By American Progress Action Fund
In August 2004, Karl Rove told CNN, "I didn't know her name and didn't leak her name." The New York Times reveals this morning that Rove was not truthful on both counts. According to the Times, "Mr. Rove has told investigators that he learned from the columnist [Robert Novak] the name of the C.I.A. officer" and confirmed that she was employed at the CIA. Rove told Novak upon hearing of Plame's identity and occupation, "I heard that, too." The growing scandal that President Bush has called "a very serious matter," a matter which has forced him and his vice president to be interviewed by a federal prosecutor, is now forcing the White House to deal with a major credibility problem over unanswered questions. The New York Times writes, "The disclosure of Mr. Rove's conversation with Mr. Novak raises a question the White House has never addressed: whether Mr. Rove ever discussed that conversation, or his exchange with [Time magazine reporter Matt] Cooper, with the president." The credibility of the entire Bush White House is at stake, and it's time for them to stop playing politics and address the issue candidly.
NEW EVIDENCE CONFIRMS ROVE WAS A SOURCE FOR NOVAK: According to the New York Times, Karl Rove spoke with columnist Robert Novak a week prior to publication of Novak's column which outed undercover CIA agent Valerie Plame. In that 7/8/03 conversation, Novak brought up Plame's role at the CIA, and Rove confirmed for the reporter that Plame did indeed work at the CIA. "I heard that, too," said Rove. Novak called Rove shortly after former Ambassador Joseph Wilson published an editorial in the New York Times which concluded that "some of the intelligence related to Iraq's nuclear weapons program was twisted to exaggerate the Iraqi threat." On July 14, 2003, Novak reported that "two senior administration officials" confirmed that Plame worked for the CIA as "an Agency operative on weapons of mass destruction." After the article caused the CIA to request the the Department of Justice launch a criminal investigation into the disclosure of Plame, Novak was forced to explain what he was thinking. In the article published on 10/1/03, Novak said that when he called the second official for confirmation, that official said: "Oh, you know about it." According to the Times, that confirmation came from senior adviser to the president and deputy chief of staff Karl Rove.
ROVE WAS A SOURCE FOR BOTH ARTICLES ABOUT PLAME: The Washington Post notes today that the new revelation "means that Rove talked to both of the journalists who are known to have published original accounts about Plame." Besides Novak's column, the other original account was an article that appeared on Time magazine's website. An e-mail revealed by Newsweek last week proved that Rove told Time's White House correspondent Matt Cooper in July 2003 that "wilson's wife" worked "at the agency on wmd."
WHITE HOUSE DENIALS DEMAND AN EXPLANATION: The new revelations about Rove's confirmed status as one of the White House leakers demands some sort of explanation from the White House. Earlier this week, President Bush raised eyebrows when he stopped short of making a public statement in support of Rove despite Scott McClellan's insistence that everyone who works at the White House "has the confidence of the President." The White House has passed up opportunity after opportunity to publicly comment and has instead resorted to behind-the-scenes spin and symbolic gestures. The White House must explain why, in 2003, it said "it is a ridiculous suggestion" to say Rove was involved and why it said "it's simply not true" that Rove was "involved in leaking classified information." The White House, with its access to e-mails, phone logs, and direct personal interactions with key players involved, can put out the facts and begin to tell its story. There's no reason that Bush has to wait to comment until the investigation is complete, particularly given that the White House has not hesitated to comment previously while the investigation was ongoing.
RIGHT-WING FAILS TO HOLD ROVE ACCOUNTABLE: Yesterday, an amendment to the Homeland Security appropriations bill was offered to "deny access to classified information to any federal employee who discloses a covert CIA agent's identity." This seemingly noncontroversial measure was shot down in a 53-44 vote, simply because Karl Rove would quite possibly have been the first official to be subject to the penalty. Some of the senators who ended up voting against the amendment were waiting on the fence to decide which way to vote and "did not vote until it was clear the measure would fail." The right-wing then turned the amendment into an attack against its critics by irresponsibly offering language that would have given our enemies power over national security. Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-TN) offered an amendment that would have revoked the national security clearance of any administration official or officeholder who "makes a statement [which is subsequently] used as propaganda by terrorist organizations." Thus, terrorists could determine whose security credentials they would like to be revoked by merely releasing a statement against that politician. This blatantly partisan bill was an attempt to attack Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) and others over their comments relating to abuses at Guantanamo Bay, but the bill ultimately reflected Frist's abuse of power. Frist's amendment failed on a 64-33 vote.