Rove and Novak: Pieces falling into place

Let’s do a little backstory here. First, Novak’s assertion from 10/1/2003 (emphasis added):

This story began July 6 when Wilson went public and identified himself as the retired diplomat who had reported negatively to the CIA in 2002 on alleged Iraq efforts to buy uranium yellowcake from Niger. I was curious why a high-ranking official in President Bill Clinton’s National Security Council (NSC) was given this assignment. Wilson had become a vocal opponent of President Bush’s policies in Iraq after contributing to Al Gore in the last election cycle and John Kerry in this one.

During a long conversation with a senior administration official, I asked why Wilson was assigned the mission to Niger. He said Wilson had been sent by the CIA’s counterproliferation section at the suggestion of one of its employees, his wife. It was an offhand revelation from this official, who is no partisan gunslinger. When I called another official for confirmation, he said: “Oh, you know about it.” The published report that somebody in the White House failed to plant this story with six reporters and finally found me as a willing pawn is simply untrue.

Now, tonight’s story from the NYTimes:

Rove Reportedly Held Phone Talk on C.I.A. Officer

Karl Rove, the White House senior adviser, spoke with the columnist Robert D. Novak as he was preparing an article in July 2003 that identified a C.I.A. officer who was undercover, someone who has been officially briefed on the matter said Thursday.

Mr. Rove has told investigators that he learned from the columnist the name of the C.I.A. officer, who was referred to by her maiden name, Valerie Plame, and the circumstances in which her husband, former Ambassador Joseph C. Wilson IV, traveled to Africa to investigate possible uranium sales to Iraq, the person said.

After hearing Mr. Novak’s account, the person who has been briefed on the matter said, Mr. Rove told the columnist: “I heard that, too.”

The previously undisclosed telephone conversation, which took place on July 8, 2003, was initiated by Mr. Novak, the person who has been briefed on the matter said.

Six days later, Mr. Novak’s syndicated column reported that two senior administration officials had told him that Mr. Wilson’s “wife had suggested sending him” to Africa. That column was the first instance in which Ms. Wilson was publicly identified as a C.I.A. operative. The column provoked angry demands for an investigation into who disclosed Ms. Wilson’s name to Mr. Novak.

The Justice Department appointed Patrick J. Fitzgerald, a top federal prosecutor in Chicago, to lead the inquiry. Mr. Rove said in an interview last year that he did not know the C.I.A. officer’s name and did not leak it.

The person who provided the information about Mr. Rove’s conversation with Mr. Novak declined to be identified, citing requests by Mr. Fitzgerald that no one discuss the case. The person discussed the matter in the belief that Mr. Rove was truthful in saying he did not disclose Ms. Wilson’s identity.

On Oct. 1, 2003, Mr. Novak wrote another column in which he described calling two officials. The first source, who is unknown, was described by Mr. Novak as “no partisan gunslinger” who provided the outlines of the story. The second, confirming source, Mr. Novak wrote, responded, “Oh, you know about it.”

That second source was Mr. Rove, the person briefed on the matter said, although Mr. Rove’s account to investigators about what he told Mr. Novak was slightly different. Mr. Rove recalled telling Mr. Novak: “I heard that, too.”

If this is true, someone else named Plame by name, not Rove. Also, if this is true, this means that Novak sought Rove, not the other way around. Remember, Cooper also called Rove, not the other way around. Joe Wilson asserted that someone from the WH was shopping this story to six different reporters in order to discredit him and hurt his wife. Also there is this from the article:

Asked by investigators how he knew enough to leave Mr. Novak with the impression that his information was accurate, Mr. Rove said he heard portions of the story from other journalists, but had not heard Ms. Wilson’s name.

OTHER JOURNALISTS? Scotter Libby said this as well in his testimony, that he had heard about Plame from other journalists. Hmmmm. Are you thinking what I’m thinking?

More: AP, via Fox News, reports a similar story.

Sidenote: Has Plame even been a covert agent in the last five years?

On the same page as ST: John Hawkins (scroll down that post for his comments).

Also: Ed Morrisey points out yet another glaring Times hypocrisy:

However, the ability of the New York Times to publish this story tonight demonstrates the irony of their stance on the entire Rive story. In order to get this information, the Times has to have a source either on the grand jury or in the office of the Special Prosecutor. Either way, this leak violates the law; grand jury testimony in special investigations are supposed to remain secret. Given that the Gray Lady has led the charge against Rove and his supposedly illegal leak, doesn’t this seem a wee bit … hypocritical?


Even more: Orin Kerr at the Volokh Conspiracy wonders if there will be an infinite loop of investigations into leaks stemming from this.

The Friday morning blogosphere buzz on this leak: Tom Maguire, Mickey Kaus, Instapundit, John Podhoretz, Michelle Malkin, Wizbang, Anchoress. Stephen Spruiell at NRO’s Media Blog notes Kevin Drum’s hypocritical ‘pro/anti-leak’ stance.

STILL More: The WashTimes is reporting that a former CIA covert agent is taking issue with the claim that Plame was/is a fellow covert agent (wink Powerline):

A former CIA covert agent who supervised Mrs. Plame early in her career yesterday took issue with her identification as an “undercover agent,” saying that she worked for more than five years at the agency’s headquarters in Langley and that most of her neighbors and friends knew that she was a CIA employee.

“She made no bones about the fact that she was an agency employee and her husband was a diplomat,” Fred Rustmann, a covert agent from 1966 to 1990, told The Washington Times.

Mid-morning update: Clifford May thinks it was David Corn who outed Plame.

Noon-time update: Welcome, Wizbang readers! Thanks for stopping by and hope you enjoy the ST blog enough to return – and thanks you, Paul, for the compliment :) And muchas gracias to all others who are tracking back to this post as well!

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