The case of Valerie Plame took another turn today, potentially toward more trouble for the White House. From CNN.com:
A federal judge ordered New York Times reporter Judith Miller jailed for contempt of court Wednesday for refusing to testify to a grand jury investigating the leak of a CIA operative's name. She was taken into custody immediately.
Time magazine reporter Matthew Cooper, who also faced jail time, was spared confinement after agreeing to testify. Outside the courthouse, he defended his decision, saying the source had released him from confidentiality that day. "That source gave me a personal, unambiguous, uncoerced waiver to speak to the grand jury," Cooper told reporters. He would not disclose the source.
Could the source be “Bush’s Brain,” Karl Rove? We speculated on how this story might play in Colorado over the weekend, but as more information comes out things may only get worse for the White House...and for some Republican congressional candidates here in Colorado.
Newsweek reported over the weekend their version of a story that first broke late Friday night regarding who leaked CIA official Valerie Plame's name to the media two years ago, and it may very well have been President Bush's right-hand man.
For a little more background, check out the Newsweek story, but in a nutshell here's what happened: Former ambassador Joseph Wilson took a trip to Iraq in 2002 in order to investigate claims that Iraq was looking to buy uranium from the African country of Niger. The uranium claim, you may remember, was one of the main reasons given by the White House and then-Secretary of State Colin Powell for the need to invade Iraq.
In a New York Times op-ed piece that ran on July 6, 2003, Wilson said that he didn't think the uranium-buying claims had any merit. Soon after, on July 14, Plame was outed as a CIA agent in a column written by Robert Novak. Why Plame? Plame is Wilson's wife, and the obvious charge was that the leak was an act of retribution. It’s also illegal. Leaking the name of a CIA operative to anyone is a serious crime - violating the Intelligence Identities Protection Act carries a sentence of up to ten years in prison - and a special investigator was subsequently put on the case to discover the source of the leak.
Different media entities and reporters got involved, and two reporters – Miller and Cooper - were subpoenaed and subsequently refused to give up their sources. With all legal options exhausted last week, Time magazine finally decided to give in and turn over Cooper's notes, and reports over the weekend said that Rove may have been one of the people responsible for leaking Plame’s name.
What’s this all have to do with Colorado? President Bush already has the lowest approval ratings of a sitting President at this time since Richard Nixon, and if Rove was involved in outing Plame it certainly won’t make those numbers rise. There is also the question of whether Bush knew about Rove’s potential involvement, though that one is obviously going to be tougher to prove. Either way, with the mid-term elections coming up in 2006, Bush’s popularity will certainly play a role in potentially close races in CD-4 and CD-7. Mid-term elections often become referendums on the President, and incumbent Republican Marilyn Musgrave (CD-4) and Republican challenger Rick O’Donnell (CD-7) would stand to suffer the most if Bush’s popularity continues to drop.
Will this scandal grow to the White House? It might not, but there are a few folks in Colorado who are crossing their fingers that it doesn't.