Posted: Sat Jul 16, 2005 5:04 pm Post subject: Rove leak is just part of larger scandal.
July 15, 2005 edition
By Daniel Schorr
WASHINGTON – Let me remind you that the underlying issue in the Karl Rove controversy is not a leak, but a war and how America was misled into that war.
In 2002 President Bush, having decided to invade Iraq, was casting about for a casus belli. The weapons of mass destruction theme was not yielding very much until a dubious Italian intelligence report, based partly on forged documents (it later turned out), provided reason to speculate that Iraq might be trying to buy so-called yellowcake uranium from the African country of Niger. It did not seem to matter that the CIA advised that the Italian information was "fragmentary and lacked detail."
Prodded by Vice President d**k Cheney and in the hope of getting more conclusive information, the CIA sent Joseph Wilson, an old Africa hand, to Niger to investigate. Mr. Wilson spent eight days talking to everyone in Niger possibly involved and came back to report no sign of an Iraqi bid for uranium and, anyway, Niger's uranium was committed to other countries for many years to come.
No news is bad news for an administration gearing up for war. Ignoring Wilson's report, Cheney talked on TV about Iraq's nuclear potential. And the president himself, in his 2003 State of the Union address no less, pronounced: "The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa."
Wilson declined to maintain a discreet silence. He told various people that the president was at least mistaken, at most telling an untruth. Finally Wilson directly challenged the administration with a July 6, 2003 New York Times op-ed headlined, "What I didn't find in Africa," and making clear his belief that the president deliberately manipulated intelligence in order to justify an invasion.
One can imagine the fury in the White House. We now know from the e-mail traffic of Time's correspondent Matt Cooper that five days after the op-ed appeared, he advised his bureau chief of a supersecret conversation with Karl Rove who alerted him to the fact that Wilson's wife worked for the CIA and may have recommended him for the Niger assignment. Three days later, Bob Novak's column appeared giving Wilson's wife's name, Valerie Plame, and the fact she was an undercover CIA officer. Mr. Novak has yet to say, in public, whether Mr. Rove was his source. Enough is known to surmise that the leaks of Rove, or others deputized by him, amounted to retaliation against someone who had the temerity to challenge the president of the United States when he was striving to find some plausible reason for invading Iraq.
The role of Rove and associates added up to a small incident in a very large scandal - the effort to delude America into thinking it faced a threat dire enough to justify a war.
• Daniel Schorr is the senior news analyst at National Public Radio. _________________ 80 percent of Republicans are just Democrats who don’t know what’s going on.
I'm certainly happy that George W. Bush and Karl Rove are not Democrats. If they were, just imagine the mess this country would be in right now, even worse than the mess it is in.
First, there would be cries of "treason" directed at Mr. Rove from the Republican ranks. Some of the more overheated members of Congress would demand that he be taken immediately out back of the Capitol and shot by a firing squad.
After all, he revealed the identity of a covert CIA agent, did he not?
As for his alibi that he never mentioned the name of agent Valerie Plame to columnist Robert Novak, the Republicans would laugh out loud. What he did tell Mr. Novak was that "the wife" of former Ambassador Joseph Wilson worked for the secret agency. Mr. Wilson had been openly critical of some of President Bush's falsehoods that led us into war in Iraq, and this was the White House's way of getting even.
Names never are mentioned at police lineups, either. The witnesses just point a finger or say the number a certain suspect is holding.
Can you envision the reaction to Mr. Rove's cop-out if he, Mr. Bush and even Mr. Novak happened to be Democrats?
"This could have cost that woman her life," the Republicans would cry, and they would be right.
Republican "talking points" might mention that all Ms. Plame's contacts in the Middle East also were in grave danger now. The right-wingers would scream that our efforts to win the trust of the Arab people had been undermined by Mr. Rove's act of vindictiveness. And only the president's mother would believe he knew nothing about this outing of a secret agent.
We would be smack dab in the middle of a constitutional crisis right now, as bad as, if not worse than, Watergate.
But that would happen only if the president, Mr. Rove and Mr. Novak — their journalistic shill — were Democrats. Instead, the president and Mr. Rove, at least, are staunch Republicans. As for Mr. Novak, his politics seem to be to the right of Ivan the Terrible.
And so, instead of a crisis, we have a string of Republican talking heads showing up on the Sunday TV shows, chuckling in dismissive fashion whenever the Rove leak is mentioned.
One Republican spokesman Sunday referred to the entire matter as "a tempest in a teapot." It reminded me of Richard Nixon's aides calling Watergate a "third-rate burglary." The Republicans tried to chuckle away Watergate, too, and only the dogged efforts of reporters Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein kept the investigation alive.
If you want to get an idea of how this Karl Rove scandal might play out if the roles were reversed and the Democrats were in the White House and ruled both houses of Congress, look at what the Republicans did to President Clinton.
He had an affair with an intern and — to be blunt — lied about it. Nobody's life was placed in jeopardy because of it. It was nasty, in the way that supermarket tabloids are nasty, but that was about the extent of it.
Yet the Republicans shouted "perjury," appointed a biased special prosecutor and managed to impeach Mr. Clinton.
Not one Republican chuckled or called the affair a tempest in a teapot. Instead, they acted as if Mr. Clinton had sold the key to Fort Knox.
But now, they try to convince us that this whole thing about secret agents and such is just a big joke.
The problem is, they are the only ones laughing. _________________ 80 percent of Republicans are just Democrats who don’t know what’s going on.
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