though I'm a tranquil guy now at this stage of
my life, I have nothing but contempt and anger
for those who betray the trust by exposing the
name of our sources. They are, in my view, the
most insidious of traitors."
George Herbert Walker Bush, 1999
Rove, senior political advisor to George W. Bush,
is a very powerful man. That is not to say he
has never been in trouble. Rove was fired from
the 1992 Bush Sr. campaign for trashing Robert
Mosbacher, Jr., who was the chief fundraiser for
the campaign and an avowed Bush loyalist. Rove
accomplished this trashing of Mosbacher by planting
a negative story with columnist Bob Novak. The
campaign figured out that Karl had done the dirty
deed, and he was given his walking papers.
Rove is back in the saddle again. The January
2003 edition of Esquire magazine carried an article
by Ron Suskind which quoted comments from John
DiIulio, a domestic policy advisor to the White
House who had just retired from his post. On October
24, DiIulio had sent a letter to Suskind describing
what he had seen while working for the Bush administration.
The meat of the letter described an administration
far, far more interested in raw political triangulation
and ruthless spin than in actual policy and government
functionality. Some excerpts from DiIulio's letter:
are inclined to blame the high political-to-policy
ratios of this administration on Karl Rove...
some staff members, senior and junior, are awed
and cowed by Karl's real or perceived powers.
They self-censor lots for fear of upsetting him,
and, in turn, few of the president's top people
routinely tell the president what they really
think if they think that Karl will be brought
up short in the bargain. Karl is enormously powerful,
maybe the single most powerful person in the modern,
post-Hoover era ever to occupy a political advisor
post near the Oval Office."
a casual political observer would have trouble
missing the fact that this is one of the sharpest
political outfits ever to reside in the Oval Office.
Bush's team is a unified wall, cemented to their
message-of-the-day, and they have done very well
for themselves because of this. All of this can
be laid at the feet of Karl Rove, the senior political
advisor to George W. Bush. According to DiIulio,
the preeminence of political considerations within
this administration is so complete that any and
all policy considerations or contemplation of
actual issues are not so much in the back seat
as they are in the trunk below the spare tire
and the jack. This, again, can be laid at the
feet of Mr. Rove.
of Washington and the country has been buzzing
for the last few days over a report that the CIA
has asked the Justice Department to investigate
the White House regarding a matter of important
national security. The wife of a former ambassador
named Joseph Wilson, it has been alleged, was
'outed' as an active CIA agent to columnist Robert
Novak by this White House in an act of political
Wilson was the man dispatched to Niger in February
of 2002 by the CIA, after Vice President Dick
Cheney asked CIA to figure out whether there was
any substance to the charge that Iraq was attempting
to procure uranium "yellow cake" from that nation
for the purpose of starting a nuclear weapons
program. Ambassador Wilson went, investigated,
and returned eight days later to state flatly
that the evidence was garbage. He has claimed
since that his analysis was one of three intelligence
reports debunking the Niger story. Ambassador
Wilson told this to Cheney's office, the CIA,
the State Department, and the National Security
Council. Despite the fact that Wilson made it
clear that these allegations were untrue -- it
was revealed that the 'evidence' to support the
Niger uranium charge was a pile of crudely forged
documents -- George W. Bush used the Niger uranium
evidence dramatically in his 2003 State of the
July, Ambassador Wilson went very public, criticizing
the White House for using evidence to support
war that they knew was patently false. One week
later, Robert Novak reported that Wilson's wife,
Valerie Plame, was a CIA operative. As it turns
out, two senior White House officials cold-called
six different journalists and informed them of
Valerie Plame's status as a CIA agent, according
to an anonymous administration official quoted
by the Washington Post. None of the journalists
ran the story. That same administration official
was quoted about these revelations as saying,
"Clearly, it was meant purely and simply for revenge."
Joseph Wilson likewise charges that this act was
done as an act of revenge for his vocal criticism
of George W. Bush and the administration's actions
leading up to the Iraq war. Specifically, he views
Karl Rove as being possibly involved in, or at
least condoning, the cutting down of his wife.
facts of this story are singularly grotesque.
Taken at the top layer, you have a White House
that appears perfectly willing to go after the
family members of its critics. Valerie Plame's
career is destroyed, period. The act itself displays
a level of viciousness that is dangerous to the
functioning of this, or any, democracy.
the second layer and you discover the rank illegality
of it all. Section 421 of the Intelligence Identities
Protection Act of 1982 reads as follows:
having or having had authorized access to classified
information that identifies a covert agent, intentionally
discloses any information identifying such covert
agent to any individual not authorized to receive
classified information, knowing that the information
disclosed so identifies such covert agent and
that the United States is taking affirmative measures
to conceal such covert agent's intelligence relationship
to the United States, shall be fined under title
18 or imprisoned not more than ten years, or both."
third layer is where the darkness truly lurks,
and where the deadly importance of this situation
lies. Valerie Plame was not simply an analyst
or a data cruncher. She was an operative running
a network dedicated to tracking any person or
nation that might try to give weapons of mass
destruction to terrorists. That sentence deserves
to be written twice. She was an operative running
a network dedicated to tracking any person or
nation that might try to give weapons of mass
destruction to terrorists.
