Highlights of This Page
Supreme Court refuses to hear appeals by reporters Matt Cooper and Judith Miller, forcing them to cooperate with Plame leak investigation or face jail.
See my Update Information page for an explanation of why this and other pages between September 2004 and September 2006 are not yet complete.
- Summer: White House communications director Dan Bartlett is pressuring Bush and White House officials to change the media strategy on Iraq. The language of resolve, of "staying the course," isn't working. They are hemorraghing credibility. The only way to regain their credibility is to acknowledge that there have been mistakes. It would convince people that they are willing to adjust and alter their policies by first admitting that there are things that need changing. This is consistent with Bush's rhetoric of "being flexible." Bartlett also says that Bush needs to appear as if he is listening to his critics. When their intentions are good, Bush has to say so. The so-called resolve and determination is coming across as pigheaded; the accusations of cowardice are backfiring. But all of this flies in the face of Bush's natural tendencies. Any tempering of his rhetoric would, Bush argues, just encourage the Sunnis and the insurgents to escalate their violence and their divisiveness. So for the moment, the rhetoric will remain unchanged. (Dan Bartlett)
- June: Energy Department chief Guy Caruso, the former CIA oil expert, flies to Kuala Lumpur to meet with a select group of state oil chiefs. He shows the gathered oil ministers charts displaying Canada's huge "bitumen" sands, containing 80% of that type of oil reserves. He also shows charts displaying Venezuela's huge reserves of "heavy" tar oil and tar sands, comprising 90% of the world's heavy oil reserves. At $14 a barrel, Saudi Arabia holds the world's largest oil reserves. But once oil prices soar over $28 per barrel, the heavier Venezuelan oil reserves become profitable to pump, making Venezuela, not Saudi Arabia, the big player in OPEC. Caruso's presentation proves that if oil prices stay high, Saudi Arabia's control of OPEC founders, and Venezuela becomes pre-eminent. Unlike the US-friendly oil sheikhs in the House of Saud, Venezuela's Hugo Chavez is no friend of the Bush administration nor the oil companies. Journalist Greg Palast writes, "Caruso's charts sharpen the question confronting Saudi Arabia and the White House: How can Hugo Chavez be stopped from becoming the Bill Gates of petroleum? There are two methods to undermind Chavez's power. First, the unattractive choice: Cut the price of oil. Option two: Kill him." (Greg Palast)
- June 5: Authorities are investigating a blaze at the Presidential Women's Clinic in West Palm Beach, Florida. No one was injured in the fire, which was apparently set. Florida has a long history of abortion clinic bombings and murders, most memorably the case of Paul Hill, who was executed for the 1994 murder of an abortion doctor and his nurse in Pensacola. (CBS)
"You see, not only did the attacks help accelerate a recession, the attacks reminded us that we are at war." -- George W. Bush, on the Sept. 11 attacks, June 8, 2005
"And the second way to defeat the terrorists is to spread freedom. You see, the best way to defeat a society that is -- doesn't have hope, a society where people become so angry they're willing to become suiciders, is to spread freedom, is to spread democracy." -- George W. Bush, June 8, 2005
- June 8: White House official Philip Cooney has been caught rewriting and editing government climate reports in order to play down links between greenhouse gases and global warming. In dozens of drafts of reports issued in 2002 and 2003, Cooney removed or adjusted descriptions of climate research that government scientists and their supervisors, including some senior Bush administration officials, had already approved. In many cases, the changes appeared in the final reports. The changes were decided to cast doubt on findings that almost every climate expert believes to be solid. Cooney is the chief of staff for the White House Council on Environmental Quality, the office that helps devise and promote administration policies on environmental issues. Before going to the White House in 2001, he was the "climate team leader" and a lobbyist at the American Petroleum Institute, the largest trade group representing the interests of the oil industry. A lawyer with a bachelor's degree in economics, he has no scientific training whatsoever.
