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Roving Reporter

A primer for the Karl Rove / Valerie Plame scandal.

The Introduction You Can Feel Free To Skip

This is not a political blog, and I imagine that a large percentage of my readers don't read political blogs on a regular basis. If you do, this probably doesn't contain any information you don't already know (assuming you are up-to-date with the latest bombshell.)

For the rest of you, I want to give you a primer on the whole Karl Rove / Valerie Plame thing you may have been hearing about. Not because I happen to think it's a huge story, but because it's slowly turning into a real, juicy political scandal of the sort you'd expect to find in a David Baldacci novel, complete with surprise twists, double-crosses, and an honest-to-goodness spy.

It's been very entertaining to watch the whole thing unfold, because information has been coming out in dribs and drabs, like a fireworks show with big pauses in it. Every once in a while there's a big, flashy explosion followed by a lengthy silence, and just as you say "well, I guess it's over" and start to get out of of your lawn chair: poom! here comes the next round. And it looks as though things are going to get more interesting yet.

But the downside to the "dribs and drabs" aspect of this drama is that it has been going on for nearly three years, and most of the recent articles assume you know the whole backstory. You can get an exhaustive account of the story over at Wikipedia: Valerie Plame. This is intended to be a brief primer for those who are only now joining the fun, and just want the Cliff's Notes for the imbroglio.

First, though, let's get this out of the way. Disclaimer: I do not like the Bush administration, and I don't like Karl Rove. So I'm feeling no small amount of schadenfreude as I watch all this come down the pike. There's my bias, right up front. That said, I will try to stick to the facts, except where I specifically cite something as speculation. If you feel like I have a fact wrong, drop me a line or let me know in the comments.


The Back Story

In early 2002 the CIA was trying to verify a report that Niger had sold uranium-enriched yellowcake to Iraq in the late 1990s. They asked former ambassador Joseph Wilson to travel to Niger and check out the story. He did so in February of 2002, and, upon returning a month later, told the CIA that the story was likely bogus.

The matter was presumed settled until September 2002, when a "white paper" used by the British Government stated the yellowcake story as fact. Then, in the State of the Union speech of January, 2003, Bush referenced this document, saying, "The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa." As yellowcake can be used to create WMDs, this claim was central to Bush's case for war.

The invasion of Iraq began on March 20, 2003.

Wilson publicly denounced the "uranium from Africa" line in the months following the State of the Union speech. On July 6, 2003, The New York Times carried an article by Wilson called "What I Didn't Find In Africa"; of the yellowcake rumor, he wrote "It did not take long to conclude that it was highly doubtful that any such transaction had ever taken place."

On July 14, 2003, columnist Robert Novak wrote about the Bush / Wilson, he-said / he-said dispute in the article "Mission To Niger" "Wilson never worked for the CIA," wrote Novak, "but his wife, Valerie Plame, is an Agency operative on weapons of mass destruction. Two senior administration officials told me Wilson's wife suggested sending him to Niger."

The Scandal

Two days after Novak's column appeared, David Corn of The Nation led an article entitled "A White House Smear" with the lines

Did senior Bush officials blow the cover of a US intelligence officer working covertly in a field of vital importance to national security -- and break the law -- in order to strike at a Bush administration critic and intimidate others? It sure looks that way, if conservative journalist Bob Novak can be trusted.
By identifying Wilson's wife as "an Agency operative," Novak had apparently blown her cover. And if, as Novak stated, the information came from "senior administration officials," they (the officials) may have run afoul of the Intelligence Identities Protection Act of 1982, which makes it a felony for persons with access to it classified information to knowingly reveal the identity of covert agents.

Wilson alleged that the White House had outed his wife as retribution for his whistleblowing. Others speculate that the purpose of the leak was to discredit Wilson by implying that his trip was just a gig his wife managed to get him. Whatever the reason, Wilson thought he knew the source: during a roundtable discussion in August of 2003, Wilson said, of the leak, "At the end of the day, it's of keen interest to me to see whether or not we can get Karl Rove frog-marched out of the White House in handcuffs. And trust me, when I use that name, I measure my words."

In the wake of this comment, speculation grew that Rove, George Bush's senior political adviser, was behind the leak. When asked about the possibility, White House spokesman Scott McClellan said "I haven't heard that. That's just totally ridiculous." A few days later McClellan went even farther when asked if Bush had personally asked Rove if he was behind the leak. "[Rove] wasn't involved," McClellan said. "The President knows he wasn't involved."

The Investigation

At the end of September 2003 the Justice Department announced a full-scale investigation into the leak.

And then nothing seemed to happen for months: no findings were announced, and it was unclear how the investigation was progressing, or if it was progressing at all. Some felt that, with Ashcroft both Attorney General and friend to Bush, he would simply put the kibosh on the whole thing. For folks like myself, who had been following the story with interest, this seemed like the end of the line. My guess was that they would stall for a few months or years and then quietly announce, at 4:35 on a Friday afternoon, that they had been unable find the culprit. And that would be that.

But then a couple of surprising things happened.

First, Ashcroft recused himself from the case in December 2003. When US Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald replaced Ashcroft on the investigation, one of his first acts was to subpoena the phone records of Air Force One. Suddenly the story was back in the news, albeit on page A13.

When asked about the case in February, 2004, Bush said "If there's a leak out of my administration, I want to know who it is ... if the person has violated law, that person will be taken care of."

Fitzgerald continued to work on the investigation throughout 2004. Bush was interviewed in June; various reporters were hauled in front of the grand jury over the course of the year and either testified or held their tongues.

In an August 2004 CNN interview, Rove said of Plame "I didn't know her name and didn't leak her name." Note the wording.

Rove himself testified before the jury in October. Then came the election of 2004, and the story (again) appeared to have ended with a whimper.

Reveal Your Sources

Robert Novak was not the only person to have had Valerie Plame's name whispered into his ear -- he was just the first to put it into print. In fact, a number of journalists were told of Plame's identity in early July of 2003. For instance, a piece for TIME Magazine called "A War on Wilson?" published on July 17, 2003 (three days after Novak's column) said "some government officials have noted to TIME in interviews ... that Wilson's wife, Valerie Plame, is a CIA official who monitors the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction." The lead writer on that story was a reporter by the name of Matthew Cooper.

