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Rove & DeLay: Birds of a Feather July 22, 2005
Reality Closes in on Karl Rove
On this Friday morning, Democrats from both the House and the Senate are holding a hearing on the subject of the national security consequences of the leaking of Valerie Plame's identity, being aired on C-Span 3. This is some of the information they will be looking into.
In 2002, former Wall Street Journal reporter Ron Suskind met with the White House to discuss a recent story he had written that was critical of the Administration. What a senior White House aide told Suskind, which he later reported for the New York Times Magazine, would capture the essence of the Rovian propaganda machine::
"The aide said that guys like me were 'in what we call the reality-based community,' which he defined as people who 'believe that solutions emerge from your judicious study of discernible reality.' I nodded and murmured something about enlightenment principles and empiricism. He cut me off. 'That's not the way the world really works anymore,' he continued. 'We're an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you're studying that reality -- judiciously, as you will -- we'll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that's how things will sort out. We're history's actors . . . and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do.'"
Karl Rove is now finding out that reality is not so easily vanquished after all.
As the White House goes into full stonewall mode, sending RNC Chairman Ken Mehlman out to talk about the investigation they say nobody is allowed to talk about, there is an air of desperation that is almost palpable here in Washington. For every defense that Rove, Mehlman, and the White House offer, a new set of facts seems to come crashing down upon them.
For starters, the list of those "involved" - a category of people President Bush once promised would be fired - has grown into a constellation of the most powerful members of the White House.
Karl Rove: President Bush's Right-Hand Man
Time Magazine reporter Matthew Cooper, having given his testimony to special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald, reported on his testimony for the magazine. Amongst the revelations: Karl Rove's contention that Valerie Plame came up casually at the end of an unrelated conversation is dashed, and the call ended with cryptic words which may go down alongside Rove's name in history: "I've already said too much."
Scooter Libby: Vice President Cheney's Right-Hand Man
Cooper dropped one more revelation in that piece: a second source was Vice President Cheney's trusted Chief of Staff, Irv Lewis "Scooter" Libby. A Los Angeles Times piece also describes how he and Rove, who were close friends and coworkers, came together to wage a startlingly vicious attack on Valerie Plame and her husband. When another White House aide asked Rove why they were being so aggressive, Rove replied: "He's a Democrat."
Stephen Hadley: Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice's Right-Hand Man
Stephen Hadley, you may remember was Condoleeza Rice's deputy during her tenure as National Security Advisor, a position he took over when she left to be Secretary of State and holds to this day. The Associated Press reports on an email sent to him by Rove after Rove spoke to Cooper, bragging about how he had dodged any substantive questions about intelligence on Iraq and instead smeared Plame's husband. The email is casual, and indicates an orchestrated smear campaign against Wilson and his wife that was anything but a secret inside the White House.
The Moral and the Legal
The moral questions revolving around the leak are not particularly complicated. Either Karl Rove and others in the White House knew that Plame was covert and deliberately outed her anyway, or they did not bother to find out and outed her anyway. In a moral sense, the latter might be worse, since for all they knew she was sitting in bin Laden's hut.
In the legal sense, the question can be more significant. But as Democrat Henry Waxman has pointed out, the non-disclosure agreement that White House employees sign in order to access classified information specifically requires those employees to check the classified status of such information before even confirming it, much less volunteering it.
But as for the law that spurred the investigation and which does indeed require knowledge of the agent's covert status, Rove's claim to ignorance is not nearly so clear as his carefully parsed statements have implied. Rove and his lawyer have made various claims about where Rove learned of Plame's status, carefully denying specific scenarios. But even as they have commented on virtually every aspect of the case, a little noticed question from another Los Angeles Times piece last week suddenly hushed them up:
"At the same time, Luskin declined to say whether Rove knew that Plame was a covert agent, even if he did not know her name, which analysts said was a crucial factor in determining whether the law was broken."