- Critics say that while all administrations routinely vet government reports, scientific content in such reports should be reviewed by scientists, preferably those without such partisan ideological and corporate ties. Climate experts and representatives of environmental groups, when shown examples of the revisions, say they illustrate the significant influence of Cooney and other White House officials with ties to energy industries that have long fought greenhouse-gas restrictions.
- One former government official who is highly critical of Cooney and his ilk is Rick Piltz, who resigned in March 2005 as a senior associate in the office that coordinates government climate research. That office, now called the Climate Change Science Program, issued the documents that Cooney edited. Piltz says that the White House editing and other actions threatens to taint the government's $1.8 billion-a-year effort to clarify the causes and consequences of climate change. "Each administration has a policy position on climate change," writes Piltz. "But I have not seen a situation like the one that has developed under this administration during the past four years, in which politicization by the White House has fed back directly into the science program in such a way as to undermine the credibility and integrity of the program." And a senior EPA scientist says the kinds of changes made by Cooney has damaged morale. "I have colleagues in other agencies who express the same view, that it has somewhat of a chilling effect and has created a sense of frustration," he says.
- Piltz knows about editing. He saw Cooney change the phrasing of one report from "Earth is undergoing rapid change" to "may be undergoing change." The word "uncertainty," in regards to global warming, became, after Cooney's red pen, "significant remaining uncertainty." And Cooney deleted in its entirety a reference to energy production contributing to global warming. "He was obviously passing it through a political screen," Piltz says. "He would put in the word 'potential' or 'may' or 'weaken,' or delete text that had to do with the likely consequence of climate change, pump up uncertainty language throughout."
- Yesterday, the scientific academies of 11 countries, including those of the United States and Britain, released a joint letter saying, "The scientific understanding of climate change is now sufficiently clear to justify nations taking prompt action." But Clooney's former employer, the American Petroleum Institute, has a different view: since scientists can't be 100% sure what causes global warming, the AEI says, then nothing should be done to restrict greenhouse emissions. In earlier years, such delaying tactics were more effective, because there were legitimate scientific disputes over what effect greenhouse gases were having on global warming. But now that those disputes have been all but settled, the AEI, and its allies in the White House, have adopted tactics that are far less scientifically grounded. "[T]he only way to control this issue and do nothing about it is to muddy the science," says Eileen Claussen, the president of the Pew Center on Global Climate Change. (New York Times, Air America Playbook)
- June 13: A series of deadly bomb blasts rocks Iran, just days before the Iranian citizenry goes to the polls to vote for their new president. In all, ten people die in the blasts, which occur in Tehran and in the southwestern city of Ahwaz. At least 70 are wounded. The Iranian government, as well as many outside observers, believe that the bombs are the work of the dissident terrorist group Mujahedeen e-Khalq (MEK), a guerrilla organization functioning out of Iraq with US support. MEK may have also had the support of Iranian and Iraqi Ba'athists. But MEK and its fellow dissident organization, the People's Mujahedeen, deny any responsibility. A spokesman for Iran's Interior Ministry accuses the attackers of trying to "undermine Friday's presidential elections." Iranians go to the polls on Friday to elect a successor to President Mohammad Khatami. Polls suggest that former president Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani will win the election; however, Rafsanjani will be defeated in a runoff election by hardline Islamist Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the mayor of Tehran. In retrospect, it is not certain if the bombings influenced the election, but the likelihood is strong. (BBC, Raw Story)
- June 20: Former UN weapons inspector Scott Ritter, a harsh critic of the US's policies in the Middle East, writes that the US war against Iran has already begun. Ritter writes that the Bush administration is repeating the same process as it used to lead up to war with Iraq for its long-desired war with Iran -- publicly deny that war preparations are taking place, and assert that the US is using all diplomatic and non-military options available, while in reality war plans are moving forward and preliminary strikes are taking place against the targeted country. In September 2002, he notes, US and British warplanes began heavy bombardment of Iraqi targets, in order to destroy Iraqi air defense and command-and-control capabilities. Shortly thereafter, US Special Forces units began operating inside Iraq, performing reconnaissance and, later, direct action against specific targets. "The fact is that the Iraq war had begun by the beginning of summer 2002, if not earlier," he writes. Now the same thing is happening in Iran.