Bush administration pushed very hard the idea
that America is in danger from WMDs being placed
into the hands of terrorists. This was one of
the central arguments behind the war in Iraq.
Yet in order to protect Bush's political standing,
a couple of "administration officials" blew Valerie
Plame, and by proxy her network, completely out
of the water in an attempt to shut her husband
up. In short, in order to protect Bush from the
ramifications of using fake evidence to support
his war, this White House destroyed an intelligence
network that was protecting us from the threat
posed by chemical, biological, and nuclear weapons.
are less safe now that Valerie Plame is no longer
performing this vital task, and the members of
her network are in mortal danger of being revealed
and destroyed. Beyond that, we are facing a level
of hypocrisy that shatters any and all previously
known boundaries. This administration ginned up
a war in Iraq based upon manufactured evidence
and wildly overstated threats, all of which was
painted over with rhetoric about defending the
country from terrorists and weapons of mass destruction.
The fate of Valerie Plame, and her network, shows
without doubt that the moral standing of this
administration is as empty as Saddam Hussein's
Ambassador Wilson's words, "Naming her this way
would have compromised every operation, every
relationship, every network with which she had
been associated in her entire career. This is
the stuff of Kim Philby and Aldrich Ames."
current spin from administration defenders within
and without the mainstream media is that Valerie
Plame was only an analyst, and not an operative.
This, somehow, is supposed to lessen the blow
of an administration willing to attack the families
of its critics. Yet the characterization of Plame
as an analyst is factually incorrect. For one,
Robert Novak himself indicated that she was an
operative in the original report that birthed
this scandal. "Wilson never worked for the CIA,"
wrote Novak, "but his wife, Valerie Plame, is
an Agency operative on weapons of mass destruction."
McGovern, who was for 27-years a senior analyst
for the CIA, further confirms the status of Plame
within the CIA. "I know Joseph Wilson well enough
to know," said McGovern in a telephone conversation
we had today, "that his wife was in fact a deep
cover operative running a network of informants
on what is supposedly this administration's first-priority
issue: Weapons of mass destruction."
further elaborated on the damage done when such
an agent has their cover blown. "This causes a
great deal of damage," said McGovern. "These kinds
of networks take ten years to develop. The reason
why they operate under deep cover is that the
only people who have access to the kind of data
we need cannot be associated in any way with the
American intelligence community. Our operatives
live a lie to maintain these networks, and do
so out of patriotism. When they get blown, the
operatives themselves are in physical danger.
The people they recruit are also in physical danger,
because foreign intelligence services can make
the connections and find them. Operatives like
Valerie Plame are real patriots."
Rove has done this kind of thing before, specifically
using Robert Novak in that one notable attempt
to cut down Mosbacher. Rove is a disciple of the
undisputed heavyweight champion of political assassins,
Lee Atwater, and has often reached into a deep
bag of dirty tricks to accomplish his political
ends. He knows no ideology beyond power, and has
no bones about using it to wreak havoc on anyone
who gets in his crosshairs. The Esquire article
about DiIulio finds him recounting a singular
Rove moment, as he overheard a conversation happening
in another room: "Inside, Rove was talking to
an aide about some political stratagem in some
state that had gone awry and a political operative
who had displeased him. I paid it no mind and
reviewed a jotted list of questions I hoped to
ask. But after a moment, it was like ignoring
a tornado flinging parked cars. 'We will fuck
him. Do you hear me? We will fuck him. We will
ruin him. Like no one has ever fucked him!'"
who was doing the cursing and threatening.
last bit of inside baseball. When the Niger scandal
erupted, the Bush administration went out of its
way to blame the CIA for the mess, despite the
fact that the CIA, along with the entire intelligence
community, had been cut out of the loop by Don
Rumsfeld's Office of Special Plans. The OSP, and
its pet Iraqi Ahmad Chalabi, became the source
for all of the information regarding Iraq's weapons
capabilities, and a number of intelligence insiders
have publicly blamed that group for the preponderance
of highly erroneous data about Iraq. For the Bush
administration to completely usurp the CIA by
depending solely on data manufactured by the Office
of Special Plans, and then to turn around and
blame CIA when the OSPs data did not turn out
to be true, is as insane as it is laughable. Yet
this is what they have done. The CIA's calling
for this investigation is nothing more or less
than the Agency defending itself, proving out
the oft-repeated warning that one scapegoats the
CIA at their mortal peril.
the fact that this data came to the Washington
post from a White House official means that another
Deep Throat may have just been born.
White House has denied the allegation, and promises
a full investigation. A great many people find
it laughable to believe this White House is capable
of investigating itself, and are demanding an
independent investigation. A quick look at the
White House telephone logs will reveal who called
whom, and when. It may well be the case that Rove
was not involved; there are several administration
officials -- Cheney, Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, Perle,
Rice, Card -- along with a constellation of administration
associates and media mouthpieces, who had a vested
interest in shutting Ambassador Wilson's mouth.
The White House phone logs will be revelatory.
If this administration fails to hand those logs
over, they will stand in taint of high treason.
Rivers Pitt is the Managing Editor of truthout.org.
He is a New York Times and international best-selling
author of three books - "War On Iraq," available
from Context Books, "The Greatest Sedition is
Silence," available from Pluto Press, and "Our
Flag, Too: The Paradox of Patriotism," available
in August from Context Books.
October 1, 2003