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Rove and Libby are in deep sh*t

Rove, Libby Accounts in CIA Case Differ With Those of Reporters. Someone is lying and the reporters don’t have a reason to. Boy this is getting weirder and more dangerous for the Bushies by the minute.

Lewis “Scooter” Libby, Vice President Dick Cheney’s chief of staff, told special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald that he first learned from NBC News reporter Tim Russert of the identity of Central Intelligence Agency operative Valerie Plame, the wife of former ambassador and Bush administration critic Joseph Wilson, one person said. Russert has testified before a federal grand jury that he didn’t tell Libby of Plame’s identity, the person said.

White House Deputy Chief of Staff Karl Rove told Fitzgerald that he first learned the identity of the CIA agent from syndicated columnist Robert Novak, according a person familiar with the matter. Novak, who was first to report Plame’s name and connection to Wilson, has given a somewhat different version to the special prosecutor, the person said.

These discrepancies may be important because Fitzgerald is investigating whether Libby, Rove or other administration officials made false statements during the course of the investigation. The Plame case has its genesis in whether any administration officials violated a 1982 law making it illegal to knowingly reveal the name of a covert intelligence agent.

It gets even better in today’s NYT. More evidence comes out that these two jokers were also knee-deep in conspiracy plans to protect the Chimperor after his dissembling during his State of the Union address.

At the same time in July 2003 that a C.I.A. operative’s identity was exposed, two key White House officials who talked to journalists about the officer were also working closely together on a related underlying issue: whether President Bush was correct in suggesting earlier that year that Iraq had been trying to acquire nuclear materials from Africa.

The two issues had become inextricably linked because Joseph C. Wilson IV, the husband of the unmasked C.I.A. officer, had questioned Mr. Bush’s assertion, prompting a damage-control effort by the White House that included challenging Mr. Wilson’s standing and his credentials. A federal grand jury investigation is under way by a special counsel to determine whether someone illegally leaked the officer’s identity and possibly into whether perjury or obstruction of justice occurred during the inquiry.

People who have been briefed on the case said the White House officials, Karl Rove and I. Lewis Libby, were helping prepare what became the administration’s primary response to criticism that a flawed phrase about the nuclear materials in Africa had been in Mr. Bush’s State of the Union address six months earlier.

They had exchanged e-mail correspondence and drafts of a proposed statement by George J. Tenet, then the director of central intelligence, to explain how the disputed wording had gotten into the address. Mr. Rove, the president’s political strategist, and Mr. Libby, the chief of staff for Vice President Dick Cheney, coordinated their efforts with Stephen J. Hadley, then the deputy national security adviser, who was in turn consulting with Mr. Tenet.

… It is not clear what information Mr. Rove and Mr. Libby might have collected about Ms. Wilson as they worked on the Tenet statement. Mr. Rove has said he learned her name from Mr. Novak. Mr. Libby has declined to discuss the matter.

The effort was striking because to an unusual degree, the circle of officials involved included those from the White House’s political and national security operations, which are often separately run. Both arms were drawn into the effort to defend the administration during the period.

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Pam Spaulding

Pam Spaulding