Was Karl Set Up?

On Fox News News Watch on Saturday, the panel asked, "Was Karl Rove set up? Of course as is usual on that show, the discussion didn't do justice to the lead-in question. But it got me thinking.

"Was Karl set up?" If so by whom?

Well, let me ask you this: Who was making all these phone calls we've been hearing about? Right! Mr. Chatty - Matt Cooper. My, my, Matt was a busy little reporter wasn't he? But there is a lot more to this story than good ole Matt is letting on to.

I've been loooking over NRO's Byron York's article, Lawyer: Cooper “Burned” Karl Rove" published on July 12th, 2005. It details an interview with Rove's lawyer Robert Luskin who alledges that Cooper took a simple conversation and turned in into a sensational headline.

Ah, come on, a journalist wouldn't do that? Yeah? Check out Michelle Malkin today on how the MSM is twisting this "Plame Game", when they think you hang on every word they say.

"In an interview with National Review Online, Luskin compared the contents of a July 11, 2003, internal Time e-mail written by Cooper with the wording of a story Cooper co-wrote a few days later. "By any definition, he burned Karl Rove," Luskin said of Cooper. "If you read what Karl said to him and read how Cooper characterizes it in the article, he really spins it in a pretty ugly fashion to make it seem like people in the White House were affirmatively reaching out to reporters to try to get them to them to report negative information about Plame."

First the e-mail. According to a report in Newsweek, Cooper's e-mail to Time Washington bureau chief Michael Duffy said, "Spoke to Rove on double super secret background for about two mins before he went on vacation..." Cooper said that Rove had warned him away from getting "too far out on Wilson," and then passed on Rove's statement that neither Vice President Dick Cheney nor CIA Director George Tenet had picked Wilson for the trip; "it was, KR said, wilson's wife, who apparently works at the agency on wmd issues who authorized the trip." Finally — all of this is according to the Newsweek report — Cooper's e-mail said that "not only the genesis of the trip is flawed an[d] suspect but so is the report. he [Rove] implied strongly that there's still plenty to implicate iraqi interest in acquiring uranium fro[m] Niger..."

A few days after sending the e-mail, Cooper co-wrote an article headlined "A War on Wilson?" that appeared on Time's website. The story began, "Has the Bush administration declared war on a former ambassador who conducted a fact-finding mission to probe possible Iraqi interest in African uranium? Perhaps."

Now of course Luskin is Karl's lawyer, and well, you know those lawyers - heh, who can trust 'em!

But we do have Cooper's email's of the conversation between him and Karl and the article "A War on Wilson". In the journalism world, we know headlines are everything and as we know, Time Magazine is a expert on attention getting headlines and provocative covers.

Cooper's "A War on Wilson" was published on 17 July 2003. However, as the NRO article states:

"Luskin told NRO that the circumstances of Rove's conversation with Cooper undercut Time's suggestion of a White House "war on Wilson." According to Luskin, Cooper originally called Rove — not the other way around — and said he was working on a story on welfare reform. After some conversation about that issue, Luskin said, Cooper changed the subject to the weapons of mass destruction issue, and that was when the two had the brief talk that became the subject of so much legal wrangling. According to Luskin, the fact that Rove did not call Cooper; that the original purpose of the call, as Cooper told Rove, was welfare reform; that only after Cooper brought the WMD issue up did Rove discuss Wilson — all are "indications that this was not a calculated effort by the White House to get this story out."

"Look at the Cooper e-mail," Luskin continues. "Karl speaks to him on double super secret background...I don't think that you can read that e-mail and conclude that what Karl was trying to do was to get Cooper to publish the name of Wilson's wife."

Nor, says Luskin, was Rove trying to "out" a covert CIA agent or "smear" her husband. "What Karl was trying to do, in a very short conversation initiated by Cooper on another subject, was to warn Time away from publishing things that were going to be established as false." Luskin points out that on the evening of July 11, 2003, just hours after the Rove-Cooper conversation, then-CIA Director George Tenet released a statement that undermined some of Wilson's public assertions about his report. "Karl knew that that [Tenet] statement was in gestation," says Luskin. "I think a fair reading of the e-mail was that he was trying to warn Cooper off from going out on a limb on [Wilson's] allegations."

Now hear is a "crazy" ideal: "Did Cooper get tipped that Tenet was going to issue a statement basically throw Wilson over the wall, and then "ran interfence"? You know, call Rove, Libby, get them to talk about it? Get a quote or two, then turn those conversations into a blistering storyline: "The Administration is out to get Wilson because the bad boy spilled the beans on them!"

It IS interesting that Matt is making a phone call to Rove just hours before Tenet issued his statement. In fact it mighty convenientif you ask me.

Let's say that Cooper did know that the hammer was to fall on Wilson, the question is HOW did he know? That is a big question. There are several possibilities I'm mulling in my "Plamed Out Brain." One way could be tied to his tie to the DNC through his wife - a DNC Strategist, who worked with both the Clinton and Kerry Campaigns? Now of course I have no proof yet, but you have to admit it the link IS interesting.

Or is is possibly that Cooper had a source within the CIA? If the CIA was in on the fix (as I suspect), then that would make sense. Tip the media, and rest is history. Who then would be the tip? Was it Plame herself, or Joseph Wilson or one of the 'rogue' agents?

I know, "Damn Conspiracy Theories". But I have to admit, from what I've seen so far, this has just as much possibility as anything - and makes a hell of a lot more sense to me. For those who would think, "Yeah, anything to clear that slime Rove!", as I said, in investigations the "easiest answer", isn't always the real crime. Seems Fitzgerald isn't as focused on Rove as what Journalist Matt Cooper and Judith Miller knew and when they knew it.

I remember that in journalism school we were hammered with the "Five Pillars of Journalism". Yet I've added a sixth, "Smelling bullcrap". Something really stinks in this case, and right now, my nose is fixed on Cooper.