Sunday, July 24 column w/ links

It’s hard to find heroes in ongoing Rove saga
Editorial Page Editor
    WHEN IT FIRST happened 10 days ago, I just glanced over the story and shrugged at a classic example of how political parties distort policymaking to the point that no one in Washington seems capable of simply doing the right and reasonable thing for the good of the country.
    But when I went back a few days later and read more about it, I just got more disgusted. Here are some of the headlines:
    — Newsday: “Partisan battle on Rove; Democrats’ effort to strip Bush adviser’s security clearance fails as GOP retaliates with slap at top Dem.”
    — The Boston Globe: “… Democrats Foiled On Documents.”
    — The Atlanta Journal-Constitution: “Democrats take aim at Rove….”
    What’s wrong with this picture? The issue was whether Karl Rove, President Bush’s political Karl_rove Svengali, should be stripped of his security clearance because he had some as-yet-undefined involvement in the leak of the name of a CIA officer.
    That’s a serious matter, deserving of serious consideration — not a partisan slapfest. My own gut reaction is that of course he shouldn’t have any sort of high-level clearance. He’s a political hack who just happens to hold the title of “deputy chief of staff.” (In the spy world, I believe that’s referred to as having “official cover.”)
    Mr. Rove, good buddy of the appalling Grover Norquist, may currently be at the top of the heap of political hacks, but that just puts him at the bottom of the list of people I would trust with sensitive information. I just don’t trust anyone of that breed, whether we’re talking Mr. Rove, James Carville or Lee Atwater.
    In a rational universe — or a rational republic, which I would settle for — this man would not have had a security clearance to begin with. And by “rational republic,” I mean one in which policy trumped politics, and the national interest did not have to compete with the constant jockeying for partisan advantage.
    But that’s not the way things work. On July 14, apparently frustrated that their campaign to get Mr. Rove fired wasn’t getting enough traction, Democrats presented legislation to deny access to classified information to any federal employee who discloses a covert CIA operative’s identity.
    This stems, of course, from the never-ending battle over whether Mr. Rove did or did not blow the cover of one Valerie Plame as retaliation for a report filed by her husband, ex-diplomat Joseph C. Wilson IV, that supposedly undermined the Bush administration’s claim that Saddam Hussein had been trying to obtain material for nuclear weapons from Niger. Since an ongoing investigation has apparently pointed at Mr. Rove as having mentioned Ms. Plame (although not by name) to a reporter, Democrats want the president to fire Mr. Rove.
    They pin this demand not on Mr. Rove having committed a crime (it seems highly unlikely at this point that he would become the second person in history ever to be prosecuted under the Intelligence Identities Protection Act of 1982), but on Mr. Bush’s having said he would fire anyone in his employ who was involved in such a leak.
    On one level, that seems a reasonable expectation. I wish I thought that was all that was involved here. Unfortunately, I know Democrats want to make hay from demanding that the president do something they believe he’ll never do.
    This matter is of enormous importance to the president because he sticks by his friends even when he shouldn’t (see Don Rumsfeld), and of equally great importance to the Democrats because they want to embarrass and weaken the president as much as possible, whether Mr. Rove goes or not.
    Mr. Rove doesn’t have to have a title or even a desk in the White House to keep doing all the things that his opposition despises him for. This isn’t about substance, though. It’s about gaining partisan advantage.
    But if the unsuccessful Democratic initiative in the U.S. Senate on the 14th was tainted by partisan interest, it still didn’t smell as bad as the Republican response.
    Majority Leader Bill Frist put forth an amendment to strip Minority Leader Harry M. Reid and Democratic Whip Dick Durbin of their security clearances. There was no serious attempt to pretend that this was anything but naked retaliation. It was so bad that 20 of his fellow Republicans joined Wilson_1 Democratic senators in rejecting it, 64 to 33. (The vote on the “get Rove” proposal was along par
ty lines, 53-44.)
    The disgusting thing is that those 20 grownups who bucked their own leader’s idiocy are the only individuals involved in this that a serious, disinterested person can applaud. I certainly can’t cheer for the self-righteous Mr. Wilson, who declared on NBC’s “Today” show that “What this thing has been for the past two years has been a cover-up, a cover-up of the web of lies that underpin the justification for going to war in Iraq.”
    He neglects to mention that a bipartisan (oh, there’s a refreshing word) Senate intelligence committee report found that he has a problem with the truth himself. I quote from The Washington Post of July 10, 2004:
    “The panel found that Wilson’s report, rather than debunking intelligence about purported uranium sales to Iraq, as he has said, bolstered the case for most intelligence analysts. And contrary to Wilson’s assertions and even the government’s previous statements, the CIA did not tell the White House it had qualms about the reliability of the Africa intelligence that made its way into 16 fateful words in President Bush’s January 2003 State of the Union address.”
    Bottom line: No one should pay too much attention to what Mr. Wilson says. But some people will,Karl_rove_bush_1  as long as what he says is to their partisan advantage. And the president shouldn’t listen to what Mr. Rove says. But he does, and he will continue to do so, no matter how this little drama ends.

