PlameGate: Staying On The Case
In all the talk about Cindy Sheehan (now back at Camp Casey), the big story being ignored is once again getting some much-needed air time. The LA Times today has a massive 5,500-word piece on the Rove-Plame scandal.
As Fitzgerald's team has moved ahead, few witnesses have been willing to speak publicly. White House officials declined to comment for this article, citing the ongoing inquiry.E & P has an analysis:
But a close examination of events inside the White House two summers ago, and interviews with administration officials, offer new insights into the White House response, the people who shaped it, the deep disdain Cheney and other administration officials felt for the CIA, and the far-reaching consequences of the effort to manage the crisis.
The article includes some fresh revelations or comments. For example, it notes that allies of Karl Rove defend his talks with reporters in which he tried to counter claims by former Ambassador Joseph Wilson. Then it adds that “some of Rove's colleagues say that he and others used poor judgment in talking about Wilson's wife. 'With the benefit of hindsight, it's clear our focus should have been on Wilson's facts, not his conclusions or his wife or his politics,' said one official who was helping with White House strategy at the time.”
The piece also reveals that in one White House conversation, investigators have learned, Rove was asked why he was focused so intently on discrediting the former diplomat. "He's a Democrat," Rove said, citing Wilson's campaign contributions.
The article also attempts to lay to rest one of the prime Republican talking points: That Wilson's trip to Africa at the behest of the CIA was set up by his wife. “An official recommended sending Wilson to Niger because of his experience there, including a previous mission for the CIA,” the article states, calling the Plame role “a noisy sideshow.”
The article details conversations involving Karl Rove, "Scooter" Libby, Matt Cooper and Robert Novak. But near its conclusion it raises an emerging issue, promoted by Michael Wolff of Vanity Fair, among others: If Time magazine had gone public about Rove's conversations with Cooper, it might have had some impact on the Bush-Kerry race for the White House last year.
Not until this summer did Cooper ask Rove for a waiver to talk to the grand jury, and ultimately the public, about their conversation. The L.A. Times article today notes that he did not do this before “because his lawyer advised against it.” But the reporters add that in addition, “Time editors were concerned about becoming part of such an explosive story in an election year.”
The story concludes: "The result was that Cooper's testimony was delayed nearly a year, well after Bush's reelection.