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Rove Turd Blossom
July 14, 2005 12:38 AM   Subscribe

The media's pursuit of Karl Rove was inevitable. Faced with the persistent hammering by the press on the issue, Scott McClellan seems to channeling former Nixon Press Secretary Ron Ziegler. And of course the scent of a big scandal around Rove has some people asking if the "Turd Blossom Express" has reached the end of the line?
posted by thedailygrowl (78 comments total)

 
Rove
posted by furiousxgeorge at 12:43 AM on July 14, 2005


The more info leaks out, the less I think anything illegal took place (outing an undercover isn't illegally, outing someone you know is undercover is) I believe him when he says he didn't even know her name. I don't buy Wilson's take that this was "payback." It was Rove trying to spin something he didn't understand by playing the nepotism card. I think he was careless, not reckless. I do think Bush needs to stick to his word and demand a resignation.
posted by trinarian at 1:00 AM on July 14, 2005


perhaps we should limit RoveFilter to no more than one per 24-hour period, no?
posted by trinarian at 1:02 AM on July 14, 2005


Tags: Rove roev roav rowv rov
posted by NinjaPirate at 1:08 AM on July 14, 2005


Trinarian he didn't have to say or know her name. Here's the applicable law, which is in exceedingly clear english.

That having been said:

a) We don't know that Rove is the primary target of this investigation. (supposedly he is 'a subject')

b) We don't know what Robert Novak told the grand jury or Fitzgerald (rumor from anonymous sources supposedly involved with the case is that he spilled his guts completely)

c) We don't know why Fitzgerald thought it was necessary to have the court jail Cooper and Miller (as a rule you don't do that unless you're onto something huge).

d) We don't know what charges, assuming Rove is a target, would be brought against him.

Here's some guesses after reading absolutely everything I can find, as well as LGF, TPM, DailyKos, and MeFi's coverage:

Rove is the primary target, although not the only, of Fitzgerald's investigation. Fitzgerald is trying to nail him on any of four seperate charges: violation of the Intelligence Identities and Protection Act of 1982, perjury relating to his testimony to the grand jury, conspiracy, or obstruction of justice. I think between Novak - whom I believe spilled his guts - and Cooper that Fitzgerald may have enough, depending on what exactly Rove said to the grand jury, to nail Rove on perjury (which requires two witnesses). The conspiracy angle is obvious if one buys that there are other targets than Rove, and depending on what specifically he said or didn't say to the grand jury there's the possibility of obstruction of justice.

If I had to put money down on it, I'd bet on Rove getting nailed for perjury at the least, with my second guess violation of the Intelligence Identities and Protection Act. Second because Rove might be able to wiggle his way out of it on a technicality.

For those who want to argue that Valerie Plame was not an undercover agent at the time - you're completely wrong. She was under non-official cover, which is (as I am given to understand) one step above a normal undercover agent.

As far as my personal opinion goes, I think Rove was a treasonous fuck who ought to be imprisoned for life - he compromised intelligence assets in the middle of a fucking 'war on terror' just to make an example out of Wilson.
posted by Ryvar at 1:32 AM on July 14, 2005


(outing an undercover isn't illegally, outing someone you know is undercover is)

Since when was pleading ignorance of a criminal act a defense against jailtime?
posted by Rothko at 2:01 AM on July 14, 2005


Since when was pleading ignorance of a criminal act a defense against jailtime?

There are different kinds of ignorance. Ignorance of the law is no defence. Ignorance that someone is an undercover and not just working for the CIA would be a defense. Of course there is still the issue of who told Rove...

Pass the popcorn....
posted by srboisvert at 2:34 AM on July 14, 2005


Rove rove rove rove rove rove rove.

To be honest, though, the main link wasn't too bad. Interesting information about the way the media circus works in the White House. But can we make a new rule about linking to Arianna Huffington? The rule can be: no.
posted by blacklite at 3:40 AM on July 14, 2005


Whether someone in a position of power and authority has acted inappropriately is not a matter of narrow legal definitions and fine semantic distinctions. Given what we already know about Rove's conversations, we can, right now, without even a single new revelation, and without reservation, say this: he is guilty of behavior that dishonored the White House and that placed the dirty politics of vindictive retribution over national security.

nice try, but it all depends on what is is.
posted by three blind mice at 4:57 AM on July 14, 2005


blacklite, just why exactly is linking to Huffington a bad idea? Just curious
posted by mk1gti at 5:14 AM on July 14, 2005


just why exactly is linking to Huffington a bad idea?

Because she's Arianna Huffington
posted by Slack-a-gogo at 5:23 AM on July 14, 2005


it all depends on what is is.

You know what always pissed me off? The question of what "is" is is one of the thorniest problems in semantic theory. Major minds (Quine not the least among them) have spilled barrels of ink considering the meaning of "is." Bill Clinton, bless his satyric soul, was *exactly* right. A good deal does depend on what one's definition of "is" is. And the right wing wankers continue to parrot his famous statement on the subject as if it were a ridiculous and obvious evasion. Just once, someday, I want to ask, say, Sean Hannity, "Ok, it's so obvious . . YOU define 'is.'" Grrrrrr.
posted by realcountrymusic at 6:06 AM on July 14, 2005


realcountrymusic c'mon dude. Bill Clinton's semantic defense was not an excercise in linguistic study, it was a clever lawyer hiding behind "narrow legal distinctions and fine semantics" to avoid responsibility for a ridiculous and obvious evasion he made earlier in front of the grand jury. Left wing wankers ignoring the obvious don't sound any more intelligent than right wing wankers ignoring the obvious.

