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July 15, 2005

Tom Tomorrow:
Upsidedown world

I've said it many times, but it really is astonishing to see what passes for thought among the right wing bloggers. Now that the White House disinfo campaign is in full gear, our friends on the right are obediently parroting the latest party line--it was actually the media which leaked Plame's name.

Whatever.

As Billmon has also noted, this time around it really doesn't matter what tune the pebble-brained chorus is singing. This isn't another situation in which the side that shouts the loudest wins. This is a legal investigation, instigated at the request of the CIA and being pursued by a very determined prosecutor. And I doubt the latter spends a lot of time worrying about what bloggers think.

--------------------

July 14, 2005

Billmon:
Whistling Dixie
It was called "the southern strategy," started under Richard M. Nixon in 1968, and described Republican efforts to use race as a wedge issue -- on matters such as desegregation and busing -- to appeal to white southern voters.

Ken Mehlman, the Republican National Committee chairman, this morning will tell the NAACP national convention in Milwaukee that it was "wrong" . . .

"Some Republicans gave up on winning the African American vote, looking the other way or trying to benefit politically from racial polarization. I am here today as the Republican chairman to tell you we were wrong."

Washington Post
RNC Chief to Say It Was 'Wrong'
to Exploit Racial Conflict for Votes

July 12, 2005


As the nation honored the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. on Monday, thousands of people gathered here to demand that lawmakers remove the Confederate battle flag from atop South Carolina's Statehouse . . .

"I think that the flag should be removed from the state Capitol," Vice President Al Gore said Sunday. "That's my position and I think that Governor Bush has avoided taking a position or has ducked the issue."

GOP front-runner George W. Bush has denied avoiding the issue.

"I haven't waffled from day one when I've been asked the question," Bush told CNN's "Late Edition on Sunday. "That's a decision for the people of South Carolina to make."

CNN
Thousands march against
Confederate flag in South Carolina

January 17, 2000

Tom Tomorrow:
Deja vu

As I sit here on a sweltering July day, listening to Sean Hannity run through all the Republican talking points over and over again--no crime was committed, she wasn't even a covert op, Joe Wilson is the real villain here, blah blah blah--I am transported back in time a few years. It is the summer of 1997 and I have just moved to New York City, and I am sitting in the ludicrously large loft studio I have rented as a workspace. (An illegal space with no bathroom, hence the cheap rent. The tenants from whom I sublet would eventually decide they wanted the space back, and kick me out without much notice, forcing me to scramble for a new studio space while I was (a) working with Saturday Night Live, trying to get some stuff on the air, and (b) planning for my wedding. But this would turn out to be a small blessing--the building was just a few blocks north of the World Trade Center, and had I still been working there in the fall of 2001, I would most likely have been shut out of my studio and unable to work for a month or two.)

At any rate, this is when I first become aware of Hannity as a radio personality, listening to him on WABC that summer in my sweltering loft space. The big story of the summer concerns several New York City police officers, including Justin Volpe, who are accused of sodomizing a Haitian immigrant named Abner Louima with a broom handle, and day after day, Hannity defends Volpe and attacks Louima--regularly referring to the latter as "Lyin' Louima."

Except as it turns out, Lyin' Louima is telling the truth and Justin Volpe and the others go to jail.

And Sean Hannity drops the topic like a burning hot potato.

So whenever I hear him ranting on like this, trying to restructure his audience's perception of reality so that the obviously guilty party is pure as the driven snow, and the obvious victim actually dirty as sin, I think back to the days of Lyin' Louima, and wonder--why does anyone listen to this moron? Is there anything any of these guys can get so wrong that their audience will even notice?

Greg Saunders:
Defending Karl

Since the White House's efforts to spin their way out of the fact that they're harboring a traitor have been a huge failure, here are a few suggestions for ways Republicans who don't really care about national security can defend Karl Rove :

The Polyamory Defense

In an email to Time's Matt Cooper, Karl Rove mentioned "Wilson's wife" works for the CIA, but everybody just jumped to the conclusion that Wilson is only married to one woman. While the investigation is ongoing, it's too early to tell whether Wilson was or wasn't a bigamist. Until Fitzgerald has completed his inquiry, the question isn't whether or not Rove revealed Valerie Plame's CIA status (which is obviously wrong), but which one of Wilson's wives was Rove referring to?

