Mike Isikoff has the memo from Cooper to his editor. Before Novak’s story ran, Rove used the terms “Wilson’s wife” “CIA” and “WMD” in the same conversation, speaking to a reporter.
Those three pieces of information, combined with a Google search, would have been sufficient to allow, just for example, the ISI (the Pakistani KGB) to figure out that anyone in Pakistan with knowledge of Pakistan’s secret nuclear program who had been observed to be friendly with an “energy consultant” named Valerie Plame ought to be brought in for a nice long session in the dungeons, just to make sure. Such facts are called “information information relating to the national defense which information the possessor has reason to believe could be used to the injury of the United States,” and communicating such information to “any person not entitled to receive it” is called “espionage.”
It’s possible — I’d say likely — that Rove didn’t know he was unmasking a CIA officer who had been working clandestinely. But people with Top Secret clearances are supposed — are required by law — to be careful about that stuff. That’s what “has reason to know” means; if information is classified, and if you have a security clearance, you’re supposed to know that revealing it is dangerous to the national security.
If Rove wasn’t deliberately burning a CIA officer and her network of assets, he was being criminally — and I use that word in its literal sense — negligent.
If Cooper’s testimony supports his notes, this should be enough to get Rove sent away. Obviously, however, Rove’s lawyer thinks differently. (Or maybe not. See update below, and new post here.)
Footnote Matt Yglesias asks the right question: who forged the memos whose falsity Joseph Wilson so easily demonstrated? And who peddled them to the neocons? And why doesn’t anyone in the White House or the mainsteam press corps seem to care who forged them and peddled them? (My guess, for what it’s worth, is that it won’t be possible to answer those questions without using the term “Chalabi.”
Update Billmon at Whiskey Bar has a fine selection of White House statements, mostly by Scott McClellan, which are now, in Ron Ziegler’s immortal term, “inoperative.” The transcript of the next press gaggle should make interesting reading.