August 20th, 2007
11:11 AM ET
16 years ago

Reporter disputes Rove's account of CIA leak

Watch CNN's Suzanne Malveaux report how Rove is defending his White House record.

WASHINGTON (CNN) - White House political adviser Karl Rove denied Sunday he confirmed the identity of ex-CIA agent Valerie Plame Wilson for a 2003 newspaper column, but a reporter who testified in the leak probe called that "nonsense."

In comments to two Sunday talk shows, Rove disputed columnist and former CNN host Robert Novak's account of the leak. Novak, who disclosed Mrs. Wilson's identity in a July 2003 column, has said Rove confirmed her identity after another Bush administration official, former Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage, first told him she worked for the CIA.

Rove told NBC's "Meet the Press" that, when Novak asked him about Mrs. Wilson, he told the columnist, "I've heard that, too." But he insisted that did not mean he had confirmed her identity.

"If a journalist had said to me, 'I'd like you to confirm this,' my answer would have been, 'I can't. I don't know. I've heard that, too,' " he said.

Mrs. Wilson's identity was disclosed shortly after her husband, former U.S. Ambassador Joseph Wilson, challenged one of the claims underpinning the Bush administration's case for the U.S. invasion of Iraq - that Iraq had sought uranium for nuclear weapons from the African country of Niger. Wilson wrote that he had investigated the claim at the request of CIA officials and found it "highly doubtful" that any such transaction could have occurred, and he accused the Bush administration of having "twisted" the evidence for war.

Rove is leaving office at month's end after more than a dozen years as President Bush's top political adviser. He made multiple appearances before the grand jury that investigated Wilson's exposure, but was never charged with a crime in the leak; neither was Armitage, who also cooperated with the special prosecutor who led the probe.

But former Time magazine reporter Matt Cooper, who testified about his conversations with Rove in the grand jury probe, said Rove's account was "dissembling, to put it charitably."

"To imply that he didn't know about it or that this was all the leak by someone else, or he heard it as some rumor out in the hallway is, is nonsense," Cooper told NBC.

The Wilsons have accused Rove and other Bush administration officials of leaking her identity as a CIA officer in retaliation for her husband's emergence as a critic of the administration. A federal judge in Washington recently dismissed a lawsuit by the couple against Rove, Armitage, Vice President Dick Cheney and Cheney's former chief of staff, Lewis "Scooter" Libby, who was convicted of obstructing justice and perjury in the probe.

Libby was sentenced to 30 months in prison, but Bush commuted his term before he had served any time.

Rove said Mrs. Wilson was not an appropriate target for political reprisals, but told NBC he did not owe her an apology. And he said, contrary to the former ambassador's public statements, Wilson's report actually bolstered the disputed Iraq-Niger link.

"He brought back information about a previously unknown contact where the Iraqis, working through a third party, attempted to bring and did bring to Niger a trade delegation," Rove said. "And since the only thing Niger had to sell was uranium cake that was on a U.N. sanctions list, they declined to do any business."

After Wilson went public with his findings, then-CIA Director George Tenet said the Niger uranium claim should have been left out of President Bush's 2003 State of the Union speech, delivered on the eve of war. Before the March 2003 invasion, U.N. weapons inspectors dismissed documents containing the claim as "obvious" forgeries.

After the invasion, Iraq was found to have dismantled its weapons programs under U.N. sanctions during the 1990s, though U.S. inspectors found scientists had concealed some weapons-related research from the United Nations.

Filed under: Karl Rove
soundoff (109 Responses)
  1. Tricia M Charlottetown PEI

    Lets all vote to make Rove a CIA Agent with a mission in Siberia. Mission: "Investigation, as to whether Siberia's Huskies have been wired to disclose White House conspiracies.
    Meantime we send one of our own men in undercover to train Huskies to bite upon sight, all Little Fat Faced Men wearing glasses and smiling.

    August 20, 2007 11:28 pm at 11:28 pm |
  2. Lance, Monrovia, CA

    To the person immediately above my post... spinstopper...

