While Andrew Sullivan and others on the left hold that Karl Rove (either or his own or through his mischievous minions) leaked the identity of Valerie Plame to the media in order to “smear Plame’s husband, Joseph Wilson,” anyone who spends a few moments studying the facts of the case will see that what little Rove had to say (or do) with the matter involved an attempt to steer a reporter away from the story. That doesn’t sound like much of a smear to me. While the President’s enemies think Rove was involved in an effort to retaliate against a critic, at most, he was involved (and tangentially at that) in an effort to discredit a dishonest critic, a man one who lied to the American people in his criticism of the Administration.
Even Andrew’s one-time New Republic colleague (to whom Andrew introduced me in 1991) Jacob Weisberg (via Instapundit) finds that “Wilson’s accusation that administration officials outed his wife to punish him for speaking up was never really credible.” Based on Judith Miller’s account of her testimony, Weisberg suggests that another Administration official, I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby, the Vice President’s chief of staff, may have leaked the name, not to smear Wilson, but as part of public dispute between the White House and the CIA. Weisberg notes that “Libby’s comments don’t look anything like retaliation against Joe Wilson—especially now that we know that Libby first mentioned Wilson and his wife to Judith Miller three weeks before Wilson went public with his op-ed piece.” (Emphasis added.)
Indeed, as Bush-haters are salivating at the possibility that Rove might be indicted, so certain are they that he sought to slime Mr. Wilson, they ignore how little Mr. Rove actually said to the media about Ms. Plame. Indeed, so far, I have yet to find any evidence that he ever mentioned her name to anyone at all, much less a reporter (before that name became common knowledge).
It seems Rove addressed the matter only two times, once merely acknowledging that he was aware that Wilson’s wife worked for the CIA. When columnist Robert Novak mentioned to him that “he had learned that Wilson’s wife worked for the CIA,” Rove replied, “I heard that, too.” The second time was when Rove warned Time reporter Matt Cooper “not to ‘get too far out on Wilson‘” as it was his wife “who apparently works at the agency on wmd [weapons of mass destruction] issues who authorized the trip.”
It is clear from those comments that, as Rove’s attorney Robert Luskin put it, his client “was trying to discourage Time magazine from circulating false allegations about Cheney, not trying to encourage them by saying anything about Wilson or his wife.” But, so eager are Bush’s critics to smear Karl Rove that they read his attempt to kill a story as a strategem to slime an administration critic.
Interestingly, it is Rove’s failure to remember that conversation with Cooper that could get him into trouble. In his latest post on this issue, JustOneMinute‘s Tom Maguire (via Instapundit) suggests Special counsel Patrick Fitzgerald may be weighing a perjury charge against Rove. Rove did not initially tell “tell grand jurors that he talked to TIME correspondent Matthew Cooper about Plame.” Methinks Fitzgerald would have a tough time proving perjury given that Rove “returned to the grand jury” as soon as Luskin alerted him to an e-mail he had sent mentioning the conversation.
While those with a low opinion of Rove will suggest that he deliberately deceived the grand jury, we all often forget conversations we have had, especially on topics not particularly significant to us. Given Rove’s limited commentary on the Plame matter, it seems clear this wasn’t an item high on his agenda. Not only that. It seems that in the conversations where he addressed the issue, he barely devoted much time to them, thus, they would be more likely to slip his mind.
I too have often forgotten conversations I have had — even posts I have written. Occasionally when reviewing this blog’s archives, I discover posts that I had forgotten about. Had you asked me if I had blogged on such and such topic (before I reviewed the archives), I might have said I never blogged on that. But, then should someone send me the link, I would, as Mr. Rove has done, immediately acknowledge the error. The fact that Rove voluntarily returned to the grand jury suggests that the conversation slipped his mind. A strong defense against a perjury charge.
Focusing on Karl Rove’s alleged misdeeds, the media has largely remained silent on Mr. Wilson’s. While most of the MSM describes Wilson as a critic of the Administration, as I noted here and here, in articles on the investigation, the LA Times neglected to mention that he’s a liar who has publicly misstated the circumstances of his being hired for his mission to Niger and who “gave the American people and, for that matter, the world a version of events that was inaccurate, unsubstantiated, and misleading.” Indeed, in an article this past Saturday, the LA Times once again notes Wilson’s criticisms of the Administration in his celebrated July 6 New York Times op-ed without mentioning that a Senate Intelligence Committee report discredited much of what he said in that piece.
It’s not just the LA Times. The New York Times seems eager to ignore that report as well. According to the Weekly Standard‘s Stephen F. Hayes, in a timeline accompanying “a lengthy, front-page article detailing the work of two senior Bush administration officials, Karl Rove and Scooter Libby, on the Niger-uranium story,” that paper omitted to include the date (July 7, 2004) the Senate Select Intelligence Committee released the aforementioned report. As Hayes puts it:
The Senate report includes a 48-page section on Wilson that demonstrates, in painstaking detail, that virtually everything Joseph Wilson said publicly about his trip, from its origins to his conclusions, was false.
This is not a minor detail. The Senate report, which served as the source for much of the chronology in this article, is the definitive study of the events leading up to the compromising of Valerie Plame. The committee staff, both Democrats and Republicans, read all of the intelligence. They saw all of the documents. They interviewed all of the characters. And every member of the committee from both parties signed the report.
While the MSM and Bush critics bloviate about Karl Rove’s alleged misdeeds, they ignore those of Joe Wilson, treating him as some kind of innocent victim in this, an honest man who sought only to expose the truth about the Administration’s case for war in Iraq. The media dwell on Rove’s minor infractions while neglecting Wilson’s major ones. Not pointing out that he worked on the Kerry campaign — until the Senate report discredited him — and not even mentioning that report or other evidence of his dishonesty.
Once again, it seems that many in the MSM would rather attack President Bush and his allies than offer an honest assessment of his Administration. His critics are especially eager to malign Mr. Rove. Perhaps, Mr. Fitzgerald has information of which I am not aware which proves to be incriminating to Rove. Barring that, there seems little in the public record to indict this good man.
The image of Rove as a diabolical henchmen ever eager to smear his boss’s every opponent exists only in the minds of Mr. Bush’s strongest critics, those with the greatest interest in seeing the man the president described as the “architect” of his re-election behind bars.
-Dan (AKA GayPatriotWest): GayPatriotWest@aol.com
UPDATE: Powerline offers a good analysis of a piece by Washington Post columnist E.J. Dionne on this topic. As I read the piece myself, I wondered how Dionne thinks mentioning Plame’s name to a reporter (or in Rove’s case, noting that she helped her husband get a job) is “attacking their adversaries without pity.”