13 thoughts on “Sunday, July 24 column w/ links

  1. Dee

    Congratulations. You haven’t just drank the GOP kool-aid, you’ve apparently mainlined it. I’m especially impressed with the lengths you went to find headlines which apparently fit your argument that this is a Democratic witch hunt to “get” Karl Rove. I guess the headlines this week from the Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg, the NY Times, the Washington Post, and the LA Times and numerous other media outlets have escaped your attention (and by the way, it’s been fascinating for me to see the lengths to which the State has gone to avoid reprinting these stories which have appeared in other newspapers all over this country and around the world about this case).
    So let’s review some articles that you apparently have overlooked this week, shall we?
    1) On July 22nd, the NYT ran an article which investigated the possibility that independent counsel Patrick J. Fitzgerald could actually be reaching for a CRIMINAL CONSPIRACY CASE involving coordination and communication between Karl Rove and Scooter Libby (Cheney Chief of Staff) in this case.
    2) On 7/22, John Harwood of the Wall Street Journal reported that the State Dept. memo discussing Wilson’s Niger trip “was classified ‘Top Secret,’ and the passage about his wife’s CIA role was specially marked ‘S/NF’ — not to be shared with any foreign intelligence agencies.” So there goes your argument that this info wasn’t “top secret” and that by not explicitly naming this woman but merely referring to her spouse in a conversation was not breaking the law.
    3) Also on 7/22, Bloomberg reported that Rove and Libby are telling very different stories than the reporters called to testify in the case, including NBC’s Tim Russert who testified that he did not reveal Plame’s identity to Libby as Libby has apparently claimed in front of the Grand Jury.
    You can call this anything you like Mr. Warthan but I believe that the law calls this PERJURY.
    4) Furthermore, both Bloomberg and the Washington Post, among others, reported this week that the Top Secret concerning Plame’s identity was seen in the hands of Press Secretary Ari Fleischer in the days BEFORE the leak occurred. And that Fleischer told the grand jury he never saw it. Sorry Mr. Warthen, this isn’t about playing politics, it’s about lying and it appears that this administration has got caught red-handed at it, which could explain why an ABC News poll conducted earlier this week found that nearly 75% of the country believed that there had been wrong-doing in this case and that 71% of REPUBLICANS polled thought that Rove should be fired for his role in this affair.
    Trust me, when it comes to matter of the truth, the American public eventually gets it right and can figure out if they have been lied to and at this point, this administration has told so many lies it is quite apparent that they themselves no longer remember what the truth is.
    And speaking of politics, it might interest you to know that the Seattle Post Intelligencer had another view of who was playing politics here (7/21 edition):
    “Viewed in the best light, Rove was engaged in leaking information about national security for the political purpose of making the president’s sales pitch for the Iraqi invasion appear to have been honest. Whether Rove did anything illegal, he did exactly what the White House repeatedly said he had never done.”
    And according to the Bloomberg news this week (7/20): Bush accelerated his search for a Supreme Court nominee in part because of special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald’s investigation into the leak of a CIA agent’s name, according to Republicans familiar with administration strategy. Bush originally had planned to announce a replacement for retiring Justice Sandra Day O’Connor on July 26 or 27, just before his planned July 28 departure for a month-long vacation at his Crawford, Texas, ranch. . . those plans changed because Rove has become a focus of Fitzgerald’s interest and of news accounts about the matter.”
    Playing politics huh? Seems to me that both sides are equally as guilty but as an extra-added bonus, it is the GOP who apparently are neck-deep in perjury, treason, criminal conspiracy and any number of other crimes and misdemeanors.
    Thanks for your op-ed which did such a great job of repeating, almost verbatim the GOP “talking points” on this case. But be aware that there are readers of your paper who know better than to rely on The State to bring them any news which might portray this administration or the GOP in a negative light. Just be forewarned that your going to have to do a whole lot of explaining once the inevitable indictments are handed down in this case.

