Michael: Rove V. WaveThe 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.