The Unwritten Rule Defense

What people outside of Washington don't understand is that it's common for government insiders to reveal top secret information to reporters with the understanding that the information in question will never, ever find its way into print. What's truly unusual in this instance was the snitching of that rat bastard Matt Cooper. Everyone who's worked in the Capitol for a while has received a few phone calls which anyone with an understanding of journalistic ethics knows you're not supposed to talk about. Just ask any Washington insider about Bill Clinton's late night phone calls to tell people what's really in Area 51 or Bush Sr.'s chats with reporters about hiding out on the grassy knoll waiting for Kennedy's motorcade. This isn't a big deal.

The "Librul Commie" Defense

When Valerie "Wilson" gave $1000 to Al Gore in 2000, it compromised her the CIA dummy corporation she used as a front, Brewster-Jennings & Associates. But if one of our CIA covert operatives is aiding and abetting that nerd who thinks he invented the internets, where do her allegiances really stand? That alone is enough to suggest she may have been a double agent working for the Reds.

The "He Was Helping Her" Defense

It's funny how much these silly little "bloggers" think they know about how the CIA works. At a certain point, an operative's cover becomes so deep that it wraps around like a Moebius strip. At that level of cover, CIA operations require the outing of an agent as an exercise in black ops reverse reverse psychology. Rove, showing a clear understanding of CIA procedures, outed Plame in order to help her. If you want to know how the CIA really works, you've got to read one of the more informative manuals like "Confessions of a Dangerous Mind".

The 16 Words Defense

Karl Rove was trying to ensure that Joseph Wilson's lies didn't hurt our national security. Yes, Joseph Wilson went to Niger and determined that the documents regarding uranium shipments to Iraq were forgeries, but the President explicitly said "uranium from Africa", not just Niger. Has Wilson looked into uranium shipments out of Lesotho, Burkina Faso, or Djibouti?? I didn't think so...

Tom Tomorrow:
Chickenhawk smackdown

From E&P (via Empire Burlesque):

...Mark Yost, writing from the air-conditoned splendor of his office or home in leafy Minnesota:

"I know the reporting's bad because I know people in Iraq," he revealed. "A Marine colonel buddy just finished a stint overseeing the power grid. When's the last time you read a story about the progress being made on the power grid? Or the new desalination plant that just came on-line, or the school that just opened, or the Iraqi policeman who died doing something heroic? No, to judge by the dispatches, all the Iraqis do is stand outside markets and government buildings waiting to be blown up.

"I also get unfiltered news from Iraq through an e-mail network of military friends who aren't so blinded by their own politics that they can't see the real good we're doing there. ...Why isn't the focus of the story the fact that 14 of 18 Iraqi provinces are stable and the four that aren't are primarily home to the genocidal gang of thugs who terrorized that country for 30 years? And reporters wonder why they're despised."

* * *

From (Knight Ridder Washington chief) Clark Hoyt:

It's astonishing that Mark Yost, from the distance and safety of St. Paul, Minnesota, presumes to know what's going on in Iraq. He knows the reporting of hundreds of brave journalists, presumably including his own Knight Ridder colleagues Hannah Allam and Tom Lassetter, is bad because his Marine colonel buddy tells him so.

Yost asks why you don't read about progress being made in the power grid, which the colonel oversaw. Maybe it's because there is no progress. Iraqis currently have electricity for an average of nine hours a day. A year ago, they averaged 10 hours of electricity. Iraq's oil production is still below pre-war levels. The unemployment rate is between 30 and 40 percent. New cases of hepatitis have doubled over the rate of 2002, largely because of problems with getting clean drinking water and disposing of sewage.

The "unfiltered news" Yost gets from his military friends is in fact filtered by their isolation in the Green Zone and on American military bases from the Iraqi population, an isolation made necessary by the ferocity of the insurgency. To say that isn't to argue that their perspective is invalid. It's just limited and incomplete.

Knight Ridder's Baghdad bureau chief, Hannah Allam, has read Mark Yost's column. Her response, from the front, says it far better than I could.

* * *

From Hannah Allam:

It saddens me to read Mark Yost's editorial in the Pioneer Press, the Knight Ridder paper that hired me as a rookie reporter and taught me valuable lessons in life and journalism during the four years I spent there before heading to Iraq.

I invite Mr. Yost to spend a week in our Baghdad bureau, where he can see our Iraqi staff members' toothbrushes lined up in the bathroom because they have no running water at home. I frequently find them camping out in the office overnight because electricity is still only sporadic in their sweltering neighborhoods, despite what I'm sure are the best-intentioned efforts of people like his Marine buddy working on the electrical grid.

