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Karl Rove and the CIA


John Simkin
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An article in yesterday’s Guardian claims that there is firm evidence that it was Karl Rove who told right-wing journalist Robert Novak that Valerie Plame was a CIA agent. Plame was the wife of former ambassador Joseph Wilson and Rove had mounted a smear campaign against him after he publicly accused the Bush administration of exaggerating the case for going to war. Wilson had previously been on a CIA-sponsored trip to investigate whether Iraq was seeking to buy uranium from Niger for nuclear weapons. (He discovered the story was untrue.)

Novak published the story placing both Valerie Plame and her sources in physical danger. Both Rove and Novak had done this for partisan political purposes. Just another example of how the CIA works with right-wing politicians and journalists to smear critics of its foreign policy. The same thing happened in the years that followed the JFK Assassination. Operation Mockingbird is clearly still in operation.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Bush calls Rove his “Turd Blossom” (a Texas term for a flower that grows from a cowpat). Rove first began his dirty tricks campaign on behalf of the Republican Party in 1970. His first target was Alan Dixon, a Democratic candidate in Chicago.

In 1972 he joined the dirty tricks campaign being organized by Ulasewicz. He helped recruit volunteers via the Young Americans for Freedom organization. This resulted him coming under the influence of Lee Atwater, Nixon’s political strategist whose guiding moral principle was “don’t get caught”.

It was Atwater who introduced Rove to George Bush. He masterminded these smear campaigns against Bush’s opponents. In the 1994 Texas governor’s race Rove organized a campaign that claimed that Bush’s opponent, Ann Richards, was a lesbian.

In the 2000 Republican presidential primaries Bush’s main rival was John McCain. At this stage of the struggle McCain was ahead of Bush in the polls. Bush’s main problem was that McCain was a Vietnam war hero whereas Bush was a draft dodger. Rove decided to turn McCain’s strength into a weakness. He put around stories to his journalist friends that McCain’s experiences as a prisoner of war had left him mentally unstable. He also told of how McCain had abandoned his crippled first wife and had an illegitimate child with a black prostitute. None of this was true but it worked as it took attention away from Bush’s own behaviour during the Vietnam War.

Rove used the same strategy against John Kerry. Once again, being a Vietnam war hero was used against him, and the physical coward, who is very keen to send other young men to their deaths, was able to defeat a man who knows what it is like to come under enemy fire.

The latest case of Rove’s dirty tricks concerns his decision to tell journalists that Valerie Plame was a CIA agent. Plame was the wife of former ambassador Joseph Wilson and Rove had mounted a smear campaign against him after he publicly accused the Bush administration of exaggerating the case for going to war. Wilson had previously been on a CIA-sponsored trip to investigate whether Iraq was seeking to buy uranium from Niger for nuclear weapons. (He discovered the story was untrue.)

The story was published by right-wing journalists such as Robert Novak, Matt Cooper and Judith Miller. The CIA complained as they argued that this story threatened the lives of Miller and the agents working under her control.

A grand jury is currently looking into this case. Novak has not yet been called. Miller has already been sent to prison for refusing to reveal her sources. Matt Cooper did give evidence on Thursday and revealed that it was indeed Rove who gave him this information. At the time Rove had told him on “double super secret background”. Rove, who had previously denied giving Plame’s name to journalists, is now claiming that he was telling the truth as his only refered to her as “Wilson’s wife”.

Will this mean that Rove will go to prison? No, not in Bush’s America. Will this mean an end to Rove’s career? No. Bush cannot afford Rove to become a free agent. After all, he might sell his story to the press. If he did, it might be interesting to find out if he was involved in the dirty tricks campaign against George Wallace.

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Daniel Schorr writes a regular column for the Christian Science Monitor. Here is an article he wrote about our friend Karl Rove on 15th July, 2005.

Let me remind you that the underlying issue in the Karl Rove controversy is not a leak, but a war and how America was misled into that war.

In 2002 President Bush, having decided to invade Iraq, was casting about for a casus belli. The weapons of mass destruction theme was not yielding very much until a dubious Italian intelligence report, based partly on forged documents (it later turned out), provided reason to speculate that Iraq might be trying to buy so-called yellowcake uranium from the African country of Niger. It did not seem to matter that the CIA advised that the Italian information was "fragmentary and lacked detail."

