Voice in the Wilderness

The news about the "war on terror" your local newspaper won't print.

Friday, July 22, 2005

The Lies That Bind

Here in the wilderness we've been watching the Valerie Plame story with amusement. It seems rather funny that the press is shocked -- shocked! -- that veteran Texas hatchet man Karl Rove would have anything to do with the leaking of her name and the fact that she was a covert CIA operative.

Anyone who's followed Rove's career knows that this sort of behavior was entirely consistent with his M.O. Witness the campaign that put George W. Bush in the Texas governor's chair. It wasn't long before rumors began to spread that incumbent Ann RIchards was populating state government with . . . lesbians! And that they had a "personal" agenda. That was code to every right-thinking Christian soul in Texas.

As author James Moore lays out in his seminal volume Bush's Brain, Rove left no smoking gun specifically linking him with the smear. But Chuck McDonald, Richards' press secretary at the time, had no illusions about who started it. Nor about the fact that Rove's direct-marketing firm issued a mail campaign blasting Richards for vetoing a bill that would have allowed Texans to pack concealed heat. "I don't think it's any secret that the person who really set the Republican agenda was Karl Rove," McDonald told the authors.

So Rove's involvement is about as surprising as Hermione Granger scoring all A's at Hogwarts. But what is surprising is the way the web of lies is unraveling about the White House faster than a frayed ball of string. It's so . . . amateurish!

The latest Nixonesque breach in the fortress was reported today by Bloomberg News; you probably won't see it in your local newspaper today. But if the allegations pan out, they could lead to charges of perjury filed against Rove and his counterpart in Dick Cheney's office, I. Lewis (Scooter) Libby. Bloomberg reports that the two lied to the grand jury investigating the leak. Bloomberg's Richard Keil reports:
Lewis "Scooter" Libby, Vice President Dick Cheney's chief of staff, told special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald that he first learned from NBC News reporter Tim Russert of the identity of Central Intelligence Agency operative Valerie Plame, the wife of former ambassador and Bush administration critic Joseph Wilson, one person said. Russert has testified before a federal grand jury that he didn't tell Libby of Plame's identity, the person said.

White House Deputy Chief of Staff Karl Rove told Fitzgerald that he first learned the identity of the CIA agent from syndicated columnist Robert Novak, according a person familiar with the matter. Novak, who was first to report Plame's name and connection to Wilson, has given a somewhat different version to the special prosecutor, the person said.

These discrepancies may be important because Fitzgerald is investigating whether Libby, Rove or other administration officials made false statements during the course of the investigation. The Plame case has its genesis in whether any administration officials violated a 1982 law making it illegal to knowingly reveal the name of a covert intelligence agent. (Read the entire article.)
There's also a difference of tales told by Rove and Time magazine reporter Matt Cooper. As Keil writes:
The White House aide mentioned Wilson's wife - though not by name - in a July 11, 2003, conversation with Cooper, the reporter said. Rove, 55, says that Cooper called him to talk about welfare reform and the Wilson connection was mentioned later, in passing.

Cooper wrote in Time magazine last week that he told the grand jury he never discussed welfare reform with Rove in that call.
The Bush White House has gained grudging respect from conspiracy theorists for its masterful use of plausible deniabilty -- roughly akin to not having a trace of blood on you though you're holding a knife in a slaughterhouse. Should it be proved that Rove and Libby lied to the grand jury, they will have dropped even below the level of cheap conspirators such as G. Gordon Liddy. Awww, hell. They don't make 'em like they used to.