Sunday, May 21, 2006

"Can an unindicted co-conspirator remain at the White House? Personally, I don't think so."

"Can an unindicted co-conspirator remain at the White House? Personally, I don't think so."

That's the question a source asks Kenneth R. Bazinet and James Gordon Meek in their report "Ex-deputy secretary of state new figure in CIA leak probe" (New York Daily News). Who are they speaking of? Who do you think -- Karl Rove.

The issue's Plamegate (the outing of CIA agent Valerie Plame, by the administration in an attempt to retaliate against her husband Joseph Wilson). Richard Armitage, Colin Powell's second hand when Powell was Secretary of State, has, reportedly, been speaking with Plamegate Special Counsel Patrick Fitzgerald "since day one" according to one of Bazinet and Meek's three sources. Armitage also, reportedly, was attempting to dissaude the press from running with the information that Valerie Plame was a CIA agent.

If true, it may not be surprising to all.

If you're lost and wondering "Plamegate?" -- first, we'd like to say, "Good morning, welcome to the real world." If you need some background we'll steer you to, no surprise, Democracy Now! -- "Exclusive: New Information May Reveal Key Details on Judith Miller's Role in the Rove/CIA Scandal" (August 4, 2005):

JUAN GONZALEZ: In July 2003, Wilson published an Op-Ed piece in The New York Times that forced the current Bush administration to admit that a key justification for its invasion of Iraq was false, namely the allegation that Iraq was attempting to import uranium from the African nation of Niger, an allegation Bush made in his January 2003 State of the Union address.
PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa.

AMY GOODMAN: Those 16 words provided one of the lynchpins of the administration case, but Joe Wilson knew it was a lie. He knew because he had been sent by the C.I.A. to Niger to investigate those claims before the invasion began, and he found them to be baseless. In July, Wilson decided to out the Bush administration by publishing the Op-Ed entitled "What I Didn't Find in Africa." Within days of that article's publication, the so-called Plame scandal, which some call the Rove scandal, was in full motion. By July 13, Valerie Plame was outed in a column by right-wing columnist, Bob Novak, and Joe Wilson began receiving calls from journalists. This is how Ambassador Wilson described the story when he joined us in our Firehouse studios May 14, 2004.

JOSEPH WILSON: Sure, a week after the article appeared, and before I had responded, I was not going to respond to Novak's article publicly. I was not going to comment and did not comment on my wife's employment, other than to say, hypothetically, if she was what Novak asserts, then he might be in violation of the law and refer all questions to the C.I.A., which was appropriate. So, I was laying low. But the communications office was calling around all these journalists, and over the course of the weekend, I was getting calls every day from people saying -- the first call was 'The White House is telling us so many off the wall things, we can’t even go with them, but we'd like you to come on so we can ask you some questions.' I didn't rise to that bait. Andrea Mitchell called me and said, 'The White House is saying that the real story here is Wilson and his wife.' And then, finally, Chris Matthews called me and said, 'I just got off the phone with Karl Rove. He says,' and I quote, 'Wilson's wife is fair game.'

From the start Karl Rove has been mentioned. He was named by Time's Matt Cooper who claimed a brand new release (one that Rove's attorney disputed) as his reason for finally coughing up the truth that Rove had spoken to him about Valerie Plame and advised him that she was CIA.

Robert Novak's column was published in July of 2003. It's now May of 2006. If the administration had nothing to hide one wonders why Alberto Gonzales (then the White House counsel) allowed a lag time before advising those working at the White House that they could not destroy e-mails, notes, logs or correspondence now that an investigation was ongoing into the outing of a CIA agent?

Another question worth asking is why three years later we're still getting to the bottom of what Bully Boy said was a process that would involve cooperation from the White House? If Bully Boy really wanted to get to the bottom of the outing of Plame, all he ever had to do was get to the bottom of it. Instead, it appears the White House has provided many obstacles and generally hoped the investigation would go away. No such luck, Bully Boy.

On October 28, 2005, Fitzgerald held a press conference.