And another revelation from Cooper's testimony, namely that Rove "said things would be declassified soon" casts yet more doubt. But the most dangerous report as yet could be from Murray Waas writing in The American Prospect, who claims to have a source inside the investigation:
"White House deputy chief of staff Karl Rove did not disclose that he had ever discussed CIA officer Valerie Plame with Time magazine reporter Matthew Cooper during Rove's first interview with the FBI, according to legal sources with firsthand knowledge of the matter.
"The omission by Rove created doubt for federal investigators, almost from the inception of their criminal probe into who leaked Plame's name to columnist Robert Novak, as to whether Rove was withholding crucial information from them, and perhaps even misleading or lying to them, the sources said.
"Also leading to the early skepticism of Rove's accounts was the claim that although he first heard that Plame worked for the CIA from a journalist, he said could not recall the name of the journalist. Later, the sources said, Rove wavered even further, saying he was not sure at all where he first heard the information.
"Rove's attorney, Robert Luskin, has said that Rove never knew that Plame was a covert officer when he discussed her CIA employment with reporters, and that he only first learned of her clandestine status when he read about it in the newspaper. Luskin did not return a telephone call today seeking comment for this story."
Incidentally, The American Prospect dedicates an entire issue to the intricacies of "Plamegate" and the many other themes and scandals that are intertwined - click through the link and see the treasure trove in the left sidebar.
Is the White House worried? What does this tell you? Bloomberg:
Bush accelerated his search for a Supreme Court nominee in part because of special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald's investigation into the leak of a CIA agent's name, according to Republicans familiar with administration strategy.
Bush originally had planned to announce a replacement for retiring Justice Sandra Day O'Connor on July 26 or 27, just before his planned July 28 departure for a month-long vacation at his Crawford, Texas, ranch, said two administration officials, who spoke on the condition they not be named.
The officials said those plans changed because Rove has become a focus of Fitzgerald's interest and of news accounts about the matter.
Holding Karl Rove Accountable
Late last week, House Democrats pounced on the Republican propaganda surrounding Karl Rove and the leak of undercover CIA agent Valerie Plame's identity. Democrats unified in condemnation -- sadly, we cannot say that there was a bipartisan recognition of this staggering abuse of power.
Rep. Louise M. Slaughter (D-NY) and thousands of hard working men and women have started a campaign to send personalized pink slips to Karl Rove demanding his firing because the President refuses to do it himself. If the White House ends up knee deep in pink paper, perhaps the President will finally give Mr. Rove the legitimate pink slip he so greatly deserves. Send your own personalized pink slip to Karl Rove at the White House by visiting:
Democratic Leadership writes a letter to Speaker Hastert requesting hearings...
Dear Mr. Speaker:
Recent revelations that White House Deputy Chief of Staff Karl Rove was involved in the disclosure of classified information regarding the identity of CIA covert agent Valerie Plame raise serious questions that we believe the House of Representatives has a duty to investigate.
It has been two years since Ms. Plame's status as a clandestine service officer was revealed in a Robert Novak column. For obvious reasons dealing with the safety of covert agents and their network of sources, unauthorized disclosures of the identities of CIA agents are among the most serious of national security breaches. This fact alone should have spurred House committees into action and hearings should have been convened to take testimony under oath.
If that had been done, and if appropriate sanctions had been placed on those identified as having acted wrongly, the American people could have been assured that anyone who disclosed classified information was no longer in the employ of the federal government. Regrettably, none of that happened.
We urge you to direct that committees with jurisdiction over the Plame matter schedule hearings immediately. In previous Republican Congresses the fact that a criminal investigation was underway did not prevent extensive hearings from being held on other, much less significant matters.
91 Democrats wrote a letter to President Bush urging explanation or resignation...
Dear Mr. President,
We write in order to urge that you require your Deputy White House Chief of Staff, Karl Rove, to either come forward immediately to explain his role in the Valerie Plame matter or to resign from your Administration.
Henry Waxman wrote a fact sheet refuting Republican talking points...
