Friday, July 15, 2005

The Karl Rove Scandal: A Summary for Beginners


In February of 2002, a few months after 9/11 and more
than a year before we went to war, the Bush
administration was searching for ways to justify going
to war (sorry, it’s true).

One avenue they were pursuing was the idea that Saddam
Hussein was trying to buy uranium from the country of
Niger, where they have a lot of it.

So someone from the White House asked the CIA about
it, and they decided to send someone to Niger. A
covert CIA operative named Valerie Plame, who works in
the department of the CIA devoted to preventing the
spread of weapons of mass destruction, mentioned that
her husband, Joe Wilson, was an expert in such issues
and was available.

Who is Joe Wilson?

Joe Wilson was career foreign service officer who
served from 1976 to 1998. In 1990, he was the U.S.
Ambassador to Iraq. After Hussein invaded Kuwait, and
war was in the offing, he was trapped in Iraq. While
sheltering more than a hundred Americans at the U.S.
Embassy and diplomatic residences, Saddam Hussein
threatened to execute by hanging anyone who didn't
turn all foreigners over to him.

Joe Wilson defied Hussein by showing up to the
confrontation, with reporters watching, with a noose
tied around his neck.

He boldly stated, "If you want to execute me, I'll
bring my own damm rope."

Saddam was intimated and backed down. All the
Americans were let go.

This toughness impressed President George H.W. Bush,
who called Wilson a "truly inspiring" diplomat who
exhibited "courageous leadership" by facing down
Hussein and helping to gain freedom for the Americans
before the 1991 war began.

He wrote in a personal note:

"Dear Joe — Both Barbara and I appreciated your note
of Jan. 25. Even more, we appreciate your service to
your country and your courageous leadership when you
were in Baghdad. Good Luck. Many Thanks. George Bush"

The Secretary of State wrote:

"To Joe Wilson, with deep appreciation for your
outstanding service to the nation — and with warmest
personal regards. Jim Baker"

After that, he was President George H. W. Bush's
ambassador to Gabon and São Tomé & Príncipe; then,
under President Bill Clinton, he helped direct Africa
policy for the National Security Council.

So he had vast experience in Africa AND with Hussein’s
Iraq. So Joe Wilson is a genuine American hero and
was obviously qualified to go to Niger and discover if
Saddam was seeking uranium.



So the CIA asked Joe Wilson to go on this mission to
Niger, with the full backing of the United States
government. All his expenses would be paid for the
U.S., but he would making the trip free of charge. He
would be paid nothing. He would do it out of sheer
patriotism. This is a concept that is difficult for
some people to grasp to this day.

Of course, he got a free vacation to Niger out of it,
but, bear in mind, the Niger Uranium Mine District,
is not exactly the Non-Stop All Night Party Town you may have heard it

First he met with the American Ambassador to Niger,
who had already debunked the idea that Saddam was
trying to buy uranium. Long story short, that’s what
he found too.

Hussein had not attempted, and certainly not
succeeded, in buying uranium from Africa. (There’s on
allegation of a sort-of attempt, but that’s it.)

He didn’t file a written report, but his findings, he
said, were almost certainly given to people higher up,
including the Vice President’s office.

There the matter ended until September of 2002, when
the British began insisting Hussein could launch an
attack with his uranium missiles in 45 minutes, and
Bush cited the British in his State of the Union
Speech of January of 2003.

Bush said “The British government has learned that
Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities
of uranium from Africa.”

This statement was based on documents that later
turned out to be forged.

Then we went to war.

Then, on July 6, 2003, Joe Wilson wrote a now famous
editorial in the New York Times titled “What I Didn’t
Find in Africa.”

In a very low-key way, he described what he found, and
the fact that the Vice President and President may
have based the decision to go to war on mistaken

He wrote: “More than 200 American soldiers have lost
their lives in Iraq already. We have a duty to ensure
that their sacrifice came for the right reasons.”

Since then, of course, more than 1,500 American
soldiers have been killed.

He was also no peacenik. He wrote in the op-ed:

“I was convinced before the war that the threat of
weapons of mass destruction in the hands of Saddam
Hussein required a vigorous and sustained
international response to disarm him. Iraq possessed
and had used chemical weapons; it had an active
biological weapons program and quite possibly a
nuclear research program — all of which were in
violation of United Nations resolutions. Having
encountered Mr. Hussein and his thugs in the run-up to
the Persian Gulf war of 1991, I was only too aware of
the dangers he posed.”



