Rove 'Knowingly' Refusing Interviews on Plame Leak
New York - Two days after his lawyer confirmed that his name turned up as a source in Matthew Cooper's notes on the Valerie Plame/CIA case, top White House adviser Karl Rove refused to answer questions about the development today.
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Rove traveled with President Bush when he spoke at a July 4 event in West Virginia today, but refused all requests for interviews about his role in the controversy that threatens to send Cooper, of Time magazine, and Judith Miller of The New York Times to jail this week for refusing to reveal sources.
Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) had called on Rove to clear the air on Sunday. "We've heard it from his lawyer, but it would be nice to hear it directly from Mr. Rove that he didn't leak the identity of Valerie Plame, and that he didn't direct anyone else to do such a dastardly thing," said Schumer.
Outside the presidential rally in Morgantown, one protester made reference to the case, holding a sign that read: "Jail Karl Rove," according to a New York Times dispatch.
Rove's lawyer has asserted that while he was interviewed by Cooper he was not the key source who revealed Plame's identity as a CIA agent. Rove's critics, however, suggest that he could be charged with perjury if he did not tell the truth about this to a grand jury.
Several dozen other protesters demonstrated against the war in Iraq, the paper said, chanting, "Please support our troops, not the president!" But a large turnout for the president more than countered that.
Meanwhile, Lawrence O'Donnell, the MSNBC analyst who first broke the Rove/Cooper link on Friday, wrote on the Huffington Post blog today, that Rove's lawyer had "launched what sounds like an I-did-not-inhale defense. He told Newsweek that his client 'never knowingly disclosed classified information.' Knowingly.
"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.'" 4 July
Pivate Spy and Public Spouse Live at Center of Leak Case
By Scott Shane
New York Times, Tuesday 05 July 2005
Washington - For nearly two years, the investigation into the leak of a covert C.I.A. officer's name has unfolded clamorously in the nation's capital, with partisan brawling on talk shows, prosecutors interviewing President Bush and top White House officials, and the imminent prospect that reporters could go to jail for contempt of court.
But the woman at the center of it all, Valerie E. Wilson, has kept her silence, showing the discipline and discretion that colleagues say made her a good spy. As her husband, Joseph C. Wilson IV, has become a highly visible critic of the administration and promoted his memoirs, Ms. Wilson has ferried their 5-year-old twins to doctors' appointments, looked after their hilltop house in the upscale Palisades neighborhood of Washington and counseled women with postpartum depression.
On June 1, after a year's unpaid leave, Ms. Wilson, now known to the country by her maiden name, Valerie Plame, returned to a new job at the Central Intelligence Agency, determined to get her career back on track, her husband said. Neither the agency nor Mr. Wilson would describe her position, except to make what might seem an obvious point: she will no longer be working under cover, as she did successfully for almost 20 years.
"Before this whole affair, no one would ever have thought of her as an undercover agent," said David Tillotson, a next-door neighbor for seven years who got to know the Wilsons well over back-fence chats, shared dinners and play dates for their grandchildren with the Wilsons' children, Trevor and Samantha.
"She wasn't mysterious," Mr. Tillotson said. "She was sort of a working soccer mom."
He recalled his incredulity on July 14, 2003, when his wife, Victoria, spotted in The Washington Post, in a syndicated column by Robert Novak, a line identifying their neighbor by her maiden name and calling her an "agency operative." Ms. Tillotson kept calling out: "This can't be! This can't be!"
The Wilsons' neighbor on the other side, Christopher Wolf, was similarly aghast. As he sat on his deck staring at the Novak column, Mr. Wilson came out his back door.
"I said: 'This is amazing! I had no idea,' " Mr. Wolf recalled. "He sort of motioned to me to keep my voice down."
A Jaguar-driving, cigar-smoking, silver-haired former ambassador, Mr. Wilson, 55, interpreted the leak of his wife's C.I.A. connection as an act of vengeance from White House officials for his public accusations of deceit in building a case for the Iraq war. Days before the leak, he had gone public in a New York Times Op-Ed article and television appearances to charge that the administration had covered up his own debunking of reports that Iraq had bought uranium in Africa.
What he calls a "smear campaign" against the couple has catalyzed his transformation from nonpartisan diplomat - he worked closely with the first President Bush and his top aides during the first gulf war - to anti-Bush activist.
On Wednesday, a federal judge is expected to decide whether two reporters, Judith Miller of The Times and Matt Cooper of Time magazine, will go to jail for refusing to cooperate with a grand jury investigation into the leak. That the leaker appears willing to permit journalists to be incarcerated rather than taking public responsibility for his actions simply shows the leaker's "cravenness and cowardice," Mr. Wilson said.
It is not known what information, if any, Mr. Novak supplied to prosecutors, but he is not facing jail time.
Meanwhile, Ms. Wilson, 42, whose husband said she has used her married name both at work and in her personal life since their 1998 marriage, declined to speak for this article. She has guarded her privacy, with rare exceptions. She posed with her husband for a Vanity Fair photographer, wearing sunglasses and with a scarf over her blond hair. She drafted an op-ed article to correct what she felt were distortions of her and her husband's actions, but the C.I.A. would not authorize its publication, saying it would "affect the agency's ability to perform its mission."
Former C.I.A. officers differ on the impact of Mr. Novak's identification of Ms. Wilson, who had been working against weapons proliferation in Europe and elsewhere while posing as an analyst for a shell company in Boston, Brewster Jennings & Associates, set up by the agency.
