Sunday, July 17, 2005

Outing an Agent? Or Spinning a War?

Rove E-Mailed Security Official About Talk
After mentioning a CIA operative to a reporter, Bush confidant Karl Rove alerted the president's No. 2 security adviser about the interview and said he tried to steer the journalist away from allegations the operative's husband was making about faulty Iraq intelligence.

According to leaked testimony from Rove before the grand jury. And the right-wing talkies are selling this, along with Rove's contention that he only learned Velerie Plame's name from Bob Novak, as exonerating Rove of all wrongdoing in the case.

For Rove to discuss Valerie Plame's involvement in the Wilson Niger mission, whether he referred to her by name, or simply as "Wilson's wife", or even for him to confirm her status to a reporter who guessed at it, would be an impropriety at least, possibly a violation of applicable laws.

The bigger issue, in my opinion, although this isn't the subject of the grand jury proceedings, is that Rove was trying to use Valerie Plame's involvement in order to paint Joseph Wilson as a liar when he said he was sent to investigate the yellowcake story at Cheney's request. But, as the Senate Intelligence Commitee's 2004 review of prewar weapons intelligence on Iraq makes clear, it was at Cheney's request that the CIA was responding when it sent Wilson (on Plame's recommendation) to Niger. Rove may not have liked the fact that Cheney's request for additional information resulted in weakening the case for war, rather than strengthening it, but that's no reason to personally attack Wilson & Plame.

The rightwing pundits seem to have forgotten that this relates to the infamous "16 words" of Bush's 2003 state-of-the-union address alleging that Iraq had tried to obtain uranium "from Africa" — words which the White House was later forced to eat. If Rove knew enough about the story to be aware that Valerie Plame... errrr, I mean "Wilson's wife"... was involved, he ought to have known that the Niger uranium claim was without substance, and that in steering journalists away from the details of the story, he was depriving American citizens of vital information to which they should have had access, in order to come to reasoned conclusions about the necessity for war with Iraq.

What Rove's defenders are, in effect, saying is that he was driven not by the "evil" motivation of retaliating against Wilson by illegally divulging his undercover-agent wife's identity, but, rather, by the "good" motivation of trying to misrepresent, through the press, the case for war.

It's truly difficult for me to say which version, if true, I would find more disgusting.


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