Karl Rove was called to testify before a federal grand jury in 2004 regarding
the disclosure of a covert C.I.A. agent’s identity. White House spokesman Scott
McClellan explained the reason: "Karl went to testify to do his part in finding
out who leaked this information."
It probably came as no surprise to Mr. Rove that he, himself, was the leak.
It’s an eerie echo of the time when Dick Cheney was given the task of finding a
vice presidential nominee to run with George W. Bush. As with Mr. Rove, Cheney
found his answer in the mirror.
Rove is, technically, the Deputy Chief of Staff at the White House. He’s also
commonly referred to as Mr. Bush’s "chief political strategist" or "top aide,"
and many have simply tagged him "Bush’s brain."
And the president’s brain is leaking.
To summarize the case at hand: George W. Bush, in his 2003 State of the Union
address, stated that Saddam Hussein had "recently sought significant quantities
of uranium from Africa." The threat of Iraq developing nuclear weapons helped
propel this nation into war - but the claim was false. Shortly after the
outbreak of the war, former U.S. Ambassador Joseph Wilson disclosed that he had
investigated the uranium report for the C.I.A. in 2002 and said that these
reports were "highly doubtful." Ultimately, C.I.A. Director George Tenet assumed
responsibility for Mr. Bush’s statement, blaming it on his own agency’s bad
intelligence. Bush - the "accountability" president - proceeded to punish Tenet
by awarding him the Medal of Freedom.
In apparent retaliation for Mr. Wilson’s criticism, Karl Rove went into
attack mode - attempting to discredit Wilson by suggesting that he was sent to
investigate the Iraq-uranium case at the behest of his wife, a C.I.A. operative.
Rove called an unspecified number of reporters, disclosing both her identity and
her involvement with the C.I.A. Rove’s supporters at this point are staking
their defense on the claim that Rove referred only to "Joseph Wilson’s wife" and
did not specifically use her name (Valerie Wilson, also known by her maiden name
of Valerie Plame). Since it is a federal crime to knowingly reveal "any
information identifying" a covert agent, this strategy appears ridiculous on the
face of it. The only pressing issue is whether or not he had prior knowledge
that Ms. Wilson was in fact an undercover agent.
This entire episode of deceit and betrayal - what some are even calling
"treason" - revolves around the Bush administration’s maniacal determination to
go to war with Iraq. The war, you’ll recall, was necessary to eliminate Iraq’s
weapons of mass destruction - which didn’t exist. It was necessary in order to
sever the connection between Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden - which didn’t
exist. Then the story changed - we had waged war on Iraq not in self-defense,
but in the pursuit of global democracy and human rights. (This only works if
you’re willing to forget that one of the members of our military "coalition" is
Uzbekistan, a dictatorship with a human rights record to rival Saddam’s.)
The most recent rationale? That we’re fighting "over there" so we don’t have
to fight "over here."
This argument poses several problems: Many experts believe that the war in
Iraq has provided a training ground for a new generation of terrorists - in
other words, we’re producing more enemies, not fewer. Second, the deadly attack
in London last week suggests that the policy of containment is not working. The
third problem is a moral one - why should the civilians of Iraq be considered
more expendable than the citizens of the United States? Why is it acceptable for
this Christian extremist president - leading his increasingly Christian
extremist country - to willingly sacrifice Iraqi children instead of American
children? (And that’s if we accept the unsupported conclusion that inaction in
Iraq would necessarily have brought more terrorists to this country.)
The chaos we’ve unleashed in Iraq has turned the country into a
slaughterhouse. According to the New York Times (7/14/05), Iraq’s
Interior Ministry has disclosed that "Iraqi civilians and police officers died
at a rate of more than 800 a month between August and May" and that insurgents
have "killed about 12,000 Iraqis since the start of the American occupation."
This is only a tally of insurgent assaults; the article makes it clear that
these numbers "do not include either Iraqi soldiers or civilians killed during
American military operations."
Mr. Bush’s Iraq war was built on a foundation of willful lies and has cost
countless lives - American, Iraqi, British, etc. So the charge against Karl Rove
- that he betrayed a C.I.A. operative to help protect Bush’s rationale for the
war - seems like business as usual for this White House.
In 2003, when asked if Rove had a hand in the agent’s disclosure, George W.
Bush said, "If somebody did leak classified information, I’d like to know it,
and we’ll take appropriate action."
"Appropriate action?" Maybe that means Karl Rove is in line for a Medal of