Rove told Cooper; Libby knew VWP was covert

Updated and corrected. The Rove news is old; the Libby news is new, but may not be accurate. If it is accurate, Cooper is changing his story.

Wrong. Never mind. See updates below. My apologies.

This ABC story is full of dynamite. (No wonder Bush rushed the Alito nomination forward.) Matt Cooper says that:

1. He first learned about Valerie Plame Wilson from Karl Rove. [Old news: see below.]

2. Scooter Libby confirmed, not only that she worked at the CIA, but that she was covert. [Dynamite if true, but inconsistent with Cooper’s account in Time.]

Just in case, here’s the full text:

Time Reporter Says He Learned Agent’s Identity From Rove

Matthew Cooper Says I. Lewis Libby Confirmed Information

Oct. 31 2005 — – One of the reporters at the center of the investigation into the leak of the identity of an undercover CIA officer says he first learned the agent’s name from President Bush’s top political advisor, Karl Rove.

Time magazine reporter Matt Cooper also said today in an interview with “Good Morning America,” that the vice president’s chief of staff, I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby, confirmed to him that Ambassador Joseph Wilson’s wife, Valerie Plame, was a covert CIA operative.

A grand jury charged Libby on Friday with five felonies alleging obstruction of justice, perjury to a grand jury and making false statements to FBI agents. If convicted, he could face a maximum of 30 years in prison and $1.25 million in fines. Libby was not charged with the crime that the grand jury was created to investigate — specifically, who leaked the name of Plame to reporters in 2003. Rove has not been charged.

Wilson, who went to Nigeria in 2002 to investigate whether or not the country was supplying Iraq with uranium to make weapons of mass destruction, opposed the war. He said he found no evidence of such an exchange in an op-ed in The New York Times. Wilson has argued that the Bush administration revealed his wife’s identity in order to silence his opposition to the war.

“There is no question. I first learned about Valerie Plame working at the CIA from Karl Rove,” Cooper said.

Libby has since claimed that he heard the Plame rumors from other reporters. Cooper disputed that version of events. “I don’t remember it happening that way,” he said. “I was taking notes at the time and I feel confident.”

If a trial goes ahead, Cooper said he would name Rove as his source of the information.

“Before I spoke to Karl Rove I didn’t know Mr. Wilson had a wife and that she had been involved in sending him to Africa.”

Hat tip: Crooks and Liars. (John credits Susan at Booman Tribune, but I can’t find the item there.)

Update There may be less here than meets the eye.

An alert reader points me back to Cooper’s account of the affair in Time.

In that story, Cooper says that he heard about “Wilson’s wife” from Rove, and that he was then hearing about her for the first time. So there’s nothing about Rove in the ABC story we didn’t already know.

(Cooper also says in that account that Rove mentioned that information about the trip was going to be declassified and finished with “I’ve already said too much,” which I would take as strong evidence that he knew VPW’s employment was a secret.)

On the other hand, Cooper clearly says in that article, “Like Rove, Libby never used Valerie Plame’s name or indicated that her status was covert.” Moreover, in that account Libby doesn’t really confirm anything. He merely says, “Yeah, I’ve heard that too.”

So what are we to make of the ABC report that Cooper told GMA that Libby confirmed that VPW was covert?

1. Cooper is now changing his story in an important particlar.

2. Cooper misspoke.

3. ABC news misinterpreted something Cooper said.

I haven’t seen the GMA tape. If anyone else has, please let me know.

Second update Never mind. ABC has reposted the story, with the crucial word “covert” omitted.

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact: Markarkleiman-at-gmail.com