Karl Rove's Nondisclosure Agreement
Today, news reports revealed that Karl Rove, the White House Deputy Chief of Staff and the President's top political advisor, confirmed the identity of covert CIA official Valerie Plame Wilson with Robert Novak on July 8, 2003, six days before Mr. Novak published the information in a nationally syndicated column. These new disclosures have obvious relevance to the criminal investigation of Patrick Fitzgerald, the Special Counsel who is investigating whether Mr. Rove violated a criminal statute by revealing Ms. Wilson's identity as a covert CIA official.
Independent of the relevance these new disclosures have to Mr. Fitzgerald's investigation, they also have significant implications for: (1) whether Mr. Rove violated his obligations under his "Classified Information Nondisclosure Agreement" and (2) whether the White House violated its obligations under Executive Order 12958. Under the nondisclosure agreement and the executive order, Mr. Rove would be subject to the loss of his security clearance or dismissal even for "negligently" disclosing Ms. Wilson's identity.
KARL ROVE'S NONDISCLOSURE AGREEMENT
Executive Order 12958 governs how federal employees are awarded security clearances in order to obtain access to classified information. It was last updated by President George W. Bush on March 25, 2003, although it has existed in some form since the Truman era. The executive order applies to any entity within the executive branch that comes into possession of classified information, including the White House. It requires employees to undergo a criminal background check, obtain training on how to protect classified information, and sign a "Classified Information Nondisclosure Agreement," also known as a SF-312, promising not to reveal classified information. The nondisclosure agreement signed by White House officials such as Mr. Rove states: "I will never divulge classified information to anyone" who is not authorized to receive it.
And last but not least, the DCCC released a video on Friday reminding the Republicans of what they said when "Plamegate" began, exposing the rank hypocrisy they have run with in recent weeks.
Tom DeLay Escapes in the Shadows
Overshadowed by the Karl Rove firestorm was yet another chink in the armor of Tom DeLay's own defenses. Peter H. Stone of The National Journal breaks yet another story on DeLay's Jack Abramoff-related junkets, noting that one to Scotland also included a number of contemporary and prospective clients for Jack Abramoff. Reading the article in full, it becomes increasingly clear that this junket - questionable in its own right - was all the more scandalous because the ostensible "educational value" largely consisted of DeLay perfecting his golf swing.
"Some ethics experts and legal analysts say that Abramoff's apparent use of the trip to promote his own business interests might cause headaches for DeLay."
"Stan Brand, a former House counsel, said that the presence of Abramoff's clients on the trip 'casts the trip in a different light -- as a business development trip for Jack. It makes it harder to characterize the trip as officially related business.'"
Some of DeLay's votes supported legislation that could be viewed as favoring these clients, but perhaps it was just a coincidence. The DCCC Communications shop could not resist putting out a release in the context of the British Open.
BRITISH OPEN: Memories of DeLay's and Ney's High Times in St. Andrews Brought Back With Tournament This Weekend
As the Best in Golf Flock to Great Britain, it's Worth Remembering Who Else Has Teed Up at St. Andrews
Washington, D.C. -- This weekend, British Open golfers flock to Scotland's St. Andrews golf course as Republicans in Congress continue to bogey more holes for the American people everyday. Republican Leader Tom DeLay and top crony Congressman Bob Ney are just two of the ethically challenged Republicans to take luxury golf vacations to St. Andrews while families in their districts are left wondering what happened to their Member of Congress.
"With the British Open this weekend, two names you won't see atop the leader board are Tom DeLay and Bob Ney -- and I'm not just talking about thier historically low approval ratings," said Bill Burton, communications director of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. "While they've both golfed at the expense of super-lobbyist Jack Abramoff at the luxurious St. Andrews golf resort, neither makes the cut when it comes to paying attention to the families they represent. Tiger Woods may have birdied 7 of his first 12 yesterday in Scotland, but thanks to these Republicans in Congress, the American people are the ones who are really in a hole."
