MORE PLAME LEAKS….The New York Times reports another tiny morsel in the Valerie Plame case today. Apparently Patrick Fitzgerald is trying to figure out who in the White House had access to a State Department memo about Joseph Wilson’s 2002 trip to Niger that included Plame’s name:

The memorandum was sent to Colin L. Powell, then the secretary of state, just before or as he traveled with President Bush and other senior officials to Africa starting on July 7, 2003….Mr. Powell was seen walking around Air Force One during the trip with the memorandum in hand, said a person involved in the case who also requested anonymity because of the prosecutor’s admonitions about talking about the investigation.

….The memorandum was dated June 10, 2003, nearly four weeks before Mr. Wilson wrote an Op-Ed article for The New York Times in which he recounted his mission and accused the administration of twisting intelligence to exaggerate the threat from Iraq.

….When Mr. Wilson’s Op-Ed article appeared on July 6, 2003, a Sunday, Richard L. Armitage, then deputy secretary of state, called Carl W. Ford Jr., the assistant secretary for intelligence and research, at home, a former State Department official said. Mr. Armitage asked Mr. Ford to send a copy of the memorandum to Mr. Powell, who was preparing to leave for Africa with Mr. Bush, the former official said. Mr. Ford sent it to the White House for transmission to Mr. Powell.

So: the was memo written June 10, Wilson’s op-ed appeared on July 6, and Powell got a copy of the memo on Air Force One on July 7. Karl Rove spoke to Robert Novak about Plame on July 8 and to Matt Cooper on July 11. Did Rove ? or someone else in the White house who then passed it on to Rove ? learn about Plame from the memo? Maybe.

As with yesterday’s leaks, there’s not really an awful lot here. In fact, the most interesting part of this isn’t the content of the leak so much as its very existence. We now appear to be caught in a cycle of competing leaks from the various sides in the Plame case, with this anti-White House tidbit seemingly being leaked in response to yesterday’s pro-White House leak.

Still, while it’s true that so far the competing leaks have been pretty puny, small acorns like these can sometimes produce mighty oaks. Stay tuned.

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