CAROL COSTELLO, CNN ANCHOR: Onto politics now.
MILES O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: Yes, let's go to politics.
COSTELLO: Second White House official has been named in the leaking of a CIA officer's name. "Time" magazine's Matthew Cooper says Scooter Libby, the vice president's chief of staff, confirmed the identity of Valerie Plame. Cooper says he told a grand jury that it was presidential adviser Karl Rove who put him onto the story.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEW COOPER, "TIME" MAGAZINE: After that conversation, I knew that she worked at the CIA and worked on WMD issues, but as I made clear to the grand jury, I'm sure Rove never used her exact name and certainly never indicated she had a covert status.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COSTELLO: Democratic consultant Victor Kamber is in Miami, and former RNC communications director Clifford May is in Washington. Welcome to you both.
CLIFF MAY, FMR. RNC COMM. DIR.: Thank you. Good morning, Vic. Good morning, Carol.
COSTELLO: Oh, my goodness. Cliff, let's start with you. So in addition to details about Karl Rove's possible involvement in this, now it's Dick Cheney's chief of staff that may have also given the story to Mr. Cooper. I seem to remember the White House saying neither had been involved.
MAY: Yes. But the involvement we're talking about is whether the identity of a covert agent, a secret agent, a top-secret operative was revealed. It doesn't appear that Rove, or that Matt Cooper, as he says at this point, or Libby or any of them, understood that Valerie Plame, Wilson's wife, was a covert agent. And in fact, she wasn't at that time. She probably hadn't been for five years. That's according to Wilson himself.
The reporters went to these guys and said, I hear a rumor that the reason Wilson was sent to Africa was because his wife works at the CIA, may have sent him. That happens to be true, and that was established by a bipartisan committee. They said, yes, we've heard that rumor, too, and that rumor was true. So what you have here are officials telling the truth to reporters. That's unusual behavior, but probably not criminal behavior.
COSTELLO: OK, so, Victor, you just heard that. The RNC chairman is suggesting that Democrats apologize. Do you think they should?
VICTOR KAMBER, DEMOCRATIC CONSULTANT: Apologize for learning the truth and passing the truth on? No, I don't think so. I mean, there's one thing to loose lips by one person. When it's a concerted effort by the White House -- and that's what it looks like, with two major figures. These are not stupid men. These are men who knew what they were doing. When they leaked the names by implication -- and Cooper has indicated it's by implication. He never said it was direct. Obviously, they had a purpose. Their purpose was to try to discredit Wilson, to try to bring some harm to him in the sense of his credibility. And again, and the president has made it clear, my White House doesn't leak. Well, this White House is leaking, and it looks like it's leaking pretty bad.
And if I was Mr. Bush, I'd be concerned that my whole agenda right now is slipping because we're concerned with Karl Rove and Libby.
MAY: Can I make this point about Bob Novak, who works here at CNN, who I know. You can say what you want about Bob Novak. He has insisted since the beginning that he didn't know she was a secret agent. He just knew she worked at the CIA. Nobody told him that. And if he had known she was secret, he wouldn't have published her name. Now who did publish her name first was David Korn of "The Nation," and he was the first one to say she was a secret agent, and he did that in a conversation with, guess who, with Joe Wilson.
COSTELLO: Wait, stop a minute. Couldn't President Bush clear this up by talking later today about it? And why isn't he?
MAY: Not easily, because there is now a special prosecutor, a total bulldog who's on the case. I think actually what should happen is let this guy do his work. If anybody's indicted, Karl Rove -- if anybody's indicted, that's the end of it. They're toast. But if it, as seems now possible, nothing criminal happened, no secret agent was exposed. This is a tempest in a teapot, and I think it's time really for Democrats not to continue to push this for political means.
We'll all agree that anybody who gets indicted by this independent prosecutor, that's the end of their career.
COSTELLO: I know we could go on and on about this, but let's move on to the next topic, because it's pretty darn interesting. It's about the Iraqi elections. And were they manipulated? Seymour Hersh alleges in this week's "New Yorker" that the Bush administration repeatedly sought ways, including covert action, to manipulate the outcome and reduce the religious Shiite influence in the Iraqi elections, despite objections from Congress.
If this is true, Cliff, doesn't that undermine the elections and the elections to come?
MAY: No, first of all, it didn't happen, because Congress prevented it, but I'm sort of sorry they did. Here's the reason why. You have the Iranians, for example, the Mullahs, and the Syrians, who are trying to help anti-Democratic forces. I think the U.S. should help those forces that are pro-democracy, pro-freedom, and pro-human rights. I would hope they could do that openly. But if they can't, I do want the pro-democracy forces to be helped. Those who share our values in the Middle East, we have not supported in the past. We've supported their oppressors. I think that's a mistake.
COSTELLO: Maybe he has a point, Victor, because the Bush administration acknowledged they had concern about the Iranians. This is also from the Seymour Hersh article. He says, in the final analysis, the president determined and the U.S. government adopted a policy that we would not try to influence the outcome of the Iraqi election by covertly helping individual candidates for office, but maybe he should have.
KAMBER: Well, number one, we don't know for sure they didn't, but I hope Hersh is correct that they did not, even though they planned it.
Number two, let's be honest, if they did it and got this bad of an election result, we should figure out what's wrong with our own operations, because we lost and we lost badly. In terms of a covert operation, we are helping. We have 150,000 troops there. We're supposedly the people that have brought them water, and built the schools, and brought them electricity, and saved their lives and provided democracy. If that's not enough and they don't want the kind of democracy that we think they should have, then maybe we're wrong for being there in the way we're being there.
And, frankly, I think it's outrageous that Cliff would think we should interject ourselves into another country's politics, especially given the billions of dollars and the manpower that we have there now.
COSTELLO: All right. We're going to have to leave it there, thank you. Victor Kamber is a Democratic consultant, and Clifford May, former RNC communications director. Spunky as always.
O'BRIEN: Spunky to say the least.