Cooper refused to reveal his source to the grand jury investigating the Plame leak, in defiance of a subpena from Fitzgerald. For this he was sentenced to 18 months in prison. In an effort to save him (presumably), TIME Magazine -- saying that it was not bound by its reporters' confidentially agreements -- turned over Cooper's notes to Fitzgerald, thereby revealing his source. Fitzgerald, however, insisted that Cooper personally testify or go to jail. Cooper again refused and prepared for the pokey.

Then on July 10 of this year, days before he was to go to prison, Cooper suddenly reversed himself and said that he would testify after all. "A short time ago, in somewhat dramatic fashion, I received an express personal release from my source," Cooper said of his abrupt change of heart.

Cooper (and Cooper's notes) identified the source of the leak as Karl Rove.


Two big developments today.

Those of us rooting for Rove's downfall were a little discouraged when we heard that Cooper had received "express personal release from my source" to testify. After all, if Rove said "go ahead," he must not have considered himself to be in too much trouble. Today, however, we learned that Cooper's "release from my source" did not, in fact, come from his source at all.

Rove long ago signed a blanket waiver, given to him by Fitzgerald, saying that reporters were free to discuss any conversations they had with him about the Plame leak. Cooper, however, concluded that Rove was coerced into signing this waiver (after all, in refusing to do so he would have outed himself as the leaker) and his oath of confidentiality was still in force. So what changed? Well, apparently The Wall Street Journal spoke with Rove's attorney, Robert Luskin, last week. Here's an excerpt from the resultant article:

Mr. Rove's attorney, Robert Luskin, last week denied that Mr. Rove had contacted Mr. Cooper last Wednesday, and said that when Mr. Rove spoke to Mr. Cooper two years ago, "Karl didn't disclose Valerie Plame's identification to anyone. That's not a technical statement. That's as practical and direct as I can make it." He also told The Wall Street Journal that Mr. Rove had never asked any reporter to treat him as a confidential source in the matter, "so if Matt Cooper is going to jail to protect a source, it's not Karl he's protecting."
In other words, Luskin said (a) Rove signed a blanket waiver a while ago authorizing Cooper to reveal if he was the source; (b) Cooper is not revealing his source; therefore (c) Rove cannot be the leaker.

Cooper apparently decided that if Luskin's statement were true, then the inverse was also true: "if it is Karl Rove I'm protecting then I guess I don't have to go to jail, and can safely blab." Or perhaps Cooper was pissed that Luskin had flat-out lied. Or perhaps Cooper just really, really didn't want to go to jail and chickened out. Who knows?

The other big development today is that the White House has completely clammed up about the issue. Check out this video of Scott McClellan using 340 words to say "no comment" over and over again.

Crime and Punishment

So what's the upshot to all this? Is Rove going to be "frog-marched out of the White House in handcuffs?"

In a word, no. Or, if he is, it probably won't be for outing Valerie Plame. Fitzgerald would have to show that Rove knew she was a covert agent when he told Cooper she worked for the CIA, and that might be tricky.

If Fitzgerald nails Rove for anything, it will likely be for perjury -- stating, under oath in front of the investigation's grand jury, that he did not reveal Plame's name to anyone. But we, the public, have no idea what Rove said during that testimony, and many find it hard to believe that Rove would have risked a perjury charge by fibbing.

In fact, we don't even know if Rove is the target of Fitzgerald investigation at all -- he might just be collateral damage. Remember, Novak said there were two government sources, and (unless I've missed something) we still don't know the identity of #2 (assuming there even is a #2). Maybe Fitzgerald is circling in on this guy.

It seems likely that Fitzgerald has something -- otherwise he wouldn't have been such a hardass with Cooper. But what it is, exactly, that Fitzgerald knows (or thinks he knows) remains a mystery, and its eventual revelation will be yet another surprise in an already bizarre case.

So there you go -- now you're up to date and can enjoy the show with the rest of us. Cheers!

Posted on July 11, 2005 to Politics


Nicely done. I just hope that by summarizing the issue in this post--which has a bit of a crowing tone to it--you haven't jinxed the outcome. I think Mr. Rove would look good in one of those gray jumpsuits.

Posted by: Greg on July 11, 2005 6:41 PM

I hate to nitpick on such a fine post-- but it's "kibosh". A fine word.

Posted by: Mokurai on July 11, 2005 8:41 PM

Thanks for the summary. I'll be sure to follow the rest of it.

This is actually the first time I've heard about this. But that's because I live in faraway Australia.

Posted by: Jack on July 11, 2005 10:08 PM

As long as we're nitpicking: "expect" was meant where "except" was used.

Posted by: Dan on July 11, 2005 11:11 PM

Can I go to faraway Australia too?? My Gma is Australian - I have relatives there... I wanna' go where W isn't on the news every #$%#@ minutes ticking me off and making me ashamed of my country...



Oh and Yeti? Thx for the summary. Can I continue to slam ANY button on the remote when this story comes on and just count on you to keep me up on it? Otherwise I get too outraged and start shouting gibberish angrily at the tv... Makes the dogs look at me funny.

~ Tracy

Posted by: Tracy on July 11, 2005 11:21 PM

Gosh, you Americans do do scandal well don't you? Good work on the summarising!

Posted by: Sparticus on July 12, 2005 1:34 AM

Excellent post. I had just caught the painful press exchange on GMA and didn't really know the backstory.


p.s. sparticus said do do.

Posted by: babyjewels on July 12, 2005 4:52 AM

There's a weird twist in all this that you're skipping (or your sources are skipping).

Powerline, which is strongly right-leaning, makes the good point about this:

It isn't true that Wilson "said he could not verify the [yellowcake] claim." What actually happened, according to the report of the Senate Intelligence Committee, was that Wilson returned from Niger and reported to the CIA that Niger's former Prime Minister had confirmed that in 1999, an emissary from Saddam Hussein made an overture that the Prime Minister interpreted as an attempt to buy uranium. (The claim that was made about Niger was that Iraq tried to buy uranium there, not that it succeeded.) Six months later, Wilson lied about his mission to Niger in an op-ed in the New York Times that attacked President Bush. Wilson misrepresented what he learned in Niger, and what he told the CIA.

