July 12, 2005

Are Karl Rove's Days Numbered?

Bush on 2/11/04: "If there's a leak out of my administration, I want to know who it is. . . . I don't know of anybody in my administration who leaked classified information."

The Facts: When Bush made his statement to reporters on February 11, 2004, White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan had already denied that anyone in the White House was behind the press leak which outed Valerie Plume as a CIA agent in retaliation for her husband, former Ambassador to Iraq Joseph Wilson, going public with information that directly contradicted alarming statements to the nation by President Bush to the effect that Saddam Hussein had attempted to buy enriched uranium from Nigeria and might have nuclear weapons.

Wilson had gone public a few days before the outing of his wife, and in a bombshell announcement revealed that he was sent by the CIA to Nigeria 16 months earlier to investigate rumors that Saddam was seeking to buy enriched "yellow cake" uranium to make a nuclear bomb. Wilson reported back to the CIA more that a year before the Bush speech that the documents cited in the rumors were forgeries and that it was highly unlikely that Saddam had ever done such a thing. But this didn't stop the White House, and President Bush himself in a speech to the nation, from citing the discredited allegations to spread fear among the American people and to use them as justification for the invasion of Iraq.

Bush on 2/11/04: "I want to know the truth."

Press Secretary Scott McClellan on 7/11/05: "There will be a time to talk about this, but now is not the time to talk about it."

The Facts: It is hard to imagine, under any circumstances, that Bush would not have known about the leaks or that they came from someone in the White House, that someone being the brain behind the throne, Karl Rove. Today, the normally loquacious Mr. McClellan refused White House commentary on the matter, while Rove's lawyers have already conceded that he did talk to several reporters about Wilson's wife being a CIA operative.

According to a 1984 law, it is a felony to knowingly reveal the identity of a covert CIA agent. Rove's attorney's have defended the leak on grounds that since he did not actually mention Plume by name, that he didn't break the law. Meanwhile, as the White House stonewalls the Republic National Committee has released talking points claiming that by outing Valerie Plume as a CIA operative Rove was merely correcting the misimpressions of a reporter and setting the record straight.

As preposterous as it may sound, the spin according to the RNC is that Plume organized and arranged the entire trip to Nigeria on her own authority and inititive, and selected her husband (a life-long loyal Republican by the way) to go. It is denied that anyone in the White House ever contacted the CIA or requested that such a trip be made (Wilson was given the impression by the CIA that it was Cheney's idea). Furthermore, the RNC would have you believe that all this was done, 16 months before the president used the bogus information in a nationwide speech, for the expressed purpose of embarassing the president.

In any event, basically what you have here is the usual practice of Karl Rove and the Bush Administration brazingly using the RNC to feed disinformation to the major media while the White House pretends to be above "axe in the back" partisan politics. However, it appears as though this time the maneuver was just too obvious, and may have been the last straw for the normally passive White House Press Core. In recent days they have pummeled Scott McClellan like never before over the Rove affair, including a question about the just described practice of the White House using the RNC to feed slime to the media while "officially" remaining silent.

Press Secretary Scott McClellan on 9/29/03: "You need to keep in mind that there has been no specific information, there has been no information that has come to our attention to suggest White House involvement, beyond what has been reported in the newspapers."

What It Really Means: The Bill Clinton of Monicagate would be proud of this double speak. While on the surface it sounds like a solid denial of White House involvement in the Plume leak, all it really does is to admit that they were aware of the information on the leaks as reported in the press. Which in no way denies that they knew about it before it was reported in the press since it does not mention when they became aware of the leak.

Press Secretary Scott McClellan on 9/29/03: "Well, I've made it very clear that it was a ridiculous suggestion in the first place (i.e, that Karl Rove was the leak). . . The president knows that Karl Rove wasn't involved. . . I saw some comments this morning from the person who made that suggestion, backing away from that. And I said it is simply not true. So, I mean, it's public knowledge. I've said that it's not true. And I have spoken with Karl Rove -- ."

Press Secretary Scott McClellan on 7/12/05: McClellan was asked numerous times today at his press conference about this prior statement, and each time he refused comment because "there is a criminal investigation going on."

White House clams up on CIA leak.

White House Press Conference, 9/29/03.

Republican National Committee Talking Points.