Monday, July 18, 2005

Michael: Rove V. Wave

The Media is all abuzz over accusations that Karl Rove was responsible for outting Valerie Plame as an undercover CIA agent. Instead of getting yet another Gate, pundits have dubbed the mounting pressure for Bush to cut Rove lose, Rove v. Wave (of media coverage).

The partisan bickering over Rove's culpability is at high tide, of course, but two facts are rocks amid a sea of uncertainty: Bush promised to fire whomever was responsible for the leak (not whomever was indicted or was found guilty, but whomever did the deed, it must noted), and Rove told Time magazine reporter Matthew Cooper in an email that Plame worked for the CIA. Of course, Rove and his lawyers have offered up a number of legal defenses to any possible criminal charges; that he did not use her name, referring to her only as Wilson's wife, and that he was not aware that she was a covert CIA operative, just a run-of-the-mill CIA operative. Whether those defenses will prove adequate may be tested in time, but both contentions are completely beside the point.

There is no doubt that Rove was one source of the leaked identity of Valerie Plame. The only question remaining is whether the Wave will drown Bush's notorious loyalty to his cronies, or whether Rove will manage to hang on to a lifepreserver from the U.S.S. White House. I would be pleased if Mr. Bush showed the nation that he could still keep his word - but I would be far more surprised.

Update: It seems very likely that, like so many in the civilian sector, Rove may be foiled by the Non-Disclosure Agreement he signed as White House employee. His NDA places an affirmative duty upon him NOT to confirm any reporter's inquiry about classified information. Thus by 'simply' confirming what Cooper or Novak may have already known, he violated his NDA. The remedy for such a breach being mandatory termination and revocation of his security clearance. A security clearance that House Democrats have already tried to revoke, but were stymied by a party line vote, BTW.

Update Now Bush is changing the terms of the issue and promising only to fire anyone found to have committed a crime in leaking from the White House. This is a vast shift in the standard of proof by Bush and direct contradiction of his own NDAs. It seems clear that protecting Rove takes precedence over honor and national security for this PResident. By moving the goal posts like this Bush is admitting that Rove violated the nation's trust. The issue of Rove's continuing service in this Administration obviously should be taken out of the PResident's hands. Note: I've changed the date of this post to bring it back to the top of the page because of this breaking news.


At 6:21 PM, Blogger Jack Benway said...

Set aside the DNC talking points for a moment and look at the facts in this.

Rove never named Plame. The email messages have been published. They were cautionary in nature, and mentioned that Wilson's wife worked for the Agency.

A lot of people work for the CIA. Janitors clean their offices, secretaries type documents and answer phones. Covert agents are the minority on the payroll.

Rove isn't behaving like a guily party. He released Cooper from any confidentiality agreement 18 months ago. Funny that this surfaced now, when Cooper needed to save his neck.

If a crime was committed or ethics breached, then let the wheels of justice do their work. I'm no fan of Rove (The Prince is a better nickname than The Architect), but this has the appearance of a lynch mob. The DNC is pissed that Rove beat them, so they want to take him down, and this is the best attack vector they can find.

This is becoming routine. The GOP disliked Clinton, so they brought about bogus impeachment proceedings. The Deomcrats dislike Bush, but they can't get anything on him, so they're going after his lackeys. Both parties need to give it a break. All this does is demean impeachment and the electoral process.

At 10:51 PM, Blogger Michael said...

This isn't about the crime of revealing an covert operative, which, I agree, may or may not have occured. This is about Bush's promise to sack anyone responsible for leaking Plame's id to the press. Rove did that, even if he is not criminally liable, he needs some firing. If he was so utterly irresponsible to release info on a covert agent, even unwittingly, he does not deserve a position of trust.

And what bullshit is that about Plame's role at the CIA? Secretaries do not swing weight to get their husbands sensitive assignments, as Rove suggests happened. Plus if I tell you I work for the FBI, you are going to assume that I am an agent unless I qualify that statement. Someone tells me someone works for the CIA with any caveat, in my mind that person is a spy or an analyst, either of which could be covert. Only a jackass would bandy such information about without checking first, if they work in government.

At 10:53 PM, Blogger Michael said...

er, without any caveat, that is...

At 8:51 AM, Blogger Michael said...

Oh, and of course there is that the very classified document leaked by the White House identifies Plame as a covert agent. To claim that Rove didn't know what he was doing is contradicted by the WH's own leak. It is an absurd contention. So let's stop quoting RNC talking points and Rove's lawyer, and talk about reality.

At 1:11 AM, Blogger Jack Benway said...

I work for the University of Arizona. Do you automatically assume that I am a faculty member?

As far as reality goes: the fact is, the leak didn't matter. Plame didn't wind up dead. Perhaps Bush should fire Rove. His choice is motivated by the same pointless politics that motivates the lynching of Rove. Admit it: none of this matters.

I hope this drags out for awhile. The more political deadlock, the less opportunity to enact pointless laws.

At 10:28 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The latest tactic from the Rove propaganda machine it to shift the blame from Rove to Wilson and the media. Lets hope that the media has the guts to persue this issue to the end and not to take the blame for Rove's actions. The media has in the past buckled to the WH. It is time to stand up to these bullies.

At 12:08 PM, Blogger Michael said...

Benway, Rove's email said Plame worked at the Agency on WMD issues. If you were said to work at the UA teaching students, then, yes, I would assume you to be a professor, not a secretary. This line of defense is really stupid, you know. You can do better than this.

At 7:20 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Michael: there was no email from Rove. The email was from Cooper to his editor about a telephone conversation with Rove.

I think it is important to focus on the inherent irresponsibility of spreading her employment around, which obviously could have been sensitive, the subsequent lying about it in the face of an investigation, and the link to the much larger scandal of deceiving the public in numerous ways in order to go to war.

If you read Novak's original column literally, he does not say that 2 sources identified Plame. He simply states it as fact. He then writes that 2 sources told him that she authorized Wilson's trip. So my hunch is that Novak is part of a rumor mill that constitutes the "source" of her outing. The man should lose his press card.

At 12:08 PM, Blogger Michael said...

Anonymous (whoever you are), you are right. I elided Cooper's email about his conversation with Rove impermissably to Rove's email. That was potentially misleading. I'll be more careful.


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