When Thinking About Plame, Look Beyond Rove Towards Bolton
While everyone following the Valerie Plame story chases their tails thinking that they have Rove in their sights, let me follow up on the work of some better sleuths than me and offer something that has been going around in my head for a couple of weeks now. But let me stipulate up front that it appears that we are dealing with multiple sources here, not just one source, and as the leak in todayís Post story indicates, Fitzgerald is actually looking into the possibility that government officials outside the security bubble heard about Plameís day job from reporters, and not the other way around. Ostensibly, once these government (read: White House) officials learned of her identity, they brought this up in conversations with members of the media as part of the campaign to discredit her.
My theory is just as wild-assed as the thoughts of others on this matter, but I want to put forward a couple of things:
The Senate is now in recess, and it was widely thought that the White House would do a recess appointment of John Bolton during this recess. They havenít yet, and the White House confirms that they have no discussions going on with the Senate at this time aimed at additional votes for Bolton. So why hasnít the White House recess-appointed Bolton by now?
Sure, it could be argued that a recess appointment for Bolton would only poison the looming Supreme Court battle, but the White House will have that problem no matter what now as a result of O'Connor's retirement. So why else would a recess appointment have not been made yet?
Youíll remember that several weeks ago, the Democrats dug their heels in on any further votes on Bolton until the White House released a series of NSA intercepts that John Bolton had acquired, which we were told at the time identified US firms that were breaking the weapons export ban to several restricted countries. The meme that was put forward was that the White House didnít want to share those documents with the Democrats because the intercepts also identified various individuals who were involved in these activities as well. Those of us more cynical Bush watchers concluded that what the documents might also reveal is that Bolton was using the national security apparatus to obtain information on his State Department superiors and other government officials.
Other bloggers have already gone where I am going, such as Digby and Needlenose, and I think Steve Clemons at the Washington Note is headed where I am going also. When I take a look at the strings of yarn on the Plame case and Boltonís NSA intercepts, I think there is another reason why the White House doesnít want to turn over the intercepts, which speaks to why Bolton hasnít been recess-appointed by now, in light of the revelation just late last week that the Plame case was breaking into full view.
Quite simply, isnít it possible that John Bolton learned of Valerie Plameís identity in his snooping around (remember that given her assignment at the Agency and his at State, they worked in the same areas), and was the source to either Rove, Judith Miller, or even Bob Novak? If Rove heard about Plame from Bolton or Miller, he can claim that he didnít knowingly reveal her identity since it was already out there from others. And itís not like Rove isnít experienced in planting stories elsewhere that can then pass through him with no direct fingerprints. Heís done it before.
Has the special prosecutor talked with John Bolton? Why isnít it just as plausible that the information on Plameís day job was actually gleaned by Bolton and his staff (both of dubious Niger yellowcake fame), and then laundered through reporters, like the already-corrupted Miller, to Rove and then on to the network of media participants in Plameís smearing? It gives Rove a degree of separation from doing it himself and allows the ďdidnít knowinglyĒ expose her identity line of argument to work a little.
It should be noted that as of late, Miller has turned her guns to where else, the UN, where a little UN-bashing right now would help the Bush Administration in itís lagging case that John Bolton is the right guy at the right time. In fact, Miller requested the UN assignment and has been doing the bidding of the Bolton and Cheney wing by producing a string of anti-UN pieces since that assignment. So there is an apparent connection and similar worldview between Miller and Bolton.
Perhaps we should turn our attention towards Bolton on this issue, unless of course the Bushies prove me wrong and do a recess appointment on Bolton this week. Not even these guys would install a UN ambassador lacking Senate approval, who was subsequently fingered for participating in a felony that undercut the national security of his country, would they?
And one last thing: how tight are Bolton and Novak? Well, Novak is a Bolton cheerleader, and is arguing that the White House bypass the Senate and do the recess appointment.
So let's take a wider view of all this, a view that includes not only Rove, but also Miller, Bolton and his deputies, and Novak.