Sunday, October 05, 2003

Rove's Sock Puppets

Looks like Tweety's one of them:

In the issue coming out October 6, Newsweek will be reporting that after Bob Novak published a July 14 column containing the leak attributed to "senior adminsitration officials" that identified former Ambassador Joseph Wilson's wife, Valerie Plame, as an undercover CIA operative, NBC News reporter Andrea Mitchell was contacted by White House officials who touted the Novak column and encouraged her to pursue the story about Wilson's wife. The newsmagazine also notes that, according to a source close to Wilson, shortly after the leak occurred Bush's senior aide Karl Rove told Hardball host Chris Matthews that Wilson's wife was "fair game." Matthews told Newsweek that he would not discuss any confidential conversation. (He told me the same weeks ago when I made a similar inquiry about this chat with Rove.)


...But these new details are significant and undercut the White House line on the leak. At a White House press briefing, Scott McClellan, Bush's press secretary, repeatedly said that Bush and his White House took no action after the Novak column was published on July 14 because the leak was attributed only to anonymous sources. "Are we supposed to chase down every anonymous report in the newspaper?" McClellan remarked.

He was arguing that a serious leak attributed to anonymous sources was still not serious enough to cause the president to ask, what the hell happened? And he made it seem as if the White House just ignored the matter. Not so. Mitchell's remark and even the Rove-friendly account of the Rove-Matthews conversation are evidence the White House tried to further the Plame story--that is, to exploit the leak for political gain. Rather than respond by trying to determine the source of a leak that possibly violated federal law and perhaps undermined national security ( The Washington Post reported that the leak also blew the cover of a CIA front company, "potentially expanding the damage caused by the original disclosure"), White House officials sought to take advantage of it. Spin that, McClellan.