Prodded by Vice President Dick Cheney and in the hope of getting more conclusive information, the CIA sent Joseph Wilson, an old Africa hand, to Niger to investigate. Mr. Wilson spent eight days talking to everyone in Niger possibly involved and came back to report no sign of an Iraqi bid for uranium and, anyway, Niger's uranium was committed to other countries for many years to come.

No news is bad news for an administration gearing up for war. Ignoring Wilson's report, Cheney talked on TV about Iraq's nuclear potential. And the president himself, in his 2003 State of the Union address no less, pronounced: "The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa."

Wilson declined to maintain a discreet silence. He told various people that the president was at least mistaken, at most telling an untruth. Finally Wilson directly challenged the administration with a July 6, 2003 New York Times op-ed headlined, "What I didn't find in Africa," and making clear his belief that the president deliberately manipulated intelligence in order to justify an invasion.

One can imagine the fury in the White House. We now know from the e-mail traffic of Time's correspondent Matt Cooper that five days after the op-ed appeared, he advised his bureau chief of a super secret conversation with Karl Rove who alerted him to the fact that Wilson's wife worked for the CIA and may have recommended him for the Niger assignment. Three days later, Bob Novak's column appeared giving Wilson's wife's name, Valerie Plame, and the fact she was an undercover CIA officer. Mr. Novak has yet to say, in public, whether Mr. Rove was his source. Enough is known to surmise that the leaks of Rove, or others deputized by him, amounted to retaliation against someone who had the temerity to challenge the president of the United States when he was striving to find some plausible reason for invading Iraq.

The role of Rove and associates added up to a small incident in a very large scandal - the effort to delude America into thinking it faced a threat dire enough to justify a war.

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  • 2 months later...

Judith Millar is now out of prison after naming Lewis Libby, Dick Cheyney’s chief of staff, as her source on Valerie Plame. Another journalist, Matt Copper has named his source (Karl Rove) whereas Robert Novak, Tim Russert and Walter Pincuss have done deals that so far has not brought the names of their sources into the open.

Millar has not received much sympathy from other American journalists. After a ruling by the Supreme Court in 1972, reporters have no intrinsic right to keep their sources secret. Millar, Novak, Copper, Russert and Pincuss are all seen as Republican friendly journalists and all played a key role in spreading lies about WMD in Iraq. Probably no other journalist published as many stories as Miller did in the run-up to the Iraq War about Saddam Hussein’s alleged weapons of mass destruction. Miller seemed to have extra-ordinary access to administration and Iraqi exile sources, documents and defectors.

However, Bush made the same mistake as Richard Nixon and John F. Kennedy. You don’t take on the CIA. If you do, you are bound to lose.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Now America has its own David Kelly affair. There is no corpse - unless you count the US troops killed in Iraq, whose number is now 2,000 - but all the other elements are in place. A complex saga, turning on the unwanted outing of a government servant; a media organisation rocked by accusations of sloppy editorial processes; and a judicial investigation zeroing in on the charge that the government cooked up the case on Iraq's weapons of mass destruction. It will reach its climax any moment now.

It has become known, inevitably, as Plamegate - with CIA agent Valerie Plame the nominally central player. Nominal because, though she is very much alive, she, like Kelly, is a silent star. The details are just as arcane as they were in the British version, but a summary is possible.

In February 2002 the CIA dispatched Joseph Wilson, a former US ambassador, to Niger to check claims that Saddam Hussein had been shopping in the country for nuclear material. He concluded that Saddam had not. Nevertheless, nearly a year after his mission, Wilson was alarmed to hear George Bush and others repeat the Niger claims as if they were true. His patience stretched, the ex-diplomat finally wrote a trenchant piece in the New York Times headlined What I didn't find in Africa. He wrote that if his verdict had been "ignored because it did not fit certain preconceptions about Iraq, then a legitimate argument can be made that we went to war under false pretences".

A furious White House promptly briefed against Wilson. A column appeared mentioning that Wilson's wife, Valerie Plame, was a CIA agent - implying that she had engineered his mission to Africa, and that his appointment owed more to nepotism than expertise. That set people wondering. To knowingly expose an undercover CIA agent is to break the law. The columnist said he had two sources in the Bush administration. If so, they were potentially guilty of a serious crime. The White House firmly denied any of its people were involved.

So began an investigation which is now due to bear fruit. Special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald - playing the role of Lord Hutton - could bring indictments against one or both of Karl Rove, the political supremo known as Bush's Brain, and "Scooter" Libby, chief of staff to Vice-President Dick Cheney. Chances are, they won't be charged under the agent-naming rule - but perhaps with perjury, obstruction of justice or conspiracy to obstruct justice. As so often with scandals, it will not be the initial crime but the subsequent cover-up that does the damage.