It doesn't excuse Rove one iota if his intent was to disclose Plame for punitive purposes. But it's an important part of the back story.

Posted by: Undertoad on July 12, 2005 5:00 AM

I am typically a news hermit and had missed a lot of the finer points of this scandal. Very nice summary.

If only I'd kept current with this the Chappelle sketch in which 'yellow cake' is trotted out would have made more sense.

Posted by: delmer on July 12, 2005 6:50 AM

Good job! I have been TRYING to follow this, but the no avail because pure, unadulterated evil doesn't make sense to me, thus this entire story didn't make sense to me (no offense to the pure, unadulterated evil that is Karl Rove. I mean this in the nicest way possible). Now, I understand enough to care! Thanks!

Posted by: Michelle on July 12, 2005 6:51 AM

Delicious. I love a good political scandal, although so far, Bush & Co. have been remarkably teflon whenever there's dirt around.

Loved the quote with Bush saying about a possible leak from his administration "if the person has violated law, that person will be taken care of". Err... how? Given a fat pension and the American version of the OBE? Taken out to the barn and shot? What??

Posted by: Lene on July 12, 2005 6:57 AM

Undertoad, Powerline is more than strongly right-leaning -- he's a GOP operative, and his take on Wilson/Plame is a fantasy. This observation bears no relation to reality.

Posted by: Buck on July 12, 2005 7:03 AM

The question that has always been in the back of my mind is was Valerie Plame an actual covert operative, or just a desk jockey in Langley?

Also, didn't Novak say he had called the CIA to verify her employment there and they did indeed verify it?


Posted by: Rob on July 12, 2005 7:13 AM

I will be creating a summary of your summary shortly.

Posted by: Mark on July 12, 2005 7:43 AM

Erm...you forgot Judith Miller, who never wrote a story on the subject and is now in jail for refusing to disclose her source.

Posted by: braine on July 12, 2005 8:02 AM

Can't wait to see Oliver Stone's movie about this in three years when he decides to do it.

Thanks for the summary!

Posted by: Erin on July 12, 2005 8:42 AM

Thank you for the summary. I don't follow the news close enough, and I also don't follow movies close enough. Your reviews are very helpful to the ignorant like me.

Posted by: Edith on July 12, 2005 8:49 AM

Oh, PLEASE, Undertoad--do you think you might provide the evidence that Wilson was lying to the CIA and in his Op-Ed piece, instead of just taking wingnut Powerline's word for it?

Rob--yes, Plame was an actual covert operative, and evidence indicates that Novak knew this. He referred to her as a "CIA operative" in his piece, and analysis of his past pieces reveals that he uses "agent" for the desk jockeys and "operative" for those involved in covert operations. Interpretations of Rove's claim that he never revealed Plame's name seem to revolve on the proposition that he said "Joe Wilson's wife," which when said to an investigative reporter isn't exactly an oblique reference. In fact, Rove's spin is dancing perilously close to the territory of "it depends on what your definition of 'is' is."

Nice to see how W. has "restored honor and integrity to the White House."

Posted by: Karen on July 12, 2005 8:50 AM

Josh Marshall has some interesting info on Rove's lawyer:


Posted by: Dave on July 12, 2005 9:00 AM

I'm a republican, which doesn't necessarily mean I'm a "Bush Lover". I voted for him because I felt he was the best choice at the time.

That being said, I think you did a good job of "cliff-ing" the saga. However, I do want to piggy-back your "what makes this a crime" statement. In order to be a crime, Rove or "someone" or "group" would have to not only have KNOWINGLY revealed her cover, BUT he/they would also have had to NAME her. Fine line between saying "wife of" and saying Valerie Plame, but the line does exist. (Could a reporter be guilty of too much investigation with the intent of knowingly revealing her identity? Just a thought.)

I think this is going to end up with the second source (every good reporter corroberates his story/info) being in cahoots with who actually did the digging in order to name the name, and then establishing if it was done with illegal intent.

Bottom line....it will end nowhere. It's about as hard as proving "defamation of character". How does one judge intent if there's no hard documentation/recordings/eye witnesses?

Posted by: Scott on July 12, 2005 9:44 AM

i'm right there with you on the gleeful feeling that this sad episode is creating. i can't watch that clip without cackling out loud. those fuckers.

and, indeed, at this point, the whole yellowcake issue is, sadly, water under the bridge. bush said he would fire anyone involved in outing a CIA operative, and rove has now admitted to being involved. will bush fire rove? or will he try to re-write history about what he said?

personally, i can't wait for the daily show to sink its fangs into this whole thing.

one last question -- why wasn't bob novak under subpoena? and doesn't he sort of "frog-march" everywhere he goes, since he's sort of a human frog?

Posted by: bryan on July 12, 2005 9:47 AM

I would also like to make a low-brow comment:

Free speach and freedom of the press my @$$. The reporters who are trying to cover their sources aren't doing it soley for that noble sentiment. No offense to reporters, but they are on their own out there and though it's a great freedom, it's as much for their own protection as it is for the mantra.

Don't get me wrong, I don't mind reporters using the freedom, just don't get caught abusing it because that's when a freedom will turn into just a lesser liberty in the courts' eyes.

Posted by: Scott on July 12, 2005 9:56 AM


See Tom Hayden's recent article at HuffPo. He makes a very good case for Novak being a CIA operative himself.

Posted by: ch on July 12, 2005 10:13 AM


Powerline's own back story references the very much non-wingnut Senate Intelligence Committee report, page 46 (PDF page 56). So I went and read it.

The Senate report said that Wilson's report included the fact that "Nigerien officials admitted that the Iraqi delegation had travelled there in 1999, and that the Nigerien Prime Minister believed the Iraqis were interested in purchasing uranium."

IOW: at the time, Wilson reported that he'd "learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa."

And that fact was partly used to justify Bush's "16 words" in Bush's SotU.

