Charles seems to be desperately searching for positive news concerning the Rove/Plame fiasco and has now picked up on a piece by Andrew C. McCarthy accusing the CIA for 'outing' Valerie Plame. It seems this story just get's worse and worse and now new allegations are surfacing. I wonder who Charles will have to borrow a hatchet job from about this one.
Top aides to President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney were intensely focused on discrediting former Ambassador Joseph C. Wilson IV in the days after he wrote an op-ed article for the New York Times suggesting the administration manipulated intelligence to justify going to war in Iraq, federal investigators have been told.
Prosecutors investigating whether administration officials illegally leaked the identity of Wilson's wife, a CIA officer who had worked undercover, have been told that Bush's top political strategist, Karl Rove, and Cheney's chief of staff, I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, were especially intent on undercutting Wilson's credibility, according to people familiar with the inquiry.
Although lower-level White House staffers typically handle most contacts with the media, Rove and Libby began personally communicating with reporters about Wilson, prosecutors were told.
A source directly familiar with information provided to prosecutors said Rove's interest was so strong that it prompted questions in the White House. When asked at one point why he was pursuing the diplomat so aggressively, Rove reportedly responded: "He's a Democrat." Rove then cited Wilson's campaign donations, which leaned toward Democrats, the person familiar with the case said.
The disclosures about the officials' roles illustrate White House concern about Wilson's July 6, 2003, article, which challenged the administration's assertion that Iraq had sought to purchase nuclear materials. Wilson's article appeared as Rove and other Bush aides were preparing the 2004 reelection campaign strategy, which was built largely around the president's response to the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks and the overthrow of Saddam Hussein.
It is not surprising that White House officials would be upset by an attack like Wilson's or seek to respond aggressively. But special prosecutor Patrick J. Fitzgerald is examining whether they or others crossed the legal line by improperly disclosing classified information, or whether they perjured themselves in testifying later about their actions. Both Rove and Libby have testified.
News of the high-level interest in discrediting Wilson comes as White House defenders, most notably officials at the Republican National Committee, argue that Rove has been vindicated of suspicion that he was a primary source of the leak. Knowingly revealing the identity of a covert operative is a federal crime.
Regardless of Rove's legal liability, the description of his role runs contrary to earlier White House statements that Rove and Libby were not involved in the unmasking of Wilson's wife, and it suggests they were part of a campaign to discredit Wilson.