To lose high-ranking officials like Rove or Libby would be trouble enough, but the Republican fear is that it won't end there. Yesterday's New York Times reported that Libby was told about Plame by none other than the vice-president in June 2003. That's tricky, since Libby has testified under oath that it was journalists who first tipped him off about the CIA agent. The revelation makes a xxxx of Libby and perhaps Cheney too: he went on TV in September 2003 saying he didn't know Wilson or who had sent him to Niger. At the very least, there is now proof that the effort to take on Wilson went all the way to the vice-president - if not further.

So this is the story - along with a sideshow about the conduct of New York Times reporter Judith Miller, who may have got just too close to her White House sources - which has Washington gripped in the scandal fever that has become a perennial feature of every presidential second term. It was Watergate for Nixon, Iran-contra for Reagan, Monica for Clinton, and now Valerie Plame for Bush.

How damaging will it be? If it was purely a matter of hardball tactics by his aides, Bush would be able to ride it out. But there is the question of motive. In the words of former presidential candidate and current Democratic party chairman Howard Dean: "This is not so much about Scooter Libby and Karl Rove. This is about the fact that the president didn't tell us the truth when we went to Iraq, and all these guys are involved in it."

It is this which makes Plamegate America's Kelly affair. For just as the Hutton process put the honesty of Tony Blair's case for war on trial, so the naming of Valerie Plame has shone a light on the way war was sold to the American public.

For the Niger story, and the determination to keep it alive, was part of a wider effort by Cheney's office, with allies in Donald Rumsfeld's defence department, to cherry-pick the intelligence that would support the case for military action against Iraq. All through the summer of 2002, Cheney put pressure on CIA analysts to come up with anything which might cast Saddam as a maniac bent on nuking the US. In speeches, Cheney presented Baghdad as an imminent, lethal danger to America. He persisted in claiming a link between Saddam and al-Qaida, even when the evidence was nonexistent. He recycled the wholly discredited claim that Mohammed Atta, one of the 9/11 hijackers, had met an Iraqi agent in Prague. He and his White House Iraq Group (Whig), which included Rove and Libby, were engaged in a campaign not merely to sex up the case for war - but to make it up altogether.

Rove and Libby had differing motives for this effort. Rove was convinced that branding Bush a "war president" would ensure re-election in 2004 - but that required a war; Afghanistan was wrapped up, so Iraq would be the necessary sequel. Libby was part of the ideological neocon set that had long dreamed of an Iraq invasion as the first step to remaking the Middle East and which seized on 9/11 as the opportunity.

Now all this is getting an airing, one that will carry an extra charge if some key players face criminal charges. Nor will it feel like an academic debate about the past. American soldiers are still dying in a war that policymakers seem unable either to win or end. With each passing day, more, not fewer, Americans will want to know how they got into this mess.

What's more, Plamegate comes as Bush is especially vulnerable. Hurricane Katrina exposed his administration as careless, cronyish and above all incompetent. In a blistering speech last week, Colin Powell's former chief of staff, Col Laurence Wilkerson, warned that if the US was struck by another terror attack or a major pandemic "you are going to see the ineptitude of this government in a way that will take you back to the Declaration of Independence".

The president is assailed from all sides; from Democrats over his plans to privatise the pensions system, and from conservatives who wanted a rightwing titan nominated to the supreme court - and who feel insulted by the choice of Harriet Miers, a personal lawyer to Bush who has never been a judge and whose best credential is that she once oversaw the Texas lottery.

It adds up to a moment of exceptional weakness, a "perfect storm" for Democrats plotting a comeback in next year's congressional elections. But it's more important than that. Now there is a chance to discredit not just Bush's presidency but the ideology which led to the disastrous adventure in Iraq. Plamegate itself may seem arcane, but that outcome is one in which we all have a stake.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/Columnists/Colum...1600746,00.html

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Lewis Libby, chief-of-staff to Dick Cheney, has resigned after being charged with perjury over an investigation into the unmasking of a covert CIA agent. He also charged with obstruction of justice and making false statements to the federal grand jury. Karl Rove appears to have escaped immediate indictment but he continues to be investigated.

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There are several reasons why I believe the Plame Scandal has the potential to be more damaging than Watergate. The main reason is that at the core of this story is the way the Bush administration lied about the reasons for invading Iraq. As this war has resulted in the deaths of over 2,000 Americans, this is about as serious as it gets.