Which Wilson then said was untrue.

Posted by: Undertoad on July 12, 2005 10:14 AM

Is it really true that Rove would be innocent of a crime if he just said "the wife of Wilson" instead of "Valerie Plame"? Because if so, that's an absolutely ridiculous loophole. Marriage licenses are public record -- it would take a reporter (or anybody else) about 5 minutes to find out her name based on that information. It's no different from Rove simply giving the reporters her name to begin with. That makes no sense to me at all.

I mean, if she were standing in a crowded room wearing a name tag that said "Valerie Plame" on it, and he came up to her, pointed his finger in her face, and said, "THIS WOMAN IS A COVERT OPERATIVE," would he be innocent of disclosing that information just because he didn't also add the words "Oh, and by the way, in case you can't read, her name tag says 'Valerie Plame'"? If so, that's just ridiculous. She's just as identifiable when described as "Wilson's wife."

That said, I seriously doubt anything will actually happen to Rove over this. It wouldn't be the worst crime this administration has successfully glossed over.

Posted by: Meg on July 12, 2005 10:32 AM

Meg - you're very correct. But that's what I was told....now I'm going to have to turn to google to try and find the exact wording of this law for myself. Thanks alot! ;)

If I had to guess, it probably has to do with "nameing names" AND "intent" on uncovering an operative.

But, rediculous loopeholes are used all the time. I'm off to google to close the loopehole that's located in my face, though.

Posted by: Scott on July 12, 2005 10:44 AM

Beautifully done. I used the word "schadenfreude" to describe my sentiments as well.

This development in the story shifts the focus away from what I found to be a very confusing freedom of the press issue, and places the focus squarely on the question, "exactly how evil is the President's top advisor?"

Answer: very.

Posted by: Jim on July 12, 2005 10:55 AM

Here is the text of the Intelligence Identities Protection Act. Note (bold italic text mine) that it does not require the accused to actually give the covert agent's name, but only to give "any information identifying such covert agent." If Rove said "Joseph Wilson's wife," I'm hard pressed to see how anybody could argue that it does not constitute "information identifying" Valerie Plame.

Section 421. Protection of identities of certain United States undercover intelligence officers, agents, informants, and sources

(a) Disclosure of information by persons having or having had access to classified information that identifies covert agent
Whoever, having or having had authorized access to classified information that identifies a covert agent, intentionally discloses any information identifying such covert agent to any individual not authorized to receive classified information, knowing that the information disclosed so identifies such covert agent and that the United States is taking affirmative measures to conceal such covert agent's intelligence relationship to the United States, shall be fined under title 18 or imprisoned not more than ten years, or both.

(b) Disclosure of information by persons who learn identity of covert agents as result of having access to classified information
Whoever, as a result of having authorized access to classified information, learns the identity of a covert agent and intentionally discloses any information identifying such covert agent to any individual not authorized to receive classified information, knowing that the information disclosed so identifies such covert agent and that the United States is taking affirmative measures to conceal such covert agent's intelligence relationship to the United States, shall be fined under title 18 or imprisoned not more than five years, or both.

(c) Disclosure of information by persons in course of pattern of activities intended to identify and expose covert agents
Whoever, in the course of a pattern of activities intended to identify and expose covert agents and with reason to believe that such activities would impair or impede the foreign intelligence activities of the United States, discloses any information that identifies an individual as a covert agent to any individual not authorized to receive classified information, knowing that the information disclosed so identifies such individual and that the United States is taking affirmative measures to conceal such individual's classified intelligence relationship to the United States, shall be fined under title 18 or imprisoned not more than three years, or both.

(d) Imposition of consecutive sentences
A term of imprisonment imposed under this section shall be consecutive to any other sentence of imprisonment.

Posted by: Dan Someone on July 12, 2005 11:01 AM

Thanks, Dan.

Posted by: Matthew on July 12, 2005 11:06 AM

Thanks Dan. I'm glad I refreshed before posting again. You beat me to it. Below is a few more links for those who are REALLY into this. I have one more question for those info buffs out there....is she really classified as a "covert agent"? Or is she just an annalyst?

Best link I found of the potential consent form:

Guide to offense levels of this sort:

Posted by: Scott on July 12, 2005 11:20 AM

For the record, I stand corrected on the "exact name" part. I will no longer trust my "source" to praraphrase for me. I'm working on getting him to sign a release so that I can divulge his contact information to you all.

Posted by: Scott on July 12, 2005 11:32 AM

We have a pretty decent scandal going on up here. When you have a moment, I'm sure we'd be grateful for your summary.


Posted by: Canuck on July 12, 2005 11:53 AM

Why hasn't Robert Novak been subpoened and forced to testify? I'm really unclear on this.

Posted by: randfish on July 12, 2005 12:05 PM

Thanks for that. Since moving out of the United States, I've been sorely out-of-touch. Great summarization to get me up-to-date!

Posted by: Karen on July 12, 2005 12:45 PM

I think everybody is unclear on why Novak is the only reporter who hasn't gotten threatened with jail so far. He's cryptically said that the truth about his role will eventually come out, and has refused to answer any questions as to whether he's been subpoenaed or testified in front of the grand jury.

I think of the three reporters, he's the only one who OUGHT to go to jail. And yet in typical backwards American fashion, he's the only one who hasn't been threatened with jail time at all.

Posted by: Meg on July 12, 2005 1:00 PM

There is another article that followed the "Mission to Nigeria" article entitled "The CIA Leak". Novak says, "He (CIA Official) asked me not to use her name, saying she probably never again will be given a foreign assignment but that exposure of her name might cause "difficulties" if she travels abroad. He never suggested to me that Wilson's wife or anybody else would be endangered. If he had, I would not have used her name."

The article can be found here: http://www.townhall.com/columnists/robertnovak/rn20031001.shtml

Posted by: Scott on July 12, 2005 4:03 PM

Novak hasn't been threatened with jail because he already spilled the beans


Posted by: Stan on July 12, 2005 8:03 PM

You left out the most important bit. The fact that Valerie Plame is not just a CIA Agent but a babe as well.

