It's after 2 AM here in Texas, and I see two new articles on the Rove/Plame affair in the new day's papers. The New York Times report is based on an anonymous source friendly to Karl Rove. It says:
Mr. Rove has told investigators that he learned from the columnist the name of the C.I.A. officer, who was referred to by her maiden name, Valerie Plame, and the circumstances in which her husband, former Ambassador Joseph C. Wilson IV, traveled to Africa to investigate possible uranium sales to Iraq, the person said.
After hearing Mr. Novak's account, the person who has been briefed on the matter said, Mr. Rove told the columnist: "I heard that, too."
The Washington Post has a similar story, but based on a lawyer "who has firsthand knowledge of the conversations between Rove and prosecutors." It says:
At the end of that 15- or 20-minute call, according to the lawyer, Novak said he had learned that Wilson's wife worked for the CIA.
"I heard that, too," Rove replied, according to the lawyer, confirming the [New York] Times account. The Times article reports that Rove learned about Plame from Novak, but the lawyer with firsthand knowledge of the case said Rove was not certain of that.
This conversation, according to the Times, took place on July 8, 2003. Three days before Rove revealed Plame's CIA job to Matt Cooper of Time magazine, and six days before Novak's Chicago Sun-Times column officially outing Plame was published.
Daily Kos has a handy timeline of the whole Wilson/Plame/Rove affair. July 8 was two days after Joe Wilson's original New York Times op-ed attacking the Bush administration appeared, and one day after the White House was forced to retract its earlier allegation that Iraq had sought uranium from Niger.
According to the timeline, on July 8 the following happened:
A friend informs Wilson that Robert Novak believes that his wife had something to do with Wilson's appointment to investigate the Yellow Cake claim in Africa.He asked Novak if he could walk a block or two with him, as they were headed in the same direction; Novak acquiesced. Striking up a conversation, my friend, without revealing that he knew me, asked Novak about the Uranium controversy. It was a minor problem, Novak replied, and opined that the administration should have dealt with it weeks before. My friend then asked Novak what he thought about me, and Novak answered: "Wilson's an asshole. The CIA sent him. His wife, Valerie [Plame], works for the CIA. She's a weapons of mass destruction specialist. She sent him."Wilson's friend went right to Wilson's office and documented the exchange.
So someone told Novak about Plame's true occupation on or before July 8. As we learned today, Rove's conversation with Novak was on July 8.
If we believe the Rove-friendly account in today's papers, someone had already spread around Plame's CIA job to both Novak and Rove. Who? Rove, by the account in the Washington Post, has conveniently forgotten.
If we don't believe the Rove-friendly account, then this timing is extremely suspicious.
UPDATE (10:22 AM): I cross-posted this last night at TPMCafe. In that version substitute 2003 for my late-night "1993".