  2. kc

    Shorter Brad Warthen: Bush shouldn’t do the right thing because Democrats want him to do it for the wrong reasons.

  3. kc

    Hmm. You’ve gone a little nuts with the hyperlinks in this column, but I happened to click on the hyperlink contained in this passage:
    the Democrats because they want to embarrass and weaken the president as much as possible,
    Since you’re referring to what “the Democrats” want, it would be reasonable to assume that the link would take us to a site which offers some proof of “the Democrats'” intentions? Right?
    But instead, it takes us to, which, as far as I know, is not officially affiliated with the Democratic Party. Sure, I know: is a progressive organization with a philosophy that’s more closely aligned with that of the Democratic Party than the GOP. But – feel free to correct me if I’m wrong – the Democratic Party is not responsible for the content on’s site. To suggest that it is is misleading.
    Since I’m sure you wouldn’t try to mislead us, I’ll chalk it up to a mistake on your part. It must be hard work, incredibly hard work, to embed hypertext links that actually support your assertions.

  4. The Kid

    Brad – No good deed goes unpunished.
    KC – Nice try, no cigar. Take a gander at’s campaign site. Looks like they’re pretty much mainstream Democrat. Add in the some of the wild and crazy things congressional Democrats like John Conyers pretend to do, and I can see why Democrats in the South are edgy, evidencing a little more chutzpah than they otherwise would. The simple fact is that the national Democrat Party is moving leftwards, leaving a lot of Democrats, especially in the South, wondering who will speak for them and uphold their principles. It’s clear that Democrat party leaders hate Bush, but they need to get over that — he’s not running for any other office again — and develop a positive agenda, platform, and policy initiative.
    Dee – Nice work! But something else stinks.

  5. Jerry

    It is very simply a coverup. “The bottom of this” was right beside the president the whole time. Do you really believe that he was not aware of Rove’s involvement. If it was so innocent why keep it a secret for 2 years?

  6. The Kid

    Jerry –
    This whole thing came up again because some reporters — Time magazine’s Cooper and the NYT’s Miller — were threatened with jail for contempt of court for refusing to disclose their sources. Time and Cooper gave in, Miller’s in the slammer now because she and the NYT refused to cooperate.
    Throughout the investigation, the acting special prosecutor has asked those involved not to disclose what they’ve discussed with him or their testimony before the grand jury. Until recently, most have complied, but the leaks are coming fast and furious, with Karl Rove, a/k/a “Bush’s Brain” the target. However, each of the many stories over the past few weeks have done little to tidy things up, and speculation about Rove tells us more about hope than reality.

  7. Jerry

    Well you helped make my point. If it didn’t come out now then we wouldn’t know that the Bush administration had not been truthful when they claimed that Rove wasn’t involved at all.