Myy comment was not meant to lambaste Bill Clinton, but to point out the delicious irony of the Republicans hiding behind "narrow legal distinctions and fine semantics" to avoid responsibility in exactly the same manner as the GOP anti-Christ Bill Clinton did.
posted by three blind mice at 6:28 AM on July 14, 2005


Don't forget, the real point of the Rove story is getting to the bottom of why 'everyone thought' Hussein had WMD.

When you silence, and ad hominem EVERYONE who says otherwise, the debate doesn't get very far.

Err, the debate didn't get very far.
posted by wah at 6:38 AM on July 14, 2005


Slack-a-gogo
Because she's Arianna Huffington
------------------------------------------------
You may as well have said 'because she's a human being'

Elaborate.
posted by mk1gti at 6:57 AM on July 14, 2005


Faced with the persistent hammering by the press on the issue, Scott McClellan seems to channeling former Nixon Press Secretary Ron Ziegler.

Didn't Fitzgerald ask them not to comment on the investigation? Don't we want the White House to cooperate fully? Isn't following the special investigator's preference the best course of action?

Or should we always give the press whatever they want, when they want it?
posted by sbutler at 6:59 AM on July 14, 2005


Didn't Fitzgerald ask them not to comment on the investigation?

But they've been commenting all along, and only now when it's not going away, and in fact getting more serious, are they clamming up. ... A careful reading of McClellan’s talking point demonstrates that he was under no specific orders not to speak by the prosecutor. McClellan’s word games were deliberately chosen to create the impression that his hands were tied and he simply couldn’t comment on an “ongoing investigation.” But a closer inspection of his language shows that McClellan was admitting that he was opting not to answer questions that he most certainly could have answered. ...


posted by amberglow at 7:08 AM on July 14, 2005


Or should we always give the press whatever they want, when they want it?

Of course not. Additionally, should we always give the press secretary whatever leeway he or she wants, when it is wanted?
posted by Rothko at 7:13 AM on July 14, 2005


But they've been commenting all along, and only now when it's not going away, and in fact getting more serious, are they clamming up.

So you're saying that they're taking the investigation more seriously now that it's become more serious? Ummm... I thought this was a good thing.

... A careful reading of McClellan’s talking point demonstrates that he was under no specific orders not to speak by the prosecutor.

How carefully do you have to read the phrase "The prosecutors overseeing the investigation had expressed a preference to us that one way to help the investigation is not to be commenting on it from this podium" to come to that conclusion? He says as much in his second response! There weren't any verbal gymanstics involved. It seemed obvious to me the first time I read the transcript.
posted by sbutler at 7:16 AM on July 14, 2005


Didn't Fitzgerald ask them not to comment on the investigation? Don't we want the White House to cooperate fully? Isn't following the special investigator's preference the best course of action?

Except that they are still talking to the press in their attempts to slur Wilson. From TPM:
From today's briefing

MORAN: … Fox News and other surrogates are essentially saying that the conversation lasted for two minutes and that the subject was ostensibly welfare reform. They’re getting that information from here, from Karl Rove.
MCCLELLAN: And, again, you’re asking questions that are related to news reports about an ongoing, continuing investigation. And you’ve had my response on that…
So, as you can see, it's stonewalling on questions that they don't want to answer while they spew their venomous lies to friendly reporters. While the investigation is ongoing.
posted by jperkins at 7:22 AM on July 14, 2005


They're all still talking, to Fox and other friendly venues/people. Do you think Mehlman cooked up the spin strategy himself?

McClellan and Bush shutting up personally before the cameras is meaningless when they're really busy behind the scenes trying to spin it all. And it proves they're not listening to the prosecutor's "preference".
posted by amberglow at 7:25 AM on July 14, 2005


Read MeFi frontpage SIDEBAR, please.

And now for something completely different...

posted by spock at 7:29 AM on July 14, 2005


Speaking of channeling Rod Ziegler [fixed link], Crooks and Liars has a 1973 CBS News report on Watergate:
Presidential spokesman Ronald Ziegler, in his daily briefing, refused all questions on Watergate and related subjects, replying repeatedly to reports, "I have to ask for the next question."...Ziegler declined to place a timeline on his no comment orders, indicating that no more will be said here about Watergate until the current grand jury investigation is completed, indictments are handed down, and the court litigation is over. That could be many months.
Mark A.R. Kleiman points out that, while it may be unlikely for Rove to be prosecuted under the Intelligence Identities Protection Act, Rove could be vulnerable to proesecution under the "far less demanding elements" Espionage Act:
1) possession of (2) information (3) relating to the national defense (4) which the person possessing it has reason to know could be used to damage the United States or aid a foreign nation and (5) wilful communication of that information to (6) a person not entitled to receive it.
I believe that the special prosecutor had to prove that a crime had been committed before the judge would send Judith Miller to jail, and the judge seems to agree: "It's a case in which the information she was given and her potential use of it was a crime."
posted by kirkaracha at 7:35 AM on July 14, 2005


I keep wondering what Lou Wolf at Covert Action Quarterly thinks of all this. The agent identities law was originally passed with him in mind.
posted by warbaby at 7:36 AM on July 14, 2005


You know what always pissed me off? The question of what "is" is is one of the thorniest problems in semantic theory. Major minds (Quine not the least among them) have spilled barrels of ink considering the meaning of "is." Bill Clinton, bless his satyric soul, was *exactly* right.

Oh please, are you joking? While the constant need to bring up that phrase on the right has grown tiresome, this was not a great mind working on one of the "thorniest problems in semantic theory". Regardless of what one thinks of Bill Clinton, or the seriousness of his offence, that was not his best showing. He was backed into a corner and trying anything to claw his way out, no matter how ridiculous he sounded. He was a desperate man. That's it. If Rove (or hell, Bush for that matter) or a cheating spouse used that language I doubt you'd be pulling this nonsense out.