Posted by: Nabakov on July 12, 2005 8:06 PM

Undertoad and others, here's the scoop on the "Rove was just trying to correct Wilson's lie" puffola.

You can cut through this one even faster though-- just ask "Why, then, didn't the WH just say that two years ago? Why didn't Rove say that?" Instead Bush vowed to fire anyone responsible for such a leak.

Posted by: Buck on July 12, 2005 8:50 PM

Well, i think 'something' will happen to him, but Bush can't very well fire him yet, because it would point to his guilt. Maybe they fight it until they're sure he won't be prosecuted, and then Rove resigns 'in order not to distract the President from his business of servicing the American people.'

But Rove doesn't lose. He takes a multimegamillion dollar job as a lobbyist. The Republican's save face by not 'firing' him. The Democrat's save face by throwing Rove to the Road. Karl throws a big party on a yacht owned by Mitchell Wade and Washingtonienne bangs a third-tier GOP legislative assistant in order to write another book. Politics rule.

Posted by: brando on July 12, 2005 9:33 PM

I heard (unconfirmed by personal research) that Bush Sr. fired Rove for leaking information???

Posted by: talullah on July 13, 2005 6:15 AM

I heard (unconfirmed by personal research) that Bush Sr. fired Rove for leaking information???

Posted by: Tally on July 13, 2005 6:17 AM

Yes -- Rove smeared Rob Mosbacher, a Texas fundraiser. Of course, Bush Sr. has a a small amount of integrity, and of course, Bush Jr. saw what said small amount of integrity did for his daddy.

Posted by: Buck on July 13, 2005 7:51 AM

I think the main issue on whether Rove used her name or not is about his lawyer's honesty with the press, not whether Rove broke the law or not. The lawyer stated that Rove had not mentioned any CIA operatives, by name, to Cooper. To those of us paying attention those extra two words made it obvious that there was spin going on. This ethical issue is not directly related to the legal definitions involved in the IIP Act.

Posted by: ch on July 13, 2005 8:09 AM

The Wall Street Journal thanks Karl Rove for his honesty.

Posted by: Duane on July 13, 2005 9:57 AM

found while searching for random images... DY sprang to mind when I found it. http://www.livejournal.com/users/revolutionnow05/48699.html#cutid1

Posted by: Anonymous on July 13, 2005 10:56 AM

I got as far as where you said "yellocake" in the first sentence and then my mind was off and wandering. I pictured big slices of yellow cake with chocolate frosting and then I got up to go find a snack.

I dearly love your blog, but this one just made my hungry.

Posted by: Redneck Diva on July 13, 2005 12:01 PM

how did i get here

Posted by: ericatruth on July 13, 2005 12:04 PM

Brilliant piece of writing Matt. Please summarise everything else interesting as I do not follow the news.

Posted by: Tom on July 13, 2005 12:40 PM

Please ...

Did Mr Yeti write any "summaries" or even a single word about Sandy Berger sneaking top secret documents out of the National Archives ? Or Clinton and the DNC selling secrets to China ? Or any of the other shady dealings done by Democrats in the Clinton years ?

This thing may stink, and Rove or someone like him may have done something that wasn't right, but there is a political agenda here and you all only care when it is the other team that misbehaves.

Posted by: wally on July 13, 2005 12:57 PM

Amen. You know, I still can't get over James Bayard betraying the Federalists. And that was in 1800. You'd think I would have moved on by now.

Posted by: brando on July 13, 2005 1:15 PM

That is a good point that Wally makes.

Where was Defective Yeti in 1998? Or during the Carter administration, for that matter?

Posted by: Rob Cockerham on July 13, 2005 1:19 PM

Karl Rove was fired from the 1992 re-election campaign of Bush Sr. for allegedly leaking a negative story about Bush loyalist/fundraiser Robert Mosbacher to Bob Novak. Novak's piece described a meeting organized by then-Senator Phil Gramm at which Mosbacher was relieved of his duties as state campaign manager because "the president's re-election effort in Texas has been a bust." Rove was fired after Mosbacher fingered him as Novak's source.

Rove was the "only one with a motive to leak": Mosbacher says: "I said Rove is the only one with a motive to leak this. We let him go." The motive in question? Mosbacher had given Rove only a quarter of the $1 million spent on direct mail contracts for the 92 campaign; Rove, who in 1988 had the entire direct mail contract, therefore had an axe to grind with Mosbacher. Novak's column stated: "Also attending the session was political consultant Karl Rove, who had been shoved aside by Mosbacher."

Mosbacher still says Rove did it: Although Novak and Rove continue to deny Rove was the source of the leak, Mosbacher recently stated "I still believe he did it."

(Sources: "Karl and Bob: a leaky history," Houston Chronicle, Nov. 7, 2003, ; "Genius," Texas Monthly, March 2003, p. 82; "Why Are These Men Laughing," Esquire, January 2003)

Posted by: pete on July 13, 2005 1:45 PM

btw, that was pasted from here, but you can find it all over the internets.

Posted by: pete on July 13, 2005 1:47 PM

"you all only care when it is the other team that misbehaves"

actually, that's you.

mr. yeti is clearly talking about current on-going events. it's not his responsibility to also discuss the entire history of political wrong doing.

although maybe he should adjust his disclaimer so it reads: "i personaly don't like bush/rove/the administration, but i'm trying for just the facts. also, other politicians and their administrations have done bad things in the past."

that would be stupid.

Posted by: bob on July 13, 2005 2:05 PM

Much of the commentary on the righthand edge of the blogosphere takes the position that Valerie Plame wasn't a "covert agent," so leaking her name was not a crime, so SHUT UP ABOUT ROVE'S LEAKING HER IDENTITY. (That's the gist of it, I think.)

Here's the problem with that line of thought: Patrick Fitzgerald is investigating whether a crime has been committed under the IIPA, which means he is investigating whether every element of the crime can be proved. This means, among other things, that he has to determine whether Valerie Plame was a covert agent, since that is one element of the crime. If it were a slam-dunk (pace George Tenet) that she is not a covert agent, then there would be no crime to investigate. I don't know much, but it seems to me that an investigation of this nature wouldn't continue for two years if it could be readily established that one of the critical elements had not been met.

