Murray Waas on Staff Battles Inside White House: Novak-Rove Call About Fran Townsend, Only Peripherally about Plame


Murray Waas has just published a long, in-depth piece in National Journal on new dimensions in the all important conversation between Bob Novak and Karl Rove in which Valerie Plame’s CIA identity was discussed.
But Waas makes a solid case that Rove was prepared to talk to Novak about the president’s intention to make Fran Townsend Deputy National Security advisor for Combating Terrorism, not necessarily a campaign to out Plame. The Plame discussion followed a long-ish exchange about Fran Townsend, whom Novak planned to savage as a Janet Reno-admiring “enemy within.”
Rove’s charge that day had been to defend Townsend. What is really fascinating is Waas’s depiction of Scooter Libby’s and David Addington’s campaign AGAINST Townsend. Waas shows that the Vice President’s henchmen and Karl Rove were working at cross-purposes on Fran Townsend — but then seeming working in sync regarding the vengeful outing of Valerie Plame as a way to get back at Joe Wilson.
This does not alter the prospect that Rove was potentially fabricating answers or giving deceptive statements to Patrick Fitzgerald and the Grand Jury in this case, but it does add much more detail — nuts and bolts style — to what these retainers to Bush and Cheney were doing, and why they were doing it.
It’s a long, long article — but well worth reading. In my view, Murray Waas is quickly emerging as the kind of investigative reporter Bob Woodward used to be.
— Steve Clemons