The Plame Game 

In case you didn’t know by now, Karl Rove began his political career in Salt Lake City as chair of the University of Utah’s College Republicans in 1973 and 1974. And who would have ever guessed that, after dropping out of the University of Utah, he would someday land on his feet as senior adviser to the most powerful person in the world? Well, the bigger they come, the harder they fall.



Forget, for a moment, the delicious taste of schadenfreude as Rove feels some heat himself after all those years of deriding Democrats as simpering, morally relativistic and unpatriotic. conservative columnist Ann Coulter lambastes Vietnam War veteran and former U.S. Senator Max Cleland of Georgia for losing both legs and one arm to a grenade accident near Khe Sanh instead of giving his limbs for his country on the battlefield. we know conservatives carry very rigid views about who’s a patriot and who isn’t. By that same standard, U.S. Army Cpl. Pat Tillman’s sacrifice also counts for nothing, as he was killed in Afghanistan by friendly fire.



What, then, can we say about the personal patriotism of a presidential adviser who may have revealed the identity of a covert CIA agent working in the delicate field of counterproliferation? Does such a person really have his country’s best interest at heart? Any rational person knows the answer. And if patriotism fails to move us, we have the law to fall back on. Yes, the law. As Rush Limbaugh says, some of us still have some respect for it. The Intelligence Identities Protection Act of 1982 states it is a crime for those with access to classified information to disclose intentionally the identity of a covert agent.



We may soon find out how much Rove respects not only the law, but how much he cares about the security of our nation. To be fair, perhaps we should hedge our suspicions. Rove signed a waiver permitting any reporter he spoke with to testify about the Plame affair. Perhaps he has nothing to hide. But the fact that Rove told a Time magazine reporter that former U.S. Ambassador Joseph C. Wilson’s trip to Niger for investigation into claims of Saddam Hussein’s weapons of mass destruction was authorized, as the reporter’s e-mail states, by “Wilson’s wife, who apparently works at the agency on wmd issues” seems damning enough.



As we now know, and as Wilson tried in vain to tell the CIA and the White House before the war, the story of Saddam’s quest for Nigerian uranium was bogus. The International Atomic Energy Agency said as much in March 2003. That never stopped Rove, who ostensibly attempted to discredit not just Wilson’s authority as a critic of the Iraq war, but the authority under which he was sent to Niger. After all, how valid can any critic of the war be if sent to Nigeria on his wife’s recommendation? Conservative commentator Robert Novak bought that line when, thanks to “two senior administration officials,” he divulged the name of Wilson’s wife, one Valerie Plame, in a July 14, 2003, column.



Ever since then, Wilson has been adamant that the leaking of his wife’s name was political retribution for daring to question the administration’s prewar intelligence. The White House has said for two years now that Rove had no part in the Plame leak, and Bush has promised he’ll can the person responsible. Watch as he keeps that promise'or doesn’t.

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