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White House Gets Tangled In Web of Deceit: An e-mail sent by Time magazine reporter Matt Cooper on July 11, 2003, and recently uncovered by Newsweek magazine reveals that White House deputy chief of staff and senior political adviser to the president, Karl Rove, was a disseminator of classified information. The e-mail states, "it was, KR [Karl Rove] said, wilson’s wife, who apparently works at the agency on wmd issues who authorized the trip.” The new revelation also contradicts Rove’s previous denial that he “had any knowledge” of who in the White House leaked the classified, covert identity of a CIA agent. It also disputes earlier assertions by the White House that Rove was not involved in the outing of the agent and forces President Bush to come to terms with his previous pledge to take this action “very seriously” and “hold someone to account.”

ROVE IS DECEIVING THE PUBLIC WITH WORD GAMES: When asked in September 2003 if he "had any knowledge" or leaked "the name of the CIA agent" to the press, Rove simply answered, "no." On July 4th, 2005, Rove appeared on CNN and slightly amended his carefully parsed talking point: "I'll repeat what I said to ABC News when this whole thing broke some number of months ago. I didn't know her name and didn't leak her name." But the question from ABC also asked whether he "had any knowledge" of the leak. Now we know exactly what Rove told at least one reporter -- Time magazine's Matt Cooper. Newsweek is reporting that an e-mail from Cooper to his editors at Time stated, "it was, KR [Karl Rove] said, wilson’s wife, who apparently works at the agency on wmd issues who authorized the trip." In the context of the new revelation, Rove's duplicitous strategy has revealed itself. In essence, by suggesting that he did not reveal Plame's actual "name" (but instead mentioned her to be wife of Joseph Wilson), Rove is attempting to escape accountability for a national security violation.

ROVE'S ACTIONS MAY ALREADY BE ILLEGAL: Rove clearly had knowledge about the leak and disseminated classified information to reporters. Recall that Rove told MSNBC's Chris Matthews that Plame was "fair game." NBC's Andrea Mitchell said in 2003 that she "heard in the White House that people were touting the Novak column and that that was the real story." One interpretation of the Intelligence Identities Protection Act suggests that Rove's role in confirming and further disseminating the identity of the leaked agent was in itself illegal

ROVE'S REVISIONIST HISTORY CANNOT HIDE HIS TRUE INTENT: The most recent argument from Rove's lawyer, Robert Luskin, for Rove's behavior is that he was merely "discouraging Time from perpetuating some statements that had been made publicly and weren't true." That's a convenient explanation coming from an attorney who has already discredited himself by previously stating Rove "did nothing wrong, did not disclose Plame's identity, and did not reveal any confidential information." Luskin's newest assertions that Rove was merely trying to correct the public record are completely at odds with what an administration official quoted in the Washington Post candidly admitted in 2003. That official said the leaking "was meant purely and simply for revenge." Columnist Bob Novak, the conduit for the leak, confirmed the leaker's intent in July 2003: "I didn't dig it out, it was given to me.... They thought it was significant, they gave me the name and I used it." Rove appears to be acting in revenge against a man who was undermining Bush's case for attacking Iraq, and in doing so, acted in a manner unbecoming of an adviser to the president.

MEMO TO BUSH -- IT'S TIME TO ACT: President Bush, in remarks to White House reporters traveling with him on 9/30/03, said: "If there is a leak out of my administration, I want to know who it is." Now we know Rove was at least one of the White House officials who revealed the identity of covert CIA agent Valerie Plame to reporters. And the consequences of even disseminating the information posed a great security risk. Recall the words of Larry Johnson, former CIA operative and analyst: "I worked with this woman. She started training with me.... So the fact that she's been undercover for three decades and that has been divulged is outrageous because she was put undercover for certain reasons. One, she works in an area where people she meets with overseas could be compromised." The president should not tolerate the act of disseminating this information. Bush and other close associates have all spoken about how heinous an act it is to leak and disseminate an undercover CIA agent's identity from an ethical perspective of White House conduct. Secretary of State and former NSA Condoleezza Rice stated the case simply: "it certainly would not be the way that the president would expect his White House to operate."

WHITE HOUSE STANDARD SHOULD MEAN TROUBLE FOR ROVE: In the 9/29/03 WH press briefing, Scott McClellan laid out the White House standard for dealing with the leak. McClellan: "If anyone in this administration was involved in it, they would no longer be in this administration." In the gaggle that morning, McClellan was asked whether the leaker should be "fired" and he answered, "If a source leaked information of this nature, yes." Similarly, Ed Gillespie told Chris Matthews on 9/30/03 that if someone in the White House leaked the information, "I do not believe it would be hard for President Bush to ask that person to walk the plank." But it has been and will likely continue to be hard for President Bush to enforce some measure of accountability. The White House has stood firmly behind Rove as more and more information has come forward to suggest his growing involvement. McClellan, in the 9/29/03 briefing, said that he had "spoken with Karl" about the leak, but then added, "I didn't even need to go ask Karl, because I know the kind of person that he is, and he is someone that is committed to the highest standards of conduct." When Joe Wilson floated the idea that Rove was behind the leak, McClellan responded vigorously: "It is a ridiculous suggestion, and it is simply not true."

Center For American Progress



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