Writing in the New York Times, Frank Rich highlights a troubling issue that arose from early on in the leak investigation:
As White House counsel, [Alberto Gonzales] was the one first notified that the Justice Department, at the request of the C.I.A., had opened an investigation into the outing of Joseph Wilson’s wife. That notification came at 8:30 p.m. on Sept. 29, 2003, but it took Mr. Gonzales 12 more hours to inform the White House staff that it must “preserve all materials” relevant to the investigation.
On CBS’s Face the Nation, host Bob Schieffer noted that this time gap would have “give[n] people time to shred documents and do any number of things.” Gonzales argued that he asked for and received permission from the Justice Department to wait until the next morning to order White House staff to preserve all documents regarding their contacts with journalists about Valerie Plame. But he did tell one person the night before
SCHIEFFER: Let me just ask you the obvious question, Mr. Attorney General. Did you tell anybody at the White House, get ready for this, here it comes?
GONZALES: I, I told one person, ah, in, in the White House of, of the notification, and, and —
GONZALES: and immediately — ah, I told the chief of staff. And immediately the next morning, I told the President and, shortly thereafter, there was a notification sent out to all the members of the White House staff.
Check out the video of this at Crooks and Liars.
So the one person who knew that an investigation was underway was Chief of Staff Andrew Card, who also happened to be aboard Air Force One in July 2003 with Ari Fleischer, Colin Powell, and the top secret State Department document that contained the identity of Valerie Wilson. So, did Card tell Rove or Libby or anyone for that matter the night before Alberto Gonzales sent out the email to staff that they would soon be asked to preserve all documents?
On a separate note, Gonzales did an admirable thing on Fox News Sunday this morning. When asked whether he was involved in the leak, Gonzales did not duck the issue nor did he hide behind “an ongoing investigation.” He answered the question directly and has cleared his name for now. He also admitted that he has testified before the grand jury:
HUME: You were in the White House as counsel at the time that investigation was initiated. Have you been asked to testify in this case?
GONZALES: I was asked to testify. This was over a year ago. I did testify before the grand jury, yes.
HUME: And, can you tell us if you at any time were aware of Valerie Plame, either by name or by identification with Joseph Wilson? Were you aware that she was in the CIA? And did you have — and if you were — did you have any idea what kind of work she was doing?
GONZALES: … I had no information regarding Ms. Plame and her role at the CIA.
If the Attorney General of the United States can answer questions on the ongoing investigation, why can’t the White House?
UPDATE: The AP is reporting:
The White House did not immediately respond to questions Sunday about whether Card passed that information to top Bush aide Karl Rove or anyone else, giving them advance notice to prepare for the investigation.