Wake Me Up When The Indictments Come

Or, why this AP story is as full of shit as Holden’s pony stable. First, the headline:

Rove Says He Wasn’t Involved in CIA Leak

You read that, then you read the first graf of the story:

White House Deputy Chief of Staff Karl Rove told President Bush and others that he never engaged in an effort to disclose a CIA operative’s identity to discredit her husband’s criticism of the administration’s Iraq policy, according to people with knowledge of Rove’s account in the investigation.

Two entirely different things, aren’t they? The head could just as easily have been “Some People We Can’t Name Said Rove Told Bush He Wasn’t Involved in CIA Leak.” Maybe that didn’t fit in the space provided. Nonetheless, had I seen that headline I wouldn’t have spit my mouthful of scotch across the room, thinking Rove had just had a rose garden press conference and denied everything personally. I try not to headline nitpick, because it’s tough to squeeze all that info in a tiny space, but c’mon, this is one of those stories where you’ve got to be mindful of every nuance and really put your shoulder into the job.

The discussion with Bush, along with others, was general and did not get into specifics concerning Rove’s contacts with two reporters, Time magazine’s Matthew Cooper and syndicated columnist Robert Novak, who wrote stories identifying Plame, the people familiar with Rove’s account said.

They said Bush asked Rove to assure him he was not involved in an effort to divulge Plame’s identity and punish Wilson, and the longtime confidant assured him so. He answered similarly when White House press secretary Scott McClellan asked a similar question.

He said he wasn’t involved in an effort to divulge Plame’s identity to punish Wilson. He denied intention, not action. Not the same thing. Witness the Luskin Defense:

“Did Karl purposely set out to disclose Valerie Plame’s identity in order to punish Joe Wilson for his criticism? The answer is, ‘No,'” Luskin said. “That was his answer in July 2003 and in October 2003 (when he first testified) And it remains his answer today.”

“He always truthfully denied that he was ever part of any campaign to punish Joe Wilson by disclosing the identity of his wife,” Luskin said.

Saying he didn’t disclose her identity to punish her husband is not the same as saying he didn’t disclose her identity. Try again, Luskin. Thank you for playing.

Update: New AP headline, “Rove Denied To Bush He Engaged In Leak. Better. Have a cookie.

A.