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Time reporter: Rove may have revealed Plame's CIA status

By The Associated Press
12.12.05

WASHINGTON — During much of 2004, Karl Rove's lawyer was on notice that his client, a senior aide to President Bush, might have disclosed Valerie Plame's CIA status to a Time magazine reporter.

It wasn't until Time's Matt Cooper was under intense pressure from investigators to reveal his source that Rove, Bush's top political adviser, corrected his grand jury testimony, telling Special Counsel Patrick Fitzgerald of the conversation he said he'd forgotten.

The timeline of the Rove camp's early knowledge emerged yesterday in a first-person account by Time reporter Viveca Novak.

Novak said she passed along the information to Rove attorney Robert Luskin when he said, in effect, that "Karl doesn't have a Cooper problem. He was not a source for Matt," Novak wrote. "I responded instinctively, thinking he was trying to spin me."

Novak said she told Luskin "something like, 'Are you sure about that? That's not what I hear around Time.' He looked surprised and very serious" and at the end of their discussion that day said, "Thank you. This is important."

Novak said the conversation with Luskin occurred anywhere from January 2004 to May 2004; she thinks it was perhaps in March.

"I wish I had told my bureau chief about the exchange," Novak wrote of her conversation with Luskin.

It was not until October 2004 — sometime between five and nine months after Novak's conversation with Luskin — that Rove disclosed his conversation with Cooper to the prosecutor.

That disclosure followed Luskin's discovery of a White House e-mail from July 11, 2003. The message, from Rove to then-deputy national security adviser Stephen Hadley, referred to Rove's conversation earlier that day with Cooper.

It is not known publicly what steps Luskin took after hearing the information from Novak. Nor is it publicly known whether Fitzgerald's investigators had the e-mail all along and simply overlooked it or whether the White House had not given it to the prosecutor.

Mark Corallo, a spokesman for Rove's legal team, said Rove has cooperated fully with prosecutors.

"The integrity of the investigation requires that we not discuss the substance of any communications with the special counsel," Corallo said in a statement. "Out of respect for the investigative process, we have abided by that rule and will continue to withhold comment on our interactions with the special counsel."

Six weeks ago, in a so-far successful effort to avert Rove's indictment, defense attorney Luskin disclosed his conversation with Novak to prosecutor Fitzgerald. Rove remains under investigation.

Novak wrote that Luskin clearly thought that disclosing their discussion "was going to help Rove, perhaps by explaining why Rove hadn't told Fitzgerald or the grand jury of his conversation with my colleague Matt Cooper."

Fitzgerald questioned Novak under oath on Dec. 8, the day after he began presenting evidence to a new grand jury considering evidence in the leak investigation.

The prosecutor is investigating the Bush administration's leaking of Plame's CIA status to the news media in 2003, as her husband, former U.S. Ambassador Joseph Wilson, accused officials of manipulating prewar intelligence on Iraq.

Vice President Dick Cheney's former chief of staff, I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, is under indictment in Fitzgerald's probe on five counts of perjury, obstruction of justice and lying to the FBI. He has denied the charges.

Meanwhile, Time disclosed yesterday that, without telling her editors, Novak underwent a lengthy interview by Fitzgerald a month ago.

Writing a first-person account of her experience as a witness in the criminal investigation, Novak becomes the latest reporter to be swept up in the probe.

The magazine said Novak is now on a leave of absence by mutual agreement with her employer.

The investigation and Novak's role in it are "pretty serious stuff and the whole incident led Viveca and me to conclude that a leave of absence was wise," said Time's managing editor, Jim Kelly. "She and I will have a fuller discussion of this."

Fitzgerald interviewed Novak for two hours on Nov. 10.

"I hired a lawyer ... but I didn't tell anyone at Time," Novak wrote of the days leading up that interview. "Unrealistically, I hoped this would turn out to be an insignificant twist in the investigation and also figured that if people at Time knew about it, it would be difficult to contain the information, and reporters would pounce on it."

Eight days after Fitzgerald interviewed her, Novak was writing a story about Washington Post reporter Bob Woodward's newly emerging role in the Plame saga when she was told by her lawyer that Fitzgerald wanted her to testify. She informed her bureau chief, who called the magazine's managing editor.

"Nobody was happy about it, least of all me," Novak wrote.


Previous
Prosecutor, 2nd Time reporter meet in CIA leak probe
Patrick Fitzgerald has been seeking testimony from Viveca Novak about her conversations with Karl Rove's attorney. 12.09.05

Related

Libby pleads not guilty in CIA leak case

Attorney for former Cheney chief of staff says First Amendment issues may be raised in defense. 11.04.05

Watergate duo argues for anonymous sources
In rare joint appearance, Bob Woodward, Carl Bernstein express concern over recent threats to reporters and their sources, also decry current state of journalism. 12.06.05

Bob Novak claims president knows CIA leak source
Meanwhile, Sen. Charles Schumer is urging Bush to identify Novak's source or to say that he does not know who it is. 12.15.05

Libby's lawyers seek to subpoena reporters' records
Court filing indicates that large part of defense's trial strategy will be identifying other officials who knew Valerie Plame was CIA operative and told reporters about it. 01.23.06

Ex-CIA officer, husband sue White House officials over leak
Federal lawsuit accuses Cheney, Rove, Libby, others of violating couple's free speech by leaking Valerie Plame's identity and engaging in 'whispering campaign' to destroy her career. 07.14.06

Ongoing confidential-sources cases
By Bill Kenworthy Compilation tracking current cases involving efforts to force journalists to disclose confidential sources. 08.04.05

Leaks keep the ship of state afloat
By Paul K. McMasters Ever-increasing official secrecy makes leaks of news and information vital to the public — unless we want to stay completely in the dark about what government is doing. 11.20.05

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