WASHINGTON (AP) - Presidential confidant Karl Rove testified to a grand jury that he learned the identity of a CIA operative originally from journalists, then informally discussed the information with a Time magazine reporter days before the story broke, according to a person briefed on the testimony.
The person, who works in the legal profession and spoke only on condition of anonymity because of the secrecy of grand jury proceedings, told The Associated Press that Rove testified last year that he remembers specifically being told by columnist Robert Novak that Valerie Plame, the wife of a harsh Iraq war critic, worked for the CIA.
Rove testified that Novak originally called him the Tuesday before Plame's identity was revealed in July 2003 to discuss another story. The conversation eventually turned to former Ambassador Joseph Wilson, who was strongly criticizing the Bush administration's Iraq war policy and the intelligence it used to justify the war, the source said.
The person said Rove testified that Novak told him he had learned and planned to report in a weekend column that Wilson's wife, Plame, had worked for the CIA, and the circumstances on how her husband traveled to Africa to check bogus claims of alleged nuclear material sales to Iraq.
Novak's column, citing two Bush administration officials, appeared six days later, touching off a political firestorm and leading to a federal criminal investigation into who leaked Plame's undercover identity. That probe has ensnared presidential aides and reporters in a two-year legal battle.
Rove told the grand jury that by the time Novak had called him, he believes he had similar information about Wilson's wife from another reporter but had no recollection of which reporter had told him about it first, the source said.
When Novak inquired about Wilson's wife working for the CIA, Rove indicated he had heard something like that, according to the source's recounting of the grand jury testimony.
Read it here.
Well, now. This puts an entirely different cast on things. Rove was not the source on the Plame leak -- he was the recipient of information from two [count 'em, two] journalists, only one of whom is identified. I wonder if this has anything to do with why Judith Miller is now ensconced in the Martha Stewart suite.
UPDATE: Can dreams come true?
Clifford May has a piece in NRO in which he argues that the initial outing of Valerie Plame's status came not from Robert Novak, but from David Corn writing in the Nation. And get this, May says that Corn's source is apparently Joe Wilson, who "leaked like a sieve."
Read it here.