So some mysterious source, probably from the White House, has leaked that Rove actually discovered that Plame worked for the CIA from Novak. It’s possible, but highly improbable.
Rove and Novak have a history:
Rove fired from Bush Sr’s ’92 campaign over leak to Novak. Karl Rove was fired from the 1992 re-election campaign of Bush Sr. for allegedly leaking a negative story about Bush loyalist/fundraiser Robert Mosbacher to Novak. Novak’s piece described a meeting organized by then-Senator Phil Gramm at which Mosbacher was relieved of his duties as state campaign manager because “the president’s re-election effort in Texas has been a bust.” Rove was fired after Mosbacher fingered him as Novak’s source.
Rove was the “only one with a motive to leak”: Mosbacher says: “I said Rove is the only one with a motive to leak this. We let him go.” The motive in question? Mosbacher had given Rove only a quarter of the $1 million spent on direct mail contracts for the 92 campaign; Rove, who in 1988 had the entire direct mail contract, therefore had an axe to grind with Mosbacher. Novak’s column stated: “Also attending the session was political consultant Karl Rove, who had been shoved aside by Mosbacher.”
Mosbacher still says Rove did it: Although Novak and Rove continue to deny Rove was the source of the leak, Mosbacher recently stated “I still believe he did it.”
(Sources: “Karl and Bob: a leaky history,” Houston Chronicle, Nov. 7, 2003, ; “Genius,” Texas Monthly, March 2003, p. 82; “Why Are These Men Laughing,” Esquire, January 2003)
Although it doesn’t say it anywhere in that clip, Rove was accused of attacking Rob Mosbacher, Jr. The man who fired Rove was the father, Robert Mosbacher, Sr.
This changes nothing. Rove is not the target of the investigation.
On the other hand, when i read this law yet again:
Whoever, as a result of having authorized access to classified information, learns the identity of a covert agent and intentionally discloses any information identifying such covert agent to any individual not authorized to receive classified information, knowing that the information disclosed so identifies such covert agent and that the United States is taking affirmative measures to conceal such covert agentâ€™s intelligence relationship to the United States, shall be fined not more than $25,000 or imprisoned not more than five years, or both.
I don’t see where that puts Rove in the clear. While he may not be the first source for Novak, it’s a very dodgy question whether Rove was in a ethically sound position to confirm or deny anything about Plame to Novak at that time. There’s also the remote possibility that Rove leaked the info to a proxy, who leaked it to Novak, and then came back to Rove with it. I’m just making that up because i’d love to see Rove nailed, not because i have a shred of evidence.
As for Novak’s statement about his first source being “no partisan gunslinger”…. um. Novak frequently lies. I read a reasonable theory on a conservative site that guessed it could be Colin Powell, who did testify before the grand jury, but the whole affair feels more like the tactics of the Cheney axis, not the Powell-Rice one. That’s just a guy feeling though.
Update: I just caught this Daily Kos diary that also doesn’t see where Rove’s current defense, that he only told Novak that he heard that too, is no defense at all. The diarist wonders why these actions were not taken by Rove:
# Rove should have immediately informed the reporter or reporters that discussing the identity of a CIA agent may be illegal.
# Rove should have then called George Tenet and inquired about whether or not the agent was undercover.
# Upon learning the undercover status of said agent, Rove should have then told Tenet to quickly alert the agent and inform them that their cover had been blown.
# Rove should have then turned over the names of the reporters to the CIA for investigation.
That there has been no evidence thus far that Rove took any of these measures to insure national security once again demonstrates that the only thing running through his mind was vengeance, political payback from deviating from the carefully crafted fiction than Iraq was an imminent threat to the United States, which it clearly was not.