Covering the Front and Back Pages of the Newspaper
July 15, 2005
POLITICS: Novak to Rove, Who To Novak?
Well, today's big story will obviously be the report (see here and here) that Karl Rove testified to the Plame grand jury that he learned Plame's identity from Bob Novak and not from official channels. Of course, if that's true it would make it nearly impossible to prosecute Rove, since access to Bob Novak is not classified. It also makes it more likely that Rove neither knew nor had reason to know that Plame was or had been a covert operative; if there's one thing that's clear in all this, it's that you would never successfully prosecute anybody who only knew that Plame worked for the CIA if they didn't know that she had been a covert operative. The NY Times report says Rove said that he didn't know:
The person who has been briefed on the matter said Mr. Rove neither knew Ms. Wilson's name nor that she was a covert officer.
(More challenging is the question of what consequences would ensue if Novak told Rove she was covert; I'm still mulling that one over).
Of course, Rove may not be out of the woods just yet. The news report could be mistaken as to what he told the grand jury; there may be evidence contradicting his testimony; or, like anyone involved in a grand jury investigation, he could still be prosecuted if he committed perjury or obstruction of justice or lied to investigators or destroyed documents, regardless of any underlying crimes (ask Bill Clinton, Martha Stewart or Arthur Andersen).
And it still leads back to the question: who told Bob?
UPDATE: As usual, Tom Maguire has comprehensive thougts on the matter.
SECOND UPDATE: Cliff May points out that if you actually read what Bob Novak wrote, and what followed, Plame's status as a covert or clandestine agent was never revealed, only her CIA employment; the fact that she'd been undercover was first revealed by David Corn of The Nation, most likely based on information provided by Joe Wilson himself. Needless to say, regardless of whether you think this should be a scandal, this is a point that would be of enormous significance in any criminal prosecution. May also reprints an email exchange with Corn over the subject, in which Corn defends himself by saying that he was speaking of Plame's undercover status hypothetically.