Water Man Spouts

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Rovian Secretions

Rovian Secretions
The 4-17-06 New York Sun article "No Hint Seen in Memo that Plame's Role Was Secret" included a link to a declassified version of a State Department memorandum that has played a significant role in the Plame Scandal. The Sun article suggests the memo "undercuts the idea of a deliberate campaign to expose Plame." That idea was put in check by Jason Leopold's article "State Department Memo: '16 Words' Were False," on TruthOut yesterday.
However, because the Sun article quotes Karl Rove's attorney, Robert Luskin, in its attempt to spin the memo to the White House's advantage, I thought we should take a closer look. The Sun had made a Freedom of Information request for the memo last July, and reportedly had just received it. When we consider that Karl Rove apparently didn't see the memo, and wasn't on Air Force One on the July 2003 trip to Africa when it was reportedly passed around to administration officials who were upset by Joe Wilson's NY Times op-ed, it seems curious that the Sun would seek Luskin's opinion.
Just for fun, let's look back to July of 2005, and see if there is anything that stands out about Rove and Luskin. Perhaps we could start with "Rove At War," the 7-25-05 Newsweek cover story, which concludes, "As for Rove, friends say that he was shaken by the speed with which the Wilson story moved -- and in a direction he didn't expect. He's used to being in control. But now all Rove can do is mark time until someone else -- Patrick Fitzgerald -- says what comes next. After his re-election victory last November, Bush called Rove the 'Architect.' Now the hunter has to wait with everyone else to see if he has become the hunted." (page 34)
In "Think Progress's" research forum on "23 Administration Officials Involved in Plame Leak," we are reminded that on 9-29-03, when asked if he had any knowledge of who leaked a CIA agent's name, Karl answered, "No." (ABC News; 9-29-03) And that very day, White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan said he had spoken with Karl, and it was a "ridiculous suggestion" that he played any role in the scandal. (White House briefing; 9-29-03) And the 7-11-05 Newsweek quoted Karl as saying, "I didn't know her name and didn't leak her name."
Karl had testified three times before the grand jury. He reportedly had admitted that he participated in discussions about Wilson and Plame with some administration officials, apparently those in the WHIG. But he had denied discussing her with Time reporter Matt Cooper. During the period of time Rove denied talking to Cooper, both Time and Cooper were fighting Fitzgerald's efforts to force him to testify to the grand jury. But, as the 7-25-05 Time reports, Cooper had decided to testify.
Matthew Cooper told the grand jury that Rove had told him their conversation was on "deep background," which he understod to mean he "must keep the identity of my source confidential." Without using Valerie's name, Rove told Cooper that Wilson's wife worked for "the agency," and was responsible for sending him on the trip to Niger. He mentioned that information was going to be declassified in the "coming days that would cast doubt on Wilson's mission and his findings." He ended the conversation by saying, "I've already said too much."
How did Karl Rove and Robert Luskin respond to all of this? The 7-25-05 Newsweek notes, "Last week, Newsweek has learned, after Time's Matthew Cooper provided grand-jury testimony on his July 11, 2003, conversation with Karl Rove, Robert Luskin, Rove's attorney, placed a call to Fitzgerald to make sure he didn't need anything more from Rove in light of Cooper's claims. Fitzgerald didn't bite: 'We'll get back to you,' the prosecutor replied curtly, and quickly got off the line." (page 32)
The 10-15-05 New York Times reported that Rove testified before the grand jury again. He had a cover story, about finding an e-mail to Steve Hadley that he found after his lawyer had "refreshed" his memory. This, we learned, was as a result of Luskin dining with Viveca Novak. However, in two meetings with Fitzgerald -- one under oath -- Ms. Novak's story did not seem to support Luskin's. (See "What Viveca Novak Told Fitzgerald"; Time; 12-11-05)
Ms. Novak would end her career with Time as a result of this incident. Her editors were not the only people unhappy with her behavior. "One Final note," she wrote in her final Time article, "Luskin is unhappy that I decided to write about our conversation, but I feel that he violated any understanding to keep our talk confidential by unilaterally going to Fitzgerald and telling him what was said."
And that brings us to another tactic that Rove and Luskin use frequently: selective secretions to the media. The 10-24-05 New York Times featured an article, "Republicans Testing Ways to Blunt Leak Charges." Among the sad attempts were efforts to say if Fitzgerald indicted Rove, it would amount to "criminalizing politics and that Mr. Fitzgerald did not understand how Washington works."
More, in the 10-19-05 New York Daily News, a presidential counselor was quoted as saying that "an angry President Bush rebuked chief political guru Karl Rove two years ago for his role in the Valerie Plame affair .... 'He made his displeasure known to Karl ... He made his life miserable about this'."
All of this was too much for even Robert Novak, the dehydrated journalist who had first published Plame's identity in July 2003. On his 12-14-05 MSNBC show, host Tucker Carlson noted that Novak "said yesterday he is confident President Bush knows who leaked Plame's name and should settle the mystery." Guest David Schuster told Carlson that he believed Fitzgerald would eventually indict Rove, based in part upon Ms. Novak's testimony.
Perhaps it was just a coincidence that the New York Sun had an article quoting Luskin, who said, "It's something that people got very excited about," but that the State Department memo "further substantiates that nobody involved in discussions of her or her role in sending Mr. Wilson had the slightest inkling she was in classified status." But the memo never said she sent Wilson. I think this is another selective Rovian secretion, testing ways to blunt upcoming leak charges.


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