"Libby Resigns After Five Count Indictment in CIA Leak Case" (Democracy Now!):
For the first time in 130 years, a White House staff member has been indicted for crimes committed in the office. On Friday, Lewis "Scooter" Libby was indicted on five counts of obstruction of justice, perjury to a grand jury and making false statements to FBI agents during the CIA leak investigation. If convicted, he faces up to 30 years in prison and $1.25 million in fines. Until Friday Libby was a central figure in the Bush White House holding three top positions: chief of staff to Vice President Cheney, national security adviser to the vice president and assistant to the president. Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald announced the indictment on Friday. President Bush's chief advisor Karl Rove has so far escaped indictment for his role in the outing of CIA operative Valerie Plame, the wife of Ambassador Joseph Wilson. But Rove remains under investigation. On Sunday Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid called on Bush to apologize and for Rove to resign. Bush and Cheney have both praised Libby for his service. The top candidate to replace Libby is David Addington who currently works as the vice president's legal counsel. Three years ago he wrote a memo that asserted the war on terrorism renders obsolete the Geneva Convention's limitations of questioning detainees. Ambassador Wilson accused Libby and the White House of outing his wife, Valerie Plame. He said, "Senior administration officials used the power of the White House to make our lives hell for the last 27 months. But more important, they did it as part of a clear effort to cover up the lies and disinformation used to justify the invasion of Iraq. That is the ultimate crime."

The investigation goes on.

Some distinguished themselves in the coverage including but not limited to BuzzFlash and David Corn who were among the first to realize the significance of Robert Novak's column and pursued the issues involved not just when others didn't notice but when those who did notice tended to dismiss the importance of the issue. Murray Waas has broken a number of stories on this case including the news that Scooter Libby told the grand jury that he gave out information only with the permission of Dick Cheney.

However, a number of journalists embarrased themselves including Matt Cooper and the oh-so-wooden Woody. Bob Woodward, the stenographer posing as reporter, able amass pages of pages of "he saids" (never even rising to the level of He Said/She Said) and always hiding his failure to sift through the transcripts and public record with the 'reasoning' that he just reports what he's told. It was his defense for the book Wired.

Maybe if people hadn't been so quick to dismiss the ones complaining, sources for the book, on Wired, it wouldn't be such a shock for them to learn that the same Woody who went on cable chat and chews and NPR to dismiss the outing of Valerie Plame was, in fact, aware of the outing
(June 27, 2003), a party to the outing -- by his silence -- when people in the administration revealed Plame to him prior to Robert Novak's column being published. Since that's come out, Woody's offered a shifting rationale for his silence, sometimes contradicting himself repeatedly in a single interview.

When you consider all the silence and dismissals by so many big names in the media, it amazes us that Jason Leopold, who has broken many stories on Plamegate, is suddenly the object of derision by some. If Leopold's report of an impending indictment of Karl Rove was incorrect, it was incorrect. His sources lied to him. It's happened before (if it happened) and it will happen again. It's happened to big names and to small names. When the Yes Men played their hoax on the BBC we're not remembering the same types tearing apart the BBC. More importantly, many big names have 'reported' not on what sources told them but what they supposedly witnessed with their own eyes -- and gotten it horribly wrong (often intentionally wrong). That calls into question their skills. If Leopold's story is incorrect (again, if) all it means is that sources who've previously been accurate were wrong.

The until recently lionized PRESS GOD Bob Woodward didn't always get it right in the Watergate reporting he did with Carl Bernstein. Does that shock you? It shouldn't. It happens.

And if Leopold was misled (if), we're not shocked. We're not shocked that a devious administration that's declared war on the press would be able to hatch a plan that they hoped would disgrace a reporter. We're also not so sure that there may not be some stalling going on between Rove's camp and Fitzgerald -- talk of an agreement, then dickering over the details to push back the indictment.

The reality is that the independent media has covered this story from the start. The corporate media? They haven't cared. While Robert Parry has provided context and perspective at Consortium News (and has enough for another strong book), big media's shrugged. They've tried to downplay it, they've offered Vicky ToeJam plenty of space and airtime to flat out distort repeatedly.

After Woody, the biggest dismisser has been nonPulblic Broadcasting System's Gwen Ifel who dubbed it (in July of 2005) merely a "summer scandal." Oh, Gwen.

Say, it's only a summer scandal
Bully Boy will soon have the handle
He's the king of the make-believe
Do you believe in me?

Yes, it's only a scandal de sum
Reporters move on if we play mum
King George of the make believe
Do you believe in me?
. . .

It's a Bully and Cheney world
Just as phony as it can be
But it wouldn't be make-believe
If you believed in me

Gwen wanted to believe that, Woody wanted to as well. They weren't alone. Matt Cooper resisted giving up Karl Rove for over a year (even though he'd already rolled over on Scooter Libby). You have to wonder what impact this story would have had on the 2004 election had Rove been outed before the election? But despite the deepest desires and wishes of the administration, the story goes on. Or as Debra Winger says in Black Widow, "The truth it, it's not over."
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