Mr. Yost could have come with me today as I visited one of my own military buddies, who like most officers doesn't leave the protected Green Zone compound except by helicopter or massive convoy. The Army official picked me up in his air-conditioned Explorer, took me to Burger King for lunch and showed me photos of the family he misses so terribly. The official is a great guy, and like so many other soldiers, it's not politics that blind him from seeing the real Iraq. The compound's maze of tall blast wall and miles of concertina wire obscure the view, too.

Mr. Yost can listen to our bureau's morning planning meetings, where we orchestrate a trip to buy bottled water (the tap water is contaminated, when it works) as if we're plotting a military operation. I wonder whether he prefers riding in the first car -- the most exposed to shrapnel and bullets -- or the chase car, which is designed to act as a buffer between us and potential kidnappers.

Perhaps Mr. Yost would be moved by our office's tribute wall to Yasser Salihee, our brave and wonderful colleague, who at age 30 joined the ranks of Iraqi civilians shot to death by American soldiers. Mr. Yost would have appreciated one of Yasser's last stories -- a rare good-news piece about humanitarian aid reaching the holy city of Najaf.

Mr. Yost's contention that 14 of Iraq's 18 provinces are stable is pure fantasy. On his visit to Baghdhad, he can check that by chatting with our resident British security consultant, who every day receives a province-by-province breakdown of the roadside bombs, ambushes, assassinations and other violence throughout the country.

If Baghdad is too far for Mr. Yost to travel (and I don't blame him, given the treacherous airport road to reach our fortress-like hotel), why not just head to Oklahoma? There, he can meet my former Iraqi translator, Ban Adil, and her young son. They're rebuilding their lives under political asylum after insurgents in Baghdad followed Ban's family home one night and gunned down her 4-year-old daughter, her husband and her elderly mother in law.

Freshly painted schools and a new desalination plant might add up to "mission accomplished" for some people. Too bad Ban's daughter never got to enjoy those fruits of her liberation.


Tom Tomorrow:
The mirror universe

Per Billmon's post below, I was thinking along similar lines back during Bush's first campaign...

Full cartoon here.

--------------------

July 13, 2005

Billmon:
Spock with a beard

The GOP's propaganda technicians are filling in some of the details of the mirror universe they're trying to create -- the one in which Turdblossom is the noble whistleblower and Joe Wilson and his wife are the sleazy insiders spreading lies and disinformation. And since everything has to be ass backwards in the Republican reality, we're now being told that Wilson, not Rove, is the "leaker" and Dick Cheney, not Valerie Plame, the dedicated public servant damaged by the leak.

Fox News (who else?) takes us through the looking glass:

Cooper's e-mail said Rove warned him away from the idea that Wilson's trip had been authorized by CIA Director George Tenet or Vice President Dick Cheney.

"He gave proper guidance to a reporter who got disinformation in a leak" meant to assign responsibility to Cheney, former Bush aide Ed Rogers told FOX News.

This is starting to resemble that famous Star Trek episode in which Captain Kirk winds up in a parallel universe where the Federation, not the Klingons, are the evil barbarians and Spock has a nasty beard:

spockbeard.jpg

(Shudders.) I don't know how far the Rovians plan to take this mirror image building campaign. But I won't be too surprised if we wake up tomorrow to find Bill O'Reilly claiming that Karl Rove used to be an undercover CIA operative (a kind of fat, ugly version of Keifer Sutherland) until he was outed by Valerie Plame -- all as part of a left-wing dirty tricks operation masterminded by Jim Carville.

What Rove is doing here is an example, albeit an extremely weird one, of his standard tactic of attacking his enemy's strength with his most outrageous lies -- the kind that are simply too big and too brazen for most media chicken shits to call him on.

Painting "straight talk" John McCain as a wacked out ex-POW with a druggie wife and a black love child was one example. Turning John Kerry into a cowardly weasel who lied about his war record was another. And now we have Joe Wilson, the reckless, partisan attack dog who leaks classified information.

There was, of course, no such "leak." Bob Somerby at the Daily Howler (who proves it really is possible to be even handed to a fault) argues that Wilson created the impression that Cheney had a direct hand in the decision to send him to Niger -- an impression the TV morons immediately turned into an accusation.

