As Bush Clams Up On Rove, Smears Against Wilson's Credibility Weren't Supported By Agency
I guess we should not be surprised that Bush is already being confronted with journalists demanding to know if he will uphold his pledge to fire any staffer who outed Valerie Plame. I am just glad that they are confronting him. But we should also not be surprised to see Bush clam up and refuse to answer these questions, as he has already done this morning.
President Bush was asked today if he planned to fire Karl Rove, a senior aide at the center of an investigation over the unmasking of an undercover C.I.A. officer, and he offered only a stony silence in reply.
"Are you going to fire him?" the president was asked twice in a brief Oval Office appearance with Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong of Singapore. Both times, the president ignored the questions.
Then a White House aide signaled that the session was over. "Out those doors, please," the aide told journalists. "Thank you very much."
The RNC and Luskin have coordinated their talking points now around the notion that all Rove was doing was trying to warn Cooper away from perpetuating things that turned out to be false. That begs the question: what was it that Wilson said that was false? Are they making their key defense that it was Plame who sent Wilson to Africa and that his trip didn’t come as a result of a White House request for more information? Are they really trying to say that at the time of the trip that sending Wilson to Africa wasn’t credible because his wife worked for the Agency?
Two things about that: first, why would Wilson’s credibility change because his wife worked for the agency? Secondly, to adopt the argument that Rove was only warning reporters away from an allegedly false story on the premise that Wilson was suspect due to his wife’s role at the Agency and her alleged role in setting the trip up only confirms that the White House knew at the time who she was. Plus, Walter Pincus has recently said that he was told by a White House official two days before the Novak column at around the same time that Cooper talked with Rove that they knew about Wilson’s report and disregarded it because Plame set the trip up for him. Again, this indicates the White House knew about Plame before July 2003 because remember they were responding to why they went ahead and let the “16 words” into the 2003 SOTU when Wilson had already told them in early 2002 that the Niger story was garbage. Pincus’s story indicates that the White House already had the “disregard Wilson because his wife was CIA” meme in place possibly sooner than July 2003. It sounds like a job done by the White House Iraq Group.
And as to the contention from the White House that Plame set up Wilson’s trip, and that therefore Wilson and his findings should be discredited, guess who thinks that such an argument is bullsh*t? The CIA itself. And guess who was involved in spreading around those attempts to discredit Wilson by alleging that his wife sent him on his trip? That’s right, Jeff Gannon.
But sources said the CIA believes that people in the administration continue to release classified information to damage the figures at the center of the controversy, former ambassador Joseph C. Wilson IV and his wife, Valerie Plame, who was exposed as a CIA officer by unidentified senior administration officials for a July 14 column by Robert D. Novak.
Sources said the CIA is angry about the circulation of a still-classified document to conservative news outlets suggesting Plame had a role in arranging her husband's trip to Africa for the CIA. The document, written by a State Department official who works for its Bureau of Intelligence and Research (INR), describes a meeting at the CIA where the Niger trip by Wilson was discussed, said a senior administration official who has seen it.
CIA officials have challenged the accuracy of the INR document, the official said, because the agency officer identified as talking about Plame's alleged role in arranging Wilson's trip could not have attended the meeting.
"It has been circulated around," one official said. CIA and State Department officials have refused to discuss the document.
On Oct. 28, Talon News, a news company tied to a group called GOP USA, posted on the Internet an interview with Wilson in which the Talon News questioner asks: "An internal government memo prepared by U.S. intelligence personnel details a meeting in early 2002 where your wife, a member of the agency for clandestine service working on Iraqi weapons issues, suggested that you could be sent to investigate the reports. Do you dispute that?"
So these attempts by the RNC and the White House/Luskin to maintain the line that Wilson was “fair game” because his wife allegedly sent him don’t hold water, as the Agency itself has shot that down previously. And let’s be honest: any effort that has Jeff Gannon’s fingerprints is itself discredited.