There are no letters for the second straight week, and next week I am on vacation. Normally I would have punished you all by not writing anything, but I have something I need to vent. This is advice to our President.
President Bush has declared that if a person within the administration leaked the name of a CIA operative, that person would be fired "if laws were broken."
Democrats are pouncing on Karl Rove, deputy chief of staff and wide credited as the architect of the electoral victory of the Bush Dynasty. Based on what Karl Rove has admitted saying, to whom and when and on what basis, I believe the Democrats are just grinding axes. How can someone be accused of leaking back to the press what they had already learned from the press? What this has shown the rest of the U.S. is the way in which administrative officials are in bed with agents of the news media. How long has it been this way? Probably a lot longer than any of us would like to think.
Perhaps this is one of the outcomes of the Watergate scandal. Perhaps White Houses learned that in order to get away with Watergate-style actions and paranoia, the best thing is to make the press corps your best friends. Take them golfing, slip them tidbits, give one or another a scoop. Part of our nation's war footing has been the apparent foreclosure on the Fifth Estate by the government. Even so, this is not a column calling for Rove's resignation concerning this one issue based on what we know today. More on that later.
Bush is a commander in chief and the nation is on a war footing, with troops under fire in Afghanistan and Iraq. One might suppose that a commander in chief would be concerned that intelligence operatives in his service should feel that their government will protect them so that they can complete their missions.
Bush wants to protect an administration employee who has exposed a person who had performed undercover for the CIA. That makes such a person an asset that the CIA has the option of using in the future. Now that option is withdrawn, and a significant investment of US taxpayer money which developed this asset, will no longer bring returns. Whether laws were broken or not, treason was committed. If such a traitor cannot be executed because of some spurious loophole, that is no reason to keep the traitor in the administration.
That Bush seeks his own loophole of "if laws were broken" is a disgrace. People are fired from jobs all the time for being incompetent, regardless of whether laws have been broken. Exposing a CIA operative is an egregious error, demonstrating incompetence in judgment and a toxic, misplaced loyalty that should have no place.
How chilling a message does this Caesar of President send throughout his intelligence gathering services, that IF they contribute on-site intelligence that flatly contradicts the claims of Cabinet members, they will not only be ignored, they will be exposed. Now, instead of giving the President good information from the ground up, operatives have gotten the message that you either confirm the administration's version of reality, or you are outed.
As Commander in Chief, President Bush has already demonstrated an incompetence that should have cost him his job. Inviting insurgents to "bring it on," they continue to, while our forces are asked to satisfy a variety of missions with goals at cross-purposes. Instead of overhauling the Secretary of Defense in the wake of Abu Ghraib, Bush stuck by him, and disclosures of Americans abusing prisoners and "terror suspects" continue to pour in.
Where Rove fits into this picture is as Bush's advisor. He has been given public credit for being a decisive influence in the policies of the 43rd President. This business of "if laws were broken" must be addressed by the advisors that surround Bush, or they must take responsibility themselves for such disastrous turns as our government has taken.
Rove should be sacked, but not as a fall guy shielding others from responsibility in a single transgression. Rove should be sacked for cultivating the kind of environment that now clouds the judgment of the White House. Between memos excusing the United States from the Geneva Conventions, laws exempting the United States from its own constitution, and the betrayal of sworn public servants by political hacks, there should be a nationwide clamor the like of what we have not seen since 1973.