Monday, July 11, 2005

PLAME WATCH What we now know: In an effort to discredit a report raising questions about the administration's characterization of the Iraq threat, Karl Rove told a reporter that Joe Wilson's wife was a CIA agent working on WMD issues.

Robert Luskin, Rove's lawyer, will make a great deal of the fact that no evidence has surfaced--at least not publicly--to suggest that Rove knew Plame's covert status. And as far as the law is concerned, that point may carry some weight.

But the concession that Rove was unaware of Plame's covert status is in itself a political bombshell--or it ought to be. It means Rove is guilty of colossally bad judgment--the kind of ethical and intellectual lapse that jeopardizes the lives of CIA operatives and threatens national security. People shown to be guilty of that kind of bad judgment don't often continue to work for the government.

Will anyone in the White House press corps deign to raise these issues with Scott McClellan today at the 1pm briefing? There aren't any cigars or stained dresses involved, granted, but this is starting to smell like a scandal.

Some key questions:

1. How did Rove learn Plame worked for the CIA?
2. How long has the President known that Rove tipped off a reporter about Plame?
3. Have Rove and the President discussed this episode?
4. How does the President feel about smear campaigns that jeopardize national security?

CONTRAPOSITIVE is edited by Dan Aibel. Dan's a playwright. He lives in New York City.