The scandal swirling around Karl Rove continues to widen. As the GOP continues to mount a “defense” for Rove, it becomes apparent that without Rove to write the talking points, the party is in deep trouble. Each new Republican talking point seems to either strengthen the argument that Rove is intricately involved in this crime or implicate Rove and other Republicans for either conspiracy, perjury, or obstruction of justice.
Here is a brief summary of the things we know.
In 2002 President Bush, having decided to invade Iraq, was flailing about for a reason that would be acceptable to the American people. The idea that Iraq had so much WMD that we needed to invade right away was simply a fraud concocted in Texas. So the administration cooked up a scheme to use a forged foreign intelligence report. The forged foreign intelligence report, they believed, provided the public a reason to speculate that Iraq might be trying to buy yellowcake uranium from Niger. It did not seem to matter that the CIA advised that the report was “fragmentary and lacked detail.”
Prodded by Dick Cheney, the CIA sent Joseph Wilson to Niger to investigate. Mr. Wilson came back and reported no sign of an Iraqi bid for uranium. For an administration gearing up for war as a first resort regardless of the reason, this was simply unacceptable.
Ignoring Wilson’s report, Cheney warned about Iraq’s nuclear capabilities all over TV. The president himself, in his 2003 State of the Union address even went as far to pronounce: “The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa.” Wilson declined to maintain his silence and publicly discredited the administration with a July 6, 2003 New York Times op-ed piece.
Shortly thereafter, Karl Rove and the GOP initiated a smear campaign against Ambassador Wilson and were quoted as saying “His wife is fair game.” Then, columnist Robert Novak reported that he had been told by two administration officials that the Niger trip had been suggested by Wilson’s wife, Plame.
It is a federal felony to knowingly identify an active undercover CIA officer and a federal grand jury is investigating whether anyone in the Bush administration unlawfully leaked the identity to the news media. Although the White House has previously said Rove was not involved in the episode, a Time magazine e-mail shows a conversation between Cooper and Rove took place a few days before Novak’s column appeared in July 2003. Cooper says Rove raised questions about Wilson’s credibility. Rove has maintained he neither knew Plame’s name nor leaked it to anyone.
Bush has said that if any White House official were involved, he or she would be fired. White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan had said publicly in the past that the President KNOWS Karl Rove was not involved, but as recent revelations have come out to the contrary, he has refused to answer any question relating to the matter. The president repeatedly refused this week to answer questions about whether Rove should be dismissed.
The GOP strategy has been multi-pronged, but without Karl Rove to write the talking points their strategy frankly, is very weak. A first strategy has been to re-initiate the failed smear campaign against Joe Wilson and his family. This strategy is bound to fail, since in the end it was Joe Wilson who was right about the uranium from Africa claim. Karl Rove was incorrect in trying to discredit Wilson’s report since it was true.
So this argument leaves Rove and his supporters with lower credibility than Joe Wilson on the issue and does not give the public much reason to believe them now, since they were wrong before. Even a child understands the phrase “Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me.” The GOP in its first smear against Wilson tried to fool us into believing Saddam really did try to get nukes from Niger. Now that this claim has been proven false is the public expected to believe them the second time around?
A second GOP strategy is to claim “technically” no crime was committed. This claim will fail even worse than the first strategy for several reasons. First and foremost, the GOP has cultivated an image, however false, that they are strong on national security. Now the truth has come out. Someone in their administration has undermined national security yet the GOP is indifferent. Every American and the Democrats understand that national security is more important than party. Yet this seems to be lost on the Republicans, since in this case EVEN IF one were to accept the GOP talking point that “technically” no crime has been committed, Karl Rove still endangered a CIA agent, ruined her career which was devoted to national security, and endangered the lives of potentially thousands of anti-terror operatives overseas who are now compromised, (since they have had contacts with an outed spy and the enemy will find this out).
The number of blown contacts overseas and the number of US lives that will be lost because of this leak is hard to determine, but certainly his actions have endangered the country, the troops, and spies in the field. A former CIA agent suggested today on Air America radio that there are likely spies in the field whose lives have been jeopardized and who have been pulled from their missions because of their past contacts with Valerie Plame.
Thus, to say “technically” that no crime has been committed and hence no action against Rove should be taken, is for the GOP to give up its positioning on national security. Protecting Karl Rove is more important to the GOP than national security because even if what he did is not technically a crime, it was still wrong and it still weakened the war on terror. For that reason alone he should have been dismissed and most Americans understand this.
Now we hear a new strategy from the GOP. The new evidence shows that Novak was Rove’s source and thus Rove was just passing off information he was already tipped off to. The GOP is using this to try to argue that somehow this makes Rove not guilty of a crime. This argument falls flat and hurts the GOP even further for several reasons. First, nowhere in the statute does it say the leaker needs to be the original source. There very well could be a chain of 20 Republicans and journalists and each and every one, by passing along this leak, becomes liable under the statute.
Secondly, this faulty argument means for certain that other Republican officials are involved in this crime. Someone had to leak the identity to Novak, who in turn leaked it to Rove, who in turn leaked it to Matthew Cooper. Hence, it has publicly been admitted by the GOP that IF Karl Rove committed a crime, he was an accomplice and/or co-conspirator to out a CIA agent and thus there MUST be another GOP member who is also guilty of this crime.
Another GOP talking point, and the one potentially highlighting the biggest criminal danger to Rove and other Republicans is that each day, as more facts come out, Rove and the GOP’s position is being modified (twisting in the wind so to speak) along with their public statements. Thus, it is more than likely that EVEN IF Rove didn’t commit the crime of outing a CIA agent, he and other Republicans lied to the grand jury and committed perjury and/or obstruction of justice.
First Rove claimed to have nothing to do with this matter. Press Secretary Scott McClellan even went as far as to say the President KNEW Rove was not involved.
What did the President know and when did he know it?
If the president KNEW these facts one of two things must be true. First, Karl Rove must have lied to the president and the grand jury by claiming he was not involved as we now know he was. Second, Karl Rove was truthful with the grand jury and the president and the president lied to the public and committed an act of obstruction of justice. Thus, this scandal continues to widen to the extent that the potential for criminal behavior seems to be expanding not just to include Rove but potentially all the way up the chain of command to the president. Thus, by their own flawed strategy, the federal conspiracy statutes that eventually brought down the Nixon administration are likely to come into play here as well.
In either case the situation does not look good for Bush, Rove and the other involved GOP members either from a legal or political standpoint. Without Karl Rove to write their talking points they are twisting in the wind and digging their hole even deeper with every new flawed strategy. This is probably why they are fighting so hard to save Rove’s skin, despite the undeniable fact that no matter what the outcome of the criminal case, his behavior undermined national security, hurt America, and was the wrong thing to do.
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