It has recently been alleged that White House Chief of Staff Karl Rove was the person who leaked the identity of covert CIA operative Valerie Plame to the media. Such a leak of an undercover operative is a felony. It is likely that the leaking of the name was retribution against Plame’s husband, Ambassador Joseph Wilson, who had publicly discredited one of the Bush administration’s rationales for invading Iraq in the runup to the Iraq war.
Cartoonist and commentator Ted Rall in an op-ed piece compared Karl Rove’s action to treason. While it is likely that Rove’s action undermined national security and the war on terror, it is unlikely that Karl Rove committed treason. What is likely is that this is the next step in a verbal war at the fringes of each party to call the other party traitors.
On the right, the likes of Ann Coulter, Sean Hannity, and Bill O’Reilly believe that hatred of George Bush and his administration and the instructions they give to the troops to send them into battle equates to hating the troops. This assumption is tenuous at best, since most Americans are critical of or actively oppose the foreign policy of the Bush administration, yet almost noone has actually blamed the troops for this, they have blamed the civilian policy makers. Those on the right, however, proceeding with this false assumption claim disagreement with the Bush administration undermines the war on terror, subjects the troops to risk, and hence is treason. Bill O’Reilly went so far as to call for the arrest of some of Air America Radio’s hosts for speech that was critical of the Iraq war.
Absurd, over the top commentary such as this is hurtful to society and outright false. Senator Dick Durbin lamented on the floor of the Senate that an FBI report, describing the torture ordered by the Bush administration, could have been describing Nazis, had he not known this was ordered by current American leaders. He was immediately attacked as being a traitor by the right. Most agree that Senator Durbin had not chosen his language carefully in his analogy, since noone thinks the Bush administration is as bad as the Nazi party. His commentary was over the top but the right tarred him by falsely claiming he had called the troops Nazis, and hence was a traitor.
The ironic part of this back and forth saga is that the person currently at the center of the storm, Karl Rove, had just recently launched a verbal lob, essentially calling a plurality of Americans traitors and sympathizers with Osama Bin Laden. Now that Karl Rove has been implicated in a crime with the possibility of undermining national security, the left will undoubtedly jump all over Karl Rove as being a potential traitor and rightly so. It is a return of the same over the top rhetoric that was directed at them. The true irony of this saga is that in Karl Rove’s case, there is at least an argument to make, that the outing of an undercover CIA operative comprimised the war on terror and amounted to treason.
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