It was 11:07 on a Friday morning, July 11, 2003, and Time magazine correspondent Matt Cooper was tapping out an e-mail to his bureau chief, Michael Duffy. “Subject: Rove/P&C,” (for personal and confidential), Cooper began. “Spoke to Rove on double super secret background for about two mins before he went on vacation …”
….Cooper wrote that Rove offered him a “big warning” not to “get too far out on Wilson.” Rove told Cooper that Wilson’s trip had not been authorized by “DCIA” ? CIA Director George Tenet ? or Vice President Dick Cheney. Rather, “it was, KR said, wilson’s wife, who apparently works at the agency on wmd [weapons of mass destruction] issues who authorized the trip.” Wilson’s wife is Plame, then an undercover agent working as an analyst in the CIA’s Directorate of Operations counterproliferation division.
This is progress. Cooper’s email makes it clear that Rove did tell Cooper that “wilson’s wife” worked at the CIA, that he did it before Robert Novak’s original column about the affair appeared on July 14, and that he did it as part of a pushback against Wilson’s New York Times op-ed a few days before.
However, much is still murky. It’s not clear if Rove ever mentioned the name “Valerie Plame” and it’s not clear that Rove knew Plame worked undercover. I doubt that it’s useful to try and hyper-parse Cooper’s email any further at this point, so for now we’ll just have to wait for more clues. If only Patrick Fitzgerald’s office leaked as much as Ken Starr’s did, eh?