Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Luskin: Cooper burned Rove in Plame-Out

Karl Rove's attorney, Robert Luskin, is offering yet another spin on Rove's discussions with reporters that is so wild, I'm getting dizzy. According to Luskin, Time reporter Matther Cooper "burned" Rove & intentionally mischaracterized the discussion & administration in the article he finally published.

In an interview with National Review Online, Luskin compared the contents of a July 11, 2003, internal Time e-mail written by Cooper with the wording of a story Cooper co-wrote a few days later. "By any definition, he burned Karl Rove," Luskin said of Cooper. "If you read what Karl said to him and read how Cooper characterizes it in the article, he really spins it in a pretty ugly fashion to make it seem like people in the White House were affirmatively reaching out to reporters to try to get them to them to report negative information about Plame."
It sounds more like Luskin is reading the blogs and rapidly becoming aware that Cooper's now infamous email about the "super double secret background" Rove gave him doesn't read they way BushCo wants to interpret it, especially in context with Cooper's article. Luksin prefers to assert that Rove's warning not to get "too far out on Wilson" supports Rove's claims he was trying to get Time not to print that Cheney or Tenent authorized former Ambassador Joe Wilson's trip to Niger instead of trying to undermining Wilson's report, but that doesn't seem to be a theory anyone aside from Freepers/Republican party leaders finds believable. [emphasis added]
"Spoke to Rove on double super secret background for about two mins before he went on vacation..." Cooper said that Rove had warned him away from getting "too far out on Wilson," and then passed on Rove's statement that neither Vice President Dick Cheney nor CIA Director George Tenet had picked Wilson for the trip; "it was, KR said, wilson's wife, who apparently works at the agency on wmd issues who authorized the trip." Finally — all of this is according to the Newsweek report — Cooper's e-mail said that "not only the genesis of the trip is flawed an[d] suspect but so is the report. he [Rove] implied strongly that there's still plenty to implicate iraqi interest in acquiring uranium fro[m] Niger..."
A few days after sending the e-mail, Cooper co-wrote an article headlined "A War on Wilson?" that appeared on Time's website. The story began, "Has the Bush administration declared war on a former ambassador who conducted a fact-finding mission to probe possible Iraqi interest in African uranium? Perhaps."
The story goes on to say [emphasis added]
Former Ambassador Joseph C. Wilson raised the Administration's ire with an op-ed piece in The New York Times on July 6 saying that the Administration had "twisted" intelligence to "exaggerate" the Iraqi threat. Since then Administration officials have taken public and private whacks at Wilson, charging that his 2002 report, made at the behest of U.S. intelligence, was faulty and that his mission was a scheme cooked up by mid-level operatives. George Tenet, the director of the Central Intelligence Agency, took a shot at Wilson last week as did ex-White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer. Both contended that Wilson's report on an alleged Iraqi effort to purchase uranium from Niger, far from undermining the president's claim in his State of the Union address that Iraq sought uranium in Africa, as Wilson had said, actually strengthened it. And some government officials have noted to TIME in interviews, (as well as to syndicated columnist Robert Novak) that Wilson's wife, Valerie Plame, is a CIA official who monitors the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. These officials have suggested that she was involved in her husband's being dispatched Niger to investigate reports that Saddam Hussein's government had sought to purchase large quantities of uranium ore, sometimes referred to as yellow cake, which is used to build nuclear devices.
Luskin claims that the fact Cooper initially contacted Rove to discuss welfare reform and the conversation then diverted to Wilson (a change in topic directed by Cooper according to Luskin) substantiates Rove's claim neither he, nor anyone at the White House, was trying to get Plame's name out in public [or undermine Wilson's report by linking her to his trip].
"Look at the Cooper e-mail," Luskin continues. "Karl speaks to him on double super secret background...I don't think that you can read that e-mail and conclude that what Karl was trying to do was to get Cooper to publish the name of Wilson's wife."
What one can conclude from the email (especially in context with the story) is that Rove was most definitely trying to undermine the credibility Wilson and his report (which is more credible than Bush, Cheney & Tenent's statements on the matter prior to 12Jul03) by indicating his wife, who was an official working on WMD, was the mid-level operative who "cooked up a scheme". What one can conclude from Bob Novak's announcement of Plame's name and relationship to the trip is that Rove wasn't the only senior level administration official trying to do exactly the same thing.

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