Was it Rove?

We still don’t know. According to Capitol Hill Blue, “The Bush Administration is scrambling behind the scenes to stop a criminal indictment against Presidential advisor Karl Rove for disclosing classified information to reporters in an attempt to discredit a White House critic.” But according to Salon.com’s War Room, “MSNBC political analyst Lawrence O’Donnell has been selling his own story hard at the Huffington Post, and in the process he’s gotten a little ahead of himself. Over the weekend, he said that Newsweek was working on an “It’s Rove!” story and would “probably break it” Sunday. What Newsweek actually reported Sunday was a little less than all that: Newsweek said that email messages Time turned over to the federal prosecutor handling the Plame investigation reveal that Rove was one of Matthew Cooper’s sources as he worked on a Plame story, but that it’s unclear what Rove told Cooper.” Capitol Hill Blue says, “Emails recently turned over to a federal grand jury investigating the leak show Cooper told his editors that Rove was the source of the information. In addition, Rove attorney Karl Luskin confirms that Cooper interviewed Rove for the article but claims that his client ‘never knowingly disclosed classified information.'”

O’Donnell focuses on the word, “knowingly,” taking this as an admission that Rove was indeed the source of the leak. Where Salon.com sees Rove as one source in the story, Capitol Hill Blue seems to take the absence of other named names as sources as evidence that Rove was the source of the leak. But they say more:

Bill Israel, a former reporter who teaches journalism at the University of Massachusetts and who taught with Rove at the University at Texas, says Rove could have easily set up the Plame affair.

“Rove once described himself as a die-hard Nixonite; he is, like the former president, both student and master of plausible deniability,” Israel says. “Consequently, when former U.S. Ambassador Joseph Wilson challenged President Bush’s embrace of the British notion that Saddam Hussein imported uranium from Niger to produce nuclear weapons, retaliation by Rove was never in doubt.”

So I’m guessing it was Rove, but he’ll dodge prosecution.

Columbia Journalism Review confuses its whistleblowers.

The Columbia Journalism Review has weighed in against the Supreme Court’s refusal to protect the identity of the source who identified Valerie Plame as a CIA station chief in reprisal for her husband’s criticism of Bush administration claims that Iraq had attempted to purchase uranium in Niger. “‘Who am I to defy the courts,’ [Norman Pearlstine, the lawyer who serves as Time Inc.’s editor-in-chief] asked himself and others, when even Truman and Nixon bowed to judicial edicts? But that’s an argument based on a false equivalence,” says the Review, essentially arguing that no constitutional crisis results from an editor’s refusal to reveal the sources.

I remain struck, however, by Jim Naureckas’ comments on Democracy Now!, in which he pointed out a couple things:

  1. “I think the cult of secrecy around the C.I.A. is absurd as it goes back 30 years to the case of the C.I.A. station chief in Athens, his name being revealed, and then him being killed I think six or seven days later, assassinated six or seven days later. I think he was — his name appeared in a newsletter, a sort of a left wing anti-C.I.A. newsletter. And the response at that time was, ‘Ah, this proves that if you name agents, they’re going to be killed, or they’re going to be compromised,’ and so on and so forth. Except that everybody who wanted to know who the C.I.A. station chief in Athens already knew who it was. So I never bought that. It’s the job of the C.I.A. station chief in a given city, foreign city, to be known, so that they can be approached by other agents and by people who want to leak them information.”
  2. “I think it’s important to distinguish between leaks from the government and plants by the government. These are two different kinds of animals. It’s one thing for a whistleblower to reveal government wrongdoing, and that kind of action, you know, I think is heroic and needs to be protected. And there needs to be stronger protection for journalists who don’t want to reveal that kind of source. On the other hand, the vast majority of anonymous sources that you see in mainstream media are not whistleblowers. They’re government operatives. They’re people who are working anonymously for the government in order to get out the government’s agenda.”

In the context that the source of the leak might be White House media manipulator Karl Rove, Naureckas’ second comment seems particularly relevant. Naureckas argues that the exposure of Valerie Plame as a CIA agent did not expose government wrongdoing, but was instead itself an act of wrongdoing, not only violating the law and arguably placing Plame’s life at risk, but being an act of retaliation against her husband’s criticism of Bush administration claims.

It’s easy, I think, to get one’s head twisted on this issue. And this is a case where Naureckas, of Fairness and Accuracy In Reporting, may very well have it right. Karl Rove–or whoever leaked Valerie Plame’s identity–is no whistleblower and should not be mistaken for one.