  8. T Crow

    Apparently everyone at the WhiteHouse drank the kool-aid and they are getting in deeper and deeper (see breaking story and link below). That people like Mr. Warthen jumped on the Lindsey Graham bandwagon over a stain on a blue dress yet shrug actions like possible treason off shows how far “deviancy has been defined downward” (Rush’s phrase) by the pubbies. John Dean (former Nixon henchman) has said that Nixon was a choirboy compared to what the Bush administration is involved in and I suspect that he would know.
    This issue is not just about Wilson – it is about an administration that will stop at nothing to have their way no matter who they have to slam to get there. We have soldiers dying and more horribly maimed than in any previous war yet Mr. Warthen, and others, think the Bush adminstration should get a pass on the means they use to manipulate information that took us there and punish those who would stand up againt the fraud they perpetrate on the public?
    The Clinton scandal was NOTHING compared to lying to get us involved in an unnecessary war that is decimating our military and making us even less secure here at home and this adminsitration should be held fully accountable for ALL the damage they have done!
    *Judiciary Democrats seek investigation into why probe took so long;
    Sixty-seven days?*
    *RAW STORY <>*
    Michigan Democrat John Conyers and nine Democrats on the House Judiciary
    Committee issued a letter to the U.S. Inspector General calling for an
    investigation into a 12-hour delay between the Justice Department
    learning of the outing of a CIA agent and telling the White House to
    preserve documents, RAW STORY <> has learned.
    Perhaps more significantly, however, Judiciary Democrats point to the 67
    day gap between the time the CIA called the Justice Department to
    investigate the CIA outing and the time that the Justice Department
    directed the FBI to investigate the matter.
    “It appears the now infamous 12 hour delay the Justice Department
    granted the White House before issuing an order to preserve documents
    was not an isolated instance,” Conyers remarked. “I received information
    from the Central Intelligence Agency indicating a pattern of foot
    dragging by the Justice Department before it would commence a criminal
    investigation, or even respond to CIA requests.”
    “While the Republican Congress prepares to launch hearings, which appear
    to be fishing expeditions designed to discredit the Special Counsel
    investigating this matter, it defies reason that it would not
    investigate the DOJ’s obviously partisan administration of justice,” he
    A letter written to the U.S. Inspector General follows.
    July 26, 2005
    Dear Inspector General Fine:
    We write to request that you immediately commence an investigation of
    the Department of Justice’s handling of the investigation of the leak of
    the identity of a covert CIA operative’s identity by high-ranking
    Administration officials. Press reports and other information obtained
    by House Judiciary Committee Democrats appear to demonstrate that on at
    least two separate occasions, DOJ personnel acted to permit delays in
    the investigation, which may have resulted in the loss or destruction of
    critical evidence.
    First, over this past weekend we learned that then-White House Counsel
    Alberto Gonzales received what appears to be a “heads-up” about the
    commencement of the investigation from Justice Department officials in
    the evening of September 29. Through White House staff, he asked DOJ
    personnel if it was permissible to wait an additional 12 hours to notify
    the White House staff of the investigation and presumably direct the
    staff to preserve all relevant documents and records relating to the
    inquiry. According to Mr. Gonzales, “Department of Justice lawyers” gave
    their assent to this delay:
    I specifically had our lawyers go back to the Department of Justice
    lawyers and ask them, “Do you want us to notify the staff now,
    immediately or would it be okay to notify the staff early in the
    morning?” And we were advised, go ahead and notify the staff early in
    the morning, that would be okay.
    Notwithstanding this request, Mr. Gonzales informed the White House
    Chief of Staff Andrew Card about the investigation. It is not yet known
    who the White House Chief of Staff advised about the investigation prior
    to the Counsel’s official notification twelve hours later.
    For example, this twelve hour head start is a clear and troubling
    departure from Department practice. When White House contacts with Enron
    became essential to that investigation, then-Deputy Attorney General
    Christopher Wray immediately directed the White House to preserve all
    e-mails, memos, notes, letters and other documents from Enron employees
    or “any individual acting officially or unofficially, directly or
    indirectly on behalf” of the company. Less than an hour after receiving
    the directive, Mr. Gonzales issued an “administrative alert” directing
    officials to comply.4
    Second, we previously received information about a similar delay with
    respect to the original criminal referral of this matter by the Central
    Intelligence Agency. In a letter to Ranking member Conyers, dated
    January 30, 2004 (enclosed), the CIA describes repeated delays and
    inaction by the Department. The Agency notes that Executive Order 12333
    requires the Central Intelligence Agency to report to the Attorney
    General “possible violations of criminal law.” Pursuant to this
    requirement, according to the letter, the CIA did the following:
    On July 24, 2003, a CIA attorney left a phone message for the
    Chief of the Counterespionage Section of the Department of Justice
    noting his concern with recent stories apparently exposing the
    identity of Valerie Plame, an employee of the agency working under
    cover. There was apparently no response from the Department.
    On July 30, 2003, the CIA reported to the Criminal Division of the
    DOJ a possible violation of criminal law concerning the
    unauthorized disclosure of classified information. There was
    apparently no response from the Department.
    The CIA again transmitted their concerns by facsimile on September
    5, 2003.
    On September 16, in accordance with the Agency’s standard practice
    in these matters, the CIA advised the Department that it had
    completed its own investigation of the matter, provided a
    memorandum setting forth the results of the investigation and
    requested that the FBI undertake a criminal investigation of the
    Finally, on September 29, 2003-sixty-seven days after the initial
    concerns were expressed by CIA employees-the DOJ responded and
    advised the CIA that the Counterespionage Division had requested
    that the FBI initiate an investigation of this matter.
    Thus, it appears, that not only did DOJ personnel countenance a 12-hour
    delay in notifying White House staff to preserve all records (while the
    White House Chief of Staff was given a heads up of the existence of the
    investigation), but that the DOJ also appears to have ignored repeated
    entreaties from the CIA to initiate a law enforcement investigation into
    this matter several months before hand. We would therefore urge you to
    examine the extent that this course of conduct and other delays by the
    Department are consistent with standards of prosecutorial conduct and
    Please respond to us at your earliest convenience though the Judiciary
    Committee Minority Office, 2142 Rayburn House Office Building,
    Washington, DC 2051

