Leaking Scandal Encircles More Administration Officials Than Previously Believed

Today, Time magazine reports that White House official Karl Rove and others may have learned “about Plame from within the Administration rather than from media contacts.”

Recall that for weeks, Rove, Libby, and company have been hiding behind reporters. It has been suggested to the special prosecutor that Rove first learned the identity of Plame from journalists.

A source says presidential confidant Karl Rove testified to a grand jury that he learned the identity of a C-I-A operative originally from a journalist. He then informally discussed the information with a Time magazine reporter days before the story broke.

And remember Rove’s own attorney said:

“[Rove has] told [investigators] that he believes he may have heard it from a journalist.” Asked who it was, the lawyer said, “I don’t think he’s able to identify that, or to identify precisely when he may have heard it.”

These assertions have forced the special prosecutor to threaten reporters with jail time if they did not come clean (NYT reporter Judith Miller, of course, currently sits in jail because, as her lawyer stated, “most likely somebody testified to the grand jury that he or she had spoken to Judy.”).

Now we’re learning that Rove, Libby, and others learned of Plame’s identity well before journalists knew who she was. The newest information asserts that White House officials learned of Plame after Walter Pincus of the Washington Post wrote an article on June 12, 2003 detailing evidence that existed prior to the State of the Union which should have prevented the President from suggesting Iraq was acquiring uranium from Africa. This information corroborates Robert Novak’s claim in his infamous July 14, 2003 column that outed Plame which said the White House sprung into action after “Walter Pincus revealed in the Washington Post June 12 that an unnamed retired diplomat had given the CIA a negative report.”

A former intelligence officer tells Time that after the damaging Pincus article was written:

“[T]here was general discussion with the National Security Council and the White House and State Department and others” about Wilson’s trip and its origins.

If these revelations are true, the least of Rove and Libby’s concerns is perjury. Today’s disclosure adds further evidence that the White Hose consciously dug out Plame’s identity, used it, and then engaged in a massive cover-up by pinning blame elsewhere. Moreover, it appears far more players were involved in this orchestrated, administration-wide effort than previously believed. The key question, if these revelations are true, is why did these administration officials lie so overtly to the special prosecutor? Knowing hard evidence would come out sooner or later against them (through leaks, emails, etc), the White House officials still chose to lie. What could they possibly be trying to hide? Perhaps this wasn’t just a “third-rate smear.”