The Bush administration is now confronting damaging evidence that it misled the American public for two years by insisting that presidential adviser Karl Rove wasn't involved in leaking the identity of an undercover CIA agent to members of the press. Rove's lawyer last week admitted that his client did in fact speak to Time magazine reporter Matt Cooper and told him that former ambassador Joseph Wilson's wife, Valerie Plame, "was CIA." Two days after Rove spoke to Cooper, syndicated columnist Bob Novak revealed Plame's name and her role as a CIA "operative," thereby blowing her cover. Novak wrote that "two senior administration officials" told him of the Plame/Wilson connection. Cooper wrote a similar story two days later.

The subsequent furor over a potentially traitorous outing of a CIA agent sparked a two-year investigation by federal prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald. At the outset of the investigation, President Bush said he deplored leaks and demanded that anyone in his administration with information about the Plame case come forward. Bush added that he would fire anyone in his administration who leaked such information to the press.

We now know that the man known as "Bush's Brain" was one of the leakers. Will the president fire his closest political adviser? He refused to respond to a reporter who asked that question Tuesday. But many other questions remain unanswered, including one that dogged a former Republican president into impeachment: "What did the president know, and when did he know it?"


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