You can be Bill Clinton's biggest fan and still hold some objectivity.
posted by justgary at 7:37 AM on July 14, 2005


Ryvar writes "For those who want to argue that Valerie Plame was not an undercover agent at the time - you're completely wrong. She was under non-official cover, which is (as I am given to understand) one step above a normal undercover agent."

This is an interesting blogpost/article for those who still believe that Plame was not undercover.

Thanks, Ryvar.
posted by terrapin at 7:56 AM on July 14, 2005


I think the knock on Huffington has to do with the fact that's she got an enormous ego that requires attention and has few perceived credentials in the political arena, she may know what she's talking about but, at least, my perception is that she's talking out her ass most of the time.

And she's got one of the most irritating voices of all time which doesn't help at all.

And her blog is a little celebrity blog watering hole.

Not saying that her blog shouldn't be linked, its about the only way I'll find out what's on it. But I can see what she's not well liked, in some ways she's sort of a Hilary Lite though I personally like Hilary Clinton quite a bit (and only partially because she causes the GOP to have spasms).

justgary, objectivity? How about being objective about the crimes of the current administration? How about coming clean and actually saying that, yeah, they're guilty as fuck of engaging the world in a war on false pretenses in addition a myriad of other contemptible actions? You want objectivity and yet aren't willing to subject yourself to the same. We call that hypocrisy. Clinton got backed into a corner by the GOP because of a blowjob that he should have come clean on but didn't, he made a mistake and, eventually, owned up to it. When will Bush do the same? When will Rove?
posted by fenriq at 8:12 AM on July 14, 2005


Check out what Ted Rall is suggesting could be true. Donald Rumsfeld, radical Islamic plant? Well, there was that photo of him shaking hands with Saddam...
posted by The Dryyyyy Cracker at 8:16 AM on July 14, 2005


Kind of forgotten in this entire episode is what, exactly, Novak wrote about Plame in the first place. A rereading (or, for most, probably a first reading) is in order (entire July 14, 2003 column is linked):

Wilson never worked for the CIA, but his wife, Valerie Plame, is an Agency operative on weapons of mass destruction. Two senior administration officials told me Wilson's wife suggested sending him to Niger to investigate the Italian report. The CIA says its counter-proliferation officials selected Wilson and asked his wife to contact him. "I will not answer any question about my wife," Wilson told me.

Note: "two senior administration officials told me". This means Novak got confirmation, something Judith Miller couldn't get, apparently. This means there's another shoe yet to drop.

It's hard to read this column as specifically intended to hurt or discredit Wilson. The mention of Plame is neutral and incidental (explaining how it was Wilson got involved), within a column that's pretty positive about Wilson and questioning of the administration. Novak's point at the time was that the administration should disclose whether it deliberately ignored CIA advice, or not.
posted by beagle at 8:18 AM on July 14, 2005


Terrapin: Yeah that was a good post. Talking Points Memo has had great coverage thus far. In fairness, though, some posters on Littlegreenfootballs have actually (and surprisingly) had some pretty cogent arguments - certainly far better than the idiocy being pumped out by the Fox News set.

beagle: yeah, that was more or less why I was thinking there's a chance for a conspiracy charge here.
posted by Ryvar at 8:24 AM on July 14, 2005


I'd be willing to bet that the other source was Cheney, which is who the prosecutor is really going after. Taking down Rove would be one thing, but taking down the sitting Vice President is a different level. They need to make sure they have their ducks in a row before they file charges, hence the jailing of Miller to get her to talk.
posted by bshort at 8:29 AM on July 14, 2005


Rove is a stinking dirtbag. Firing's too good for him. Frogmarching's too good for him. Hanging and being electrocuted in the testicles is too good for him.

And Ryvar, what are you talking about? I've been checking LGF the past few days, and after ignoring the issue for a week, they finally responded by linking the WSJ's editorial on the matter. The comments pretty much say the same thing over and over: "This is such a non-story. Damn libruls." Where are the cogent arguments of which you speak?
posted by fungible at 8:48 AM on July 14, 2005


Wow, if Cheney's the other source, and he gets taken down with Rove, George should probably start sleeping in kevlar footies.

The fear of Cheney ascending to the presidency is probably the only thing that's kept Bush safe from sudden lead injections from afar.
posted by davelog at 8:48 AM on July 14, 2005


Conspiracy is a very serious charge and a charge that is almost more likely to stick.
posted by bshort at 9:00 AM on July 14, 2005


fungible: back about a week ago before this stuff was all over everywhere, before Newsweek even published their article, they had a Rove thread I remember as being less than purely idiotic. In addition to the usual crap, they made the four points about what we didn't know that I used above - I suppose that since I was coming at it from a very liberal bias I was a bit surprised since I hadn't realized how much we didn't know about the case. Perhaps I shouldn't have been, but it seemed pretty lucid at the time.
posted by Ryvar at 9:26 AM on July 14, 2005


kirkaracha, good call - the key here is the jailing of Miller, this isn't some piss-ant thing, this is serious.

And beagle, I agree Novak's column wasn't intended to smear Wilson - but I definitely think the leaking of his wife's name and the fact she was an operative was intended as a smear, all the better to concoct the story that Fox News is now spreading, that Wilson was a "peacenik" sent on a vital mission to determine whether the country "needed" to go to war, and here his wife was a CIA operative, and so what did you expect him to come back and say?
posted by kgasmart at 9:36 AM on July 14, 2005


Not that I agree, but here's this from USA Today:

In The Politics of Truth, former ambassador Joseph Wilson writes that he and his future wife both returned from overseas assignments in June 1997. Neither spouse, a reading of the book indicates, was again stationed overseas. They appear to have remained in Washington, D.C., where they married and became parents of twins.

