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The Five Ws: Who Said What to Whom When and Did W. Know?

The Plame Blame Game

by JOSHUA FRANK


Karl Rove could be in a lot of trouble if what journalists Jason Leopold (and now Murray Waas) have written are true. It was Leopold who first reported in CounterPunch:

"It now appears that Rove, President Bush’s chief of staff, may have lied to the FBI in October 2003-a federal crime-when he was questioned by federal agents investigating who was responsible for leaking information about a covert CIA operative to the media."

And in a web "exclusive" for the American Prospect, Waas reiterated Leopold’s prognosis, writing, "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 … The omission by Rove created doubt for federal investigators, almost from the inception of their criminal probe into who leaked Plame’s name to columnist Robert Novak, as to whether Rove was withholding crucial information from them, and perhaps even misleading or lying to them, the sources said."

If this revelation is correct, Rove could be indicted under 18 U.S.C. 1001 for obstruction of justice – or what us laypeople have coined the "Martha Stewart Crime." Indeed, if Waas’s sources are accurate, the Bush administration could be in a world of hurt – for Rove wouldn’t even have to be the actual leaker to be indicted. Fact is, he wouldn’t have to have done anything more than what he is already claiming he did.

You may not remember that Karl Rove’s industrious predecessor, Martha Stewart, was sent to a quaint little women’s prison out in West Virginia for lying to federal agents during their investigation of her alleged insider dabbling. Yep, that’s right. Most folks think Stewart was found guilty of some type of trading fraud or securities violation. She wasn’t. Stewart simply gave false information to the investigators. And that is exactly what Leopold and Waas claimed Rove did at the onset of the fed’s criminal probe.

Rumors are spinning that Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald, who is handling the investigation, most likely has enough information to indict Rove on already, as well as Cheney’s Chief of Staff, Scooter Libby, but will likely wait until all the investigation is rounded up before letting us all in on what he’s going to charge the bad boys of the Bush era with. But who really knows? As the media wrestles over the ins and outs of Bush’s latest Supreme Court pick, the real wrangling that is going on will not be on the front pages of the Washington Post, as Fitzgerald has kept a rather tight seal on his investigation.

If Karl Rove ends up being indicted for obstruction of justice, and not for leaking Plame’s identity; who the heck did, you ask? In Robert Novak’s original article that sparked this whole charade, he claims "[t]wo senior administration officials told" him that Wilson’s wife, Valerie Plame, had sent her husband Joseph Wilson to Niger on WMD detail. That means that "two senior administration officials" knew who Plame was, as well as her name, as well as her relation to Wilson. So if one of the leakers wasn’t Rove, who claims to have learned Plame’s name from Robert Novak, who was the original leaker? Scotter Libby? That’s unlikely if Rove’s lawyer is telling the truth – because it’s hard to believe Libby wouldn’t have shared that info with Rove had he known who Valerie Plame was. Either way someone is guilty of lying.

One has to believe that Robert Novak, who has most likely testified in front of a grand jury months ago, has already revealed who the "two senior administration officials" are – for he has not yet been charged with concealing any information ala The NY Time’s Judy Miller.

This whole circular ring of the Plame blame game may never stop on any one individual. Who that leaker is we may never be known. But in the process of this rumor filled query of who said what when and to whom, we may see ol’ Karl Rove cuffed and hauled on out of the White House. President Bush may not have to fire his ass after all.

JOSHUA FRANK is the author of the brand new book, Left Out!: How Liberals Helped Reelect George W. Bush, which has just been published by Common Courage Press. You can order a copy at a discounted rate at www.brickburner.org. Joshua can be reached at Joshua@brickburner.org.