Enjoy the moral clarity

by Ted on July 13, 2005

Rove wasn’t talking to journalists yesterday. He was just talking to FOX News, where notorious dignityphobe John Gibson argued that Rove deserves a medal for exposing Valerie Plame. Here’s what he said (any transcription errors are my own):

I say give Karl Rove a medal, even if Bush has to fire him. Why? Because Valerie Plame should have been outed by somebody, and nobody else had the cajones to do it. I’m glad Rove did, if he did do it, which he still says he didn’t.[1] Why should she have been outed? Well, despite her husband’s repeated denials, even in the face of a pile of evidence, and conclusions of a joint investigation of Congress, it appears that all evidence points to Joe Wilson’s wife, the spy Valerie Plame, as the one who recommended him to the job of going to Niger to discover Saddam was trying to buy nuke bomb material.

Why is this important? Because Wilson was opposed to the war in Iraq, opposed to Bush policy, and pointedly and loudly said so. Consequently, there was some interest in how he got chosen for the sensitive job, which people at the time might have thought would be a fulcrum point in the decision about the war. You wouldn’t send a peacenik to see if we should go to war, if we need to go to war, now would you? That’s exactly what happened. As they say in the news business, enquiring minds now want to know how the heck did this happen.[2]

Well, it turned out little wifey did it.[3] She touted husband Joe, her CIA bosses bit, and off Wilson went to completely knock down any notion that Saddam wanted Niger’s nuke bomb making stuff, which is called yellowcake. Problem is, reporters say many in intelligence said the information said no such thing. In fact, it was still a bit of a mystery, and Saddam could might have been trying to buy the nuke bomb material.[4]

So why should Rove get a medal? Let’s just assume that spy Valerie Plame knew her husband’s attitude toward the war in Iraq. She was married to him. Then sending him off to Niger could be regarded as an attempt to influence national policy. Where I come from, we want to know who that is. We do not want secret spy masters pulling the puppet strings in the background. That is something that should be out in the open, and the person doing it should be identified and should own up to it. So, Rove should get a medal, even if he did do what he said he didn’t do. And that is my word.

This is idiotic. Even if I were to grant Gibson every element of his argument- even if I stipulated that Wilson was a biased “peacenik” who did a shoddy job, and that Plame shouldn’t have recommended him because of his anti-Administration views- all I’m granting is that Plame used bad judgement in suggesting her husband.

Gibson is forced to argue that a covert CIA agent who shows bad judgement in a personnel suggestion should be exposed, rather than (say) ignored, reprimanded or even fired. Exposing Plame didn’t just hurt her and her family: it exposed all of her foreign contacts and all of her CIA colleagues “employed” by the same cover firm. Republicans can wag their fingers at Plame all day long. But unless they’re prepared to state that she deserved exposure, they’ve got no argument. She obviously didn’t. The cost to national security is far too great.
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