In his address to the nation in January 2003, Bush lied to the American people about attempts by Iraq to buy uranium in Niger. Joseph Wilson was one of many people who knew Bush was lying. However, he was the only one with the courage to come forward and say it as he did in his article in the New York Times in July 2003.

Bush’s reaction was the same as that of Nixon. He instructed Karl Rove to begin a dirty tricks campaign against Wilson. Unfortunately for Bush, as with Nixon, his aides went too far. By telling a small group of loyal journalists that Wilson’s wife, Valerie Plame, was a CIA operative, they committed a serious felony.

These were the same journalists who published false stories about WMD. They also willingly published these stories about Wilson and Plame. In doing so, they also committed a serious felony.

These journalists have all done deals and are likely to give evidence in Libby’s trial. It is not clear what names they gave Patrick Fitzgerald. However, we do know that one of them gave Libby’s name. At the moment, Liddy has only been charged with taking part in the cover-up: lying to the grand jury, lying to federal investigators and hindering a grand jury investigation into the leak.

Why then has Libby not been charged with the far more serious offence of disclosing that Valerie Plame was a CIA operative? I believe the reason is that Fitzgerald is trying to do a deal with Libby. He will only charge him with the lesser offences if he gives the name of the person who told him to do it. In other words will he become a John Dean or a Gordon Liddy. If Libby becomes a Liddy then only one man will go to prison. However, if he decides to become a Dean, he will bring down Rove and maybe even Bush.

There are also several journalists, including Robert Novak, Matt Cooper and Judith Miller, who also know a great deal about this story. I know they are all right-wingers but one might decide to really break this story.

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So I assume John you will be able to show where you ever wrote anything critical of Phillip Agee for revealing the names of hundreds of CIA covert operatives around the world? What he did was of course a hundred-fold worse than whoever revealed Plam's status, given the number of agents he "outed".

I too noticed that no one has been charged with the offense of revealing that Plame as a CIA agent. Libby was only charged with obstructing justice etc. by allegedly giving false information to investigators and to the grand jury. What bothered me was (according to news commentators) the allegedly false information that Scooter gave was so easily refuted by others that he must have been a complete idiot to think he could get by with it. I really no little about Libby but presumably no one who rises to a position as high as the one he held lacks intelligence.

I assume most members have heard the commentary that analogizes the indictment against Libby with the offense for which Martha Stewart was convicted. She was not convicted of illegally using any inside information but only of lying to investigators about the incident.

But once again your post is replete with lies. (What else can you call a factual assertion that has no support in fact?) You wrote: "Bush’s reaction was the same as that of Nixon. He instructed Karl Rove to begin a dirty tricks campaign against Wilson. Unfortunately for Bush, as with Nixon, his aides went too far. By telling a small group of loyal journalists that Wilson’s wife, Valerie Plame, was a CIA operative, they committed a serious felony."

What evidence if any do you have that Bush issued any such instructions to Rove? Without any such evidence, how dare you make such a statement? And as long as we are it it, you claim the disclosure of Plame's identity was a "serious felony". Just so we understand where you are coming from, perhaps you can identify several felonies that you consider "non-serious".

More on this later.

Edited by Tim Gratz
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So I suppose that you're saying about Rove--similarly to what you said about Segretti--that you'd rather think he was "free-lancing" in the Wilson/Plame incident, rather than taking orders from above? [Remember, Tim...you were wrong about who was behind Segretti, too.]

THINK, Tim....remember the phrase "plausible denial?"

Rove can CLAIM he was free-lancing, in order to "insulate" the President...but that doesn't necessarily make his claim TRUE.

And perhaps you think Libby didn't get any instructions from Cheaney? That it would be out of character for the man who tells members of Congress to "go f*#k yourself," to try to "f*#k with" the man who revealed one of the many lies behind why we went to war in Iraq?

Ah, if I could only muster once again the childlike faith in politicians that Tim seems to have. Unfortunately, too many "reality checks" have altered my own views, while it's apparent that Tim's views are not similarly altered by the same facts.

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[quote name='Lynne Foster' date='Oct 30 2005, 12:53 AM' post='43454']

Karl Rove is a master strategist who sets a goal and implements it by any means, there is no history of accountability in his life.

Why expect any different this time around?

Even tho Ms. Foster and I disagree on Jim Garrison, we are in total agreement here.

It will be most interesting to see if this case grows the way Watergate did. I agree with John that it has

such potential.

