their critique, the Downing Street Memos are part of that pattern of misuse of classified information for political purposes, too. It’s all part of the same game that Bush & Co. like to play.

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