James Leroy Wilson's blog

Friday, July 15, 2005

Plame Game: Sympathy for the Devil, er, Rove

Why would Karl Rove have even known about Joe Wilson and Valerie Plame? Does he control everything to the last detail? Unlikely. Justin Raimondo wonders, who leaked to the leakers?

I'm going to swim against the tide, here, and against the expectations of my readers, by suggesting that this investigation isn't about Rove – and, furthermore, that Rove is a victim, in an important sense, someone who was used and abused by the real culprits. And who are these mysterious culprits?
[M]ost married women – even in this era of Women's Liberation – defer to the tradition of taking their husband's name, but I have to admit that, even after wondering about it for a brief moment, I shrugged and moved on. As it turns out, however, this is an important detail, because now we have Rove's lawyer saying that he at no time gave out Valerie Plame's name: but if Rove identified her as Joe Wilson's wife, what the heck is the difference?

The difference is that, as Valerie Plame, Mrs. Wilson was affiliated with a CIA front company, Brewster-Jennings & Associates, engaged in tracking and stopping the proliferation of nuclear weapons. As soon as her name was made public, the implications for U.S. national security amounted to a grave breach – far more of a crime than merely violating the Intelligence Identities Protection Act, which has only had a single prosecution since its passage in 1982.
The publication of her maiden name not only endangered Valerie Wilson, but also blew the cover of a CIA front and imperiled anyone she might have come in contact with during her stint overseas. This isn't just a matter of of violating a statute that, at most, entails a 10-year jail sentence and a fine – this is a question of possible espionage.

What also seems fairly clear is that Karl Rove would not have had direct knowledge of Plame-Wilson's covert activities on behalf of the CIA, and that only a very few people high up in the national security bureaucracy had the clearance to get access to her name. So who was it? If Rove leaked to Novak, and half a dozen Washington reporters, then who leaked to the leakers?

This isn't about Rove.

It's about a cabal of war hawks inside the administration who passed on this information to others without telling them about Plame-Wilson's deep cover status, perhaps suggesting that she was just an analyst working at a desk rather than a covert operative involved in a vitally important overseas operation, the knowledge of which was highly compartmentalized and only dispensed on a need-to-know basis. When Rove and his shills blabbed to reporters and anyone who would listen, they didn't realize that they were aiding and abetting an elaborate ploy to stick it to the CIA.

But does this make Rove a victim? Well, in the sense that he was only doing his job, which is politics. And politics, Tom Knapp writes:

is a nasty business, and Rove's job has always been to handle the nastiest part of that business: to go after his candidate's enemies with a meat ax, bury their bodies deep in the woods and make sure that his guys can credibly say that they don't know where those bodies are. That's what he does. Bush isn't going to fire him for it if it can be avoided. Firing your best employees makes it hard to hire good help.

Think there's anything new there? Think it's a partisan thing? Think again. Ever heard of Lee Atwater? How about James Carville?

Raimondo again,

Seen against the backdrop of the fierce intra-bureaucratic war that broke out in the administration in the run-up to the Iraq war – with the CIA and the mainline intelligence and diplomatic communities pitted against civilian neoconservatives in the upper echelons of the Pentagon and the Office of the Vice President – the outing of Plame and her colleagues amounts to an act of espionage committed out of a desire to exact revenge. The leakers meant to retaliate not just against Joe Wilson, through his wife, but against the "old guard" that was resisting the campaign to lie us into war. When the CIA wouldn't go along with the neocon program and "spice up" their analyses with Ahmed Chalabi's tall tales and the outright forgery of the Niger uranium documents, the War Party struck back at them with the sort of viciousness for which the neocons are rightly renowned.

The neocons had a fix on their target; now the question was how to get someone else to pull the trigger. The leakers, in order to protect themselves, "laundered" the leak through journalists (Judith Miller, one of their favorite conduits) and Bush operatives – Rove.

This isn't about Rove, and Rove isn't the target of Patrick Fitzgerald and the grand jury. The target is the people who leaked to Rove. Closing with Raimondo:

I do not believe for a moment that this lengthy and increasingly controversial investigation is centered around alleged violations of a rarely invoked statute, incurring a penalty that hardly seems proportionate to the energy expended to get a conviction. It is extremely hard to prove that someone has violated the Intelligence Identities Protection Act; there are all sorts of conditions and sub-clauses that provide a legal escape route for anyone so charged: that can't be what all this is about.

If, however, Fitzgerald can prove there was a conspiracy inside the government to collect and selectively reveal classified information in order to crush political opponents, and shape U.S. policy, then the charges could be much more serious. By all accounts, the Plame investigation is said to be widening, and I would venture to say that by this time it is wide enough to include charges of espionage.

1 comment:

  1. Good post, good finds. I agree that it's about more than Rove, but I disagree that it's not about Rove. I don't buy the idea that Rove is an unwitting lackey of a greater conspiracy. He's a political hatchetman that helped sell a war based on lies, that helped intimidate any dissenters.

    Perhaps Rove didn't know Valerie Plame's exact role, but why did he leak the information? If it was to retaliate against Wilson because Wilson was exposing their lies, then Rove should be fired, if not prosecuted.