As patriotic Americans prepare to attend fireworks displays tonight, often in local parks, I cannot help but contemplate the discrepancy between these “harmless” displays and the real fireworks overseas. According to the Brookings Institute, as of 28 June, over 1700 Americans–patriotic Americans–had died, and over 13,000 had been wounded, not for democracy or “American values” but for a lie. Nearly 2500 Iraqi police and military have died for American hegemony. And very conservatively, 20,000-30,000 Iraqi civilians have been fatally caught in fireworks.

But children will light sparklers and set off firecrackers. Grown-ups will revel in a reaffirmation of propaganda. Flags will fly everywhere. And my stomach will be further tested.

The return of feudalism

I’m sitting in Palo Alto, watching the goings on on a Sunday evening in the middle of a three day weekend. In the time I’ve spent here, I’ve been noticing more and more homeless in this relatively well-off community. They congregate at a couple churches on Hamilton that offer refuge. Here on Emerson, there is one old man wearing a blue sweatshirt proclaiming that he has driven the Alaska Highway, and black sweatpants. He is forever tugging up and at the waist on his sweatpants. Mentally ill, he limps up and down the block, involuntarily making a spectacle of himself.

At school, this is my quarter to finish up general education requirements. Among the classes I’m taking is US History from 1877. So far it has largely been about the rise of corporate power, something Charles Reich also wrote of in his book, The Greening of America. The professor says a recurring theme will be a contest between the ideas of trickle-down and what I’ll term a “rising tide.” Trickle-down, of course, is the notion that by helping the rich, they will invest more, creating jobs and thus opportunity for the poor. Others respond that this has never worked and that it is better to assist the poor, for as the old saying goes, “a rising tide lifts all boats.” It is a contest between those who blame the poor for their moral failings and those who criticize the rich for their arrogance; where corporations regard workers as expendable, even a hard worker can face misfortune.

Here on the streets of a well off suburb, I see the effects. A pair of girls giggle and point; they cross the street to avoid the man tugging on his black sweatpants. I am reminded of how the conservative icon, Ronald Reagan, then-governor of California, closed the mental institutions, turning these people loose upon the streets. The conservative morality makes no allowance for sickness or misfortune. Each person’s fate is in his own hands; all have opportunity, and any failure to overcome circumstances is a moral failure.

Over an hour has passed since I began to write this entry. The man in the blue sweatshirt and the black sweatpants walks past me again. A couple approaches from the other direction; he says something unintelligible and they avoid eye contact–she looks to me for visual relief. Morality indeed.

This is it for Bush administration

It is the moment we’ve been dreading — an opening on the Supreme Court, and an opportunity for Bush to push the Court further to the right. Sandra Day O’Connor, whom Phyllis Schlafly described as “a terrible disappointment,” has announced her retirement. Where the widely anticipated retirement of Chief Justice Rehnquist would allow Bush to replace a conservative with another conservative, O’Connor’s departure presents conservatives with an opportunity they’ve waited a decade for, and now, they’re squabbling. The New York Times is carrying a story on conservative opposition to a potential nomination of Alberto Gonzales, who recently survived unexpectedly tough opposition in his confirmation process for the position of Attorney General, but represents an unknown quantity in conservative litmus tests.

“Whatever else you say about President Bush, he is certainly the type of man who says what he means and means what he says,” said Paul Rosenzweig, a senior fellow at the Heritage Foundation, a conservative group. “I also think it’s clear that the majority who elected him – and who elected 55 members of the Senate – is looking to him to fulfill that pledge. Just as President Clinton took the opportunity to name two very liberal judges, the president’s constituency will be looking to him to appoint a conservative jurist.”

It is a little too trite to say the stakes are huge. “Members of Congress and conservatives close to the White House said that they were confident that Mr. Bush would use the first Supreme Court vacancy of his tenure to nominate a judge in the mold of Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas, as he has repeatedly promised to do.” Judges are appointed for life, and “[e]ven at a time when they have unprecedented influence in the nation’s capital, many conservative leaders have become increasingly restive at their comparative lack of sway on the court and have described the selection of the next justice as the most important decision Mr. Bush will make – even if he has to force it through at the expense of his ambitious second-term agenda.”

The Washington Times focuses on those conservatives see as the barbarians on the gate, however, citing Karen Pearl, interim president of Planned Parenthood, saying the organization “has alerted 1 million of its supporters, trained 50,000 local leaders and mobilized more than 170 campus groups to rally against any Supreme Court nominee deemed weak on supporting reproductive rights.”

