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'Time' Reporter: Rove, Libby Confirmed CIA Agent's Identity

JENNIFER LUDDEN, host:

There's more on the continuing controversy over the exposure of a CIA official. Today Time magazine reporter Matt Cooper said that White House Deputy Chief of Staff Karl Rove was the first person to tell him that the CIA officer was the wife of an outspoken critic of the Bush administration. NPR's Libby Lewis reports.

LIBBY LEWIS reporting:

Cooper details his story in a first-person account in Monday's editions of Time magazine. The account details what he told a grand jury investigating who leaked the name of CIA covert agent Valerie Plame Wilson to him and other reporters. Cooper declined requests for an interview on NPR, but he appeared today on NBC's "Meet the Press" and CNN's "Reliable Sources." NBC host Tim Russert asked Cooper...

(Soundbite of "Meet the Press")

Mr. TIM RUSSERT (Host): For the record, the first time you learned that Joe Wilson's wife worked for the CIA was from Karl Rove.

Mr. MATT COOPER (Time): That's correct.

LEWIS: Cooper wrote, `So did Rove leak Plame's name to me or tell me she was covert? No. Was it through my conversation with Rove that I learned for the first time that Wilson's wife worked for the CIA? Yes. Did Rove say that she worked at the agency on WMD, or weapons of mass destruction? Yes. When he said things would be declassified soon, was that impermissible? I don't know. Is any of this a crime? At this point I'm as curious as anyone else to see what special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald has.'

Cooper also disclosed that vice presidential Chief of Staff Lewis Libby was another source for his story. Cooper wrote, `On background, I 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 wrote, `Like Rove, Libby never used Valerie Plame's name or indicated that her status was covert.'

Russert asked...

(Soundbite of "Meet the Press")

Mr. RUSSERT: Did you interpret that as a confirmation?

Mr. COOPER: I did, yeah.

Mr. RUSSERT: Did Mr. Libby say at any time that Joe Wilson's wife worked for the CIA?

Mr. COOPER: No, he didn't say that.

LEWIS: Cooper's account leaves open the question: Was any crime committed? The answer to that question rests, in part, on whether the particulars of Cooper's account square with what Rove and other White House officials have told special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald. Even if the prosecutor does not have all the elements he needs to charge anyone with disclosing Valerie Plame Wilson's identity, there remains the possibility that discrepancies in testimony will lead to an indictment for perjury. It is a felony to lie to a federal grand jury. White House spokesman David Almacy says the White House will be happy to comment once the investigation is over. Libby Lewis, NPR News, Washington. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Libby Lewis
Libby Lewis is an award-winning reporter on the National Desk whose pieces on issues of law, society, criminal justice, the military and social policy can be heard on Morning Edition, All Things Considered, Day to Day, Weekend Edition Saturday, and other NPR shows.
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