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.