In 2003, the White House made an unqualified pledge to fire any administration official involved in leaking the identity of CIA operative Valerie Plame.
Now, as speculation spreads that Deputy Chief of Staff Karl Rove was involved in leaking Plame's identity (if not her actual name), the White House has begun putting qualifications on that pledge. Surprisingly, newspapers such as the New York Times and Washington Post have accepted this qualified pledge, as if no change had occurred.
It's a nice bit of bait-and-switch by the administration, perhaps to give itself some wiggle room should independent prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald find that Rove was conclusively a source of the leak.
As reported by Media Matters for America, White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan said on Sept. 29, 2003: "If anyone in this administration was involved in it, they would no longer be in this administration."
President Bush, a day later, said that he would "take appropriate action" against "anybody in my administration who leaked classified information."
But now, the Times and the Post are apparently repeating conservative spinning of those statements:
The Times reported on July 14: "Mr. Bush's comment came nearly two years after he suggested that he would fire anyone in his administration who had knowingly leaked the identity of the operative, Valerie Wilson."
Meanwhile, the Post reported the same day: "The White House had declared that Rove was not involved in Plame's unmasking, and, when the controversy broke in the summer of 2003, Bush said he would fire anyone who illegally outed a CIA official."
Why the spin?
According to a July 14 San Francisco Chronicle analysis: "Privately, Republicans concede the controversy hurts and wonder why Bush does not simply say Rove did not break the law and clarify that when he said he'd fire anyone in his administration for revealing classified information, he specifically meant someone who broke the law."
This article first appeared on Journalists Against Bush's B.S. (JABBS)