- Ritter writes that US intelligence-gathering overflights into Iranian air space are already taking place, relying for the moment on pilotless drones. He notes that in and of itself, violating a sovereign nation's airspace can be seen as an act of war. But, he writes, the US is doing more than gathering intelligence. Through the CIA, it has authorized, and funded, violent, deadly terrorist attacks inside Iran through the Mujahedeen e-Khalq (MEK), a terrorist organization determined to bring down the Iranian theocratic government (ironically, MEK was once directed by Saddam Hussein's intelligence services, but now it works for the CIA). The hypocrisy of Bush's steadfast denunciation of terrorism while the US uses a terrorist group for its own ends cannot be overstated.
- Other preparations are taking place. The US military is building a base of operations in Iran's northern neighbor, Azerbaijan, possibly for the purpose of launching a massive ground strike into Iran. While the Western press has largely ignored the US's move into Azerbaijan, Ritter writes, Russia and the Caucacus nations have a sharper awareness. Iran's ethnic Azeri, related by blood ties to Azerbaijan's majority populace, were long tools of the Soviet Union during the Cold War; now these same Azeri are being used by the CIA and US Special Forces, who are training with Azeri forces to form special units capable of operating inside Iran. In addition, US warplanes can launch air strikes from forward bases in Azerbaijan, giving the US, in Ritter's words, the capability of maintaining "a nearly 24-hour a day presence over Tehran airspace once military hostilities commence." All in all, Ritter notes, Cold War-era plans to invade Iran from Arabic Gulf states no longer need to be used -- the US can send forces straight into Iran from Azerbaijan. Ritter notes that "US military planners have already begun war games calling for the deployment of multi-divisional forces into Azerbaijan."
- Ritter writes, "Most Americans, together with the mainstream American media, are blind to the tell-tale signs of war, waiting, instead, for some formal declaration of hostility, a made-for-TV moment such as was witnessed on 19 March 2003. We now know that the war had started much earlier. Likewise, history will show that the US-led war with Iran will not have begun once a similar formal statement is offered by the Bush administration, but, rather, had already been under way since June 2005, when the CIA began its program of MEK-executed terror bombings in Iran." (Al-Jazeera/CommonDreams)
"The relations with, uhh -- Europe are important relations, and they've, uhh -- because, we do share values. And, they're universal values, they're not American values or, you know -- European values, they're universal values. And those values -- uhh -- being universal, ought to be applied everywhere." -- George W. Bush, at a press conference with European Union dignitaries, June 20, 2005
- June 21: Former Unocal executive Zalmay Khalilzad takes over as the US ambassador to Iraq. Khalilzad immediately begins a policy of more aggressive engagement with the Iraqis, from politics to rebuilding issues. (T. Christian Miller)
- June 21: The White House hosts its weekly policy lunch for all Senate Republicans. Bush speaks to the assemblage about everything except Iraq, the elephant in the room. John Warner, the chair of the Armed Forces Committee, then speaks, and says that during a conversation with his friend James Schlesinger, the former Secretary of Defense, Schlesinger spoke of some eerie and worrisome parallels between Iraq and Vietnam. Bush launches into his campaign-platform defense: 9/11, the continuing threat of terrorism, his conviction that Saddam Hussein was a threat, nothing new. Ted Stevens then stands up to, in his words, "echo part of what John Warner has just said. I think there are some serious issues here." Bush falls back on his rhetoric about Iraq being the right thing to do and the need to just stick it out. After the lunch, Chuck Hagel, somewhat of a maverick who has become an outspoken critic of the postwar operations, asks Bush a penetrating question. "I believe that you are getting really bubbled in here in the White House on Iraq. Do you ever reach outside your inner circle of people, outside your national security council? ...I think it's important for presidents, especially in a time of war, to get some other opinions -- of people that maybe don't agree with you, or you don't agree with. Call them in. Sit them down. Listen to them. Do you ever do that?"