  9. T Crow

    By-the-way, I’m an independent and I am also a member of MoveOn. I believe that ALL elected officals should be held EQUALLY accountable to the public no matter their party affiliation. Too many Americans seem to have forgotten that concept these days.
    What Rove and others in the WH did was wrong. Clinton fried for a sex scandal that in no way hurt our nation. Nixon fried for his dirty tricks and so should the Bushies for theirs – which are infinitely worse than Nixon or Clinton because it is getting people killed and undermining our security. What they did (and are doing) also undermines our democracy and they should be held accountable for it. I would feel the same way if they were democrats. Integrity has no party affiliation.

  10. Dee

    For BW, since he seems to prefer to overlook any article which puts the GOP in a bad light, read this:
    On Plame, Rove, Wilson, etc.
    Among the revelations contained in this article:
    At least a half dozen CIA and State department officials have spoken with prosecutors. And that fomer CIA spokesman Bill Harlow confirms that Plame was, in fact, an undercover operative.
    There goes the argument that she was NOT an undercover operative and that Novak commited no wrong-doing in outing her. Also contains a clear link between the release of this information and the attempt of the Bush White House to smear both the CIA & Wilson/Plame in an effort to distract the public attention away from the fact that BushCo. was flat out lying and led this country into a war based on false pretenses. Again. . . who is playing politics here? While the Dems may be guilty of much, at least they’ve never gone as far as the Bushies have!

  11. Dee

    And the latest from Gallup:
    For the first time, a majority of Americans, 51%, say the Bush administration deliberately misled the public about whether Iraq had weapons of mass destruction — the central justification given for invading. The administration’s credibility on the issue has been steadily eroding since 2003 after stores of the weapons weren’t found.
    By 58%-37%, a majority say the United States won’t be able to establish a stable democratic government in Iraq, similar to the results when the question was asked in April 2004.
    About one-third, 32%, say the United States can’t win the war in Iraq. Another 21% say the United States could win the war, but they don’t think it will. Just 43% predict a victory.

  12. Brad Warthen

    This is great. I was beginning to think that no one was interested in me posting my columns, with links, on the blog, so these 11 responses are encouraging.
    I’m a little confused about one thing, though: I got an unsigned e-mail today that was worded almost identically to Dee’s next-to-last posting above — but it came from a completely different e-mail address from Dee’s.
    Anyway, since I responded at some length to that e-mail (breaking my personal rule for the THIRD time in as many days), I’ll repeat what I said in that response, as response to Dee’s comment here:
    You ARE joking, right? Both about overlooking bad stuff about the GOP (Good Lord; it’s a political party, and political parties are just about my number one punching bag); and the idea of these being revelations. What is revealed beyond what I wrote in my column and provide via links from my blog?
    I mean, I would certainly HOPE the special prosecutor is “casting a wide net” and talking to everybody who might know something. Wouldn’t you? What’s the big surprise there?
    Basically, the story is sort of a recap of what has already been reported — which is handy to have, since few stories recently have bothered to put all the background in one place. But I’ve read this stuff over and over, haven’t you?
    Oh, one mistake in the story you should note: The reporters write as fact (not some source’s opinion) that “In a 2002 trip to Niger at the request of the CIA, Wilson found no evidence to support allegations that Iraq was seeking uranium from that African country…”
    That’s Wilson’s version of events. The reporters should have gone back and read their own paper’s clippings. Just over a year ago, the Post (and almost no one else) reported the findings of a bipartisan Senate Intelligence Committee probe that found Wilson’s statements to that effect were misleading. Here’s that story:
    And here’s the key paragraph: “The panel found that Wilson’s report, rather than debunking intelligence about purported uranium sales to Iraq, as he has said, bolstered the case for most intelligence analysts. And contrary to Wilson’s assertions and even the government’s previous statements, the CIA did not tell the White House it had qualms about the reliability of the Africa intelligence that made its way into 16 fateful words in President Bush’s January 2003 State of the Union address.”
    Anyway, have a good day.
    And I would add, keep on commenting. That’s what the blog’s here for.

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