National Review says Rove's camp is nervous; Novak says Bush knows

Rumors and speculation in Plamegate.

By Tim Grieve
Published December 14, 2005 5:29PM (EST)

It's an easy way to report something you don't really know: Do a story detailing the rumors that this thing or that thing might be happening. The great unknown in Washington at the moment is the fate of Karl Rove. And here comes the National Review's Byron York with a column reporting out the rumors about what might or might not happen to him.

York says that rumors of a Rove indictment have been "flying around Washington in the last few days." Then he dismisses the rumors as tales "based on someone hearing that someone else had heard something, or that someone had gotten a sense that something was about to happen and told someone else." Then he says no one really knows what's happening. But then he says that it's true that there is a "growing nervousness among people who support Rove's side in the case."

Having covered all the bases -- whatever Patrick Fitzgerald ends up doing, York will have predicted it -- York spells out what he seems to know: that Fitzgerald has presented to a new grand jury evidence he has obtained recently as well as evidence he presented earlier to the grand jury that indicted Scooter Libby; that "most observers" see in Fitzgerald's latest work signs that he might be planning to indict somebody; and that the time is about right for Fitzgerald to have bought off -- or not -- on Robert Luskin's 11th-hour arguments on behalf of Rove.

This isn't news, exactly. Similar rumors and conclusions have been floating around liberal blogs like Talk Left and firedoglake, and Raw Story has had a series of stories in which it claims -- a little implausibly -- to have anonymous sources that are feeding it information from the investigation that the mainstream press can't get.

The truth is, we'll know more when we know more -- when Patrick Fitzgerald decides he's got something to announce, when some lawyers close to the case decide they've got something they need to leak and spin, or when Bob Woodward, Robert Novak or any number of White House officials who could shed some light on Plamegate finally decide to do so. We're not holding our breath. At a speech in Raleigh, N.C., Tuesday, Novak declined again to name the "senior administration official" who first leaked Valerie Plame's identity to him. If people really want to know, Novak said, they ought to ask George W. Bush. "I'm confident the president knows who the source is," Novak said. "I'd be amazed if he doesn't. So I say, 'Don't bug me. Don't bug Bob Woodward. Bug the president as to whether he should reveal who the source is.'"

Update: Raw Story editor John Byrne has responded to questions about reporting on his site by posting an editor's note in which he says he stands behind the reports and then details which ones have -- and haven't -- been confirmed by other media outlets.

Tim Grieve

Tim Grieve is a senior writer and the author of Salon's War Room blog.

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