Six years later, in July 2003, the name of the CIA officer — Valerie Plame — was revealed by columnist Robert Novak.

The column's date is important because the law against unmasking the identities of U.S. spies says a "covert agent" must have been on an overseas assignment "within the last five years." The assignment also must be long-term, not a short trip or temporary post, two experts on the law say. Wilson's book makes numerous references to the couple's life in Washington over the six years up to July 2003.

"Unless she was really stationed abroad sometime after their marriage," she wasn't a covert agent protected by the law, says Bruce Sanford, an attorney who helped write the 1982 act that protects covert agents' identities.

posted by dhoyt at 9:40 AM on July 14, 2005


That should have read: "Not that I know all of the nuances of the law in this case, but there seems to be disagreement, (blah blah blah)..."
posted by dhoyt at 9:41 AM on July 14, 2005


I seriously doubt that Joe Wilson is going to out his wife as an agent in his own book. She didn't have to be living overseas full time to be a covert agent.
posted by bshort at 9:44 AM on July 14, 2005


The book didn't come about until some time after the Novak smear.
posted by clevershark at 9:48 AM on July 14, 2005


Or, think about it this way: the CIA, who I'm sure knows the laws that were specifically written for it, would have never submitted a request for investigation if she *wasn't* a covert agent. And even if they royally screwed up and went ahead with the request, I'm sure the prosecutor would have bothered to read the law and look into its implications.
posted by bshort at 9:49 AM on July 14, 2005


Disagreement of the legality, but the sleaziness is not up for question.
posted by iamck at 9:53 AM on July 14, 2005


Unless she was really stationed abroad sometime after their marriage," she wasn't a covert agent protected by the law, says Bruce Sanford, an attorney who helped write the 1982 act that protects covert agents' identities

If that's the case, one would think the investigation would have been cut short long ago.

The definitions section of Title 50 Chapter 15, cited several times in this thread, contains no such five-year limitation. Let's see the citation, and tell us who the "experts" are.
posted by beagle at 9:54 AM on July 14, 2005


"Unless she was really stationed abroad sometime after their marriage," she wasn't a covert agent protected by the law, says Bruce Sanford, an attorney who helped write the 1982 act that protects covert agents' identities.

Again that's focusing on the Intelligence Identities Protection Act (which is one of the administration's talking points) and ignoring the probability that other laws have been broken. John Dean took A Further Look at the Criminal Charges That May Arise from the Plame Scandal in October 2003.
posted by kirkaracha at 10:00 AM on July 14, 2005


bshort writes "She didn't have to be living overseas full time to be a covert agent."

Nor did she have to be living overseas to be protecting sources and informants. These excuses are more embarassing than any arguments over the meaning of "is."
posted by terrapin at 10:12 AM on July 14, 2005


Nope...no 5 year overseas requirement to be a "Covert Agent" stated in the law.

Hmmm...wonder where USA today got that mess from?
posted by aaronscool at 10:34 AM on July 14, 2005


Note: "two senior administration officials told me". This means Novak got confirmation, something Judith Miller couldn't get, apparently. This means there's another shoe yet to drop.

Well, since it appears this thread is being allowed to live. . .

I think that in this timeline (considering it looks like a war between the CIA and the White House) we should go back and look at other changes in the CIA during all of this time. Goss was appointed directory. BIG people in the agency resigned, including "two officials (who) have headed operations in Europe and the Far East and were in the highest level of the CIA's Directorate of Operations, the powerful unit that recruits foreign spies and conducts covert operations overseas". (Nov. 25th, 2004 - Reuters)
These two follow the resignations of Deputy Director John McLaughlin (2nd in command) and Deputy Director of Operations Stephen Kappes and Kappes' Deputy, Michael Sulick. (Nov. 13, 2004 - Voice of America)

If I was a journalist, I would be looking up and interviewing (on double-secret background, at the very least) the big CIA guys that resigned in disgust recently. Goss being named CIA head by Bush sounds very familiar to Gray being named head by Nixon (when he was trying to put someone loyal to himself in charge of the FBI). There may be some people upset enough to provide some pieces to this puzzle (ala Deep Throat).
posted by spock at 10:58 AM on July 14, 2005


aaronscool: Hmmm...wonder where USA today got that mess from?

To be fair, it does say that offenders can be imprisoned for five years. Maybe that's the source of confusion. But I doubt it.
posted by jperkins at 10:58 AM on July 14, 2005


spock, yup. Check this GWU National Security Archive article on Rummy, Cheney, Scalia, Ford, Leaks, and FOIA. Oh, and for arguments sake, this isn't really about the name "Valerie Plame" and who leaked it...it's about the leak of the State Department Classified document that information came from.
posted by rzklkng at 11:18 AM on July 14, 2005


Here, let me pull a y2karl:
Jim Lindgren
I see that Joseph Wilson is going to be interviewed on NBC’s TODAY show on Thursday morning. Given our adversarial press, this should be a wonderful opportunity for NBC reporters to get to the bottom of things. I would hope that they would ask Wilson questions about his complicity in his wife’s outing. If Wilson hadn’t lied to the press or the public about what he found in Niger, about how he was hired to go to Niger, and about the Italian forged document, then there would have been no reason for people to try to correct the misimpressions he created and the lies he told.

As the Washington Post reported
[Wilson's reports to the CIA added to the evidence that Iraq may have tried to buy uranium in Niger, although officials at the State Department remained highly skeptical, the report said.

