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Source: Rove Says Media Tipped Him

2003/5/7 Karl Rove hesdshot, as White House advisor
AP
Presidential adviser Karl Rove testified to a grand jury that he talked with two journalists before they divulged the identity of an undercover CIA officer but that he originally learned about the operative from the news media and not government sources, according to a person briefed on the testimony.

The person, who works in the legal profession and spoke only on condition of anonymity because of grand jury secrecy, told The Associated Press that Rove testified last year that he remembers specifically being told by columnist Robert Novak that Valerie Plame, the wife of a harsh Iraq war critic, worked for the CIA.

Rove testified that Novak originally called him the Tuesday before Plame's identity was revealed in July 2003 to discuss another story.

The conversation eventually turned to Plame's husband, Joseph Wilson, a former ambassador who was strongly criticizing the Bush administration's use of faulty intelligence to justify the war in Iraq, the person said.

Rove testified that Novak told him he planned to report in a weekend column that Plame had worked for the CIA, and the circumstances on how her husband traveled to Africa to check bogus claims that Iraq was trying to buy nuclear materials in Niger, according to the source.

Novak's column, citing two Bush administration officials, appeared six days later, touching off a political firestorm and leading to a federal criminal investigation into who leaked Plame's undercover identity. That probe has ensnared presidential aides and reporters in a two-year legal battle.

Rove told the grand jury that by the time Novak had called him, he believes he had similar information about Wilson's wife from another member of the news media but he could not recall which reporter had told him about it first, the person said.

When Novak inquired about Wilson's wife working for the CIA, Rove indicated he had heard something like that, according to the source's recounting of the grand jury testimony.

Rove told the grand jury that three days later, he had a phone conversation with Time magazine reporter Matt Cooper and — in an effort to discredit some of Wilson's allegations — informally told Cooper that he believed Wilson's wife worked for the CIA, though he never used her name, the source said.

An e-mail Cooper recently provided the grand jury shows Cooper reported to his magazine bosses that Rove had described Wilson's wife in a confidential conversation as someone who "apparently works" at the CIA.