Then all hell broke loose. The White House read the
op-ed and freaked out. He practically suggested that
the White House exaggerated the threat from Iraq to
justify the case for war!

This was in July, and we were supposed to have found
massive amounts of weapons of mass destruction in
Iraq. None were found.

First, the White House admitted it was wrong:

Ari Fleischer said: "The president's statement was
based on the predicate of the yellow cake [uranium]
from Niger. So given the fact that the report on the
yellow cake did not turn out to be accurate, that is
reflective of the president's broader statement."

On July 11, George Tenet admitted that Bush’s
statement had no factual basis, and boasted that he
had kept similar statements out of two speeches Bush
gave earlier.

Meanwhile, the Slime and Defend Machine began to kick

Wilson had to personally destroyed, just like Al Gore,
John McCain, Paul O’Neill, Richard Clarke, all
honorable men who had the misfortune to tell the truth
in a way that might stand in the way George Bush
acquiring more power.

That same day, Tenet made his admission, July 11, Karl
Rove spoke with Time Magazine reporter Matt Cooper on,
I swear this is true, “Double Super Secret
Background,” telling him that Joe Wilson couldn’t be
trusted, that “Joe Wilson’s wife” was an operative in
WMD at the CIA, and that she had suggested he go on
the mission to Niger.

That same week, someone high up in the administration,
possible Rove, maybe not, told 5 other reporters the
same thing, possibly including Robert Novak, who
rushed a story out stating that Wilson couldn’t be
believed because, quote:

“Wilson never worked for the CIA, but his wife,
Valerie Plame, is an Agency operative on weapons of
mass destruction. Two senior administration officials
told me Wilson's wife suggested sending him to Niger
to investigate the Italian report. The CIA says its
counter-proliferation officials selected Wilson and
asked his wife to contact him. 'I will not answer any
question about my wife,' Wilson told me.”

-- Robert Novak, Washington Post.

In a later column Novak said he included this
paragraph "because it looked like the missing
explanation of an otherwise incredible choice by the
CIA for its mission." After all, he wrote: “I was
curious why a high-ranking official in President Bill
Clinton's National Security Council (NSC)” would be
chosen for the mission.

He claimed that: “Wilson had become a vocal opponent
of President Bush's policies in Iraq after
contributing to Al Gore in the last election cycle and
John Kerry in this one.”

And he wrote that: “During a long conversation with a
senior administration official, I asked why Wilson was
assigned the mission to Niger. He said Wilson had been
sent by the CIA's counterproliferation section at the
suggestion of one of its employees, his wife.”



So now you know what happened. Bob Novak revealed the
identity of an operative in the CIA, which is a crime,
which led directly to the current investigation.

None of this would be that big a deal except that this
week Matt Cooper of Time Magazine testified before a
Grand Jury that Karl Rove personally told him Valerie
Plame’s identity.

We all thought it would never come out, and if it DID
come out, it would turn to be someone like Scooter
Libby, Cheney’s Chief of Staff. But Karl Rove!
Bush’s buddy since the 1970s! Isn’t he too smart for

So Republicans and Right Wing nutjobs have been
pushing the most outrageous lies and ridiculous
arguments for the past week, to justify Karl Rove’s
quite possibly treasonous behavior.

I’ll start with Valerie Plame Wilson, since it goes to
the heart of why Karl Rove is so evil.

“Valerie Plame Wilson was not a covert agent, so no
law was broken.”

Even this were true, I take it for granted revealing
the status of non-covert agents is still pretty evil.
But this is false. In fact, the CIA says she was
covert. The prosecutor believes she was covert, or he
wouldn’t be bothering.

And she was in fact, MORE covert than the average
operative. Some agents travel with a diplomatic
passport – they can’t be arrested where they travel.
But she didn’t. She she went out in public and
traveled with an ordinary passport. Like James Bond
or that girl from “Alias,” the MOST covert agents
travel as ordinary people, traveling from city to
city, in her case, investigating the spread of nuclear
materials. If Valerie Plame had ever been caught
spying in another country, the U.S. would have
disavowed all knowledge of her, and she could have
been executed.

Valerie Plame pretended to work for an American
corporation, called Brewster-Jennings & Associates. It
was a actually a CIA front company, and she had a
network of informants all around the world helping he
spy on people and governments allowing for the illicit
sale of materials of weapons of mass destruction.

