Plaming Karl

Slowly, the corporate media begin to pay attention. There’s the Newsweek story, of course, which is less specific than Lawrence O’Donnell indicated each week, but still alludes strongly to Rove’s involvement:

Now the story may be about to take another turn. The e-mails surrendered by Time Inc., which are largely between Cooper and his editors, show that one of Cooper’s sources was White House deputy chief of staff Karl Rove, according to two lawyers who asked not to be identified because they are representing witnesses sympathetic to the White House. Cooper and a Time spokeswoman declined to comment. But in an interview with NEWSWEEK, Rove’s lawyer, Robert Luskin, confirmed that Rove had been interviewed by Cooper for the article. It is unclear, however, what passed between Cooper and Rove.

It also got a mention in the Times over the weekend, though admittedly buried deep in a story about Bush’s July 4 travels:

Karl Rove, his senior adviser, rode the flight from Washington to West Virginia but did not respond to requests for an interview over his reported role in a controversy that threatens to put two reporters in jail. Newsweek had reported over the weekend that Mr. Rove had talked to Matthew Cooper of Time magazine for an article about Valerie Plame, a C.I.A. operative whose name was illegally disclosed by an unidentified White House official in a case now under investigation.

The Newsweek article did not identify Mr. Rove as that source, but Bush critics have been eager to tie him to the leak. Outside the presidential rally in Morgantown, one protester made reference to the case, holding a sign that read: “Jail Karl Rove.”

The Times also had a story this morning about Wilson and Plame which doesn’t mention Rove at all, but I wouldn’t read too much into that just yet. The Times is always initially reluctant to acknowledge other people’s scoops, and anyway, the piece reads like something that was in the can last week so somebody could take the holiday weekend off (it’s datelined July 1).

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One of the most giggle-inducing talking points of this scandal came early on, as right-wing bloggers in places like Tennessee and Wisconsin began to suddenly pose as well-connected Beltway insiders, assuring their readers that “everyone already knew that Valerie Plame was a CIA agent!” Well, I’m not as in-the-know as our right-wing blogging friends, but I did have coffee not long ago with a writer whose name you would almost certainly recognize (given that you are the sort of person who visits online magazines like this one), and interestingly, this writer — who is genuinely privvy to DC insider gossip — did not put Rove at the very top of the suspects list. Which is only to point out that Rove’s guilt in this matter has apparently not been the conventional wisdom in DC that you might suppose. So who knows what surprises await us?

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While I’m on the topic, I’m reminded of the second most giggle-inducing talking point regarding Wilson, which was the argument that Bush did not specifically mention Niger in the State of the Union address in which he famously warned of yellowcake uranium being funnelled from an African country to Iraq. The implication apparently being that the yellowcake allegation was true, it just wasn’t coming from Niger, but rather some unspecified other African country…the name of which, despite all the grief the Bush administration took for incompetence and/or lies in the runup to war, was never announced, leaked, or even hinted at by the Administration or any of its apologists.

Occam’s Razor is in no danger of being blunted due to overuse by these people.

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Update…more from O’Donnell, who clearly wants to own this story:

(Rove’s attorney) Luskin then launched what sounds like an I-did-not-inhale defense. He told Newsweek that his client “never knowingly disclosed classified information.” Knowingly. That is the most important word Luskin said in what has now become his public version of the Rove defense.

Not coincidentally, the word ‘knowing’ is the most important word in the controlling statute ( U.S. Code: Title 50: Section 421). To violate the law, Rove had to tell Cooper about a covert agent “knowing that the information disclosed so identifies such covert agent and that the United States is taking affirmative measures to conceal such covert agent’s intelligence relationship to the United States.”

So, Rove’s defense now hangs on one word — he “never knowingly disclosed classified information.” Does that mean Rove simply didn’t know Valerie Plame was a covert agent? Or does it just mean that Rove did not know that the CIA was “taking affirmative measures” to hide her identity?

In Luskin’s next damage control session with the press, let’s see if any reporter can get him to drop the word ‘knowingly’ from the never-disclosed-classified-information bit.