- It is obvious that Bush doesn't appreciate the line of inquiry. "Well, I kind of leave that to [Stephen] Hadley," the national security advisor, he replies. "I know that your national security advisor talks to people, but do you talk to people?" Hagel presses. "Well, maybe I should talk to Hadley about that," Bush replies. "I think this is very important, Mr. President," Hagel continues, "that you get some outside opinions here. Just to test your theories and how you're doing. ...When a nation's at war, the president is under tremendous pressure. You go deeper into that bunker, and I don't think it's good for you." "That's good advice," Bush says. Two hours later, Hadley calls Hagel. "The president told me about the conversation," Hadley says. "Do you want to come talk to me?" Hagel replies, "That wasn't really the conversation, Steve." The idea was new or dissenting voices for Bush. "You know what I'm talking about." Days later, Hagel is invited to make his pitch for a different approach in Iraq to Hadley, who is accompanied by a crush of NSC staffers. He gets little response, and leaves unsatisfied. He then gives an interview to US News and World Report, where he says, "Things aren't getting better, they're getting worse. The White House is completely disconnected from reality." Hadley and the White House are infuriated at Hagel's remarks, but Hagel feels he had to speak up. He didn't publicly state his private assessment: Things aren't getting worse, they are completely dysfunctional. Bush has no strategic thinkers on his staff. Rice is weak. The military is being emasculated by sycophants in uniform. (Bob Woodward)
- June 24: Edward Klein, author of a hatefully inaccurate "biography" of Democratic senator Hillary Clinton called The Truth About Hillary, makes the mistake of defending his book on Air America against hosts Al Franken and Katherine Lampher, and Franken's guest, author Joe Conason. The grilling is intense.
- Within minutes, Franken calls out Klein on his assertion that former senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan could not bring himself to speak Clinton's name during a 2000 press conference announcing Clinton's intention to run for the Senate seat formerly occupied by Moynihan. Franken confronts Klein with the transcript of the press conference, which clearly shows Moynihan mentioning Clinton's name several times. Klein quoted a pair of sentences by Moynihan, left out the middle sentence where Moynihan spoke Clinton's name, and then wrote, "For Moynihan, apparently, it was easier to say 'she' than 'Hillary.'" After battling over the deliberate misquote with Franken and Conason, Klein grudgingly admits only that he "should have put in an ellipsis" to show that the quote was missing a portion. Klein refuses to admit his deliberate deception -- even challenging the accuracy of the video of the conference and the transcript -- and instead accuses Franken of trying to be a "mind reader."
- That was not a good claim to make, as Conason leaps on Klein about his own apparent ability to read Clinton's mind. "[T]here's quite a bit about what's in her mind in this book that you could have no possible way of knowing," Conason says, after Klein is proven to never having even met Clinton. Instead of defending his own authorial license, where he frequently asserts inside knowledge of Clinton's frame of mind and internal thoughts without having interviewed, Klein counterattacks by challenging Conason's presence on the broadcast, and accuses Franken of slipping Conason in as an unannounced attack dog. Franken corrects Klein, reminding him that he emphasized to Klein's publisher that Conason would be in the booth with Franken during the interview.
- Franken then slams Klein with quotes from conservatives like John Podhoretz, who called Klein's book "one of the most sordid volumes Ive ever waded through. Thirty pages into it, I wanted to take a shower. Sixty pages into it I wanted to be decontaminated. And 200 pages into it, I wanted someone to drive stakes through my eyes so I wouldn't have to suffer through another word." Conason adds that he has received a raft of e-mails from conservatives who are disgusted with Klein's inaccurate sliming of Clinton. Klein dodges that issue.
