The Peach

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Thursday, July 14, 2005

Republican Reality: Uncovering the Rove Cover-up

It is now self-evident that the White House and the Republican party will do and say just about anything to protect the “architect” of their current empire, Karl Rove. The problem, and The Peach credits the WH press corps for their diligence and persistence in exposing it, is that the Republican’s new reality show just doesn’t hold up. The Peach has gone back and examined spokesman Scott McClellan’s statements from the time this story broke and finds that the Bush White House is at work on yet another web of deceit, lies and misinformation. The MSM must not let them succeed.

The chronology of statements by the White House and its proxies shows clearly that one reality prevailed at the time the leak was first revealed and that new reality is currently being crafted.

Robert Novak published Valerie Plame’s name in July of 2003. On September 29, 2003, McClellan made one of the first denials that anyone at the White House had been involved.

Just days later on October 1, 2003 McClellan announced that the “CIA has a process to look at classified information if it is leaked, and they followed that process and the process is moving forward. And the Department of Justice is looking into it.” He then went on to say that “I don’t know the specific time period, but the process was followed, and the President expects the process to be followed.”

So two key facts are established here. First, in claiming ignorance of any White House involvement while announcing the CIA’s own investigation, McClellan made it clear that the White House viewed the leak as a serious, potentially criminal matter. Second, McClellan suggested at the time that the information leaked was indeed classified. Again, as he said, the CIA was following a process that it invoked when “classified information…is leaked.” That process includes the involvement of the Department of Justice.

During that same press conference, McClellan was asked directly if Rove was involved in the Wilson case. McClellan responded with a flat denial:“Let me make it very clear. As I said previously, he was not involved, and that allegation is not true in terms of leaking classified information, nor would he condone it.”

On October 3, 2003 the Department of Justice circulated a memo requesting all materials possibly involved in the leak to be turned over.

The denial of any White House involvement continued, and the White House had soon issued a pledge to fire any staff member involved in leaking the Plame information. On October 6, 2003, McClellan for the first time was asked if Bush would fire anyone from his staff who had leaked classified information. He stated unequivocally that anyone leaking classified information “would no longer work in this administration.” The next day, when asked if he personally “went to Scooter Libby, Karl Rove and Elliot Abrams to ask if they were leakers” McClellan said, “They’re important members of our White House team, and that’s why I spoke with them, so that I could come back to you and say that they were not involved. I had no doubt of that from the beginning, but I like to check my information to make sure it’s accurate before I report back to you, and that’s exactly what I did.” When asked to clarify that “these three individuals were not the leakers or did not authorize the leaks,” McClellan responded “That’s correct. I’ve spoken with them.”

Then suddenly, on October 10, 2003, the tone of the White House press briefings dramatically changed. Suddenly, the White House claimed a desire to protect “the integrity of the investigation,” an assertion that they are continuing to claim now. McClellan even goes on to say that he doesn’t want to “conduct the investigation from the podium.”

What The Peach finds striking about the change in position is that the concern about the investigation comes a full seven days after the Department of Justice circulated a memo requesting all documents involved in the leak.

The Peach suspects that between Oct. 7th, when McClellan defended Rove, and Oct. 10th, when the emphasis became the “ongoing investigation,” the Bush administration discovered that Karl Rove had in fact leaked classified information to the press.

And the administration’s reverence for the sanctity of an ongoing investigation has by no means been consistent. As recently as June 24, 2004 McClellan reiterated Bush’s resolution to fire anyone on the White House staff that was responsible for the leak. It is only now, in the wake of the revelation of Rove’s actions, that there is suddenly a professed need to not “prejudge” the outcome of the investigation. Now “prejudge” is the new orthodoxy, but they were apparently happy to prejudge things back when they could issue a blithe denial. Oh, how times have changed.

The Peach sees a number of hot button issues here. The first is the leaking of classified information, which is a criminal offense. Obviously, it is difficult to determine whether that standard has been reached, and The Peach suspects that the reason Rove gave the okay for Cooper to fess up is because what Cooper knows isn’t all that damning to Rove. Meanwhile, Judith Miller sits in a prison cell and Robert Novak sits in his office. Who’s to say that the information they received was the same seemingly innocuous material as Cooper’s?

What The Peach finds to be the hotter issue is the cover-up that is coming out of the White House and the unrelenting litany of lies that is currently being circulated by Republican supporters. Republicans recognize the importance of Rove to this White House and also recognize that Bush and his staff cannot address a crime they knew full well existed. So despite evidence that the White House has long understood the seriousness of Rove’s action, they are sending out their proxies in the RNC to try and create a new reality: that Rove was doing a service to the public, that the information was not classified, that he said “Joe Wilson’s wife” rather than using Valerie Plame’s name. If The Peach were not such a good Democrat, it would find the last hairsplitting obfuscation to be downright Clintonian.

The Administration must not be allowed to continue their “shift and stonewall” strategy until they effectively create a new perception of reality. To prevent it, the media must continue to demand answers while simultaneously exposing the misinformation and false assertions created by Bush’s followers and mouthpieces. They must also get to the bottom of who is leaking this information out to the suppliers.

Finally, this isn’t so much about one event, but rather a pattern that this government lives by. This is about a government that survives on false realities, energetically spun by an intricate and single-minded communications machine. We allow this to continue at the risk of our democracy and our freedom. The mainstream media must refuse, this time, to be spun..

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

The League of Extraordinary Imbeciles

While evidence and news reports continue to pile up regarding Karl Rove's outing of Joseph Wilson's wife, the White House and the Republican Party have had to do some pretty fancy dancing to sidestep the inevitable questions regarding Rove's fate.

Through two days of questioning, White House spokesman Scott McClellan stammered, stuttered and stonewalled his way through a minefield of questions about to why he had previously proclaimed Rove's innocence while now refusing to answer any questions regarding the issue. The stated (and restated and restated) reason is that "it's an ongoing investigation," one which, by the way, was already ongoing when McClellan publicly exonerated Rove.

Meanwhile, RNC chairperson Ken Mehlman issued a statement claiming that at the time of the leak, Rove was attempting to discourage "a reporter from writing a false story." What The Peach finds so amazing, and what some in the press corp have jumped on, is how can Scott McClellan refuse to answer questions because of an ongoing investigation while Karl Rove, or someone else in the White House, is leaking material to the RNC?

As far as The Peach is concerned, whether Rove gave Plame's name or not isn't entirely relevant. First of all, Media Matters for America has shown that after hearing the phrase "Wilson's wife," a reporter needed only undertake a brief Google search to find out her name. What's really relevant, though, is the fact that here's yet another instance where this administration has lied to the American people. And clearly, they are now dedicated to covering their tracks and derailing a criminal indictment against Rove. Fortunately, it looks like they won't get away with it without at least some kind of fight from the WH press gaggle.

We are, for the moment, proud of the press corps, hammering away at Scotty for the second day running. It was beautiful to behold. They're mad as hell and they're (hopefully) not going to take it anymore. And if they won't, we can imagine a day, not far off, when we will hear some real answers from the Bush administration.