Wilson said that a former prime minister of Niger, Ibrahim Assane Mayaki, was unaware of any sales contract with Iraq, but said that in June 1999 a businessman approached him, insisting that he meet with an Iraqi delegation to discuss "expanding commercial relations" between Niger and Iraq — which Mayaki interpreted to mean they wanted to discuss yellowcake sales. A report CIA officials drafted after debriefing Wilson said that "although the meeting took place, Mayaki let the matter drop due to UN sanctions on Iraq.]
So[, although both Wilson and the CIA doubted it at the time,] Wilson had found [some] evidence that tended to confirm the substance of the sentence in Bush’s 2003 State of the Union address: “The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa.”

The bipartisan Senate Intelligence Committee 2004 report exposed Wilson’s lies on what he found and told the CIA, as well as the one about how Wilson was hired.

Wilson said that his wife Valerie Plame had nothing to do with his being hired: “Valerie had nothing to do with the matter." "She definitely had not proposed that I make the trip." But the 2004 Senate Intelligence report said that she first suggested him for the trip and then followed up with a memo touting his suitability for the mission.

It would be great if NBC TODAY would probe Wilson on these matters. The Wall Street Journal says that Wilson had started lying to the press and public about how he was hired before his wife was outed, in part by Rove. Correcting this lie (were Plame not a covert agent) not only would be a smart partisan thing to do, but it would be the right thing to do. Wilson was publicly lying about what he found in Niger, publicly lying about what he reported to the CIA, and (according to the WSJ) publicly lying about how he was hired. Except for the “covert agent” issue, it would be right to correct all these lies. Indeed, reporter Cooper’s email reveals that Rove was offering a “big warning” “not to get too far out on Wilson,” a warning that the press should have heeded but didn’t. They believed Wilson, only to find out that his account was untrue.

But it appears probable, though not certain, that Plame was a covert agent (the statutory definition turns on whether she was on undercover missions outside the US in the 5 years before the disclosure of her identity, a factual issue that for some reason few outside of Powerline have focused on). The other reason that Plame may not have been a covert agent is that, according to bloggers quoting Andrea Mitchell, who was involved in NBC’s early stories on Wilson, it was widely known that Wilson’s wife worked for the CIA. Yet if Plame was a “covert agent,” it would not be right or justified for Rove to expose Plame’s identity.

Here it would be good to ask Wilson whether he thought that by lying about what he found in Niger and what he told the CIA and how he was selected, he was gambling with his wife’s safety. How could he be sure that people would know that Plame was a covert agent, or that there was a law against revealing her identity? Perhaps someone might have reasonably believed that they were correcting misimpressions that Wilson himself had created. Did Wilson realize that he had put the Administration in something analogous to a Catch-22?: Wilson can lie about how he was hired but the Administration can’t correct his lie without outing his wife. Did Wilson consciously decide to gamble with his wife’s safety by lying in a way that would be hard for the Administration to correct? This is the line of questioning that I would most like NBC TODAY to explore (in a more respectful tone, of course).

One of the revelations of the Time Magazine Cooper email is that it gives the context of Rove’s disclosure that Wilson was suggested by his wife. The context strongly suggests that it wasn’t retaliation, but rather it was part of a discussion trying to correct any misimpressions of how Wilson was hired to do the mission. According to the Cooper email, Rove discussed whether the Director of the CIA or Vice President Cheney had authorized the trip.

So on the legal charge of intentional disclosure of Plame’s undercover identity, there is nothing in the Cooper email to suggest the sort of knowledge by Rove necessary to convict under the Intelligence Identities Protection Act of 1982 (50 U.S.C. 421 et seq.). It punishes one who “intentionally discloses any information identifying such covert agent to any individual not authorized to receive classified information, knowing that the information disclosed so identifies such covert agent and that the United States is taking affirmative measures to conceal such covert agent's intelligence relationship to the United States . . .” It's not even clear (beyond a reasonable doubt, no less) that Rove knew Plame's name, knew that the information that he disclosed identified her, or knew that the US was taking affirmative steps to conceal her relationship to the intelligence community (if it was indeed doing so).

Of course, other evidence might be offered to show that Rove knew that he was contributing to the outing of an undercover CIA agent, rather than just explaining the context of the hiring of Wilson; but the Cooper email certainly doesn’t help the prosecutors in proving intent. The intent standard on this charge is particularly high, and will be hard for prosecutors to meet. For this reason, the country’s three leading newspapers—the Wall Street Journal, the NY Times, and the Washington Post—have concluded that, by leaking, no crime was committed or they seriously doubt that any crime was committed.

But that doesn’t let either Rove or Bush off the hook entirely. I won’t go into the other evidence in part because I don’t know much about it, but the question whether Rove lied to Bush or the White House press office is still an open question (Rove was quoted as having said that he wasn’t involved, which if he really said this, appears to be a lie). If Rove lied to investigators, then he might be prosecuted for obstruction of justice or related claims.

And President Bush promised to fire the leaker. Although Bush could argue that, at the time he promised this, he assumed that the leaker had committed a crime by leaking (and now it appears that the leaker did not), this is a very hard case to make to the public and the press. It would seem that Bush must either fire Rove or break his promise (even though Bush may have a plausible argument that his promise was based on a false premise—that the leaker committed a crime by leaking).

