At last, some actual news  on the Bob Novak-Valerie Plame-Karl Rove-Joseph Wilson front, though the Times does its best to suggest its pro-Rove findings are actually bad for the White House.
Friday's lead from David Johnston and Richard Stevenson, "Rove Reportedly Held Phone Talk On C.I.A. Office," reveals that it was columnist Robert Novak that told Bush adviser Karl Rove about Valerie Plame in 2003, not the other way around, as many assumed: "Karl Rove, the White House senior adviser, spoke with the columnist Robert D. Novak as he was preparing an article in July 2003 that identified a C.I.A. officer who was undercover, someone who has been officially briefed on the matter said.The previously undisclosed telephone conversation, which took place on July 8, 2003, was initiated by Mr. Novak, the person who has been briefed on the matter said."
The Times claims: "In June 2004, at Sea Island, Ga., soon after Mr. Cheney met with investigators in the case, Mr. Bush was asked at a news conference whether 'you stand by your pledge to fire anyone found' to have leaked the agent's name. 'Yes,' Mr. Bush said. 'And that's up to the U.S. attorney to find the facts.'"
Later the Times repeats: "In addition to focusing new attention on Mr. Rove and whether he can survive the political fallout, it is sure to create new partisan pressure on Mr. Bush. Already, Democrats have been pressing the president either to live up to his promises to rid his administration of anyone found to have leaked the name of a covert operative or to explain why he does not believe Mr. Rove's actions subject him to dismissal."
Except that's not precisely what Bush said - the Times is fudging  again. Coauthor Stevenson was more accurate in yesterday's story, when he said: "Mr. Bushsuggested that he would fire anyone in his administration who had knowingly leaked the identity of the operative, Valerie Wilson."
Both Mickey  Kaus  of Slate and Stephen Spruiell  of the NRO media blog note the paper's attempt to spin its story, which seems quite favorable to Rove, into something that hurts the White House: "By itself, the disclosure that Mr. Rove had spoken to a second journalist about Ms. Wilson may not necessarily have a bearing on his exposure to any criminal charge in the case. But it seems certain to add substantially to the political maelstrom that has engulfed the White House this week after the reports that Mr. Rove had discussed the matter with Mr. Cooper, the Time reporter."
Typically, the Times sees cynical political maneuvering only on the Republican side: "As Democrats have been demanding that Mr. Rove resign or provide a public explanation, the political machine that Mr. Rove built to bolster Mr. Bush and advance his agenda has cranked up to defend its creator."
As if Democrats aren't cranking up their own political machine when they call on Rove to resign and for his security clearance to be revoked?
Columnist Paul Krugman , who allegedly writes on economics but now seems to pluck his topics from whatever's hot in the left-wing blogosphere, has a "Sentence First, Verdict Afterwards" moment in the opening of Friday's "Karl Rove's America" column: "John Gibson of Fox News says that Karl Rove should be given a medal. I agree: Mr. Rove should receive a medal from the American Political Science Association for his pioneering discoveries about modern American politics. The medal can, if necessary, be delivered to his prison cell."
For the full scoop on Rove, click here .
Falluja "Insurgency Is Rising From the Rubble"
Edward Wong's Friday front-page story from Iraq is headlined "8 Months After U.S.-Led Siege, Insurgents Rise Again in Falluja."
From the start, Wong contributes his usual jolly spin on things: "Transformed into a police state after last winter's siege, this should be the safest city in all of Iraq. Thousands of American and Iraqi troops live in crumbling buildings here and patrol streets laced with concertina wire. Any Iraqi entering the city must show a badge and undergo a search at one of six checkpoints. There is a 10 p.m. curfew. But the insurgency is rising from the rubble nevertheless, eight months after the American military killed as many as 1,500 Iraqis in a costly invasion that fanned anti-American passions across Iraq and the Arab world."
Wong insists the beheaders and suicide bombers of Falluja are some kind of role models "for many Arabs" in the Middle East: "Regaining control of Falluja from the American and Iraqi forces is a critical goal for the insurgency, American military commanders here say. For much of last year, this city of 300,000 was the largest haven in Iraq for the guerrillas, suspected of being the source of suicide car bombs in Baghdad and videos showing the beheadings of foreigners. It came to represent resistance to American power, not just for people in Iraq but for many Arabs throughout the Middle East."
In an April 2004 report  from Falluja Wong went so far as to compare the U.S. to Saddam Hussein: "The invasion of Falluja has shattered the remaining hope of many of those Iraqis who thought the Americans might be able to free the country from might-makes-right rule, which has shadowed this region from the days of the Ottoman Empire to British colonial rule to Mr. Hussein."
To read the rest of Wong, click here .