Karl Rove Death Watch, Part 4

Gossip, speculation, and scuttlebutt about politics.
July 18 2005 5:19 PM

Karl Rove Death Watch, Part 4

What did Hadley tell Rove?

John Solomon of the Associated Press reported this weekend that Karl Rove sent an e-mail about his phone conversation with Time's Matt Cooper—the conversation in which Rove informed Cooper that the wife of administration critic Joe Wilson worked for the Central Intelligence Agency—to Stephen Hadley, who was then deputy national security adviser (and is now national security adviser). "I didn't take the bait," Rove wrote Hadley, apparently meaning that, in speaking to Cooper, he didn't try to refute the substance of Wilson's assertion that the president spoke falsely in his 2003 State of the Union address when he said that Iraq had sought to purchase yellowcake uranium from Niger before the war. Instead, Rove told Cooper that Wilson's wife, Valerie Plame, a CIA employee, had authorized the trip. What kind of sissy-boy accepts a job assignment from his wife?

As I've explained before, Rove's insinuation, in addition to being unenlightened on the matter of equality between the sexes, was untrue; Plame merely suggested her husband for the job. But the more important point is that Rove and Hadley were in communication about Joe Wilson. This is significant because it raises the likelihood that Rove had earlier turned to Hadley for confirmation of these crazy CIA rumors that reporters kept telling him. If that's true, then any subsequent conversation Rove would have had with a reporter in which he stated that Wilson's wife worked for the CIA—including Rove's conversation with Matt Cooper—would constitute a genuine security breach. Did Rove have such a conversation with Hadley? Given what Tom Hamburger and Peter Wallsten of the Los Angeles Times report today—namely, that Rove was much more active than he'd have you believe in seeking to discredit Wilson with reporters—I don't see how Hadley could have avoided telling Rove that yes, Valerie Wilson worked at the CIA. (I'm assuming here that any knowledge Hadley had about Valerie Wilson's occupation would have been obtained from the government. Or does the entire Bush White House get all its information from Robert Novak?)

Advertisement

I'm doubtful that this scenario would rise to President Bush's standard of illegality ("if someone committed a crime, they will no longer work in my administration," he said today), but it sure as hell would look like a firing offense to me. I think everybody should stop obsessing about what Bush thinks is a firing offense and start pondering what a rational person would regard as a firing offense. Bush's illegality standard is being hyped by the press, gotcha style, as a new development, but it isn't new at all; Bush has stated it before. Here he is in September 2003:

Let me just say something about leaks in Washington. There are too many leaks of classified information in Washington. There's leaks at the executive branch; there's leaks in the legislative branch. There's just too many leaks. And if there is a leak out of my administration, I want to know who it is. And if the person has violated law [italics mine], the person will be taken care of.

Bush has also sometimes suggested that merely performing the leak would be a firing offense. He's been inconsistent on this point for a long time. But really, what Bush defines as a firing offense isn't the issue. The issue is whether providing a reporter with government-obtained information about a covert CIA employee for the sole purpose of smearing the CIA employee's husband is a firing offense. I continue to believe that it is.

Timothy Noah is a former Slate staffer. His  book about income inequality is The Great Divergence.

TODAY IN SLATE

Politics

Meet the New Bosses

How the Republicans would run the Senate.

Even by Russian Standards, Moscow’s Anti-War March Was Surprisingly Grim

I Wrote a Novel Envisioning a Nigerian Space Program. Then I Learned Nigeria Actually Has One.

The Best Thing About the People’s Climate March in NYC

Friends Was the Last Purely Pleasurable Sitcom

The Eye

This Whimsical Driverless Car Imagines Transportation in 2059

Medical Examiner

Did America Get Fat by Drinking Diet Soda?  

A high-profile study points the finger at artificial sweeteners.

The Government Is Giving Millions of Dollars in Electric-Car Subsidies to the Wrong Drivers

A Futurama Writer on How the Vietnam War Shaped the Series

Trending News Channel
Sept. 20 2014 11:13 AM Watch Flashes of Lightning Created in a Lab  
  News & Politics
The World
Sept. 22 2014 12:30 PM Turkey Just Got Forty-Six Hostages Back From ISIS. How Did That Happen?
  Business
Moneybox
Sept. 22 2014 12:07 PM Divestment Isn’t the Answer To destroy demand for fossil fuels, universities can do a lot better than just selling some stocks.
  Life
The Shortcut
Sept. 22 2014 12:31 PM Down With Loose Laces A simple trick to tighten your running shoes for good.
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 22 2014 12:29 PM Escaping the Extreme Christian Fundamentalism of "Quiverfull"
  Slate Plus
Science
Sept. 22 2014 8:08 AM Slate Voice: “Why Is So Much Honey Clover Honey?” Mike Vuolo shares the story of your honey.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Sept. 22 2014 12:22 PM The Age of the Streaming TV Auteur
  Technology
Future Tense
Sept. 22 2014 12:14 PM Family Court Rules That You Can Serve Someone With Legal Papers Over Facebook
  Health & Science
Science
Sept. 22 2014 12:15 PM The Changing Face of Climate Change Will the leaders of the People’s Climate March now lead the movement?
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 18 2014 11:42 AM Grandmaster Clash One of the most amazing feats in chess history just happened, and no one noticed.