Monday, July 11, 2005

Outed, Damn Traitor

Could it be that the Prince of Darkness himself, Karl Rove, was careless enough to actually expose Valerie Plame as a CIA operative without using a few dozen go-betweens to cushion his villainy? That appears to be the case, at least according to Newsweek's intrepid Michael Isikoff.

As he detailed in a story posted on-line yesterday, the notes of Time reporter Matt Cooper reveal that Rove identified the wife of Joe Wilson to be a CIA agent.

Newsweek reports that Cooper had spoken to Rove in 2003 shortly after former ambassador Joe Wilson publicly cast doubt on suggestions that Iraq was pursuing nuclear weapons:

"In a brief conversation with Rove, Cooper asked what to make of the flap over Wilson's criticisms. Newsweek obtained a copy of the e-mail that Cooper sent his bureau chief after speaking to Rove. (The e-mail was authenticated by a source intimately familiar with Time's editorial handling of the Wilson story, but who has asked not to be identified because of the magazine's corporate decision not to disclose its contents.) Cooper wrote that Rove offered him a 'big warning' not to 'get too far out on Wilson.'

"Rove told Cooper that Wilson's trip had not been authorized by 'DCIA' -- CIA Director George Tenet -- or Vice President Dick Cheney. Rather, 'it was, KR said, wilson's wife, who apparently works at the agency on wmd [weapons of mass destruction] issues who authorized the trip.' Wilson's wife is Plame, then an undercover agent working as an analyst in the CIA's Directorate of Operations counterproliferation division. (Cooper later included the essence of what Rove told him in an online story.)

"The e-mail characterizing the conversation continues: 'not only the genesis of the trip is flawed an[d] suspect but so is the report. he [Rove] implied strongly there's still plenty to implicatIraqiqi interest in acquiring uranium fro[m] Niger...'"

Of course, Rove's attorney is busy disputing the notion that Rove's super-duper off-the-record comments amounted to outing an undercover CIA agent, which is a felony, by the way -- and, if you go by Dubya's daddy, nothing short of treason. In the sort of parsed language that made Republicans so pissed (and rightly so) at Bill Clinton, the Rove damage-control squad is pointing out that Rove identified the CIA agent as Joe Wilson's "wife" and not as Valerie Plame. Um, right. Precluding the possibility of Wilson being a Mormon bigamist kicking it old school, we don't see how the wifey connection does not specifically point to Plame.

Moreover, the Rove apologists are certain to allege that he didn't know Plame was an "undercover" CIA operative. Again, excuse us while we vomit disbelief all over our Converse sneakers. Does anyone really believe that Karl Rove, grand puppetmaster of the White House (along with President Emeritus Cheney, that is) did not know Valerie Plame was an undercover operative?

Oh, and what do we make of the fact that Rove's conversation with Cooper occurred three days before Robert Novak outed Plame in his syndicated column? The White House can slice and dice it any way it wants, but for now every indication is that the Bush administration -- and Rove, in particular -- had orchestrated a concerted effort to discredit Wilson in the media by placing a big, fat bullseye on his wife.

From Andrew Sullivan, we have this:

"The salient fact is that Rove appears to have told Cooper about Wilson's wife working at the CIA before the Novak column appeared. Rove was clearly coordinating a message to discredit Wilson by linking him to his wife, and implying that Wilson had no real authorization from the senior levels of the administration. Rove may not be guilty of a crime, if he did not disclose her name and did not know she was undercover. He is guilty of sleaze and spin. But then that's also hardly news, is it?"

Also not particularly newsworthy but no less stomach-churning is this prediction: If Rove is guilty of a crime, don't expect to see him appear in prison issue duds anytime soon. The Bush administration doesn't seem too hung up on notions of justice.

Still, a generally apathetic populace should not let this go (for more on this, check out Roger Ailes, who illluminates the seriousness of Rove's apparent transgressions). While the personal scribblings of one reporter do not a smoking gun make, they sure as hell add up to, at minimum, a spent cartridge shell. Special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald, who appears to be serious about his task, needs to explore this revelation with at least the same vigor that one of his predecessors pursued such insidious crimes as Oval Office blowjobs.

Guess it all depends on your definition of the word "treason."


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