- Franken then brings up Klein's chapter on the purported "Filegate" scandal during the Bill Clinton administration. In a Salon interview for the book, he accused Hillary Clinton of using FBI files "against her enemies...like Nixon." Franken reminds Klein that Kenneth Starr's investigation cleared Clinton of any wrongdoing concerning the FBI files, a fact that Klein chose to leave out of his "authoritative biography." Instead, Klein insisted in the book, and in the interview, that Clinton's lawyer Craig Livingston stole FBI files at the behest of Clinton. He then says that the FBI files were made up largely of documents about Republican activists, and Conason leaps: "They were not, actually. Name one Republican activist whose file was taken. One." Klein cannot. "You couldn't!" Conason snaps, "'cause you haven;t looked at the names! Did you look at the names?" Klein admits he did not. How does he know the files were of Republican activists? He claims to have read it in the New York Times "and other publications," and Conason hangs him on this as well -- the facts are that almost all of the FBI files were of former White House employees. "Most of them were people like gardeners and janitors and people like that. I've looked at every name on that list." When Klein counters that the former employees were from Republican administrations, Conason disproves that as well. "James Carville's name was on that list," he snaps. "Why was his name on the list?" Klein continues to insist, without any knowledge whatsoever, that the files were largely of Republican activists.
- Worse for Klein's assertion of criminal deeds, Starr's Office of the Independent Counsel determined that those FBI files, which contained almost no Republicans whatsoever, were taken to the White House by mistake. Hillary Clinton never made use of the files at all. "If you'd done any reporting," Conason blazes, "you would know that, but you didn't even look at the list." Klein finally says that the list of names was one minor part of the book, and that he wasn't doing an entire book on the list of names, but Franken retorts that Klein has been making the rounds of the talk shows and news outlets accusing Clinton of using the FBI files to get damaging information on her political enemies. "Now, that's a serious charge," Franken says. Klein finally tries to change the subject to his equally specious charges about Clinton's evasion of income taxes, but Franken isn't having any. Klein again tries to bolster his charges by citing references in the Times and the Washington Post, but Conason responds that the Post's William Safire, who made similar charges, was forced to recant his claims.
- The subject then turns to Klein's claim that Clinton tried to bolster her standing with New York's Jewish voters by announcing the discovery of a Jewish ancestor in her lineage. According to Klein, Clinton journeyed to the Middle East, where she hugged Yasser Arafat's wife Suha Arafat for the cameras. "When Hillary realized that she had gotten herself in a jam with Jewish voters," he wrote, "she suddenly turned up a long-lost Jewish step-grandmother -- an announcement that was dismissed by many." Klein admits that his chronology was off, and that Clinton had found her Jewish ancestor well before her trip to the Middle East -- which blows his entire picture of Clinton scheming to regain her standing with Jewish voters by "turning up" a Jewish ancestor in a suspiciously timely fashion completely out of the water. "Sloppy work," Conason declares.
- Then Franken and Conason grill Klein on his long-debunked accusation that in May 1993, Bill Clinton held up traffic at Los Angeles International Airport while he received a haircut in Air Force One. "That story was debunked at the time it came out twelve years ago," Conason says. "It's just astonishing to me" how poor Klein's reporting is. Conason cites an investigation by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that showed not one plane was held up a single minute by Air Force One on that afternoon, based on FAA documents. Klein counters, "You and I are reading different newspapers, I think." Conason won't let that one go by, either. Franken reads the Post-Dispatch report on the incident, and Conason says, "What's peculiar to me is, you don't seem to care whether you get these things right or not." Realizing he is in a corner, Klein retorts, "What's peculiar to me, Mr. Conason, is that you're still stuck back in 1993 instead of 2005."
- Klein says his book isn't about particular facts, but is an analysis of whether Clinton is fit to be president of the United States if she chooses to run in 2008. Lampher, who until this point has been refereeing the discussion, asks bluntly, "When you have so many errors accumulating, why should we take your interpretation seriously?" Klein continues to insist that his book has few errors.
