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Rove Lies About Leak-Proof Bush White House

February 10, 2009

As recounted in the Los Angeles Times today, Karl Rove last week laughably claimed of the Bush White House, "we didn't leak." Of course, Valerie Plame, the covert CIA operative outed by the administration over its bogus claim that Iraq sought yellowcake in Niger, can attest to Rove's lie. As it turns out, Team Bush and its allies leaked classified national security information all the time, almost always for partisan political advantage. And while the conservative echo chamber sought medals for right-wing leakers, it demanded prosecution for the whistleblowers who shone a spotlight on the criminality of the Bush administration.
For his part, Rove in a speech last week blithely skipped over his role in confirming Plame's secret identity to Robert Novak, choosing instead to lecture the new Obama administration:

"I love how the last eight years, this White House, the Bush White House, was criticized for being tight-lipped. We didn't leak. I hope Barack Obama has a White House that doesn't leak."

Of course, Rove was just one of many Bush administration officials who revealed or confirmed Valerie Plame's identity to the press as payback for her husband Joe Wilson's damning July 7, 2003 op-ed on uranium in Africa. While President Bush comically announced on October 7, 2003 that," I don't know if we're going to find out the senior administration official," Vice President Cheney's chief-of-staff Scooter Libby was ultimately convicted of perjury and obstruction of justice in preventing the truth from coming to light.
For ending Plame's career and endangering her network of contacts worldwide, Bush's amen corner believes the like of Rove, Armitage, Fleischer and Libby deserved not punishment, but rewards. In November 2007, John Gibson, decried "an anti-Bush cabal at the CIA" that needed to be "rooted out" and cheered the White House leakers on:

"I'm the guy who said a long, long time ago that whoever outed Valerie Plame should get a medal. And if it was Karl Rove, I'd pin it on him myself."

(The following month, right-wing mouthpiece and failed Bush Labor nominee Linda Chavez echoed Gibson. She claimed that Jose Rodriquez, who as head of the CIA's clandestine service destroyed secret tapes which revealed enhanced interrogation techniques including waterboarding, "deserves a medal.")
As the record shows, the Bush White House's leaking of classified information in the Plame affair also extended to Vice President Dick Cheney and his well-timed PlameGate disclosures. In that politically treacherous summer of 2003, Cheney authorized the cherry-picked declassification of elements of the 2002 Iraq NIE as part of a campaign to smear Ambassador Joseph Wilson over his public decimation of the White House's uranium in Niger canard. (Americans learned of Cheney's gambit from his former chief-of-staff Scooter Libby, who during grand jury testimony revealed his boss' July 2003 order to leak parts of the NIE.)
President Bush's Republican allies in Congress leaked like sieves as well. Pat Roberts (R-KS), the long-time chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee was also a fervent defender of Bush's surveillance program, famously proclaiming, "You really don't have any civil liberties if you're dead." But as the National Journal reported in April 2006, Roberts leaked details regarding Saddam Hussein's whereabouts on March 20, 2003 as the Iraq war was just getting underway. His "disclosing sensitive intelligence information, the National Journal reported, "impaired efforts to capture Saddam Hussein."
House Minority Leader John Boehner, too, revealed classified information to the public. As Talking Points Memo detailed, in the summer of 2007 the Bush administration was pressing for Congress to codify its regime of illegal NSA domestic surveillance. And at the forefront was Boehner, who warned of a "gap in intelligence" because a FISA court judge had earlier - and secretly - ruled part of the eavesdropping program illegal. Ultimately, Democrats caved that August by legalizing President Bush's previously illicit warrantless wiretapping.
These and other episodes strategic leaking for political payback, of course, were absent from Rove's address last week at Loyola Marymount University. But for those whisteblowers in government and their partners in the press who revealed the secret - and rampant - criminality of the Bush administration, Rove had only scorn:

"So when the New York Times took it upon itself to describe an intelligence program that used electronic means of communication and information-gathering ... by which we listen in to the electronic communications of our enemy abroad -- their satellite phones, their Internet messages, anything of an electronic nature. When the New York Times let it be known that we were doing this, it put America and our allies at risk."

As it turns out, Rove isn't alone. From the beginning, President Bush and his water carriers have called for heads to roll over the NSA revelations.
In December 2005, a furious President Bush thundered against the New York Times for its December 16th disclosure of the NSA domestic spying program, which he deemed "a shameful act" that is "helping the enemy." Under Alberto Gonzales, the Bush Department of Justice launched an investigation, which ultimately led to former DOJ official Thomas Tamm as one of the paper's leak sources. (While conservatives no doubt will continue to call for the prosecution of both Tamm and the New York Times, the Obama administration will likely pursue neither.)
And so it goes. In Rove's revisionist history, the Bush White House never leaked. If it did, its supporters insist, the leakers were noble public servants who should be lauded. As for the actual heroes who alerted Americans to illegal domestic spying, data mining, secret prisons overseas and torture of terror detainee, they, the Bushies demand, belong in prison.


Jon Perr
Jon Perr is a technology marketing consultant and product strategist who writes about American politics and public policy.

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