IS THE CLOCK TICKING FOR KARL ROVE? Today's Washington Post piece on Karl Rove reminds us just how implausible Karl Rove's Plamegate story has always been. It appears Patrick Fitzgerald is very skeptical of Rove's claim that he forgot his conversation with Time reporter Matthew Cooper about Valerie Plame because Rove was up to his neck in the White House's political efforts to deal with critics of pre-war intelligence failures:

Fitzgerald is weighing Rove's foggy-memory defense against evidence he has acquired over nearly 2 1/2 years that shows Rove was very involved in White House efforts to beat back allegations that Bush twisted U.S. intelligence to justify the Iraq war, according to sources involved in the case...

Additionally, one former government official said he testified that Rove talked with White House colleagues about the political importance of defending the prewar intelligence and countering Plame's husband, former ambassador Joseph C. Wilson IV. (Emphasis added.)

Like everyone else, I don't have the foggiest idea whether Rove will get indicted, and at a certain point speculation is beyond useless. But the Post story does move the ball and sheds more light on how problematic Rove's version of events is. If, as the Post tells us, Rove was very focused on dealing with pre-war intel criticism, it seems that much less likely that he'd be causal about a conversation involving one of the most damaging proponents of that criticism. Also let's not forget that in Cooper's account of their conversation, he says Rove closed with a telling comment: "I've already said too much." Though that comment was cryptic and we can't be sure why Rove said it, this nonetheless suggests that even at that moment, Rove already understood that the conversation had been a remarkable one. Add that to the Post's suggestion that Rove was very involved in beating back Wilson and other critics, and the notion that he'd forget such a conversation just becomes harder and harder to believe.

UPDATE: Jane Hamsher flagged the Post story here, and adds more.

--Greg Sargent

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