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The Big Story Missing from "The Big Story"
Why would a news channel have a show called "The Big Story" and leave out the big story of Karl Rove and Traitorgate? Because it's Fox News following the GOP game plan of misdirection.
"The Big Story" on Wednesday (July 27, 2005) avoided mentioning the grand jury investigation into Rove's involvement in revealing the identity of a CIA agent. The outing was in retaliation for her husband's op-ed piece disproving the administration's claim that Saddam Hussein was trying to buy uranium to build a nuclear bomb.
The White House has been trying to divert attention from the scandal, even moving up its announcement of a Supreme Court nominee by ten days to get the press looking in another direction.
Garry Trudeau has kept his eye on the ball, however, with his Doonesbury comic strip on "Turd Blossom" Rove, although some newspapers declined to carry it earlier this week because of its reference to excrement. For those of you who haven't seen it, Tuesday's strip is available here, Wednesday's strip is here, and Thursday's is here.
In Thursday's strip, Bush offers Turd Blossom a promotion to chief justice of the Supreme Court to show he still has confidence in Rove.
While it's amusing to wonder what Rove's fate might be, it's downright astonishing that no one is wondering about the fate of the CIA agents affected by Rove's leak. Valerie Plame, the agent whom Rove is accused of identifying, was the head of a phony energy company and she undoubtedly had contacts with people overseas in that capacity. What has happened to them?
Someone should ask if the CIA has completed a damage assessment report as the agency routinely does whenever an agent's cover is blown. (And the fact that she was working at CIA headquarters at the time Rove allegedly blew her cover does not mean she was no longer undercover. She could have been working under official cover, meaning she was listed as working for another goverment agency.)
It also would be nice to know if the CIA plans to release that damage assessment. And if so, when? Are other countries' spy agencies less willing to work with the CIA, given the loose lips of the president's staff? How is this affecting the government's ability to keep its citizens safe from terrorists?
While Trudeau's strip does a good job of presenting Bush's quandry over Rove, the cartoonist deals with the narrow question of whether Rove violated the law if he identified Plame. There also is another issue -- the non-disclosure agreement that Rove signed in order to work in the White House, as required by Bush's own executive order.
The non-disclosure agreement says that an individual who works in the White House and signs the agreement can't release or even confirm classified information without first confirming that the information has been declassified.
According to the executive order and the agreement, anyone violating the rules "knowingly" or even "negligently" is subject to "reprimand, suspension without pay, removal, termination of classification authority, loss or denial of access to classified information, or other sanctions." The sanctions apply regardless or whether they knew the information was classified.
Someone -- maybe that investigative journalist Garry Trudeau -- should ask whether this non-disclosure agreement means anything to the White House. And is violating it enough to get someone fired, or do you have to break a law to get fired from the "Team Treason" White House?