The Rittenhouse Review

A Philadelphia Journal of Politics, Finance, Ethics, and Culture

Monday, September 29, 2003  

Who Cares?
A Legion of Suspects

By now most readers are probably aware that the Central Intelligence Agency has asked the Justice Department to investigate a leak by “senior White House officials,” namely, the revelation, publicly, through right-wing columnist Robert Novak, of the name of an undercover intelligence operative working in the field of weapons of mass destruction, who, as it happens, is married to former ambassador Joseph C. Wilson IV, a prominent critic of the administration’s use of intelligence to justify the war on Iraq.

This is serious stuff. A vengeful White House decides to undermine American foreign policy and intelligence gathering in an area considered crucial to national security and the fight against terrorism by placing at risk of life and limb, the identity of an experienced undercover agent and each and every one of her foreign contacts. This isn’t politics. This is a crime.

And while the matter is being discussed as “an allegation,” there’s no doubt it happened. Two top White House officials called six Washington reporters trying to get the operative’s name in print. Unless, of course, but perish the thought, Bob Novak is a liar and was given the leak not from the White House but from another source, and then maliciously attached it to top administration officials.

Will Novak be the fall guy? The second George Tenet of Yellowcake-gate? Not likely, as he’s sticking with his story, and more than that, downplaying his role by asserting the administration officials with whom he spoke didn’t make clear how sensitive was the information provided.

Who cares anyway? Not President George W. Bush. The Washington Post today reports (“Bush Aides Say They’ll Cooperate With Probe Into Intelligence Leak,” by Mike Allen): “White House officials said they would turn over phone logs if the Justice Department asked them to. But the aides said Bush has no plans to ask his staff members whether they played a role in revealing the name of [the] undercover officer.”

That’s right. President Bush doesn’t care who on his staff is, in his father’s words, “the most insidious of traitors.”

Top Democrats rightly are calling for a special prosecutor to investigate the matter. It’s plain that a political appointee like Attorney General John Ashcroft, the Edwin Meese of the 21st century, should not be involved, nor should anyone who reports to him. Further disqualifying Attorney General Ashcroft is his role as a self-styled point man on matters of national security.

Apparently the Vegas line is narrowing the suspects down to Senior Adviser Karl Rove, Chief of Staff Andrew Card, and National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice, though Rice has declined any knowledge of the matter, for what that’s worth.

But with this administration, who knows? The Bush White House is a veritable rogues’ gallery of dishonest, deceitful, and vengeful political hacks. The number of suspects is truly legion.

[Post-publication addendum: By the way, don’t miss Get Your War On’s take on this latest Bush administration scandal.]

The Rittenhouse Review | Copyright 2002-2006 | PERMALINK |