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Friday, July 22, 2005

Legal update

There are new leaks about the Valerie Plame case. Many of the leaks, however, are contradictory and concern the "chicken-and-egg" part of the story. Administration officials often claim that they heard about Plame's status from journalists...but the journalists say they learned from the officials. Hmmm. There's also the question of who read that memo I discussed yesterday.

Let's continue to consider the apparent main characters: Libby, Rove, and Fleischer.

First, there's this Bloomberg news report from earlier today:
Lewis ``Scooter'' Libby, Vice President Dick Cheney's chief of staff, told special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald that he first learned from NBC News reporter Tim Russert of the identity of Central Intelligence Agency operative Valerie Plame, the wife of former ambassador and Bush administration critic Joseph Wilson, one person said. Russert has testified before a federal grand jury that he didn't tell Libby of Plame's identity, the person said.
This begs the question. Even if Libby is telling the truth, how did Russert find out? Which one is telling the truth? Who has more to gain by lying?

Rove: The American Prospect's Murray Waas reports that Karl Rove never disclosed talking to Matt Cooper about Valerie Plame.
White House deputy chief of staff Karl Rove did not disclose that he had ever discussed CIA officer Valerie Plame with Time magazine reporter Matthew Cooper during Rove’s first interview with the FBI, according to legal sources with firsthand knowledge of the matter.
Cooper also said that they never talked about welfare reform (Rove says that was the subject of the discussion) -- though Cooper acknowledges that his voice message may have mentioned it and he had been assigned such a story earlier. But the Wilson/Plame story pushed welfare reform to the back burner.

Finally, on July 18, 2005, Bloomberg reported that White House spokesperson Ari Fleischer was among those who looked over the State Department memo identifying Valerie Plame as a secret agent:
Fleischer was among a group of administration officials who left Washington later that day on a presidential trip to Africa. On the flight to Africa, Fleischer was seen perusing the State Department memo on Wilson and his wife, according to a former administration official who was also on the trip.
However, today's NY Times says that Fleischer denies having read the memo:
Mr. Fleischer told the grand jury that he never saw the document, a person familiar with the testimony said, speaking on the condition of anonymity because of the prosecutor's admonitions about not disclosing what is said to the grand jury.
Deny, deny, deny.

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