Maybe it's not easy to figure out if someone is a "covert agent" within the meaning of the IIPA. Or maybe Fitzgerald is a politically-motivated hack, out to burn the Administration, just like that awful DA Ronnie Earle who's been persecuting Tom "The Hammer" DeLay. (When will we see those attacks, or have I missed them already?) But I think it's far more likely that Plame's status as a "covert agent" is close enough that Fitzgerald still feels there is a possible crime to be investigated.

Posted by: Dan Someone on July 13, 2005 2:14 PM

If, as Wally says, there are teams, I would like to check out the hats and jerseys. I could use some new gear.

Posted by: Beerzie Boy on July 13, 2005 3:07 PM

Thanks for that. I generally find that politics are too messed up to bother trying to follow and hope that the good guys win in the end. It's nice to get the quick and dirty summary when I can.

Posted by: Brock on July 13, 2005 3:16 PM

Just a question. Has anyone given thought to the idea that Patrick Fitzgerald is investigating someone other than Karl Rove?

Posted by: Kevin D. Korenthal on July 13, 2005 6:50 PM

Wally said:
Did Mr Yeti write any "summaries" or even a single word about Sandy Berger sneaking top secret documents out of the National Archives? Or Clinton and the DNC selling secrets to China? Or any of the other shady dealings done by Democrats in the Clinton years? This thing may stink, and Rove or someone like him may have done something that wasn't right, but there is a political agenda here and you all only care when it is the other team that misbehaves.

Don't get me wrong here, I think you have a point, but let's not forget the biggest, most heinous breach of executive powers ever peretrated by the WH: Watergate. Done under the watch, and by the order of a Republican president. Now the revisionist would have you believe that Nixon only lied about his part in the scandal, but listen to the tapes and he clearly orders the Secret Service, the IRS, and the FBI to hamper any political decent. And then he got pardened by Ford before he was even charged with anything!

Sure Dems are spinning this for thier politcal advantage, but then again the Reps wouldn't let up about Clinton lying about a BJ by a supple young intern either....

Posted by: Mindar on July 13, 2005 8:36 PM

Two items:
1. Judith Miller is in jail for not disclosing her source. If her source were Rove, his blanket agreement of full disclosure would clear her to reveal him as such. So why is she still in jail protecting a source that said he didn't need to be protected?

2. 36 major news organizations, in their brief filed with the court on behalf of Judith Miller, Matthew Cooper, & Time Inc, state:
"...there exists ample evidence on the public record to cast serious doubt as to whether a crime has even been committed under the Intelligence Identities Protection Act (the "Act") in the investigation underlying the attempts to secure testimony from Miller and Cooper."

So, the reporters, and 36 major news organizations don't believe a crime has been committed. I wonder why they're focusing so much attention on something they themselves stated they didn't believe was criminal? And yet their headlines lead you to believe otherwise. Ponderous.

Here's the brief (pdf):

Posted by: jojo on July 13, 2005 8:41 PM

sorry - yeti didn't take my href:


Posted by: jojo on July 13, 2005 8:42 PM

Thanks for putting that disclaimer in.

Posted by: Rudy on July 13, 2005 9:44 PM

There is a bigger crime here, of course. There is the matter of spouting false evidence of an Iraqi WMD program in order to win support for a military invasion? Regardless of the circumstances of Wilson's investigation in Niger, the documents at the base of the charge were already revealed to have been forgeries (and are now alleged to have originated in the US). Even if this was not common knowledge, it would not have taken a great effort to investigate. Even if there was no time to investigate, it would have been more principled to ignore such shaky evidence. Even if you didn't consider it shaky evidence, all it pointed to was Saddam unsuccessfully asking around if he could get any uranium. Even if hopes were horses, there was a mechanism in place to determine what Iraq's offensive capabilities were before the invasion. Yes, maybe the threat of force got the inspectors access, but once they had access they were rapidly becoming convinced that Hussein was in compliance. And even if he weren't, there were means of insuring a return to compliance without an invasion. And, finally, even if an invasion were necessary, we would have had a lot more partners with much more potential for transitioning to a peaceful Iraq if we'd based our case on FACTS instead of FALSIFICATIONS.

Oh, and also, to reveal the identiry of a covert operative is a felony. Big whoop.

Posted by: Dystopos on July 13, 2005 9:47 PM

This really was an excellent wrap-up. Thanks DY.

I'm really surprised that the right is rallying so hard around Rove. Why don't they just let him go down - fire him quick and let the story die? Look at all the Reagan appointees who were jailed (103 I think...oh, and [sarcasm]where was the Yeti then??? [/end sarcasm]) - the story dies a hell of a lot faster if you just cop to it, call it overenthusiasm of a subordinate and move on.

As was pointed out above, the two things the right is hanging their whole case on are 1) 'she wasn't all that covert' and 2) 'Wilson said the VP sent him so he lied so all this is his fault' Both of these appear to be lies and even if they were true wouldn't look any less stupid.

IMHO, The American people swallow a lot from this administration because they believe they are doing nasty things but they are doing it to keep us safe. I don't think they are going to buy this one.

Posted by: LizRM on July 13, 2005 10:13 PM

You know, I don't care whether Rove goes or not. He's done his job, which was to get W re-elected. But in reading all the discussion 'mongst the more liberal of you as to whether or not Rove's actions meet the letter of the law, e.g., did he use Plame's name or just refer to Wilson's wife, I can't help but wonder where you all came down on the issue of whether or not Clinton lied in the Paula Jones case. Because he did. And he was impeached for lying under oath before a jury, not for catching a hummer in the oval office. Most of the leftward sorts back then excused his actions because it was "none of our business because it's between him and Hillary." It was between him and a court of law. Why now, in the case of an unelected official, is it so important that the exact letter of the law be followed when it didn't matter when President Clinton was involved? And I know, this post is so far down in the list of postings that only about three people will ever read it, but I would like an answer.

Posted by: Davey on July 14, 2005 3:59 AM

Hey Davey,

Here's why. Clinton was acquited in his impeachment trial. Sorry to break the news to you, all these years later.

