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Democrats' attacks on Karl Rove based in bitterness, but not fact

July 15, 2005 1:06 am

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 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.

In fact, neither Plame nor her husband was concealing her identity, either. Her husband's Web site clearly revealed her employment with the CIA before any e-mail from Karl Rove referred to her.

Additionally, Plame and her husband are far too visible in the high-society circles in Washington to seriously argue that she was making any diligent attempt to conceal her identity or to keep a low profile.

The simple fact is that Valerie Plame was not a covert CIA agent. Thus, there is no violation of the law.

But for the sake of an argument, let's ignore the facts, just as many Capitol Hill Democrats and members of the media have done--despite the clear evidence to the contrary, let's pretend that Plame was a covert agent. Even still, Karl Rove violated no law. Nor did he endanger any agent's life.

Rove clearly did not know her to be a covert agent, as he did not even know her name. This would indicate that he did not learn of her from classified sources, which is required for there to have been a crime.

Rove also had no knowledge that the government was actively concealing her identity--since it was not, nor was she or her husband.

Thus, even if one assumes that everything his adversaries say is true, Rove did not violate the Intelligence Identities Protection Act. Nor did he endanger any CIA agents in the field. Even The Washington Post and The New York Times now agree that no crime was committed.

So why all the acrimony and vitriol directed at Rove? Many Democrats are mad about losing all but one national election since 1994. They are furious that they could not beat George Bush or regain control of the House or Senate. Many blame Rove for their recent election woes. They want political revenge on the man they believe responsible for their misfortune.

Interestingly, Joseph Wilson was a consultant to the John Kerry campaign, and has been revealed as a charlatan and fraud by the Senate Intelligence Committee. The real reason Wilson went to Africa was political--to discredit the war in Iraq and impact the presidential election.

This entire CIA story is an amateur-hour game of "gotcha politics," with the mainstream media having played a strong supporting role. If you ignore the truth and make up your own "facts," it makes for interesting political theater.

Lots of feigned smoke. Lots of mirrors. Lots of carefully worded but empty allegations. But when the facts and the law are examined, it becomes clear that many Capitol Hill Democrats still prefer phony political theater to real public service.

GEORGE LANDRITH is president of Frontiers of Freedom.

Copyright 2014 The Free Lance-Star Publishing Company.