Poppa Bush must be rather unhappy with the current state of affairs.

"When will they ever learn?"

Dawn

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John wrote:

Novak published the story placing both Valerie Plame and her sources in physical danger.

Yet another lie. From whom would Plame be in physical danger? I have never read anything claiming that the revelation that Plame was a CIA agent placed her in physical danger. If I recall correctly, she essentially had a desk job in Wahington. She was not a covert operative working overseas.

By so stating I do not intend in any way to minimize the seriousness of wrongfully disclosing the name of a covert CIA operative since it is not for the discloser to try to guess the results of the disclosure.

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John wrote:

Bush’s reaction was the same as that of Nixon. He instructed Karl Rove to begin a dirty tricks campaign against Wilson. Unfortunately for Bush, as with Nixon, his aides went too far. By telling a small group of loyal journalists that Wilson’s wife, Valerie Plame, was a CIA operative, they committed a serious felony.

Of course John did not respond to my previous post asking him for his proof of his assertion that Bush gave any instructions to Rove re Wilson.

You see John just makes things up out of thin air and then posts them as if they are the truth! This is simply incredible since some of the Forum members, such as Dawn, are gullible enough to accept as Gospel whatever John writes. (Note it would have been different if John had written: "I suspect Bush instructed" etc etc to demonstrate that all he was doing was posting his speculative scenario. But he wrote it as if it was a fact.)

Note also that John thinks it was a "dirty trick" for Rove (or someone in the administration) to tell "loyal" journalists that Wilson's wife was a CIA operative. Well, she was, wasn't she, John? How is it a dirty trick to tell the truth (something John might or might not recognize if it stared him in the face). Plame had contributed substantial money to the Kerry campaign and was clearly anti-Bush and had an agenda. So how can telling the truth be a "dirty trick"? Now, since Plame was a covert CIA operative, the revelation of her identity may very well have violated the law but it was certainly not a "dirty trick" since, at least to me, a "dirty trick" involves dishonesty.

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To Mark:

Yes, I was wrong about Segretti. Perhaps I was wrong about him because what I thought he was proposing was not only unethical (and in some cases probably illegal) but also so STUPID. For instance, one of the objectionable things he proposed (perhaps even suggesting he had done in the past) was to distribute to homeless or hungry people counterfeit tickets to Democrat fund-raising dinners. Now since those dinners were of some moderate monetary value, the forged tickets were (most likely) illegal. What I could not fathom in part was why Nixon would risk his re-election by sponsoring such stupid pranks that would not accomplish anything of political value anyway. So I think my emphasis (in rejecting Segretti's implied claim that he had the highest possible authorization) was as much related to the stupidity of Segretti's ideas as they were to their ethics.

But perhaps you have made my point. I do not believe it was ever demonstrated that Nixon had personally authorized Segretti.

And also note this difference: the revelation that Wilson's mission to Niger had been suggested by his wife, a CIA officer, who was a Kerry supporter, was far different from the stupid Segetti stunts.

What if Segretti had told me that he had PROOF that Castro was secretly funding the McGovern campaign (a statement that I think was made to the Cuban Watergate burglars). What if he told me that information had to be disseminated to the press but it could not be done through an official government source. Under those circumstances, might I have considered that Segretti was in fact working for the Nixon White House?

Hopefully you see the distinction I am making.

Let's get back to the Wilson/Plame matter, however. It clearly also demonstrates stupidity at some high level. As much as some one in the Bush administration wanted to get the story out that Plame had been instrumental in getting Wilson the Niger assignment, whoever that person was surely MUST HAVE known the damage that would result by revealing to the press the name of a covert CIA operative. The only justification I can think of is that whoever made the leak was not aware that Plame's status with the CIA was covert (which would explain why Fitzgerald apparently cannot indict anyone under the Espionage Act). It still demonstrates stupidity because the leaker should have first determined whether Plame's status was or was not covert.

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John wrote:

Novak published the story placing both Valerie Plame and her sources in physical danger.

Yet another lie. From whom would Plame be in physical danger? I have never read anything claiming that the revelation that Plame was a CIA agent placed her in physical danger. If I recall correctly, she essentially had a desk job in Wahington. She was not a covert operative working overseas.

According to yesterday’s Sunday Times, Wilson has told the media in the US that the lives of his wife and himself have been threatened several times since the disclosure of Valerie Plame as being a CIA agent. Mind you, I suspect these death threats have come from right-wing Republicans rather than from enemies of the CIA.

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