Top White House aides Karl Rove and Lewis Libby apparently testified to a special prosecutor that they each learned of CIA Operative Valerie Plame’s name from reporters — which apparently contradicts infromation provided by the reporters.
Bloomberg Business News, relying on sources familiar with the testimony, reported today that Libby, who is Vice President Dick Cheney’s chief of staff, told Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald that he first learned Plame’s identity from NBC News reporter Tim Russert.
But Russert apparently has testified before a federal grand jury that he didn’t tell Libby of Plame’s identity.
Meanwhile, White House Deputy Chief of Staff Karl Rove apparently told Fitzgerald that he first learned the identity of the CIA agent from syndicated columnist Robert Novak.
Novak, who was first to report Plame’s name and connection to Wilson, has apparently said the opposite. In 2003, Novak said: “I didn’t dig it out, it was given to me. They thought it was significant, they gave me the name and I used it.”
There are also contradictions between accounts given by Rove and Time magazine reporter Matthew Cooper. The White House aide mentioned Wilson’s wife — though not by name — in a July 11, 2003, conversation with Cooper, the reporter has said. Rove apparently testified that Cooper called him to talk about welfare reform and the Wilson connection was mentioned later, in passing.
Cooper wrote in Time magazine last week that he told the grand jury he never discussed welfare reform with Rove in that call.
The “he said/he said” has to be sorted out by Fitzgerald, part of a broader effort to determine whether Libby, Rove or other administration officials made false statements during the course of the investigation.
The Plame case has its genesis in whether any administration officials violated a 1982 law making it illegal to knowingly reveal the name of a covert intelligence agent.
The CIA requested the inquiry after Novak reported in a July 14, 2003, column that Plame recommended her husband for a 2002 mission to check into reports Iraq tried to buy uranium from Niger. Wilson, in a July 6, 2003, article in the New York Times, had said President Bush’s administration “twisted” some of the intelligence on Iraq’s weapons to justify the war.
Fitzgerald’s term of service lasts until October, which is also the length of time remaining for the grand jury hearing evidence in the case.
This article first appeared at Journalists Against Bush’s B.S.