Monday, July 11, 2005

The WSJ on Rove/Plame

The normally subscription-only Wall Street Journal (as opposed to its free companion, OpinionJournal) has a free feature today on the Rove/Plame affair that is quite thorough and seems to conform to the conventional wisdom that Rove may be free of legal jeopardy (with the caveat, as always, of possible perjury to the grand jury - we just don't know that).

Joe Hagan, the article's author, is not very charitable with Rove and the Administration in either case:

The unmasking of Mr. Rove marks an important milestone in the case. On the one hand, the details of Mr. Rove's discussion with Mr. Cooper -- especially if he didn't name Ms. Plame -- may exculpate him of the intentional, illegal disclosure of the identity of a covert CIA operative. Much will depend on whether Mr. Rove truthfully described any conversations in testimony before the grand jury. If he did, that would clear him of even a perjury charge and any criminal liability.

That said, the disclosure that Mr. Bush's top political strategist discussed the CIA employment of Mr. Wilson's wife amounts to a political embarrassment for Mr. Rove and the White House. A presidential spokesman had previously given what appeared to be an unequivocal public assurance that Mr. Rove hadn't been involved in the disclosure of Ms. Plame as a CIA operative. Discovery that earlier denials may have been carefully parsed would represent another blow to the administration's credibility, compounding damage from the underlying issue that initially brought Mr. Wilson into the spotlight.

If Bush's spokesman gave assurance that Rove wasn't involved because that is what Rove told him (and that may be the case), that would indeed be a pretty severe breach of loyalty. Rove may be tipping close to the point where he becomes a liability. He's not there yet, but he doesn't have far to go...

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