Maybe. The record seems to show the CIA dispatched Wilson because Cheney kept pushing the spooks for more information on the mythical Niger deal, not in response to a specific request from the vice president's office. But Wilson may have been told differently at the time, or may have remembered the story in a way that tended to magnify his own importance. It's been known to happen.

I mean, it's important to hold public figures accountable for their statements, and Somerby is very good at it. But he seems to think a retired diplomat suddenly caught up in the scandal du jour should be held to the same standard as guys who have made careers out of parsing the truth until it looks like a lie. Wilson definitely has said some things that had to be walked back later. But to put his credibility on the same level as Karl Rove's -- which Somerby seems to be doing now -- is just absurd.

In slamming Wilson, Somerby also places a hell of a lot of weight on the report of the Senate Whitewash Committee -- the same "bipartisan" panel that dropped the second half of its alleged "investigation" of the WMD snipe hunt right down the memory hole.

But that's a topic for another post. The important point here is that whatever Joe Wilson said or didn't say about who sent him to Niger, it wasn't a "leak." He didn't disclose classified information, he didn't do it anonymously, and he sure the hell didn't speak on "double plus secret background." I could also point out that Wilson didn't end the career of an undercover CIA operative and destroy an agency front operation built up over many years at much time and expense. But that would be piling on.

So why are the Rovians going to so much trouble to label Wilson's off-base comments a leak, and persuade the media to do likewise?

To confuse the issue, of course. It's what you do when the other side has drawn first blood, and looks like it's going to draw a couple of pints more. The goal is to confront the public with two sides hurling identical charges at each other -- the better to convince them that it's just another partisan mudfight and who the hell knows who the real leaker is anyway. Change the channel, Edna.

This is a classic disinformation technique, and one Rove has used before -- although not as often as the stealth slime attack, which still seems to be his favorite (to the point of revealing some pretty creepy kinks in his personality. God only knows what Karl saw peeping through all those boyhood keyholes.)

The Rovians used the mirror image gambit against former counterterrorism czar Richard Clarke -- accusing him of sleeping through the summer of 2001, and claiming he failed to alert his bosses to the gathering threat of an attack. They used it against Kerry to neutralize the AWOL issue. And they used it against Bill Clinton (and any other Democratic politician they could find among "Kenny Boy" Lay's golfing partners) during the Enron scandal.

But I don't think the gang has ever used the technique on this massive a scale before. On his most megalomaniacal day ever, Dick Nixon would never have dreamed of trying to spin his squalid dirty tricks operation into a heroic blow for truth, justice and the American way. It has a kind of totalitarian grandeur to it -- like Stalin turning himself into the leader of the Russian Revolution and Trotsky, creator of the Red Army, into a filthy capitalist spy.

There have probably been bigger liars than Karl Rove in the long, sad history of American politics -- Roy Cohn and LBJ come to mind, for example. But I can't think of any who have had such maximal ambitions, or such powerful propaganda tools at their disposal.

For everybody's sake, though, I hope Rove doesn't go all the way with this operation. Living in his mirror image world would be a real pain -- after a lifetime of right-handedness, I don't think I could get used to being a southpaw. And the "good guys" already act too much like the "bad guys." I don't need any more confusion.

Besides, the idea of Karl Rove with a goatee is way too much for any sane person to handle.

Tom Tomorrow:
Stuff

The piece I did for the Voice on the upcoming Supreme Court battle is online here.

In other news: I was admittedly skeptical of the Huffington Post when it first went online, but you know, it kind of grew on me. And as it turns out, I've been invited to pitch my two cents in from time to time. Which means it's all getting a bit promiscuous: while I may occasionally cross-post on that site, several writers are cross-posting on mine, and a least a couple of them have guest bloggers of their own. And I'm all for it. As far as this site is concerned, the experiment in group-blogging has been more successful than I would have ever imagined, and I'm grateful to each of the experimentees: Billmon, Greg, Jeanne, Bob, and of course the blogless but nevertheless entertaining Jack Hitt. With the obvious exception of the latter, you should visit them at home--they've usually got stuff there that they don't put up here.

Finally, go pay skippy a visit--he's on the final push to hit the million visitor mark, and You Can Help.

Tom Tomorrow:
Small signs of intelligent life

Last night O'Reilly brought out Newt Gingrich to repeat a tired smear that dates back to the first days of the whole Wilson/Plame business: his wife got him the job.