- Conason then asks Klein about his completely insane assertions that Clinton has had a lesbian love affair with a woman named Nancy Pietrafesa. Everyone admits that the story, while rumored for a long time, has no basis in evidence, but Conason notes that throughout his book, Klein misspells Pietrafesa's name. Klein admits he got the story from another book, where the name was also misspelled. "So you're a terrible reporter, but a good stenographer," Conason says. Klein insists that he tried, and failed, to contact Pietrafesa for her take on the rumors, but Franken retorts that newspapers such as the New York Post had no problem contacting her. By this point, Conason is plainly disgusted with Klein -- when Klein insists he left her phone messages, Conason calls him a liar.
- Franken then asks Klein about Clinton's former chief of staff, "Melanie" Verveer, whom Klein insults by calling her "mannish" in appearance -- possibly another implication that Clinton surrounds herself with lesbians. Conason tells Klein that there is no such person as Melanie Verveer. There is a Melanne Verveer. "Now, since you don't know the first name of her chief of staff," Conason says, "why should anybody think that you know anything at all about Hillary Clinton?" Klein says that he was told about "Melanie" Verveer "many, many times," though exactly by who he won't say. Franken says he knows Verveer, and considers her a "good-looking woman," so he doesn't know why Klein would call her "mannish." Klein admits that he himself has never laid eyes on Verveer, and is merely repeating the assessment of her appearance from what "several people who knew her" told him. "Who knew her as 'Melanie?'" Franken asks. Conason adds, "You know, Ed, you've been a reporter for a long time, or at least purporting to be a journalist. Isnt it true that the first thing you learn when you're starting to be a journalist is to spell the names right?" Klein tries, with no success, to dismiss the correction as a "silly comment."
- The hosts give Klein the chance to say why so many conservatives are slamming his work, and Klein says, "I think there's a great deal of confusion on the part of the conservatives [about] how to deal with Hillary. They don't know whether to deal with her directly and in a forcible manner, because the last time they tried that with the Clintons during the whole Whitewater and impeachment imbroglio, they were criticized for going overboard and for being too extreme. And they felt they were burned by that experience. So they have recently been cozying up to her and debating how they're going to handle her. And I think this book, which I've written, is a book that could be written about a man. In other words, it takes Hillary Clinton seriously, and it treats her as I would have treated a male subject of a biography. And there's a great deal of concern on the part of conservatives that this is gonna turn her into a victim and make her stronger than ever. So that's the fundamental reason there's been this split among conservatives about this book." Franken responds, "Well, Ed, I will say that John Podhoretz's headline on his thing was 'Smear for Profit.' So I think that he actually does believe that you did this for money. And actually you do say that that's why you write books." (Air America Playbook)
- June 25: Bush continues to cheerlead for Iraq, telling his radio listeners, "Our nation's mission in Iraq is difficult, and we can expect more tough fighting in the weeks and months ahead. Yet I am confident in the outcome. The Iraqi people are growing in optimism and hope. ...Americans can be proud of all that we and our coalition partners have accomplished in Iraq. Our country has been tested before, and we have a long history of resolve and faith in the cause of freedom. Now we will see that cause to victory in Iraq." (White House/Democratic Underground)
Supreme Court refuses to hear appeals by reporters Matt Cooper and Judith Miller, forcing them to cooperate with Plame leak investigation or face jail
- June 27: The Supreme Court refuses to consider the appeal of Time and the New York Times, appealing a February 15, 2005 ruling that ordered reporters Matt Cooper and Judith Miller to testify before the grand jury of Patrick Fitzgerald in the Valerie Plame Wilson leak investigation. Times publisher Arthur Sulzberger says that Miller is honor bound not to reveal her source for the outing of Plame.
- Two days later, federal judge Thomas Hogan gives Miller and Cooper a week to comply with Fitzgerald's subpoena, or face jail time. He also says that he is ready to impose large fines on Time if the magazine doesn't turn over Cooper's notes and e-mails to Fitzgerald. When one of Time's lawyers, Theodore Boutrous, says the magazine is "grappling with" its decision, Fitzgerald retorts, "I don't understand what Time can deliberate about. They don't have a right to break the law. We shouldn't allow people to think court orders are sort of optional." After a day of agonizing, Time editor in chief Norm Pearlstine agrees to turn over Cooper's documents to Fitzgerald. Explaining his decision to cooperate, Pearlstine says, "I found myself really coming to the conclusion that once the Supreme Court has spoken in a case involving national security and a grand jury, we are not above the law." Sulzberger says he is "deeply disappointed" in Pearlstine's decision; many Time reporters and editors are outraged by Pearlstine's decision.
