Monday, July 18, 2005

Heeeeeere's Motive

The LA Times reports:

Top aides to President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney were intensely focused on discrediting former Ambassador Joseph C. Wilson IV in the days after he wrote an op-ed article for the New York Times suggesting the administration manipulated intelligence to justify going to war in Iraq, federal investigators have been told.

Prosecutors investigating whether administration officials illegally leaked the identity of Wilson's wife, a CIA officer who had worked undercover, have been told that Bush's top political strategist, Karl Rove, and Cheney's chief of staff, I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, were especially intent on undercutting Wilson's credibility, according to people familiar with the inquiry.

Although lower-level White House staffers typically handle most contacts with the media, Rove and Libby began personally communicating with reporters about Wilson, prosecutors were told.

A source directly familiar with information provided to prosecutors said Rove's interest was so strong that it prompted questions in the White House. When asked at one point why he was pursuing the diplomat so aggressively, Rove reportedly responded: "He's a Democrat." Rove then cited Wilson's campaign donations, which leaned toward Democrats, the person familiar with the case said...

A White House spokesman, David Almacy, declined to comment Sunday. "This is an ongoing investigation, and we will be happy to talk about this once it is completed, but not until then," he said.

Prosecutors' intense questioning of witnesses about Rove and Libby casts doubt on assertions that the president's longtime political guru was not — at least at some point — in Fitzgerald's sights.

Meanwhile, Bush flip-flops on national security:

President Bush changed his stance today on his close adviser Karl Rove, stopping well short of promising that anyone in his administration who helped to unmask a C.I.A. officer would be fired.

"If someone committed a crime, they will no longer work in my administration," Mr. Bush said in response to a question, after declaring, "I don't know all the facts; I want to know all the facts."

For months, Mr. Bush and his spokesmen have said that anyone involved in the disclosure of the C.I.A. officer's identity would be dismissed. The president's apparent raising of the bar for dismissal today, to specific criminal conduct, comes amid mounting evidence that, at the very least, Mr. Rove provided backhanded confirmation of the C.I.A. officer's identity.

Are these 2 things connnected? Would Bush make a statement like that if Rove wasn't involved in something that should result in his dismissal from the White House?

Also: Read McClellan's futile attempts at trying to "explain" Bush's flip-flopping.

Rep. Henry Waxman has the last word for today:

Under the executive order, the White House has an affirmative obligation to investigate and take remedial action separate and apart from any ongoing criminal investigation. The executive order specifically provides that when a breach occurs, each agency must “take appropriate and prompt corrective action.”8 This includes a determination of whether individual employees improperly disseminated or obtained access to classified information.
The executive order further provides that sanctions for violations are not optional. The executive order expressly provides: “Officers and employees of the United States Government … shall be subject to appropriate sanctions if they knowingly, willfully, or negligently … disclose to unauthorized persons information properly classified.”9
There is no evidence that the White House complied with these requirements.

Update: fixed links. Read the footnotes. Ouch. There goes Rove.

Further update: Here's the NDA Rove should have signed. Look at all those titles of laws that might have been broken - not just the "covert agent" thingy.

Further update: Kevin Drum says in essence, "It was the potential damage to the narrative of the threat of nukes that made Joe Wilson and his wife 'fair game.'"

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