Translation in the current context: never mind about Karl Rove's deceit or the exposure of a CIA agent's cover (not to mention the cover company for which she worked, and any other agent who might have been using her cover story to bolster their own). The real scandal here is the boondoggle trip that Valerie scored for her husband, an all expenses paid vacation to Niger.

Well, finally someone mentions something that's been bugging me ever since I heard this line of reasoning:

Why a mission to Niger would be such a plum assignment is still a mystery, but the Senate Intelligence Committee, in a report last year, quotes a State Department official as saying that Ms. Wilson had suggested sending her husband. She denies it.

(Via Atrios.)

--------------------

July 12, 2005

Greg Saunders:
I know you are, but what am I?

Rove's lawyer has the lamest defense ever (via TalkLeft) :

"Look at the Cooper e-mail," Luskin continues. "Karl speaks to him on double super secret background...I don't think that you can read that e-mail and conclude that what Karl was trying to do was to get Cooper to publish the name of Wilson's wife."
Good thing for Karl that the Intelligence Identities and Protection Act has a "double super secret background" clause. It's right between the sections concerning "my fingers were crossed" and "just kidding". I just hope Ruben Bolling is getting a commision from this schmuck.

Greg Saunders:
Contempt of Congress [Update]

Well, the Bush Administration's deadline to produce benchmarks for the situation in Iraq passed yesterday. Think Progress notes :

It turns out the administration is willing to do just about anything — including violate the law — to avoid giving Americans a detailed picture of conditions on the ground in Iraq. A Pentagon spokesperson told me today that those Iraq indicators have been “delayed” and that there is currently no specific date set for their release.
We're more than two years into this thing and still don't have any way to judge the success or failure of the Bush Administration's execution of the war. Now that their irresponsibility has legal repercussions, I suggest everyone contact the ranking members of the Defense Appropriations Subcommittees and ask them to demand that Donald Rumsfeld be held in contempt of Congress :
Sen. Daniel Inouye
202-224-3934
202-224-6747 (fax)
Senator_Inouye@inouye.senate.gov

Rep. John Murtha
202-225-2065
202-225-5709 (fax)
murtha@mail.house.gov

Be nice. These are the ranking members, not the committee chairs. We all know that contacting a GOP leader and asking them to hold the Bush Administration accountable for anything is a waste of time. Hopefully these leaders from the "opposition party" will lead this fight in their respective houses.

Tom Tomorrow:
More nonsense from Gibson's show

Fox News commentator Judge Andrew Napolitano (again, my transcript):

...then I would ask, was her name already out there? Our friend and colleague at the New York Post, owned by the same parent company as Fox News, the wonderful John Podheretz reports this morning that her name was out there--where?--on her husband's own website! He revealed to the world, before the Novak article, that his wife worked for the CIA. So my second question is, did Karl Rove tell these people something they didn't already know?

The problem is that this is just a flat out lie.

Here's what the Pod actually wrote this morning (registration required):

But Plame's undercover status at the time was and is a little questionable in any case. How undercover could she have been when her name was published at the time as part of Joseph Wilson's own biography online (see cpsag.com/our_team/wilson.html)?

(Incidentally, here's the entirety of what Wilson's bio, at the URL provided by Podheretz, says about his wife: "He is married to the former Valerie Plame and has two sons and two daughters.")

The careful reader will note that that Podheretz does not accuse Wilson of outing his own wife as a CIA agent--only of acknowledging her existence. And I don't actually believe that these people are so fucking stupid that they are unable to comprehend the distinction. This is a deliberate effort to distort the facts, a pathetic attempt to cover Karl's Rove's fat ass.

But you can take it to the bank: in Wingnutland, it will be--if it is not already--taken as gospel truth that Joe Wilson had a website up trumpeting his wife's affiliation with the CIA.

Greg Saunders:
De-parsing Rove's Alibi

This bit from Salon does a good job in summing up the legalistic wingnut defense of Karl Rove :

As the Washington Post pointed out, "To be considered a violation of the law, a disclosure by a government official must have been deliberate, the person doing it must have known that the CIA officer was a covert agent, and he or she must have known that the government was actively concealing the covert agent's identity."

Based on Cooper's e-mail with Rove, it isn't clear that Rove knew Plame's name. But even if Rove did know Plame's name, which is likely, that fact is not as important as knowing her CIA status. In pointing out her occupation and association to Wilson, Rove was clearly identifying Plame. Was he then knowingly and deliberately disclosing a CIA operative? For that, Rove would have had to know that Plame was undercover. If he didn't know that fact -- if Rove knew Plame simply as Wilson's wife who happened to work on WMD at the CIA -- he didn't commit a crime.

