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Sunday, July 03, 2005

Vengeance vs. Ethics: Rove and the Plame Case

Lawrence O'Donnell claims in the Huffington Post (Ariana Huffington's open blog) that Bush's senior strategist and Chief of Staff Karl Rove was the leaker who blew CIA agent Valerie Plame's cover--an apparent act of revenge after her husband, Ambassador Joseph Wilson, was asked, in the run-up to the Iraq war, to investigate claims that Iraq was buying weapons-grade uranium from Niger. Wilson found no truth in the allegations, said so publicly, and then conservative columnist Robert Novak put Plame's name and true occupation in his column. And that he, O'Donnell, has known this for some time.

His documentation is a bit thin, but he says it will be in the next Newsweek, now that Time magazine has turned over reporter Matthew Cooper's sources, after the Supreme Court declined to give reporters protection.

A lot of permutations here:

1. Let's start with the most obvious: revealing the name of a CIA agent is a federal crime, and rightly so--it puts the operative's life in danger, and endangers others who may have had dealings with the operative. Coming from a White House Chief of Staff, it could conceivably be considered an act of treason, a very high crime indeed.

2. The Administration attitude of "don't tell us anything unless you can tell us good news, on the party line" is suicidal and homicidal. This is part of how we got into the Iraq mess in the first place--because when the top strategists received reports that weren't what they wanted to hear--that Saddam had nothing to know with 911, that he wasn't buying uranium, that he no longer had WMDs, and that the war would not be winnable--they either ignored them, doctored them, or excerpted the small parts that lent themselves to "positive" spin.

3. The Supreme Court ruling was on Matthew Cooper from time and Judith Miller from the New York times--neither of whom actually used the news leak in their reportage. If you're going to investigate anyone, why not Novak, who actually wrote the column? And it's particularly odd that the goon squad went after Judith Miller, who was perhaps the most influential cheerleader for the war, and whose failure to verify was so embarrassing that the Times eventually--two years late--issued an apology to its readers about misleading them on the validity of the pro-war arguments.

4. Meanwhile, the war drums are beating again. Having made a complete mess of Iraq, they're now looking at Iran. I have to wonder whether the stories about Iran's new president and his possible membership in the terrorist group that kidnapped 20 Americans in 1979 is another disinformation campaign. I believe it was the Times that ran the allegation, but also ran interviews with two of the known hostage takers who said the guy hadn't been involved, though he'd asked to join them.

5. And let's not forget the departure of Sandra Day O'Connor opens a fight for the lifeblood of this country. If that seat goes to a radical-right head-in-the-sand friend of GWB such as torture apologist (and now Attorney General) Antonio Gonzales, it'll be time to make sure your passport is in order. And time to reread Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale. Don't think it can't happen here.

If the Rove allegation is true, this is yet another reason to stop cooperating with this government. It means the President either knew or should have known. International law, and the Watergate precedent in our own country, both show clearly that the chief executive can be held responsible for the actions of subordinates. Of course, the same principle should apply with the Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo torture, among other abuses.

It was only a few months ago that the people of the Ukraine brought down their government and demanded a new election, with far less cause than we have here.


At 11:31 AM, Blogger David Ecklein said...

I like your overview, Shel...

...except it was not improved by the last paragraph referring to the Ukraine. It is still not clear to many how large Bush's hand was in all this. Yuschenko was not the golden boy so many think here in the US - he had ties to the post-Soviet privatization moguls, and there are suspicions of his softness towards the pro-fascist anti-semitic history of Western Ukraine, the base of his popularity. Yuschenko received not just his wife, but money and consultation from the US, and the demonstrations (in certain western sectors)were anything but spontaneous. -Dave Ecklein

At 1:44 PM, Blogger Shel Horowitz, author, Principled Profit said...

I agree that Yuschenko does not necessarily have clean hands. However, the point I made was that a popular uprising--which probably did have some goading from certain powers--led to the invalidation of the election and a new one held. We in the US should have done the same in November 00, and again as information came out about how both Ohio results and Florida were highly suspect in 04.

Thanks for writing.


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