Last week Time magazine turned over its reporter's notes to a special prosecutor assigned to learn who told Republican columnist Bob Novak that Valerie Plame was a CIA agent. The revelation, which effectively ended Plame's CIA career and may have endangered her life, followed her husband Joe Wilson's publication of a New York Times op-ed piece that embarrassed the Bush Administration by debunking its claims that Saddam Hussein tried to buy uranium from Niger. Time's cowardly decision to break its promise to a confidential source has had one beneficial side effect: according to Newsweek, it indicates that Karl Rove himself made the call to Novak.
One might have expected Rove, the master White House political strategist who engineered Bush's 2000 coup d'état and post-9/11 permanent war public relations campaign, to have ordered a flunky underling to carry out this act of high treason. But as the Arab saying goes, arrogance diminishes wisdom.
Rove, whose gaping maw recently vomited forth that Democrats didn't care about 9/11, is atypically silent. He did talk to the Time reporter but "never knowingly disclosed classified information," claims his attorney. But there's circumstantial evidence to go along with Time's leaked notes. Ari Fleischer abruptly resigned as Bush's press secretary on May 16, 2003, about the same time the White House became aware of Ambassador Wilson's plans to go public. (Wilson's article appeared July 6.) Did Fleischer quit because he didn't want to act as spokesman for Rove's plan to betray CIA agent Plame? Another interesting coincidence: Novak published his Plame column on July 14, Fleischer's last day on the job.
If Newsweek's report is accurate, Karl Rove is more morally repugnant and more anti-American than Osama bin Laden. Bin Laden, after all, has no affiliation with, and therefore no presumed loyalty to, the United States. Rove, on the other hand, is a U.S. citizen and, as deputy White House chief of staff, a high-ranking official of the U.S. government sworn to uphold and defend our nation, its laws and its interests. Yet he sold out America just to get even with Joe Wilson.
Osama bin Laden, conversely, is loyal to his cause. He has never exposed an Al Qaeda agent's identity to the media.
"[Knowingly revealing Plame's name and undercover status to the media]...is a violation of the Intelligence Identities Protection Act and is punishable by as much as ten years in prison," notes the Washington Post. Unmasking an intelligent agent during a time of war, however, surely rises to giving aid and comfort to America's enemies--treason. Treason is punishable by execution under the United States Code.
How far up the White House food chain does the rot of treason go? "Bush has always known how to keep Rove in his place," wrote Time in 2002 about a "symbiotic relationship" that dates to 1973. This isn't some rogue "plumbers" operation. Rove would never go it alone on a high-stakes action like Valerie Plame. It's a safe bet that other, higher-ranking figures in the Bush cabal--almost certainly Dick Cheney and possibly Bush himself--signed off before Rove called Novak. For the sake of national security, those involved should be removed from office at once.