First of all, let's cut through the "we're still not sure that she was 'covert'" line that a lot of conservatives are still clinging to. This investigation has been going on for almost two years now. Do you really think Fitzgerald would waste this much time and money on a snipe hunt that could be solved with a quick phone call to the CIA? Get serious guys.

Once we get into the Clintonian parsing of the word "knowingly", things get really interesting. Having established that Plame was undercover and that Rove revealed that Plame was CIA, the question then becomes "Did Valerie Plame hide her undercover position at the CIA through a front job...at the CIA?" If you're dumb enough to believe that, there's nothing I can do to help you. For the rest of us, the fact that Rove knew about a connection between Joe Wilson's wife and the CIA is damning enough to convict him.

While I'm on the subject of Plame's undercover identity, do you guys remember this Washington Post article from Oct. 2003?

The leak of a CIA operative's name has also exposed the identity of a CIA front company, potentially expanding the damage caused by the original disclosure, Bush administration officials said yesterday.

The company's identity, Brewster-Jennings & Associates, became public because it appeared in Federal Election Commission records on a form filled out in 1999 by Valerie Plame, the case officer at the center of the controversy, when she contributed $1,000 to Al Gore's presidential primary campaign.

After the name of the company was broadcast yesterday, administration officials confirmed that it was a CIA front. They said the obscure and possibly defunct firm was listed as Plame's employer on her W-2 tax forms in 1999 when she was working undercover for the CIA.
. . .
The inadvertent disclosure of the name of a business affiliated with the CIA underscores the potential damage to the agency and its operatives caused by the leak of Plame's identity. Intelligence officials have said that once Plame's job as an undercover operative was revealed, other agency secrets could be unraveled and her sources might be compromised or endangered.

A former diplomat who spoke on condition of anonymity said yesterday that every foreign intelligence service would run Plame's name through its databases within hours of its publication to determine if she had visited their country and to reconstruct her activities.

This is much bigger than Valerie Plame. Due to the treasonous acts of Karl Rove et. al., any CIA agent that's listed Brewster-Jennings & Associates as an employer has been compromised. The same goes for anybody that has vouched for Ms. Plame or vice versa. The simple disclosure of Valerie Plame's identity has given foreign governments the seeds to unravel an unknowable chunk of our intelligence backbone.

--------------------

July 11, 2005

Tom Tomorrow:
Stupidest talking point ever

John Gibson to Bob Beckel, a few minutes ago (my transcription):

Were you ever in any of those receiving lines where Joe Wilson brought his CIA operative wife out into public view in front of cameras to meet the president and such? If he brings her out in public to be photographed by tv, hasn't he outed her?

Well, no, John, not unless he also hung a big 'CIA AGENT' sign around her neck. Look, I understand that Fox hires for ideology, not intelligence, so I'll try to explain this slowly: Karl Rove is not accused of exposing the fact that Joe Wilson has a wife. He stands accused of exposing Valerie Wilson's status as a clandestine CIA operative. I know it's complicated, but if you try really, really hard, you might be able to grasp the distinction.

Greg Saunders:
Have You Forgotten?

An excerpt from today's gaggle :

QUESTION: You stood at that podium and said that Karl Rove was not involved. And now we find out that he spoke about Joseph Wilson's wife. So don't you owe the American public a fuller explanation. Was he involved or was he not? Because contrary to what you told the American people, he did indeed talk about his wife, didn't he?

MCCLELLAN: There will be a time to talk about this, but now is not the time to talk about it.

QUESTION: Do you think people will accept that, what you're saying today?

MCCLELLAN: Again, I've responded to the question.

QUESTION: You're in a bad spot here, Scott...

(LAUGHTER)

... because after the investigation began -- after the criminal investigation was under way -- you said, October 10th, 2003, "I spoke with those individuals, Rove, Abrams and Libby. As I pointed out, those individuals assured me they were not involved in this," from that podium. That's after the criminal investigation began.

Now that Rove has essentially been caught red-handed peddling this information, all of a sudden you have respect for the sanctity of the criminal investigation.

This is starting to give me a stomach ache. The way we liberal bloggers have been following this, it's easy to see this as an enormous game of partisan "Gotcha!" that we're all wrapped up in.

Well, it's not.