Now, back at ya. If you thought that president lied, where's your outrage today? This White House lied about Rove's involvement. And this time it centers around national security. Please explain why this scandal is no big deal without waving your arms and pointing fingers at Bill Clinton.

Posted by: stan on July 14, 2005 5:06 AM

Hey Stan

Like I said, Clinton was impeached. Second paragraph of this link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bill_Clinton Of course, this same paragraph also supports your point that he was acquitted at his trial. Nyahh, nyahh, we're both right.

Back at you. I'm not waving my arms and pointing at Bill Clinton. I asked his supporters a question that roughly parallelled previous incidents. Back then, it was in Clinton supporter's interests to bend the rules, but now they don't seem to want to bend them.

As to where my outrage is, just like with Clinton, my outrage is waiting for all the facts. When all the facts are in, I'll get outraged if proper punishment isn't administered. Notice I'm not defending Rove by saying, "Everybody in Washington does it, Rove just got caught." I'm holding fire until I see how this plays out. Besides, Clinton kind of lowered the bar for behaviour in and around the White House.

Why is it no big deal? First of all, I never said that it wasn't a big deal. Don't put words in my mouth. Second of all, apparently Plame's identity and involvement were common knowledge. As noted above, most major news organizations assert that there is doubt that a law was broken. So why is the socialist left raising Cain when apparently there is no there there?

Prediction: if Rove is guilty, he will do the right thing, quit or whatever. If he is to be prosecuted will be up to others, but the socialist left will somehow wind up accusing Rove of masterminding his own punishment if he receives anything other than a public hanging.

Jeez. I gotta go to work.

Posted by: Davey on July 14, 2005 5:48 AM


Thanks for bringing to the board the reason to keep the fires burning under this issue. The "Radical Right" has nothing to defend this action besides "What about Clinton?" You and all the other Rush ditto heads can beat twist this story all you want but the fact remains that any disclosure of information that is classified to anyone who is not authorized is a felony. Don't worry though because Rove will be pardoned before he does a day in jail. One more thing is it possible for the Repubs to have any discussion on any topic without name calling and mocking those who might not agree with them? According to Rush&co. the left are the angry ones. Hmmm...

Posted by: steve d on July 14, 2005 6:35 AM

I am an administration supporter who hopes that the truth comes out. So, to you I say Fair enough and nice job.

Posted by: The Sanity Inspector on July 14, 2005 8:14 AM

To me, the most interesting aspect of the Novak angle is the word on the street that he gave testimony to the special prosecutor but Fitzgerald didn't believe him -- didn't believe he was telling the whole truth or didn't believe anything, I don't know. At the very least, Fitz needed corroboration. Hence the mess with Miller and Cooper.

Posted by: ester on July 14, 2005 9:15 AM

Thank you for the very informative summary. I really appreciated it. Are you planning to do that with future issues, or did this one just particularly inspire you?

Posted by: bluewyvern on July 14, 2005 9:19 AM

Ok, Steve D. Let's try this again.

You say those on the right, I'm sorry, the "Radical Right" have no way to defend this issue but to point at Clinton. Go back and reread the very first sentence of my first post. Hell, read all my sentences; there is no defense offered by me for this issue. I wasn't trying to defend Rove; he can do that for himself. I was trying to point out the inconsistency exemplified in the socialist left's it's-ok-to-bend-the-rules-for-Bill-but-not-for-Karl attitude. Or the it's-OK-to-ignore-the-fact-that-Robert-Byrd-was-a-member-of-the-KKK-but-Trent-Lott-wasn't-but-let's-dump-on-Lott-anyway attitude.

But the funniest part of your post is when you attack me and other "Rush dittoheads" and then condemn us for name calling. Jeez, you guys are inconsistent. I don't call anybody a name in my posts here. OK, well, yeah, Mr. Yeti is a funny bastard, but I say that lovingly.

Posted by: Davey on July 14, 2005 10:49 AM

I'm a Bush-supporting Republican and I can't get excited about Sandy Berger-- I think he should get more than the slap he got for sneaking secret documents in his pants, and pretending it was accidental, but a former somebody's scandal just doesn't rate against a current big-time somebody. Obviously the media favors this story because several journalists are in jail or on witness lists and they, as a group, think they have special privileges in the face of a subpeona. Anyway, I don't support the leaker-- whether Rove or not-- who was essentially retaliating against a negative report of dubious veracity.

As for Powerline, whether they are GOP operatives (if such a thing exists, how do I sign up?) or not, John Hindraker links to his sources. For example, he's making claims about the contents of a Senate Subcommittee Report, he links to a WaPost article about it, and then he links ot the Subcommittee report:
Wait, you can't click on something that says Powerline? Click here for a 23MB PDF:
Check the claims against the facts yourself-- you don't have to be a blogger or other journalist to manage this. The claim is that Wilson said different things in public than he did to the subcommittee. Compare the two yourself if you can't have Powerline do it for you. Click some of the links in above comments for links to WaPost articles. WaPost! Not exactly a GOP organ! NYTimes could give you some background! Check the STar-Tribune for what Wilson said in public, if you must! Forget the claims and check the facts.

Also, while I've heard repeatedly about Bush's alleged vow to fire leakers, I haven't seen evidence of that, in fact. I don't think Rove and/or the other leaker can weasel out of having named a covert operative, but I do think that Bush can weasel out of "if the person has violated law, that person will be taken care of." as quoted in the Defective Yeti summary, above. I mean, geez, if any politician said that phrase, would you trust him to mean what you or "the MSM" or your favorite blogger *thinks* he said?

Frankly, I find it hard to believe that any major paper journalist would go to jail to protect Rove. Does that make any sense to anyone?

Also, getting linked on Cockeyed makes this whole post twice as good.

Posted by: LAN3 on July 14, 2005 11:00 AM

You rule DY! Thank you...I hadn't heard about the last 2 updates and so by now would have gotten lost.

