Public Nuisance

Random commentary and senseless acts of blogging.

The first Republican president once said, "While the people retain their virtue and their vigilance, no administration by any extreme of wickedness or folly can seriously injure the government in the short space of four years." If Mr. Lincoln could see what's happened in these last three-and-a-half years, he might hedge a little on that statement.
-Ronald Reagan

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Wednesday, October 01, 2003
Karl Rove with a Telephone?

In last nigt's Nightline interview, referenced in my last post, Ambassador Wilson backed off some from his earlier suggestions that Rove was the one who leaked Valerie Plame Wilson's status as a CIA operative. But one remark he made does seem to provide added evidence, certainly not conclusive, that Rove was a leaker or at least central to the conspiracy.


What I do know, or what I have confidence in based upon what respectable press people in this town have told me, is that a week after the Novak article came out, Karl Rove was still calling around, talking to press people, saying Wilson's wife is fair game....[I was told] By reporters who talked to Karl Rove, the gist of the message, this was reported back to me right after the phone call, was, "I just got off the phone with Karl Rove. He tells me your wife is fair game."

Compare and contrast this passage from the major Post story of this weekend that broke the Plame affair into prime time:

A source said reporters quoted a leaker as describing Wilson's wife as "fair game." [Emphasis added.]

Add this to the recent Guardian report that reporters are confirming, off the record, that they were called by Karl Rove, and the circumstantial trail leading to Rove's office gets pretty strong.

Yet McClellan was unambiguous in denying Rove's involvement on Monday, and he expressed the President's confidence in Rove.

QUESTION: Ambassador Wilson has said that he has information that Karl Rove condoned this leaking, and I've seen your comment that that's absolutely false --

McCLELLAN: It is ridiculous. It's ridiculous.

QUESTION: What do you --

McCLELLAN: And keep in mind, I imagine that only a limited number of people would even have access to classified information of this nature.

QUESTION: So he doesn't have information?

QUESTION: Can I follow up?

McCLELLAN: Yes, go ahead. And, Helen, you may always follow up. Go ahead.

QUESTION: What, then, do you think the -- given that you say Rove condoning this is ridiculous, what do you think Ambassador Wilson's motivation is for leveling such a scurrilous charge?

McCLELLAN: I can't speculate about why he would say such a thing. I mean, I saw some comments this morning, where he said he had no knowledge to that effect. But I can't speculate why he would say that.

QUESTION: Did Rove say, "ridiculous"?

McCLELLAN: I did, for him.

QUESTION: Did you speak with him about it?

McCLELLAN: Yes, I've spoken to him. ...

QUESTION: But is the President getting his information from you? Or did the President and Karl Rove talk, and were there assurances given that Rove was not involved?

McCLELLAN: I've already provided those assurances to you publicly.

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.

QUESTION: What, is he clairvoyant? How does he know?

If McClellan knows that Rove was the leaker, he would probably not make such a strong denial, and certainly not link Bush so directly to his denial. After all, he could have just chatted about 'pending investigations' and issued an effective 'no comment'. Yet it seems that there is at least a belief in the Washington press that Rove is implicated. And since the act in question is leaking information to numerous members of the Washington press, a tight and gossipy clique, it's hard to see how they could be mistaken about this.

What is going on behind the scenes remains to be seen. But one definite possibilty is a straight cover-up. Remember, this is one case in which the old Washington cliche that 'the cover-up is always worse than the act' doesn't apply. The original act is certainly enough to destroy a career, and the guilty paty is likely to need good luck (and good attorneys) to stay out of jail. By contrast, simply telling a few lies to reporters or subordinates is relatively trivial.