Clandestine service officers working under such "nonofficial cover" - rather than the traditional guise of diplomat - are considered to hold the most sensitive and vulnerable jobs in intelligence, lacking the protection of diplomatic immunity if they are unmasked overseas. Disclosing the C.I.A. employment of officers under cover can endanger the officers, their operations and their agents, as well as violate the Intelligence Identities Protection Act of 1982, the law that prompted the current leak investigation.
"This situation has been very hard on her, professionally and personally," said Melissa Boyle Mahle, a former C.I.A. case officer and a friend of Ms. Wilson. "Not only have you removed from the playing field a very knowledgeable counterproliferation officer at a time when we really need her services. But before this she was on a fast track as a candidate for senior management at the agency. With something like this, her career will never recover."
But other former C.I.A. officers say that by 2003 Ms. Wilson's cover was already thin. Any serious inquiry would have revealed that Brewster Jennings was little more than a mailbox. Though she traveled regularly, Ms. Wilson, who speaks French, German and Greek, had been working for some time at agency headquarters in Langley, Va. And her marriage to a senior American diplomat, Mr. Wilson, ended any pretense of having no government ties.
"At that point, she looks, walks and quacks like an overt agency employee," said Fred Rustmann, a C.I.A. officer from 1966 to 1990, who supervised Ms. Wilson early in her career and calls her "one of the best, an excellent officer."
Yet outside the spy world, word of her real employment came as a shock. To have such a carefully nurtured identity shattered in a single stroke was traumatic, Mr. Wilson said. "Your whole network of personal relationships over 20 years are compromised," he said.
Ms. Wilson had to explain to friends and relatives that she had never leveled with them since joining the agency shortly after graduating from Pennsylvania State University with a degree in journalism in 1984.
"My sister-in-law turned to my brother," Mr. Wilson recalled, "and said, 'Do you think Joe knew?' "
Joe knew. As their relationship grew serious after they met at a 1997 reception at the Turkish ambassador's residence, Valerie Plame revealed her real job to Mr. Wilson, who had a top secret clearance. Three months after they married, he retired from the State Department after a 23-year career that included an ambassadorship to two countries, Gabon and São Tomé and Príncipe. Now he consults on business projects in Africa as J. C. Wilson International Ventures.
Their marriage was her second and his third; he is also the father of 26-year-old twins from his first marriage. Friends say that after the birth of their twins in 2000, Ms. Wilson suffered postpartum depression, which prompted her to become active in helping other mothers.
The Wilsons have had a low-key social life, friends say. Mr. Wilson said they had attended only one "A-list Washington party," given by Ben Bradlee, the retired Washington Post editor. Before July 2003, some neighbors knew them from the playground only as "Trevor and Samantha's mom and dad."
Their turn in the limelight changed that temporarily, as liberal celebrities embraced them; they were honored in late 2003 at a dinner at the guesthouse of the television producer Norman Lear, with guest list that included Warren Beatty.
The couple's actions in 2002 have become, in the polarized politics of the Iraq war, subject to divergent interpretation. All agree that Mr. Wilson traveled to Niger in February 2002 at the C.I.A.'s request to assess reports that Saddam Hussein had tried to buy uranium there. There the agreement ends.
In the version of his Republican critics, laid out in part by members of the Senate Intelligence Committee last year, Mr. Wilson's trip was a junket orchestrated by his wife. Further, the critics say, Mr. Wilson's findings on the uranium question were equivocal. But as a partisan Democrat, they say, he exploited his minor involvement to attack the president, asserting that Mr. Bush misled the American people by citing the questionable uranium claim in his 2003 State of the Union address.
Mr. Wilson has laid out his own account in interviews and in his memoir, "The Politics of Truth: Inside the Lies That Led to War and Betrayed My Wife's C.I.A. Identity." The 514-page book, which features on the back cover photographs of Mr. Wilson with the first President Bush, President Bill Clinton and Saddam Hussein, has sold 60,000 copies in hardcover, according to the publisher, Carroll & Graf. The just-published paperback includes an 11,000-word essay by Russ Hoyle, an investigative reporter recruited by Carroll & Graf to examine factual disputes raised by the case.
Mr. Wilson said that though his wife wrote a memorandum describing his expertise at the request of a C.I.A. superior, she did not propose him for the Niger trip. He scoffs at the notion that a trip to one of the poorest countries on earth, for which he was paid only his expenses, was some kind of prize.
He has acknowledged he may have misspoken about a few details, like the date he became aware of forged documents purporting to show a uranium sale. But conservatives' attacks on his credibility, he said, are merely an effort to distract Americans from a far graver fact: that the United States went to war on the basis of flimsy, distorted evidence.
"I'm deeply saddened that the debate before the war did not adequately take into consideration issues that a number of us had raised," Mr. Wilson said.
While his wife has shunned publicity, he has become an always-available news media voice, lending the weight of international experience and insider status to criticism of Mr. Bush's conduct of the war.
Despite conservatives' efforts to portray him as a left-wing extremist, he insisted he remained a centrist at heart. But after his tangle with the current administration, he admits "it will be a cold day in hell before I vote for a Republican, even for dog catcher."
Mr. Wilson ended a long interview in a downtown hotel when he realized he was late to pick up the twins. As the first gulf war loomed, and Mr. Wilson was the last American official to meet with Saddam Hussein, his older twins, Joe and Sabrina, were 12 years old, and worried that their father might not make it out of Baghdad to join them in the United States, he said.
During this war with Iraq, the gravest danger to him has been political vilification. He and his wife, Mr. Wilson said, have tried to insulate their children from the hubbub that followed the leak of her name.
It has not always been easy. Once, when Trevor was 3, he recognized his father on yet another show.<> "He banged on the TV," Mr. Wilson recalled, "and said, 'Dad, get out of the box!' "