Powerline has been particularly good on the Wilson-Plame story and the press’s failure to deal with the fact that Wilson’s account of his Niger investigation was false. The WSJ has a strong editorial as well. Yet we must not lose sight that there may be other lies that Rove told about non-involvement in outing Plame, and that Bush must deal with his promise to fire the leaker.

posted by Steve_at_Linnwood at 11:25 AM on July 14, 2005


A little late to the dance, Steve. All those points have been addressed and disproved upthread and in the other Rove thread.
Got anything new to add?
posted by Floydd at 11:34 AM on July 14, 2005


S@L, I could find nothing in your 'Statutory Definitions' link that mentioned either "undercover missions outside the US" or "5 years before the disclosure"

Care to clarify?
posted by bashos_frog at 11:41 AM on July 14, 2005


The WSJ has a strong editorial as well. Yet we must not lose sight that there may be other lies that Rove told about non-involvement in outing Plame, and that Bush must deal with his promise to fire the leaker.

Yeah, an editorial as opposed to an actual story like this one on Salon that I quoted in the other Rove thread and am posting here now to avoid confusion on the matter:
When the Italian report on Niger uranium surfaced, Vice President Cheney's office contacted the CIA's counter-proliferation office to look into it. Such a request is called a "tasker." It was hardly the first query the task force had received from the White House, and such requests were not made through the CIA director's office, but directly. Plame's colleagues asked her if she would invite her husband out to CIA headquarters at Langley, Va., for a meeting with them, to assess the question.

It was unsurprising that the CIA would seek out Wilson. He had already performed one secret mission to Niger for the agency, in 1999, and was trusted. Wilson had also had a distinguished and storied career as a Foreign Service officer. He served as acting ambassador in Iraq during the Gulf War and was hailed by the first President Bush as a "hero." Wilson was an important part of the team and highly regarded by Secretary of State James Baker and National Security Advisor Brent Scowcroft. Wilson was also an Africa specialist. He had been a diplomat in Niger, ambassador to Gabon and senior director for Africa on the National Security Council during the Clinton administration. (I first encountered Wilson then, and we have since become friends.) No other professional had such an ideal background for this CIA mission.

Plame's superiors asked her to cable the field in Africa for routine approval of an investigation of the Niger claim. At Langley, Wilson met with about a dozen officers to discuss the situation. Plame was not at the meeting. Afterward, Wilson informed his wife that he would be traveling to Niger for about 10 days. She was not particularly enthusiastic, having recently given birth to twins, but she understood the importance of the mission. She had no authority to commission him. She was simply not the responsible senior officer. Nor, if she had been, could she have done so unilaterally. There was nothing of value to be gained personally from the mission by either Joe or Valerie Wilson. He undertook the trip out of a long-ingrained sense of government service.

CIA officers debriefed Wilson the night of his return at his home. His wife greeted the other operatives, but excused herself. She later read a copy of his debriefing report, but she made no changes in it. The next they spoke of Niger uranium was when they heard President Bush's mention of it in his 2003 State of the Union address.

Attributing Wilson's trip to his wife's supposed authority became the predicate for a smear campaign against his credibility. Seven months after the appointment of the special counsel, in July 2004, the Republican-dominated Senate Select Committee on Intelligence issued its report on flawed intelligence leading to the Iraq war. The blame for failure was squarely put on the CIA for "groupthink." (The Republicans quashed a promised second report on political pressure on the intelligence process.) The three-page addendum by the ranking Republicans followed the now well-worn attack lines: "The plan to send the former ambassador to Niger was suggested by the former ambassador's wife, a CIA employee."

The CIA subsequently issued a statement, as reported by New York Newsday and CNN, that the Republican senators' conclusion about Plame's role was wholly inaccurate. But the Washington Post's Susan Schmidt reported only the Republican senators' version, writing that Wilson was "specifically recommended for the mission by his wife, a CIA employee, contrary to what he has said publicly," in a memo she wrote. Schmidt quoted a CIA official in the senators' account saying that Plame had "offered up" Wilson's name. Plame's memo, in fact, was written at the express directive of her superiors two days before Wilson was to come to Langley for his meeting to describe his qualifications in a standard protocol to receive "country clearance." Unfortunately, Schmidt's article did not reflect this understanding of routine CIA procedure. The CIA officer who wrote the memo that originally recommended Wilson for the mission -- who was cited anonymously by the senators as the only source who said that Plame was responsible -- was deeply upset at the twisting of his testimony, which was not public, and told Plame he had said no such thing. CIA spokesman Bill Harlow told Wilson that the Republican Senate staff never contacted him for the agency's information on the matter.

Curiously, the only document cited as the basis for Plame's role was a State Department memo that was later debunked by the CIA. The Washington Post, on Dec. 26, 2003, reported: "CIA officials have challenged the accuracy of the ... document, the official said, because the agency officer identified as talking about Plame's alleged role in arranging Wilson's trip could not have attended the meeting. 'It has been circulated around,' one official said." Even more curious, one of the outlets where the document was circulated was Talon News Service and its star correspondent, Jeff Gannon (aka Guckert). (Talon was revealed to be a partisan front for a Texas-based operation called GOPUSA and Gannon was exposed as a male prostitute, without previous journalistic credentials yet with easy and unexplained access to the White House.) According to the Post, "the CIA believes that people in the administration continue to release classified information to damage the figures at the center of the controversy."
And, btw, I love the attacking the victims strategy.
posted by jperkins at 11:41 AM on July 14, 2005


Powerline has been particularly good on the Wilson-Plame story and the press’s failure to deal with the fact that Wilson’s account of his Niger investigation was false. The WSJ has a strong editorial as well.

Ah, yes. The one where they declare that Rove is in fact a hero revealing the traitorous actions of Joe Wilson. Right.

Here, let me pull a y2karl

Actually, y2karl does some research and links to multiple sources, not to one blog that links to Powerline twelve times. But points anyway.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 11:42 AM on July 14, 2005


Thanks, jperkins, I was hoping you'd crosspost that since S@L apparently hasn't seen that article.
The "but Wilson LIED" angle is getting a lot of play lately. Seems like every time the Republicans say something we should just assume the opposite must be true, unless we see some proof.

