Sunday, July 10, 2005

Getting Closer?

Via TPM, here’s the latest on the Rove story as reported by David Corn.

I received this as-solid-as-it-gets tip: on Sunday Newsweek is posting a story that nails Rove. The newsmagazine has obtained documentary evidence that Rove was indeed a key source for Time magazine’s Matt Cooper and that Rove–prior to the publication of the Bob Novak column that first publicly disclosed Valerie Wilson/Plame as a CIA official–told Cooper that former Ambassador Joseph Wilson’s wife apparently worked at the CIA and was involved in Joseph Wilson’s now-controversial trip to Niger.


This new evidence could place Rove in serious political, if not legal, jeopardy (or, at least it should). If what I am told is true, this is proof that the Bush White House was using any information it could gather on Joseph Wilson–even classified information related to national security–to pursue a vendetta against Wilson, a White House critic. Even if it turns out Rove did not break the law regarding the naming of intelligence officials, this new disclosure could prove Rove guilty of leaking a national security secret to a reporter for political ends.

Yes, this is a second-hand story passed through two blogs, and David Corn is not an objective journalist — but then, according to the right wing, no one except the acolytes at Fox News are anyway. Granted, this story hasn’t broken yet, and I’ve seen no word from Newsweek, either.

As previously noted, the right wing is already on the defensive: Joe Wilson lied about his connections in Niger, Valerie Plame wasn’t really a covert agent — or if she was, Karl Rove didn’t know it, the Wilsons were just out to get the Bush administration and get a movie deal and pose for Vanity Fair, etc. etc. Fascinating stuff, to be sure, and supremely irrelevant to the facts of the case: someone in the White House leaked classified information to exact political revenge, and no amount of obfuscation can make it any less of a crime. And we are not talking about just lying to a grand jury or breaking into the Democratic headquarters. As Frank Rich notes, this could be worse than Watergate.

What fascinates me is that this story is following the exact same pattern that all great American political scandals have followed since the time of Andrew Jackson; lies, denials, cover-ups and eventual revelation and disgrace. It has happened time and time again, from the Bank of the United States up to Monica Lewinsky. Yet the people involved are supposed to be the political geniuses of our time — which tells you what great hands our country is in. But there’s always somebody involved who thinks they’re going to get away with it, either by avoiding the pitfalls of their precursors or being so insulated that nothing can touch them. And they’ve always been wrong.