By Dan Kennedy • The press, politics, technology, culture and other passions

Rove not guilty, but hardly innocent

Anyone who’s been paying attention already knew that Karl Rove didn’t break the law when he helped blow former CIA operative Valerie Plame’s cover. Jack Shafer, among others, explained as far back as 2003 that you practically have to be a sworn enemy of the United States to be prosecuted under the Intelligence Identities Protection Act.

Scooter Libby, after all, was charged with lying about leaking, not with leaking per se. The expressed desire of Plame’s husband, Joseph Wilson, to see Rove “frog-marched out of the White House in handcuffs” was never realistic.

All of which means that the positive spin accompanying the news that Rove will not be charged is unwarranted. Rove has not been cleared in any meaningful sense. He is, in fact, guilty of a deeply unethical act. David Corn, who’s followed this story as closely as anyone, explains:

[S]everal essentials are well-established: Rove leaked classified information that may have harmed national security; the White House said he hadn’t and that leakers would be fired; Rove remains at the president’s side today.

Not that any of it is going to matter. Former ambassador Wilson’s own headline-seeking and dissembling, well-documented by the incomparable Bob Somerby, has always made this a more complicated matter than most critics of the Bush administration are willing to admit.

Still, it’s appalling that Rove is being treated as though he’s been exonerated when, in fact, he did exactly what he was accused of doing all along.

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  1. metallicaMobes

    I think the rhetoric-laiden tirades launched from both sides of the isle regarding this issue failed to barely make any dent in public interest much less opinion. Thank God it’s essentially over… aside from the rhetoric-laiden tirades that will fly for the next weeks regarding the decision not to indict. Neither Rove nor Wilson are anywhere close to straightforward or “good” political players. But as the saying goes, don’t hate the player, baby, hate the game.

  2. Zil Friend

    With due respect, Dan, how do Wilson’s actions subsequent to his wife’s outing have any bearing on the administration’s guilt? They outed one of their own agents – contrary to all ethics – because they didn’t like her spouse’s criticizing them. As for the incomparable Bob Somerby, in the Wilson matter I feel that he has jumped the shark. Yes, Wilson may have sought publicity – and why not? His wife’s career was ruined and one of the country’s spy networks – focused on nuclear proliferation, no less! – was irrevocably compromised, causing ##classified## amount of damage. And all because Wilson had had the temerity to challenge the administration’s clinically insane drumbeat to war. But Wilson’s “dissembling” was about as bad as Gore’s “dissembling”, masterfully cataloged by the same Somerby. Minor exaggerations and misstatements blown out of proportion, especially compared to the mother of all lies deception campaign behind the Iraq war. Armando brings up the topic here last year - posts a defense of Somerby, here comments contain wonderful discussion on the subjectSo to sum up, Wilson doesn’t add any complicating factor unless you’re trying to grasp at straws to excuse the administration’s criminal misconduct.

  3. Anonymous

    Dan! Surely you meant, “Rove not CHARGED”!!! He is known to leaked to at least a couple of different journalists. He almsot certainly is guilty. The prosecutor has simply concluded there is not enough evidence to convict.

  4. Dan Kennedy

    Anon 11:36 — Good grief, did you bother to read what I wrote? Rove did it, beyond any doubt. It’s just that it’s not a crime. Libby’s the tipoff: He did it too, but wasn’t charged with doing it; just lying about it.

  5. mike_b1

    “Essentially over,” metallicmobes? Hardly. There’s that little matter of Libby’s date with the judge.

  6. Stella

    Nor ought we dismiss other charges simmering.

  7. Rick in Duxbury

    When it happens, I will anxiously await your take on Rove’s post-administration speaking fees, vis a vis those of Pres. Clinton, also “not guilty but hardly innocent”.

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