She was trying to stop bad people from exploding a
nuclear bomb on an American city.

Now we see what a scurrilous weasel, what a loathsome,
anti-American, power-mad freak Rove is.

When he outed Valerie Plame, he not only ruined her
ability to ever fight terrorism, he destroyed anyone
who ever worked at Brewster-Jennings, AND all of her
contacts around the world AND ALL the contacts of
ANYONE who ever worked at Brewster-Jennings, AND ALL
of THEIR contacts.

All a terrorist, or corrupt government has to do is
say, “Hey, Valerie Plame was in Ukraine last year.
And who did she meet with? Let’s see – Boris in the
Ministry of Defense? He met with a CIA officer?
Maybe we should have a chat with Boris!”

Bye, bye, Boris.


The other lies are so stupid, I’m enjoying watching
the spin, because they are so idiotic and so easily

Some claims you may hear:

“Joe Wilson is a liar.”

Sometimes this is based on the idea that Wilson
claimed that Dick Cheney personally sent him to Niger,
and Rove was trying to “correct” that by saying, “no,
it was it was his undercover wife.”

First of all, it wouldn’t justify outing a CIA agent,
but Wilson never made that claim, and if he had,
Cheney could have issued a simple statement, saying “I
didn’t send Wilson to Niger,” and I might add, it
doesn’t matter who sent him, anyway.

Another version of this is that Wilson “lied” because
he didn’t state in his original op-ed that his wife
sent him to Niger.

Seriously, this is making the rounds on Fox News. He
wife DIDN’T send him to Niger, but even if she did, it
doesn’t affect finding regarding the uranium claim,
and it STILL wouldn’t justify revealing his wife’s
covert status.

(Which they know, which is why it was on “Double Super
Secret Background”!)

“Plame was singlehandedly responsible for getting
Wilson the unpaid job in Niger.”

This utterly ridiculous on its face, and even if it
were true, so what? What is this meant to prove? Or
is it an attempt to smear Joe Wilson without
substance? Yeah, I think so.

“Wilson is inept.”

Whatever, see above.

“Plame, Wilson, and the entire CIA are driven by
irrational hatred of the Bush administration.”

Seriously, this is newest argument. I think they may
finally lose the American people with this one. A
vast conspiracy involving all the hippie weirdos at
the CIA. One that, apparently, involves George Tenet,
Ari Fleischer, Saddam Hussein, and hiding tons of
weapons of mass destruction.

“Iraq was, in fact, seeking to acquire uranium from

Like hell it was. And irrelevant.

“Rove didn't know Valerie Plame's name.”

Not that it matters, (he called her “Joe Wilson’s
wife”) but we learned just THIS MORNING that he did.

“Rove didn’t use her name.”

This is funniest one. He said, “Joe Wilson’s wife,”
which is good enough for me. But he revealed her
identity. That’s all.

“Rove didn't realize Plame was covert.”

This is possible, but only in the sense that he didn’t
“Know, Know” if you know what I mean. He “knew” she
worked for the CIA, he “thought” she had enough power
to send Joe to Iraq by herself, he “knew” she worked
on weapons of mass destruction, but he gave her name
to the whole world because the ghost of Lee Atwater
told him to.
You think the American people will buy that?

“Plame's covert status wasn't protected well by the

Yeah, it’s their fault!

“Wilson identified his wife on his web site.”

It was her identity as a CIA operative, not his wife,
that was once a secret.

“She appeared in public, even on tv!”

He existence was not secret, her status was.

“Novak never identified her as a covert CIA agent,
just a CIA agent. Liberals outed her as covert

They’re kidding, with this one, I assume.

“It was just a short phone call.”

Well, why not a little treason to end a conversation?

“Rove really wanted to speak about welfare reform.”

What’s that cologne called, Mr. Rove? “Desperation.”

“Wilson went on too many TV shows, and wrote a book.”

Laugh all you want, Wolf Blizter called this a
“serious allegation.”

“Rove is the real whistleblower – he’s a hero who
leaked Plame's identity in the interests of good

This is the “Wall Street Journal” stance. Sure, poor
victimized Karl Rove – he outs one undercover CIA
officer to protect Dick Cheney from real allegations
that he used forged documents to take America to war
by not mentioning her name in one short phone call
about welfare reform and he’s tagged for life.


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