NEW Wall Street Journal Poll: By 55% to 28%, Americans disapprove of how Congress is doing its job... By 45% to 38%, Americans say they would prefer that the 2006 elections produce a Democratic-controlled Congress rather than a Republican-controlled Congress. [Wall Street Journal, 7/14/05]
DeLay Traveled to UK, Golfed at St. Andrews, Had Luxurious Accommodations. In May 2000, DeLay traveled to England and Scotland. According to Time Magazine, DeLay and his group had rooms at London's Four Seasons Hotel, dinners at the best restaurants in town and hard-to-get tickets for The Lion King. DeLay golfed at the legendary St. Andrews Golf Course, where Abramoff has a membership. Abramoff reportedly initially paid for several parts of DeLay's trip, a violation of House rules. [Washington Post, 3/12/05; Washington Post, 4/24/05; Time, 4/25/05]
Abramoff and Ney Traveled to Scotland Together. Abramoff's Foundation Paid for Chartered Jet. Jack Abramoff's Capitol Athletic Foundation paid for the chartered jet that flew at least six people -- including Abramoff and Ney to St. Andrews, Scotland and London in August 2002. According to House rules, members of Congress are not allowed to receive trips that are paid for by lobbyists. [Washington Post, 9/28/04]
Stem Cell Hope Marches On
The progression of H.R. 810, the Stem Cell Research Enhancement Act of 2005, continues to be held up without a vote in the Senate by prominent Republicans. This past Wednesday, July 13th, Senators Harkin, Specter, Hatch, Feinstein, Kennedy along with Representatives DeGette and Castle, joined actor and stem cell activist Michael J. Fox in an effort to expedite the process. Holding a press conference and rally in the Senate Offices urging a vote on the Stem Cell Research Bill, the excitement was palpable. Senator Harkin pressed the need to bring a vote to the floor of the Senate without amendments.
"We don't want it getting lost in a conference committee. We need to pass HR 810 by a strong, bipartisan majority, and send it straight to the President's desk.
"Regrettably, opponents of this bill are trying to muddy the waters. They want the Senate to vote on 4, 5, or 6 bills, some of which have nothing to do with stem cell research.
"Their strategy is simple: They're trying to convince Senators that instead of supporting HR 810, they can vote for a different bill that promotes alternative methods of deriving stem cells. They figure that if they can pull enough Senators off of HR 810, that will keep us from getting the 60 we need to stop a filibuster.
"Let's be clear: these alternative approaches are currently nothing but theories. They are hypothetical, speculative, and totally unproven.
Diabetes, Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, ALS, and spinal cord injuries are just a few of the diseases and disabilities that have the potential to be prevented or alleviated through federally funded embryonic stem cell research. Millions of Americans and others around the world are suffering and dying from these conditions while this Republican-led Congress holds up this legislation. Embryonic stem cell research is essential and must continue without GOP blockades.
Unfortunately, despite the passionate support of Republicans like Senator Specter, Senate Republican Leader Bill Frist continues to play games with this profoundly important legislation.
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A discussion of the possible ethics rules violation by House Judiciary Chairman James Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.).
A comparison of President Bush's former policy of "straight-talking" with his new policy of not talking.
Peas in a Pod
A brief history of Karl Rove's questionable role in politics and the current CIA leak investigation.
OH-02: Compare and Contrast
A look into the upcoming special OH-02 Congressional Election.
Playing Cute with Stem Cells
A look into how the GOP leadership is trying to interfere with the advancement of embryonic stem cell research.
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WHAT THE WHITE HOUSE SAYS NOW...
"President Bush said Monday that if anyone on his staff committed a crime in the CIA-leak case, that person will 'no longer work in my administration.'"
-- President Bush on Monday, quoted by the AP
WHAT THE WHITE HOUSE SAID THEN...
"If anybody in this Administration was involved in it, they would no longer be in this Administration."
-- White House spokesman Scott McClellan, September 29, 2003
-- President Bush, June 10, 2004, when asked whether he would fire anybody who leaked Valerie Plame's identity
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