And that "Let's give Karl Rove a medal!" meme? Comedy gold, I tell ya!
posted by Floydd at 11:53 AM on July 14, 2005


one stop shopping for your senators and congresspeople.
posted by pointilist at 12:04 PM on July 14, 2005


Ok...let's hypothesize. What if Wilson lied?

Does that change these facts:
--His wife (who's identity as a CIA agent was classified) was outed in the public press by administration officials in retaliation.

--It is immoral, treasonous and very likely illegal to disclose the identity of a classified covert CIA operative to the public much less the press at large.
posted by aaronscool at 12:10 PM on July 14, 2005


You're not paying attention to what you read. The President said (quoting the Salon article jperkins links in this comment above):
"Listen, I know of nobody," he replied. "I don't know of anybody in my administration who leaked classified information. If somebody did leak classified information, I'd like to know it, and we'll take the appropriate action."
Pay attention now, he says we'll take the appropriate action. Most people interpret this as the President saying he'd fire the leaker - I bet "the appropriate action" is start drafting the full pardon resolution.

posted by nkyad at 12:14 PM on July 14, 2005


You're not paying attention to what you read.

Heh. And you're not paying attention to what you read since I've never said that Bush was obliged to fire Rove on the basis of his earlier promise. He can do what his conscience and/or 90% of those surveyed thinks needs to be done.
posted by jperkins at 12:18 PM on July 14, 2005


jperkins writes "And you're not paying attention to what you read since I've never said that Bush was obliged to fire Rove "

And you are now not paying attention since I haven't said you said it, I just quoted from the article you linked and saw fit to mention you have linked it. I was actually refering to all the people, here and elsewhere, saying Bush should fullfil his earlier promisse and fire Rove.
posted by nkyad at 12:27 PM on July 14, 2005


Yeah, Wilson lied! And as we have discovered over the past three years, Iraq is awash in yellowcake! You can buy it at the corner deli, they've got so much of the stuff!

I'm with TPM - the Republican strategy is to tell lies so outrageous and so incredible and so audacious that it bamboozles their opponents into submission.

Rude pundit:
It's unfortunate for Mehlman, for all of Rove's wandering apologists in the Congress and in the media, that trying to make this story about Wilson (and for the media, the Wilson smear is old news - they did that back in 2003) in essence discredits George Bush, Sr., who relied on Wilson to deal with Saddam Hussein back in 1992. And it's a shame, really, that Wilson actually did say he believed that Iraq had biological and chemical WMDs and that force might be necessary back in 2002, even after he had made his Niger trip in February of that year.

Here's Wilson on CNN's Late Edition on December 1, 2002, months after he knew that Iraq wasn't trying to get yummy yellowcake, sounding for all the world like a true believer: "The problem really is going to be whether he can launch chemical and biological weapons against U.S. troops or, even more significantly...if they can drag Israel into a broader war, either through the use of weapons of mass destruction or through Scud attacks that Israel then feels it has to retaliate to. But I think nonetheless, our armed forces are far superior." ... What an American-hating fucker Wilson is.

posted by fungible at 12:29 PM on July 14, 2005


Bizzaro world: " In The Politics of Truth, former ambassador Joseph Wilson writes that he and his future wife were both on deep non-official cover.
"Yes, I can't say anything about her covert investigations on weapons of mass destruction," Wilson wrote. "I'd get into a lot of trouble. Possibly killed...oh, crap!" "
----

Anyone else think Rove was the one having sex with Gannon?

-----
(sung to the tune of 'Orange Blossom Special' - by J. Cash)

Look a-yonder comin'
Comin' down that Washington track
Hey, look a-yonder comin'
Comin' down that Washington track
It's the Turd Blossom Special
Stabbin’ my baby’s back

Well, I'm going down to Niger
And get some sand in my shoes
Or maybe I-raq
And get some sand in my shoes
I'll ride that Turd Blossom Special
And lose these 9/11 blues

"Say man, when you going back to Niamey ?"
"When am I goin' back to Niamey ? I don't know, don't reckon I ever will."
"Ain't you worried about getting your nourishment in Washington?"
"Well, I don't care if I do-die-do-die-do-die-do-die-do."

Hey talk about a-rovin'
He's the lyingist brain on the line
Talk about a-travellin'
She's the outedest Plame on the line
It's that Turd Blossom Special
Rovin' down the CIA line
posted by Smedleyman at 12:34 PM on July 14, 2005


And you are now not paying attention since I haven't said you said it, I just quoted from the article you linked and saw fit to mention you have linked it. I was actually refering to all the people, here and elsewhere, saying Bush should fullfil his earlier promisse and fire Rove.

OK, sorry for the confusion.

And does anyone know where todays press briefing from the WH is? I'd thought that it was online by this time, but I'm not seeing anything on the whitehouse.gov website.

Finally, just saw this one:
Senate Democrats tried to add to Republican discomfort over the presidential adviser Karl Rove today as they called for legislation to deny security clearances to officials who unmask undercover agents.

The Democrats hoped to attach the measure to a spending bill for the Department of Homeland Security. Should the maneuver succeed, and Republicans then resist the overall bill, Democrats could portray them as trying to block legislation vital to national security.
posted by jperkins at 12:36 PM on July 14, 2005


RNC Chairman Ken Mehlman in Iowa: ‘A leak is when you ask a reporter to write a story. He was discouraging a reporter from writing a false story,’

Yeah, that's it... it's only a leak when we say it's a leak.
posted by Floydd at 12:38 PM on July 14, 2005


nkyad- somewhere on the ribbit. thread there is a link to many of the comments that bush has made concerning what he would do to the leaker. One of those comments mentioned firing the leaker. Go look it up! It's right there!
One comment's veracity does not under cut the other's.
posted by pointilist at 12:47 PM on July 14, 2005


Why would Bush nickname one of his top advisors something so nasty as Turd Blossom? What was Ashcroft's nickname? Rectal Prolapse or just Asscroft? Rummy would have been what, The Prune?

