“Top Cheney Aide Among Sources in C.I.A. Story” is the headline the Associated Press chose for its article on now-famous journalist Matthew Cooper’s first-hand account of his testimony before the grand jury investing the leak of Valerie Plame’s identity.
But the real story is that Karl Rove has been further vindicated.
Though the ultimate arbiter of any legal issues will be special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald and the aforementioned grand jury, the political case against Bush’s right-hand man is quickly crumbling. Cooper’s story—on Time’s new cover—confirms that Rove was not “shopping” for an outlet to “out” Plame, but that he was merely warning Cooper not to “get too far out on Wilson.”
Much of what was in the account was covered in Mike Isikoff’s Newsweek scoop on the contents of the e-mail Cooper wrote to his editor almost immediately after his 2-minute phone conversation with Rove. From the Newsweek article, it was established that Cooper called Rove—not the other way around—and that it was the Time reporter, not the supposed evil genius, who brought up the topic of Joe Wilson.
Perhaps the most significant “news” item in Cooper’s piece is that he also counted Vice-President Dick Cheney’s chief of staff, Lewis “Scooter” Libby, as a “source” on Plame—which explains the AP’s headline selection.
But rather than implicating Libby, Cooper’s article is yet more evidence that there was no “story shopping” by the White House. Here’s what Cooper wrote:
In August 2004, I gave limited testimony about my conversations with Scooter Libby. Libby had also given me a specific waiver, and I gave a deposition in the office of my attorney. I have never discussed that conversation until now. In that testimony, I recounted an on-the-record conversation with Libby that moved to background. On the record, he denied that Cheney knew about or played any role in the Wilson trip to Niger. On background, I asked Libby if he had heard anything about Wilson's wife sending her husband to Niger. Libby replied, "Yeah, I've heard that too," or words to that effect. Like Rove, Libby never used Valerie Plame's name or indicated that her status was covert, and he never told me that he had heard about Plame from other reporters, as some press accounts have indicated.
Joel Mowbray, who got his start with Townhall.com, is an award-winning investigative journalist, nationally-syndicated columnist and author of Dangerous Diplomacy: How the State Department Threatens America's Security.
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