News and events revolving around the ousting of CIA agent Valerie Plame.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Whose side is Karl Rove really on?

Thursday, August 11, 2005
Whose side is Karl Rove really on?

Something is bothering me these days. It involves intelligence. Or not.

I've never been personally accused of having buckets of the stuff myself, but I like to see it in other people, especially people who are running our big, beautiful country.

My worry is Karl Rove, White House senior adviser. Like him or not, we know he's got smarts. He plotted a stupefyingly successful presidential campaign to elect a man who, some say, is at his best when chopping wood at his Home, Home on the Range.

Why is it that now Rove has shot himself in the foot? In fact, shot us all in the collective foot, to hobble us at a time when we need strength, vision, intelligence?

Intelligence in all senses. But I'm talking particularly about the kind we gather, overtly and clandestinely, to keep the world stable and safe for our way of life.

What was Karl Rove thinking when he allegedly snitched on Valerie Plame?

Plame, it seems, was, for decades, a fine CIA undercover operations officer. She hasn't circulated her resume, but it appears that she ran overseas intelligence activities on the proliferation of biological, chemical and nuclear weapons. She recruited undercover agents who dropped into hot spots around the world to uncover information on weapons of mass destruction. She did all this as a "non-official cover operative," meaning that, if discovered, she had no protection and could be executed as a spy.

So, what's the matter with Karl Rove? Doesn't he want good, patriotic, courageous spies on the front line to help protect the world against evil-doers? Don't Republicans punctuate every speech with references to 9/11, terrorism, evil empires? Isn't the main agenda of his administration defense of the homeland and global security?

Why would he jeopardize the operations and lives of agents around the world with whom Plame worked?

Well, the answer would make John Le Carre, consummate English spy novel writer, proud. Many believe Rove wanted to get even with Plame's husband, former Ambassador Joseph Wilson, who had charged that President Bush, in making the case for invading Iraq, had relied on discredited intelligence in citing the Niger-Iraq link.

I picture him combing through Wilson's files for something juicy. Nothing there? No problem. His blond willowy wife must have enough naughtiness in her background to start a feeding frenzy among conservative loudmouths. Exotic dancer? Cat-house madam? Gangster mole? Again, nothing. As a last resort, he spread the word that Ms. Plame was a CIA undercover operations officer who had invited her husband to visit Niger.

Many of us were outraged at hearing that Rove was responsible for the leak. But now the usual smoke screen around administration wrongs poisons the air: Was Rove's action really illegal? Are the reporters responsible? Had the CIA already compromised Plame?

This is all irrelevant. In a time of war, Rove's action might well be deemed treason. And we are at war - with the dangerously moving target of international terrorism - and must count heavily on the work of undercover agents.

Imagine if a Democrat, say, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, had done this. She would be dead meat. But Rove? He shrugs it off. Three times, he testified before the grand jury investigating the leak and, each time, hid the fact that he was the culprit.

Our President supports Rove's antics: "Karl's got my complete confidence. He's a valuable member of my team."

He certainly is a valuable member of your team, Mr. President. He's working hard to keep you and yours in power. But the question is this: Is he a valuable member of the team of the American public?


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