What happened on Wednesday in Courtroom 8 at the federal district courthouse in Washington, DC, gave rise to more questions than answers about the shrouded-in-secrecy Plame/CIA leak investigation. But those questions may not be good for Karl Rove.
The most dramatic moment of the hour-plus hearing was when federal District Court Judge Thomas Hogan ordered New York Times reporter Judith Miller to jail for failing to reveal a source to special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald, who has been trying to find out which Bush administration officials outed undercover CIA officer Valerie Plame, the wife of former Ambassador Joseph Wilson, a critic of the Bush White House. Conservative columnist Bob Novak first published the leak in a July 14, 2003 article that cited “two senior administration officials.” Three days later, Time magazine posted a piece cowritten by Cooper that noted that “government officials” had told Time about Valerie Wilson’s employment at the CIA. Miller wrote no article on this matter but apparently she talked to at least one source about it. Her decision to honor her pledge of confidentiality to her source and resist a court order might have afforded her source–whoever that might be–a measure of protection. But minutes earlier, Cooper–who had also been held in civil contempt for not cooperating with Fitzgerald–made a dramatic statement that could lead to trouble for a source he had previously protected, and that source might be Rove.
Cooper told the court that he had left home that morning–after saying good-bye to his six-year-old son and telling the boy that he might not see him for a while–resolved not to comply with Fitzgerald’s request that he testify before the grand jury. (Time had already surrendered Cooper’s notes and emails to Fitzgerald–over Cooper’s objections–but Fitzgerald still sought Cooper’s testimony.) But on the way to the courthouse, Cooper said to the judge, his source had contacted him and provided what Cooper called a “personal and unambiguous waiver to speak before the grand jury.” So Cooper declared that he was now prepared to answer Fitzgerald’s questions. He would not be sent off to the hoosegow.
What does this mean for Cooper’s source–a person apparently of intense interest to Fitzgerald?
This past weekend, Michael Isikoff of Newsweek reported that the emails and notes turned over by Time indicated that “one of Cooper’s sources [for Time‘s article that named Plame] was White House deputy chief of staff Karl Rove.” Rove’s attorney, Robert Luskin, confirmed that Rove had been interviewed by Cooper for that article. But Luskin maintained that Rove “did not tell any reporter that Valerie Plame worked for the CIA.” (But does that statement cover all possibilities? Might Rove have confirmed Valerie Plame had a job at the CIA? Might he have said that “Valerie Wilson”–not Plame–worked for the CIA?)