    Are you high? Valerie Plame went before Congress and said not only was her cover blown, but that perhaps hundreds of people were effected by the leak. The cover company she worked for had operatives all around the world, right in the thick of organizations. This was all totally ruined by this leak.

    No law was broken? Many laws were broken. It was treason, plain and simple. I can't see the reason why charges haven't been brought on Rove and Cheney and Bush. These guys have broken so many laws its impossible to keep track of them all. They've trampled the constitution to the point almost of no return.

    It's amazing how the OReiley/Limbaugh bots just spout the same crap, without actually looking into it themselves.

    If you really, truly think Karl Rove and his ilk is so great, why don't you truly educate yourselves? Read a book called "Armed Madhouse" by Greg Pallast. He details out the REAL reasons the neo cons wanted to go into Iraq and why it's still so messed up there.

    For example; Did you know that we're in Iraq not for WMD, not for democracy, not even to take the oil. We're there because Iraq has more oil than the Saudis and Saudi Arabia and certain factions of Bush's administration like the price of oil high. As long as Iraq's oil DOESN'T get out, the world market for oil remains stable and high. That's the bottom line. Keep the oil in Iraq suppressed and all the rich big oil men can keep making their big checks, Bush and Cheney and Rove included.

    And what about what Rove has done to democracy in the country. Again, read "Armed Madhouse" by Greg Pallast, go to the library and get it. In New Mexico, Bush won the election by like 5,000 votes. Five times that many votes in Democratic precincts only where thrown out. In primarily Hispanic areas, 3 out of every ten voters that drove an hour to get to out of the way polls voted NONE OF THE ABOVE according to electronic machines. But in white districts, they had more votes for Bush than they had registered voters. Go figure.

    Then, of course, there's Karl Rove's missing emails, which happened into Pallast's hands. They're caging lists, to all the RNC big wigs. They used first class letters to send out to soldiers homes that they knew were in Iraq, to primarily minority neighborhoods. Any letter that came back returned, they challenged the vote, to the tune of many, many thousands in a race run by mere votes.

    It is more important now more than ever that Rove and his bunch be watched and hopefully prosecuted. It's vital that everyone learn the issues, learn the way they are commiting fraud, and show up at the voting booths. Pay attention, and most of all vote.

    If you say your vote doesn't matter, you're doing exactly what Rove wants. You can bet he'll be working for whatever Republican candidate gets the nod.

    Pay attention. Read "Armed Madhouse." Then tell me how great Karl Rove is.

    Oh and by the way, he's no hack. He's a highly respected BBC reporter from America. His report on the caging lists they got from Rove was the highest rated BBC show all around the globe. Highest ratings in every developed country two weeks before the 04 election.

    Did we watch it here? Nope. The media didn't play the report.

    Go figure.

    August 21, 2007 12:44 am at 12:44 am |
  3. Frank hartford CT

    Where is the anger for Joseph Wilson. We know today that he specifically wrote a partisaned article (all lies), withheld information from the article intentionally, then, went around claiming that Dick Cheney sent him. Another lie. Finally, there are specific definitions involved with outing a CIA agent. Mrs. Plame did not meet those citeria, therefore NOBODY can be prosecuted for outing her. Just like I could not be prosecuted for outing an Intern at the CIA. GIve it up, this just makes Democrats look overly partisan and vindictive.

    August 21, 2007 08:14 am at 8:14 am |
  4. Jeff, Houston, Texas

    All of this, an amusing conversation. However, it is pointless. Bush would pardon Hitler if given the chance.

    Under Bush, we no longer have the rule of law. I wonder if we still have free elections.

    All of this rhetoric is entertaining, but when will we, as the citizens of this nation, force something to be done about Bush and his band of mentally disturbed criminals?

    Talk is cheap. When do we act?

    Im just tired of this banter. Some people need to see some jail time, or better, be brought up on charges of treason.

    August 21, 2007 12:14 pm at 12:14 pm |
  5. Bruce, Franklin, TN

    Lance from Monrovia:

    Apparently the only two things you have read recently are the Pallast book and Obama's offerings.

