Monday, July 18, 2005


Vice President Dick Cheney's chief of staff confirmed the identity of a CIA agent whose husband questioned a key piece of the Bush administration's case for war with Iraq, a Time magazine reporter says.

The White House said in 2003 that Lewis "Scooter" Libby had no role in the exposure of CIA officer Valerie Plame. It also said that Karl Rove, President Bush's top political adviser, was not involved in the release of Plame's identity to reporters.

But Time magazine reporter Matthew Cooper told CNN's "Late Edition" on Sunday that Rove told him Ambassador Joseph Wilson's wife was a CIA agent involved with weapons of mass destruction in a July 2003 conversation after Wilson had raised questions about one of the arguments underpinning the invasion of Iraq.

"After that conversation, I knew that she worked at the CIA, and worked on WMD issues," said Cooper, who appeared before a grand jury investigating the leak last week. "But as I made clear to the grand jury, I'm certain Rove never used her exact name and certainly never indicated she had a covert status."

Cooper said Rove ended the conversation by telling him, "I've already said too much."

The reporter recounted his 2 1/2 hours before the grand jury in a Time article this week and on Sunday talk shows. In the Time article, he said he asked Libby "if he had heard anything about Wilson's wife sending her husband to Niger. Libby replied, 'Yeah, I've heard that, too' or words to that effect."

Cooper told NBC's "Meet the Press" that he regarded that as confirmation of what Rove had told him.

Of course, it does not matter whether Rove named Valerie Plame or told Cooper outright that she was an undercover operative. Rove revealed her identity; once he had that information, finding out her name was easy to do.

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