I know that evoking 9/11 is a game that both sides of the aisle like to play to smear the other side, but I honestly can't shake the mental imagery of the last four years of bloody chaos. Usually my mind focuses on two or three images at a time. This morning, for example, it was the people diving out of the burning WTC towers to escape the smoke, the grainy video of Danny Pearl saying "I am a Jew" just prior to being beheaded, and the shredded double decker bus in London. Other times I think about the gaping hole in the Pentagon or the photos that leaked of row after row of American flag draped coffins. Whatever it it, the message that's drilled into my subconscious is the same :

Thousands of people have been killed already, but there are still others out there who want to murder you right now.
September 11th obviously effected everyone in profound ways, so I would never imply that my grief and fear is something unique to one political persuasion or another. But it still puzzles me when something this big only seems to generate outrage on one side of the aisle.

Right now there are people who want to murder as many Americans as possible. It doesn't matter to them who their victims voted for, what religion they are, if they're rich or poor, black, white, whatever. As long as the bodycount is high, it doesn't matter who gets hit. The fact that the WTC towers were financial centers was secondary to the fact that hitting the largest buildings in the country at mid-morning would maximize the terrorists' bloodshed. With these people wanting to kill so indiscriminately, it seems that the best means to this end is to make sure that we stop the spread of the appropriately-named weapons of mass destruction.

Yet here we are, almost four years later, and we've got a situation in which we're 99% certain that the right hand man to the guy who's in charge of keeping our nightmares for becoming a reality has been undercutting efforts to stop the spread of weapons of mass destruction. I honestly cannot understand why everyone who was effected by 9/11 isn't outraged about this. I really can't.

I don't know what's more frightening. Being kept up at night with neurotic fears about mushroom-clouds and evil terrorists, or the suspicion that the people who are supposed to be taking this fight seriously aren't having the same nightmares.

Billmon:
Vouching for Karl

If the eunuchs in the White House press corps ever remember where they misplaced their professional courage, and decide to ask Scotty McClellan a few questions about Karl Rove's role in the outing of Valerie Plame, this digest of past statements on the subject might come in handy.

QUESTION: The Robert Novak column last week . . . has now given rise to accusations that the administration deliberatively blew the cover of an undercover CIA operative, and in so doing, violated a federal law that prohibits revealing the identity of undercover CIA operatives. Can you respond to that?

McCLELLAN: Thank you for bringing that up. That is not the way this President or this White House operates. And there is absolutely no information that has come to my attention or that I have seen that suggests that there is any truth to that suggestion. And, certainly, no one in this White House would have given authority to take such a step.

Scott McClellan
Press Briefing
July 22, 2003

QUESTION: Scott, has there ever been an attempt or effort on the part of anyone here at the White House to discredit the reputations or reporting of former Ambassador Joe Wilson, his wife, or ABC correspondent Jeffrey Kofman?

McCLELLAN: John, I think I answered that yesterday. That is not the way that this White House operates. That's not the way the President operates . . . No one would be authorized to do that within this White House. That is simply not the way we operate, and that's simply not the way the President operates.

QUESTION: In all of those cases?

McCLELLAN: Well, go down -- which two?

QUESTION: Joe Wilson and his wife?

McCLELLAN: No.

Scott McClellan
Press Briefing
July 23, 2003

QUESTION: Wilson now believes that the person who did this was Karl Rove . . . Did Karl Rove tell that . . .

McCLELLAN: I haven't heard that. That's just totally ridiculous. But we've already addressed this issue. If I could find out who anonymous people were, I would. I just said, it's totally ridiculous.

QUESTION: But did Karl Rove do it?

McCLELLAN: I said, it's totally ridiculous.

Scott McClellan
Press Briefing
September 16, 2003

This morning, ABC News producer Andrea Owen happened to find herself near Karl Rove (who was walking to his car), and an ABC camera.

Owen: "Did you have any knowledge or did you leak the name of the CIA agent to the press?"

Rove: "No."

At which point, Mr. Rove shut his car door as Ms. Owen asked, "What is your response to the fact that Justice is looking into the matter?"

ABC News
The Note
September 29, 2003
(courtesy of Think Progress)

QUESTION: Has the President either asked Karl Rove to assure him that he had nothing to do with this; or did Karl Rove go to the President to assure him that he . . .

McCLELLAN: I don't think he needs that. I think I've spoken clearly to this publicly . . . I've just said there's no truth to it.

QUESTION: Yes, but I'm just wondering if there was a conversation between Karl Rove and the President, or if he just talked to you, and you're here at this . . .

