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News :: Human Rights
Chickenhawk Bush Goes AWOL Again As White House Desperately Needs Moral Leadership
15 Jul 2005
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Chickenhawk Bush Goes AWOL Again As White House Desperately Needs Moral Leadership

Published on Thursday, July 14, 2005 by the Long Island (NY) Newsday


'Fair Game' Question for Bush


Has the president asked Karl Rove, his indispensable aide, about his role in the Valerie Plame case?

by Harold Meyerson

Now Karl Rove has become "fair game."
That was the term the president's consigliere applied to Valerie Plame, according to Newsweek, in a conversation with MSNBC's Chris Matthews immediately after the publication of Robert D. Novak's column that identified Plame as a CIA operative.

And, of course, Plame was fair game: Her identity was a tool to discredit, however obliquely, the report from her husband, former Ambassador Joseph Wilson, that the administration's claim that Saddam Hussein's Iraq() had sought to purchase uranium from Niger was a bunch of hooey.

Rove's lawyer now admits that in attempting to warn Time's Matt Cooper off the Wilson story, Rove mentioned Wilson's wife, although not by name. Attention is now focused on whether this violated the law that forbids revealing the identity of our undercover intelligence agents. But it's also worth pondering the quintessential Rovishness of his conversation with Cooper.

Bringing up Plame, after all, did nothing to discredit Wilson's central findings. It was a distraction, an ad hominem attack. Wilson had undermined the administration's tenuous case for its war. To Rove, that made Plame fair game.

And becoming Karl Rove's fair game means you're in for a bumpy ride. Rove did not become George W. Bush's indispensable op only because of his strategic smarts. He's also the kind of ethically unconstrained guy Bush has wanted around when the going gets tough - when the case Bush is making is unconvincing on its own merits, when he needs to divert attention from himself with a stunning attack on somebody else.

That's been the hallmark of Rove's career - and Bush's. After Bush lost the 2000 New Hampshire primary to John McCain, Rove directed a slanderous campaign in South Carolina that knocked McCain virtually out of the race with a barrage of fabrications about the personal lives of the senator and his family. Once Bush decided to invade Iraq, Rove orchestrated the campaign to depict the war's critics as terrorist sympathizers. Rove recently told a right-wing audience that "liberals saw the savagery of the 9/11 attacks and wanted to prepare indictments and offer therapy and understanding for our attackers." Get in Bush's way and Rove turns you or your loved ones into the scum of the earth.

It's not just Rove who's been caught up in the cover-up. Bush press secretary Scott McClellan was beleaguered Monday as he sought to duck questions on how to square his previous assurances of Rove's noninvolvement with the new revelations. Twenty-two times he invoked the investigation by special prosecutor Patrick J. Fitzgerald as a reason not to answer questions.

But the investigation had earlier posed no such deterrent. On Oct. 1, 2003, McClellan, after noting that "there's an investigation going on," offered this assurance: "It's simply not true that ... [Rove] was involved in leaking classified information."

But the most important questions that the Rove case raises are for Bush himself. In his zeal to get to the bottom of this matter, and to terminate the employment of any administration official involved in the leak, has the president spoken to Rove about this matter since Sunday, when Newsweek broke the story of the Cooper-Rove conversation?

After all, on Sept. 30, 2003, Bush said, "If somebody did leak classified information, I'd like to know it, and we'll take appropriate action." Presumably, by "appropriate action," the president didn't mean promoting the culprit to deputy chief of staff, Rove's title for the past six months.

Or did he? There's no basis to conclude that if Rove was the guy who outed Plame, he told his boss about it. But Rove was, and has always been, Bush's one indispensable aide precisely because he would do whatever it took to advance his boss' interests, no matter the consequences to his intended targets or innocent bystanders.

Although we can't be certain it was Rove who disclosed Plame's identity, we can be sure that, if he did, it was all in a day's work on behalf of George W. Bush.






=================================================





Published on Thursday, July 14, 2005 by the Los Angeles Times

The Outing of a Coward



Karl Rove could have come clean long ago. It's time for the West Wing to take the heat

by Margaret Carlson

On TV recently, I called Matt Cooper's then-unknown source a thug, someone watching from a privileged perch in the White House as Cooper went through hell in the Valerie Plame case.

Now that I know the source was Karl Rove, I would like to revise and extend my remarks. Rove is not a thug, he is a coward. He could have come clean long ago, saved millions in taxpayers' dollars and spared everyone a lot of agony. Instead, we've had a two-year investigation to find out what President Bush could have learned by walking across the hall.

At one time, the president called the outing of CIA agent Plame "a very serious matter" and said that the person who did it should be fired. In certain circumstances, exposing an undercover agent is a crime. In any circumstance, it's wrong. At least six reporters were leaked information to suggest that Plame's husband, former Ambassador Joe Wilson, was a girlie man who needed his wife to get him a job checking out rumors of Saddam Hussein's nuclear ambitions. The idea was to discredit Wilson's finding that the rumors were untrue. At the time, Bush's press secretary, Scott McClellan, told us it was ridiculous to suspect Rove. And: "If anyone in this administration was involved in it, they would no longer be in this administration."

Questions about statements like that turned Monday's White House news briefing into a rare smackdown of McClellan, who went suddenly mum because of "an ongoing criminal investigation." When the 35th question came at him in as many minutes, his made-up face looked as gray as his suit. I thought he might cry.

It's high time the heat over all this shifted to the West Wing, where it belongs, but that doesn't mean the reporters in the case are out of the spotlight.

Oddly, the reporter in jail, Judith Miller, is the one who didn't even write a story based on the leaked information — perhaps because she was burned earlier for relying on anonymous sources who used her to push the WMD rationale for war against Hussein. In his column in the New York Times, her colleague Frank Rich noted that one Miller piece in particular, "a notoriously credulous front-page story about aluminum tubes," provided fuel for the hawks around Bush. But all that's forgotten now as Miller pays the high price of going off to jail.

For my friend and colleague Cooper, who didn't go to jail, there isn't a made-for-TV, storybook ending. The ground shifted beneath him first when his bosses at Time magazine turned over his notes to the special prosecutor, citing the gravity of a Supreme Court ruling and their responsibility to Time's shareholders. (Time, unlike the New York Times, was expecting to be fined large sums every day until the source was revealed.)

Once the notes were turned over, Cooper apparently had no secret source left to protect, but the prosecutor insisted he testify anyway. He refused, and last Thursday, sure that he'd be booked and fingerprinted later that day, he said a long goodbye to his wife and 6-year-old son. But that morning Cooper's lawyer, after reading in the Wall Street Journal that Rove was happy to waive any confidentiality agreements, accepted the offer with Cooper's permission. Although he surely had little new to say, Cooper testified Wednesday.

Cooper's nightmare may be over, but Bush's is not. Rove, with his reputation as a brass-knuckled political strategist, is the guy Bush turns to deep-six the smoking gun. What will he do now that Rove is the smoking gun?

Without Rove to construct them, the talking points are atrocious. All day Tuesday, for example, Republicans defended his leak: After all, he didn't reveal the name of that woman, Plame. Isn't that the kind of parsing Republicans jumped on Bill Clinton for?

Rove may end up leaving the White House, but he'll do the same things when he's a private political consultant, only in a different location for a lot more money. The New York Times and Miller will cleanse themselves of their WMD sins with jail time.

The one good thing to come out of all this is that journalists have been reminded to say "no" to those cowards trying to get revenge or dish dirt without putting their names on it. Our promise of confidentiality should be given for information that corrects an injustice, not perpetrates one.

This work is in the public domain
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