Friday, July 22, 2005

Another PlameGate Revelation

Leon H of Red State alerted me (please read his excellent analysis here) to the NY Times' latest story. The thrust of the story (a pro-Rove leak) is that Libby Lewis and Karl Rove were working together to help draft the response to criticism over the mention of the Niger-Iraq connection in President Bush's State of the Union. It seems to me that Rove's defenders, when they leak, are always pointing to his motivation. Prosecutors, of course, do not have to prove motivation; their concern is over whether a crime has taken place, not why.

The significance? It seems to me that Rove's supporters are more concerned with ethical violations than legal problems; i.e., he will probably skate on the charges, but he's desperate to justify an action that he knew was wrong.

Leon brings up a point that is inescapable, it seems to me, and that is, what happens if Rove dances away because of Clintonian word parsing and legal niceties, yet is shown to have leaked information that he knew was classified? In other words, what if he did it, from a practical standpoint, yet is not indicted or convicted? Here's Leon:

I have been a fierce defender of Rove throughout this entire mess, but I have steadfastly maintained that if it turns out that Rove did learn of Plame's identity from classified sources, and did intentionally leak that identity to the press, I won't stand behind him. I'll not be dragged down to the level of James Carville, defending the indefensible on technicalities and throwing my own self-respect under the bus for the sake of my party. But I want to make this clear for any lefties who might like to seize the opportunity of this post to make a ridiculous "Republicans Jumping Off Rove's Bandwagon" post: Rove denies having seen the memo, and I still believe him. If Fitz tells me differently I'll be the first to bite the bullet and demonstrate the difference between a Republican partisan and a Democrat partisan: I'll call for his resignation, rather than defending the indefensible.

I endorse that sentiment 100%. It's too late to call for Rove's resignation on the grounds that he is becoming a distraction, as I originally came close to doing; we're past that now. And I won't abandon the man who has done so much for the Bush admistration on the basis of rumors and leaks. If I become convinced that he leaked the identity of a CIA asset that he knew or thought to be classified, though, I will join in the call for his resignation. I hope that day doesn't come...

UPDATE 7:00 a.m.: Obviously, not everyone agrees with my assessment that it's too late to step down for distraction reasons: Rick Moran is saying it's time for Rove and Libby to take one for the team and step down, as is Kevin at Wizbang...

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