McCLELLAN: He wasn't involved. The President knows he wasn't involved.

QUESTION: How does he know that?

McCLELLAN: The President knows.

Scott McClellan
Press Gaggle
September 29, 2003

QUESTION: Weeks ago, when you were first asked whether Mr. Rove had the conversation with Robert Novak that produced the column, you dismissed it as ridiculous. And I wanted just to make sure, at that time, had you talked to Karl?

McCLELLAN: I've made it very clear, from the beginning, that it is totally ridiculous. I've known Karl for a long time, and 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.

QUESTION: Can you say for the record whether Mr. Rove possessed the information about Mr. Wilson's wife, but merely did not talk to anybody about it?

McCLELLAN: I don't know whether or not -- I mean, I'm sure he probably saw the same media reports everybody else in this room has.

QUESTION: When you talked to Mr. Rove, did you discuss, did you ever have this information?

McCLELLAN: We're going down a lot of different roads here. I've made it very clear that he was not involved, that there's no truth to the suggestion that he was.

Scott McClellan
Press Briefing
September 29, 2003

QUESTION: Yesterday we were told that Karl Rove had no role in it. . .

THE PRESIDENT: Yes.

QUESTION: Have you talked to Karl and do you have confidence in him . . .

THE PRESIDENT: Listen, I know of nobody -- I don't know of anybody in my administration who leaked classified information. If somebody did leak classified information, I'd like to know it, and we'll take the appropriate action.

George W. Bush
Remarks to Reporters
September 30, 2003

McCLELLAN: Let me make it very clear. As I said previously, he [Karl Rove] was not involved, and that allegation is not true in terms of leaking classified information, nor would he condone it.

QUESTION: He does not condone people pointing reporters toward classified information that's been released; he would not condone that either? Is that what you're saying?

McCLELLAN: The President doesn't condone the activity that you're suggesting, absolutely he does not.

Scott McClellan
Press Briefing
October 1, 2003

QUESTION: Scott, you have said that you, personally, went to Scooter Libby, Karl Rove and Elliot Abrams to ask them if they were the leakers . . . Why did you do that, and can you describe the conversations you had with them?

McCLELLAN: They're good individuals, they're important members of our White House team, and that's why I spoke with them, so that I could come back to you and say that they were not involved. I had no doubt of that in the beginning, but I like to check my information to make sure it's accurate before I report back to you, and that's exactly what I did.

QUESTION: So you're saying -- you're saying categorically those three individuals were not the leakers or did not authorize the leaks; is that what you're saying?

McCLELLAN: That's correct.

Scott McClellan
Press Briefing
October 7, 2003

QUESTION: Scott, earlier this week you told us that neither Karl Rove, Elliot Abrams nor Lewis Libby disclosed any classified information with regard to the leak. I wondered if you could tell us more specifically whether any of them told any reporter that Valerie Plame worked for the CIA?

McCLELLAN: I spoke with those individuals, as I pointed out, and those individuals assured me they were not involved in this. And that's where it stands.

QUESTION: So none of them told any reporter that Valerie Plame worked for the CIA?

McCLELLAN: They assured me that they were not involved in this.

Scott McClellan
Press Briefing
October 10, 2003

Rove also adamantly insisted to the FBI that he was not the administration official who leaked the information that Plame was a covert CIA operative to conservative columnist Robert Novak last July. Rather, Rove insisted, he had only circulated information about Plame after it had appeared in Novak's column.

The American Prospect
Plugging Leaks
March 8, 2004

I didn't know her name. I didn't leak her name.

Karl Rove
CNN Interview
August 31, 2004

"Karl did nothing wrong. Karl didn't disclose Valerie Plame's identity to Mr. Cooper or anybody else . . . Who outed this woman? . . . It wasn't Karl." Luskin said Rove "certainly did not disclose to Matt Cooper or anybody else any confidential information."

Rove attorney Robert Luskin
CNN Interview
July 4, 2005

Luskin confirmed that Rove and Cooper had spoken prior to the publication of the original Time article, but said that Rove “did not tell any reporter that Valerie Plame worked for the CIA” nor did he “knowingly disclose classified information.”

Newsweek
Turning Up the Heat
July 6, 2005

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 . . . Rove was speaking to Cooper before Novak's column appeared; in other words, before Plame's identity had been published

Newsweek
Matt Cooper's Source
July 10, 2005

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