    Many of us who are independent thinkers would come to the conclusion that based on your postings, you are either an Obama operative or just plain brainwashed.

    My suggestion: don't just read the things that reinforce how you already see the world. And don't buy into all the soundbites, talking points and other drivel from the "mainstream media" or the campaign staffs of the candidates. Look at things from all points of view and question everything.

    Like you, I am extremely disappointed in the Bush presidency. The results have been horrible. If the electorate had been smarter, they would have nominated and elected someone with moderate views and lots of experience. Certainly Gore and McCain offered that in 2000.

    Demonizing Rove doesn't change the fact that the whole Plame/Wilson fiasco never should have happened in the first place and that partisanship was the basis for his trip as well as for what happened subsequently. The simple truth is that the special prosecutor would have indicted Rove had there been any criminal wrongdoing on his part. Just because you don't like him for being Bush's "brain" or for his tactics in helping win elections, doesn't make him a criminal or a traitor.

    August 21, 2007 02:04 pm at 2:04 pm |
  6. Jon, Sacramento ~ Ca

    "Talk is cheap. When do we act?" ~ Jeff, Houston TX

    Jeff, back away from the pitchfork! Your hatred for President Bush came through loud and clear – but "emotions" don't qualify as evidence in courts these days. Just because you FEEL like putting someone in jail isn't justification. Sorry if that bursts your bubble.

    How about you write your esteemed leaders (Pelosi and Reid) and ask THEM to take some action. Oh wait – Nancy has already conceded that impeachment is off the table.

    Your next course of action – vote for Cindy Sheehan. Some how SHE thinks she can impeach President Bush, which is REALLY odd since the election she would be running in (against Nancy) is the one where President Bush's 2nd term ends.

    Dogs chasing their tails!

    August 21, 2007 03:43 pm at 3:43 pm |
  7. KD. Dallas, TX

    Karl Rove lovers should take a look at his history of lies and deceit. A history that runs well into his high school years. He is a pyschological genius, knowing just what, when, and where to say what is needed to influence others. He really can be a very dangerous person if allowed to manipulate as he has through this administration. I read some of these responses and I am so amazed at the different ways people view things. I have a difficult time understanding some of you out there. Lies and deceit and damaging others credentials, career, and life is a very vindictive, mean thing to do. Those that make excuses for this type of behavior simply amaze me. Without knowing how you think, it seems like it's blinders on to get a very narrow perspective of things. Wilson was trying to discount the information Bush was pushing at us to make us believe that we needed to go to war in Iraq. To "shut him up" the Bush administration leaked his wife's name. That could have cost others their life due to their association with Plame. Bush even admitted letting the name out was wrong and he was going to get to the bottom of it...or so he said. Yes, Robert Novak also made the name public. I will never understand what he had to gain with that information. But let's not fool ourselves and think that the information didn't come from the top. Commuting Libby's sentence doesn't means he was found guilty. He was convicted and allowed to escape punishment for his role in this. Why? So that no one would be held accountable. Why isn't Rove sought out, or others? I don't have an easy answer to that, but I am sure there is one. We are all frustrated with our current government, but it really isn't congress that has caused the mess our country is in-except maybe those who voted to give Bush ultimate power to go to war. We are frustrated with congress because they cannot make right, what this administration has so successfully made wrong.

    August 21, 2007 08:45 pm at 8:45 pm |
  8. Jeff, Houston, Texas

    Yes Joe, I am quite annoyed that the demopcrats will not take action. I used to fear how your ilk would react to an impeachment, but I see now that we have no other choice if we are to have any hope of keeping this country a democracy and not a religous-based police state.

    Yes, I'm annoyed. And I am afraid.

    August 23, 2007 03:23 pm at 3:23 pm |
  9. Perry, Columbus, Ohio

    Does anybody, and I mean ANYBODY have the nerve to report that Bush is absolutely the worst president that we have had? As the fable goes, everybody has seen the "Emperor's New Clothes", but will you report to his highness that he is naked?

    December 24, 2007 12:01 pm at 12:01 pm |
1 2 3 4 5