- Among the documents turned over to Fitzgerald is Cooper's e-mail showing that Karl Rove had been his source about Plame's status as a CIA agent. (Michael Isikoff and David Corn)
- June 28: Bush explains America's policy of "transition" in Iraq thusly, in an address to the nation from Fort Bragg, North Carolina: "Our strategy can be summed up this way. As the Iraqis stand up, we will stand down." (Bob Woodward)
- June 29: Newsweek reporter Michael Isikoff contacts White House political advisor Karl Rove. Isikoff has learned from sources that Rove was the source of the Valerie Plame Wilson leak to Time reporter Matthew Cooper in July 2003, and that the documents turned over to special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald will conclusively prove that. Isikoff will report this, and wants Rove's comment. Rove's attorney, Robert Luskin, tells Isikoff that Rove has nothing to worry about, and that Rove has been fully cooperating with Fitzgerald -- a lie, since Rove has lied by intent and omission in all three of his grand jury appearances. "Karl has never knowingly disclosed classified information," Luskin says -- another lie, since Rove knowingly outed Plame as a covert CIA agent to Cooper. "Karl did not tell any reporter that Valerie Plame worked for the CIA." Isikoff is skeptical, and presses Luskin. Cooper's documents show conclusively that Rove was his source, Isikoff says, so how can Luskin account for that? Luskin eventually admits, as Rove did to Fitzgerald's grand jury, that Rove had indeed spoken to Cooper, but Luskin repeats Rove's lie that all Rove did was try to warn Cooper not to get too involved with the Plame-Joseph Wilson story, and that Cooper should wait for a statement from CIA director George Tenet. All Rove did was give Cooper a helpful heads-up, says Luskin.
- Luskin's story doesn't match what Isikoff has been told. According to Isikoff's sources, Rove indeed outed Plame to Cooper, though he cleverly skipped over Plame's actual name, merely naming "Wilson's wife" as a CIA agent. That omission has enabled Rove to dodge admitting outing Plame for over a year. But Isikoff's editors err on the side of caution, and tone down Isikoff's story. The story notes that Rove is "one of the sources" for Cooper, and includes Luskin's denials about Rove's outing of Plame. The story adds that White House officials have "concern" about Fitzgerald's focus on Rove.
- After Isikoff's story breaks, Washington reporters hammer at Luskin over Rove's involvement; Luskin responds by spinning like a dervish. "Who outed this woman? ...It wasn't Karl," he tells one reporter. He calls Isikoff's story "70% wrong," and adds, "I state categorically that my client did not disclose Valerie Plame's identity to Matt Cooper or anyone else." To a Wall Street Journal reporter, he denies, falsely, that Rove ever asked Cooper to treat him as a confidential source, and says that "if Matt Cooper is going to jail to protect a source, it's not Karl Rove."
- Luskin's comment to the Journal appears on July 5, the same day that Cooper and Judith Miller are slated to begin their jail sentences. Cooper's lawyer, Richard Sauber, sees an opening in Luskin's tale. He knows Cooper is torn about going to jail to protect Rove. Sauber tells Cooper that, though Cooper hasn't accepted the waiver from confidentiality that Rove grudgingly provided, he can accept Luskin's statement to the press as a "personal" waiver, if Luskin and Rove can agree to it. Rove agrees. Rove isn't acting on Cooper's behalf. He could have granted Cooper permission to discuss his conversation with him anytime during the past year, but once Sauber makes the request, he has little choice. Advising Cooper to stay silent could buy Rove an obstruction of justice charge from Fitzgerald, though ultimately Fitzgerald will decide against filing such charges.. (Michael Isikoff and David Corn)