It will all land in the Senate Judiciary Committee, once again focusing attention on its chairman, Arlen Specter, who has “suggested that the Senate would have difficulty confirming judges who would overturn Roe v. Wade,” and whom the New York Times describes as “[a] rare centrist in a Senate that has shifted increasingly to the right[;] he is reviled by conservatives for dooming the nomination of Robert H. Bork, and by liberals for assuring the confirmation of Justice Clarence Thomas with his aggressive questioning of Anita Hill, the law professor who had accused Justice Thomas of sexual harassment.”

Mid-East Realities: Rove leaked CIA agent’s identity

Mid-East Realities is carrying a story by Greg Mitchell, editor of Editor and Publisher, which claims that Karl Rove leaked Valerie Plame’s identity. Valerie Plame is the wife of a former U.S. ambassador, Joe Wilson, who revealed that the Bush administration’s story on Iraqi uranium purchases in Niger was false. The Guardian previously fingered Rove. The Mid-East Realities story was carried in an e-mail newsletter.

Bush still trying to link Iraq to 9/11; public skeptical

I feel compelled … to set the record straight about why we got into this war… It had nothing to do with Osama bin Laden. It had nothing to do with al Qaeda. It had nothing to do with September 11th.

Sen. John Rockefeller of West Virginia, top Democrat on the U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee

President Bush cited the 9/11 attacks five times in his speech Tuesday. He offered no substantive reason for hope that this situation will get better anytime soon. (On Monday, after having been widely quoted, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld denied saying the Iraqi insurgency could last twelve years.) Bush faces an increasingly skeptical public which is finally coming to grips with the facts that Bush lied about the reasons for going to war and that the insurgency is not weakening; liberals quickly spun the speech as having fallen flat.

A Zogby poll says the “address to the nation produced no noticeable bounce in his approval numbers, with his job approval rating slipping a point from a week ago, to 43%,” and that “more than two-in-five voters (42%) say they would favor impeachment proceedings if it is found the President misled the nation about his reasons for going to war with Iraq.”

Complexities of Intervention

The New York Review of Books has a worthwhile review of three books dealing with the militarization of US foreign policy with a bit of complexity:

  • Not all intervention is bad. It should have happened in Rwanda, and did happen in Kosovo–though both sides consisted of genocidal thugs; and, now that all other excuses have failed, humanitarian motives are being cited in Iraq, where only some Ba’athists can truly be sorry to see Saddam Hussein deposed. How can we distinguish between justifiable interventions and those for which motivations are dishonestly stated, and how can we more effectively respond in genuine emergencies?
  • What are the consequences of American imperialism for democracy? Is it a democratic regime that practices torture? “For an empire to be born, a republic has first to die.”

    For there is a precedent in modern Western history for a country whose leader exploits national humiliation and fear to restrict public freedoms; for a government that makes permanent war as a tool of state policy and arranges for the torture of its political enemies; for a ruling class that pursues divisive social goals under the guise of national “values”; for a culture that asserts its unique destiny and superiority and that worships military prowess; for a political system in which the dominant party manipulates procedural rules and threatens to change the law in order to get its own way; where journalists are intimidated into confessing their errors and made to do public penance. Europeans in particular have experienced such a regime in the recent past and they have a word for it. That word is not “democracy.”

Eminent domain on unwisdom

I’ve been contemplating the unwise Supreme Court decision permitting a municipality to seize property for use by a private developer under eminent domain. I find myself in the rare position of agreeing with Chief Justice Rehnquist, and Justices Clarence Thomas and Antonin Scalia, who joined in an opinion written by Justice Sandra Day O’Connor that, “The government now has license to transfer property from those with fewer resources to those with more.” Justice Thomas wrote in his own dissent that those displaced by urban renewal tended to be lower income residents.

The decision has been widely criticized. Municipalities are reduced to comparing the likelihood of having one’s home seized to that of a lightning strike. But Supreme Court Justices, of all people, should know, it isn’t the probability that matters, but the principle. “The court has erased the Public Use Clause from our Constitution,” wrote Justice Thomas.

In the paper I wrote for my graduate program application, I contemplated the issue of class in association with information and tried to show that the discredit of traditional information providers worked to favor the elite. I saw that conservatives sought to deprive non-elites of access to information, in the form of news, and preparation for civic engagement, in the form of a college education. Conservatives are working against the American dream, I said.

But here is a decision on another aspect of the American dream, issued by a largely Republican-appointed Supreme Court to be sure, but opposed by its most conservative members. I cannot imagine owning a home in America without fear of the ramifications of this decision. I cannot imagine that there will not be a tremendous backlash arising from this.