Floydd, now you're starting to get with the GOProgram! News isn't news until its got that big ol' White House Seal of Approval. Now watch this drive.
posted by fenriq at 1:00 PM on July 14, 2005


"QUESTION: Given -- given recent developments in the CIA leak case, particularly Vice President Cheney's discussions with the investigators, do you still stand by what you said several months ago, a suggestion that it might be difficult to identify anybody who leaked the agent's name?

THE PRESIDENT: That's up to --

QUESTION: And, and, do you stand by your pledge to fire anyone found to have done so?

THE PRESIDENT: Yes. And that's up to the U.S. Attorney to find the facts."

further quotes here and here.
posted by drstupid at 1:16 PM on July 14, 2005


Why would Bush nickname one of his top advisors something so nasty as Turd Blossom?

I suspect it's due to Rove's skills at using dirty tricks to get good (for his employer) results. Getting a blossom out of a turd and so forth.
posted by Happy Monkey at 1:33 PM on July 14, 2005


Why would Bush nickname one of his top advisors something so nasty as Turd Blossom?
"Several years ago when (Rove) started getting accolades from political writers as the mastermind behind Bush, the president is known to have bristled.

He once told a journalist that he did not like his aides getting 'star treatment. So he started calling Rove 'Turd Blossom,' which refers to the so-called cowpie splat made by bovine waste when it hits the ground." [Helen Thomas]
BTW - as Floydd points out (and others mention) there continues to be an ongoing, lively discussion of the Rove Affair at the "ribbit" thread - mentioned in the MetaFilter sidebar.
posted by ericb at 1:45 PM on July 14, 2005


thanks drstupid. I think this is an important meme:
"Keep your promise Mr. President- fire Rove."
posted by pointilist at 2:23 PM on July 14, 2005


pointilist writes "Keep your promise Mr. President..."

There IS a first time for everything after all.
posted by clevershark at 3:26 PM on July 14, 2005


And of course, Howard "Putz" Kurtz at the WaPo is defending Rove and helping to spin it for them. Ganging Up (poor little Karl--are the big mean reporters ganging up on the helpless baby?)
posted by amberglow at 3:41 PM on July 14, 2005


From Ganging Up:
"The sight of David Gregory, Terry Moran, John Roberts and other White House correspondents badgering Scott McClellan over Karl Rove has triggered some pretty strong reactions.

Many on the left are saying it's about time that journalists found some backbone and got tough on the Bush team.

Others are saying that the White House gang are showing their true anti-Bush colors and are hopping mad because their colleagues are involved..."
From NBC Chief White House Correspondent, David Gregory:
"If you have been watching, you know it's been a rough few days in the White House briefing room. Depending on your political views, you either think it's an unfair feeding frenzy or about time we pressed these guys on this story.

Let me just say this is what happens when government officials mislead the press. They have to be accountable for what they say. If you think we have a political agenda, I'd refer you to briefings during the Clinton days when Monica Lewinsky was the topic. Those were pretty rough, too. I think we, as a group, are so energized because the White House has been forced to change its story. They ought to be held accountable for that. Particularly since Scott McClellan absolved Karl Rove of any crime two years ago — also in the midst of the investigation.

You may have noticed on Nightly News, we have taken great pains to point out that what we know thus far does not indicate Rove committed any crime. This is a legal story, but it has also become a political debate about Rove's actions.

What's also interesting is that no White House official I've spoken to thinks the blistering McClellan's receive has been unfair. They knew it was coming. They also admit they made a mistake telling him to go out there earlier this week and abruptly say the White House wouldn't comment any longer.

It's tough for any White House to balance a legal strategy with a political one. For the record, it's not personal. A few of us have kidded McClellan after hours in the press room that it must be fun to be the president's spokesman."
posted by ericb at 4:17 PM on July 14, 2005


 
posted by five fresh fish at 6:38 PM on July 14, 2005


...and speaking of media, heh heh - Novak may have his tit caught in the wringer big-time
posted by madamjujujive at 8:17 PM on July 14, 2005


Thanks for the 'ganging up' links ericb (and all the other links you've been providing on this subject lately).
posted by jikel_morten at 8:41 PM on July 15, 2005


justgary, objectivity? How about being objective about the crimes of the current administration? How about coming clean and actually saying that, yeah, they're guilty as fuck of engaging the world in a war on false pretenses in addition a myriad of other contemptible actions? You want objectivity and yet aren't willing to subject yourself to the same. We call that hypocrisy.

Look fenriq, I realize you're on a little crusade, and I think it's cute, really, I do. Push it into every thread if you must, but I'm not going to bite. It's not the thread to do it, and let's face it, you and I will agree on nothing.

That said, there is no "we" on metafilter. So get that out of your head. Secondly, I was responding to a comment made in the thread defending clinton's use ot the word as "one of the thorniest problems in semantic theory". If realcountrymusic really believes thats what clinton was thinking at the time, he's nuts, and it pretty much smothers everything he says in doubt. Would he say the same thing if bush questioned the word 'is'? No, and that's what 'I' call hypocrisy. It was an embarrassing thing to say, and if you agree with him, well, I'm embarrassed for you also.
posted by justgary at 1:22 PM on July 20, 2005


yo, guy, chill. i think he was just using the royal we.
posted by Hat Maui at 10:53 PM on July 25, 2005


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