Posted by: miel on July 14, 2005 11:34 AM

I'm just happy that corrupt politicians are getting theirs finally. I'm not a democrat, nor am I a republican, I consider myself "liberal" in the classic sense (freedom for all), but by today's standards, I am a conservative because of the financial aspect. However, despite my support for many conservative issues, I think this thing stinks and I hope it all goes down in flames. I hope this takes down the Republicans, but I also hope that it takes the Democrats down with them. We need a new system... how about NOT having our politicians be career politicians, but rather real people who have jobs and who actually care about something more than kickbacks?

Posted by: bikeboy on July 14, 2005 12:46 PM


You probably won't read this, (the # of comments is getting ridiculously big), but I had to point something out. You have referred to the "socialist left" several times, but the people you are arguing against (Democrats) aren't socialists, they're liberals. If you didn't know there's a difference, allow me to clarify: there is. I am a socialist, and I don't take kindly to being lumped in with liberals. I consider the Dems to be pretty right-wing, and I would ask you not to refer to those neo-liberal imperialists as socialists. Cheers.

Posted by: Blake Richards on July 14, 2005 1:22 PM

I believe I see the point where many of us may have taken a wrong turn on this matter.

When asked about the case in February, 2004, Bush said "If there's a leak out of my administration, I want to know who it is ... if the person has violated law, that person will be taken care of."

Nowhere does he say how "That person will be taken care of." My guess is, a nice pension, pats on the back, kudos all around, and, oh yeah a Presidential Pardon.

Posted by: Craig Cervantes on July 14, 2005 1:36 PM


Sorry, dude. At least you're honest about being a socialist. Most liberals won't admit that much of their views are socialist.

Hey, check this out: http://www.usatoday.com/news/washington/2005-07-14-cia-wilson_x.htm

I love it when a nefarious, right-wing plan comes together.

Posted by: Davey on July 14, 2005 2:14 PM

Excellent summary, thanks! Kudos for the disclaimer as well. [In case anyone missed the disclaimer (Wally obviously did), allow me to sum up: Matthew isn't claiming to be fair and balanced. He's claiming to be factual and biased.]

Posted by: Lori on July 14, 2005 5:57 PM

I can't believe these Rove defenders stating that the leaker (Rove) didn't actually call Valerie Plame by name, so he didn't do anything wrong.
Give me a break....Laura Bush's husband is a smirking lier...Any idea who i am talking about assholes?

Posted by: lat on July 15, 2005 7:24 AM

The Intelligence Identities Protection Act is indeed a very high bar to violate, but the espionage act is not.

Mark Kleiman has been looking into this angle. Start here, then briefly here and here.

I find credible Kleiman's belief that the GOP line asserting Rove will go free (because it's so hard to prosecute under the IIPA) is probably pre-spinning Fitzgerald as a "rogue prosecutor", in the event that he files charges under something other than IIPA.

Posted by: Nat on July 15, 2005 1:16 PM

Davey, to bring you up to speed on some local (Seattle) politics, a socialist candidate for mayor has recently been granted an exception to the campaign donor laws (requiring identification of donors contributing more than $25) because the powers-that-be have decided that being a donor to a socialist candidate could set someone up for being on the receiving end of harassment/threats/violence. A similar exemption was granted to a socialist candidate for city council. Apparently these decisions were made in part because some sort of Socialist organization was firebombed in Pennsylvania, and evidence was presented that "supporters of candidates identifying themselves as socialists have been threatened and harassed in Seattle and across the country." - Seattle Times.

Two stories ran about it last week in the Seattle Times (www.seattletimes.com ), one on Thursday, July 14 and one on Friday, July 15.

With that in mind, I can see where some folks who commented earlier might infer your use of the term "socialist democrats" as namecalling, i.e. trying to link Democrats to an organization that is not well accepted (to put it mildly, apparently) in the mainstream.

And to the Socialist who commented earlier, I'm not making any judgements on you or your beliefs. I personally think it's a sad state of affairs in this country when a candidate for office can't disclose who supports him/her for fear of retribution.

Posted by: C. on July 17, 2005 10:38 AM

Wow! Nice you spent 2 hours typing all that in when the "scandal" turns out to be.... nothing whatsoever.

But fear not -- perhaps someday we'll discover that Bush only hires and gives promotions to women who sleep with him! And maybe he'll be caught lying under oath about it!

Oh wait, sorry. Dems don't think such things are scandals. I forgot.

Posted by: The Man from Guam on July 17, 2005 5:57 PM

Hey Davey,
Hate to break the news to you - there were no allegations that Clinton lied under oath in the Paula Jones case. Nor was he impeached for perjury in the a Paula Jones case.

Regarding Monica Lewenski on the other hand...

FYI, I am/was a big Clinton supporter and was really disappointed in him on a number of occasions as were many in my circle that supported him. That seems to be the difference these days between the dems and cans: Democrats are concerned with right and wrong while Republicans are concerned with legal and illegal.

Posted by: Dwayne on July 18, 2005 12:18 PM

Man from Guam,
Bush will never get nabbed for lying under oath as he refuses to go under oath.

Posted by: Dwayne on July 18, 2005 12:20 PM


Clinton was impeached. Read it here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bill_Clinton

Like him or not, (and I didn't), he was a political genius and absolutely wasted his own spectacular talents. If only he'd used his powers for good. I don't understand why Democrats are so in love with the guy. It was on his watch that they lost the Senate, the House of Representatives, the White House and most of the governorships around the country. He destroyed the Dems' control of government. Believe it or not, I'd like to see a stronger Democrat party; I'm not real comfortable with the overly religious side of the Republicans. It would have been real easy for me to vote for Joe Lieberman, but he never stood a chance in hell of getting the nomination.

I thought Democrats were concerned with what the meaning of is is? Clinton never seemed to care what was right or wrong, as you say, but seemed to think it was right if he could get away with it.

Jeez, this is supposed to be a funny place, not a serious one. How'd I get off on this stuff? Mr. Yeti, stop me now!

Posted by: Davey on July 21, 2005 9:17 PM

Outstanding... excellent primer... exactly what I was looking for too... I couldn't have custom-ordered it any better... this is what makes the internet such an invaluable resource... Thanks for bringing me up to speed...

Posted by: flyingVman on July 25, 2005 11:08 PM