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Democrats' attacks on Karl Rove based in bitterness, but not fact
The accusations against Karl Rove are much ado about nothing. So why are the Democrats so desperate to get Rove?

Date published: 7/15/2005

O AKTON--If speculation about Supreme Court nominees isn't the biggest story in the nation's capital, the allegation that Karl Rove leaked the name of a covert CIA officer is. The ultraliberal MoveOn.org argues Rove must be fired and investigated. Rep. Louise Slaughter, D-N.Y, said Rove "should be thoroughly investigated and prosecuted." Sen. Frank Lautenberg, D-N.J., called for the immediate cancellation of Rove's security clearances. Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Calif., said that Rove should be subjected to a full congressional inquiry. It all sounds pretty serious.

That's how political gamesmanship is played--making something of nothing. The game is played by claiming there is smoke everywhere and then pointing at your political adversary and saying, "Where there's smoke, there's fire." But there's no fire, and no actual smoke. Just a lot of political gamesmanship and posturing.

We now know that a reporter was about to write a story that Vice President Dick Cheney had asked former Clinton-appointed Ambassador Joseph Wilson to travel to Africa in 2002 to investigate reports that Iraq had tried to buy uranium used in nuclear weapons. However, the story was untrue. It turns out that Wilson was involved in a massive case of political nepotism.

Wilson's wife, Valerie Plame, a CIA employee, had arranged the trip. Rove simply revealed this fact. However, Rove did not know or reveal her name or her position. He simply wrote in an e-mail to the reporter that it was "Wilson's wife, who apparently works at the agency [the CIA] on wmd [weapons of mass destruction] issues who authorized the trip."

The Intelligence Identities Protection Act prohibits government officials from knowingly and deliberately disclosing the identity of a covert CIA agent. Additionally, to be a violation of the law, the person doing the disclosing must have obtained the information from a classified source, and known that the CIA operative was a covert agent. Additionally, for the law to apply, the government must make diligent and active efforts to conceal the agent's identity.

None of these requirements exist in the case at hand.

Early in Plame's career, she was a covert agent and lived abroad. However, since the mid-1990s, she was retired from covert assignments and simply worked a desk job at CIA headquarters in Langley. The government was not actively concealing Plame's identity.

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