Is Ari Fleischer Judith Miller’s Source?

With all the attention riveted on Karl Rove as a person of interest in the Plame leak investigation, we should remember that in Bob Novak’s 2003 story in which he revealed the identity of undercover CIA agent Valerie Plame Wilson, he said he had learned her identity after speaking with two “senior administration officials.”

We can assume that Rove was one of these officials. If we further assume that only two senior officials were leaking, it is likely that the second leaker is likely also the confidential source whose identity New York Times reporter Judith Miller went to prison to protect.

Miller talked with at least one senior administration official about Valerie Plame, in July 2003, around the same time that Rove was speaking with Matt Cooper at Time Magazine. But if Rove were Miller’s source, it is hard to imagine that he would let Cooper off the hook but not his pal Judy who was such a loyal Administration stenographer during the run-up to the war.

Who could the second source be? Here’s who:

People familiar with the inquiry say [special prosecutor Patrick] Fitzgerald also is reviewing testimony by former White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer, though it is not clear whether the prosecutor is focusing on him or seeking information about higher-ups. Fleischer last night refused to comment.

Ari announced his resignation in May 2003, but the day he handed the podium over to Scott McClellan was July 15. He fits perfectly in the timeline:

Miller apparently had some contact with someone at the White House on or about July 6, 2003, the day Joe Wilson’s op-ed piece appeared in the New York Times revealing that he had investigated the yellow-cake rumors for the CIA and found them to be untrue.

Rove told his lawyer that he “got burned” by Cooper because the story about Valerie Plame that Cooper wrote for Time Magazine was not the story Rove had dictated to him. Maybe the reason Judy never published a story about Plame in the New York Times is that , like Cooper, she did some independent footwork what Fleischer gave her and decided to take a pass because the facts were otherwise – and they did not look good for the Administration.

If the second source is Ari, he is apparently unburdend by the fact that a reporter he was spinning is in jail. That is, unless he’s cowering somewhere, terrified that he too could well be faced with prison time.


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