It is not longer acceptable to have a 1994 mind-set after September 11th. America needs to think and act differently. We face a brutal enemy who will kill the innocent for one purpose and that is to gain control of the Middle East and to use the leverage of oil to bring down the West, and to attack us again.
If we were to leave Iraq with the job undone, we would be running the risk of seeing the entire region plunge into violence. We would see Iran emboldened. We would see Hezbollah, Hamas and the al-Qaeda emboldened. We could see a terrorist state emerge in the heart of the Middle East. Not in Afghanistan with no natural resources, but in the very heart of the Middle East with the third largest oil reserves in the world. And we could see an increasing danger for our friends and allies in the region from Turkey to Lebanon to Jordan to Israel to Egypt to Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states.
Because you confront terrorism by calling it by its name, and you use all your available tools—economic, diplomatic, intelligence and, if need be, military to deal with it. And what we’re doing here is, in a very measured tone, sending a signal that we will use all of these tools in an appropriate time and in an appropriate way. And, and I don’t want to get deeper into it. There, there are things that are going—that are being discussed, many of which I’m not privy to, though I’m confident the policy will be laid out at a—in, in due time. But the point is, is that we have a variety of tools, and we will employ all those tools to deal with the threat of global terrorism. MR. ROVE: No. And I, I remember it slightly differently. I remember saying, “I’ve heard that, too.” Let, let me say this. There is a civil lawsuit filed by Mr. Wilson and Ms. Plame. It has been tossed out at the district court level. They’ve announced their intention to appeal. I think it is better that I not add anything beyond what is already in the public record until that suit is resolved. But, as I’m—my recollection is that I said, “I heard that, too.” We—I would point you to…
MR. GREGORY: It, it, it’s important to point out that the special prosecutor, Patrick Fitzgerald, declined to bring any criminal charges against you. But given the president’s emphatic statement about getting to the bottom of this, were you ever held to account by the president for what you did?
MR. ROVE: You know, I acted in an appropriate manner, made all the appropriate individuals aware of, of, of my contact. I met with the FBI right at the beginning of this, told them everything. You’re right, the special prosecutor declined to take any action at all. I was never a target. In fact, it’s—what’s interesting to me is that the person who did give the name, Richard Armitage, we found out at the end of the process, did, did have the conversation with Novak, took no action against him either.
….No. Look, her (Valerie Plame’s) husband wrote a op-ed that we now know by—in a statement issued on July 11th by the director of the CIA, backed by a report by the Senate Select Intelligence Committee, was misleading and inaccurate. The vice president, the White House and the director of the CIA did not send Mr. Wilson to Africa to look into—to the question of uranium cake from Niger to Iraq. We also know that he did—he came—the information he came back with was not dispositive, was not conclusive, did not disprove the British intelligence finding that the Iraqis had attempted to acquire uranium cake. In fact, we now know that he brought back information not disclosed in his article that added to the belief, that confirmed the British intelligence report that the Iraqis had attempted to acquire uranium cake. He brought back information about a previously unknown contact where the Iraqis, working through a third party, attempted to bring and did bring to Niger a trade delegation. And since the only thing Niger had to sell was uranium cake that was on a U.N. sanctions list, they declined to do any business. He brought back information that affirmed the, the British intelligence report. After this all came out, the British did a study, did a review, appointed a commission to review their intelligence finding and came back and confirmed that they stood by their original assessment that, that Iraq had attempted to acquire uranium yellow cake from Niger in—and exactly as was in the president’s speech.
From Fox News, now being interviewed by Chris Wallace
When asked specifically about the second reporter, Matt Cooper from Time, Rove said that he didn’t “recall” the conversation and would “let his notes stand as a record of it,” but that “it’s clear that I’m talking to him ‘off the record'” in order to warn him off the story.
“But whether it was ‘off the record,’ whether you were saying ‘I heard that, too,’ whatever it is you were saying, you’re a goverment official,” Wallace noted. “Why traffic at all in the fact that his wife worked for the CIA?”
“Look, I didnt confirm it,” Rove insisted. “If you as a reporter asked ‘I’d like you to confirm this,’ my answer would have been to say ‘I can’t.'”
“But that’s not what you said to Bob Novak,” Wallace interjected.
“That was not confirmation,” Rove argued.
Wallace pressed again, “Should you have even been discussing a CIA operative?”
Rove struggled to respond, before suggesting that Plame wasn’t a CIA operative, at the time.
“Look, there are thirty-something thousand people who work at the CIA, I did not…I’m not even certain to this day that she fit the definition of a CIA operative,” Rove said.
“I would remind you also if she were,” Rove added, “I suspect the special prosecutor would have done something different about both Richard Armitage, who was the person who had an extensive conversation with Mr. Novak about this, and would have done something different about me.”
….”Why not appear under oath or at least allow a transcript?” asked Wallace.
“Because of the Constitution of the United States,” replied Rove, citing the separation of powers and suggesting there would be a public outcry if either Congressional aides or Supreme Court clerks were called to testify by one of the other branches.
“The Constitution does not prevent you from speaking to me, so in fact I’ll ask you some questions,” responded Wallace. “Why did you push to fire some US Attorneys in the president’s second term?”
“Nice try,” Rove came back. “The president has prerogatives that stand up not only to Congress but also to you. … What I advised the president is protected by that prerogative. Nice try, Chris.” Rove then spelled out the doctrine of executive privilege, saying, “You don’t understand you’re being an agent of Congress when you ask me that question, but you are.”
“So you say that the Constitution protects — in fact, prevents you from talking to the press, talking to the public?” said Wallace, adding “I think I’m an agent of the public, not of the Congress.”
“In this instance, you’re an agent of Senator Leahy and Congressman Waxman,” Rove concluded.
The poisonous rhetorical legacy of Karl Rove
Even Fox’s Chris Wallace wants to know why Bush’s newly departed advisor had to paint Democrats as traitors.
By Juan Cole
Aug. 20, 2007 | On Fox News Sunday morning, Karl Rove played the victim. He told host Chris Wallace that in the wake of his resignation as White House deputy chief of staff, his enemies were on the hunt. Rove compared himself to a legendary monster whom the whom the ancient Anglo-Saxon hero Beowulf sought to slay. “I mean, I’m a myth, and they’re … You know, I’m Grendel … They’re after me.”
But Rove, who pursued his Democratic foes with a relentless repertoire of dirty tricks, smears and outright lies, won’t win many sympathizers by depicting himself as unfairly maligned. He is likely to be remembered above all for his own expertise at demonization, specifically for his ability to paint his political opponents as unreliable partners in the “war on terror” — as traitors to the United States. A master propagandist, he portrayed his rivals as fellow travelers with Osama bin Laden, the Taliban and Saddam Hussein. Like Cain, from whom Grendel was said to be descended, Rove was more interested in fratricide than in the welfare of his people….
Rove’s string of slanders….exemplified his years of service to the Bush White House, and his very career. Rove’s earliest political acts were dirty tricks. In 1970, not yet 20 years old, he sneaked into the office of a Democratic candidate, stole campaign letterhead and sent out forged fliers intended to attract the wrong elements to one of the Democrats’ rallies. At the height of the Watergate scandal, he discussed dirty campaign techniques with other Young Republicans, advocating going through opponents’ garbage. For Rove, politics is not about principle. It is about winning, and making as sure as possible that you always win. The various scandals in which he has been involved, including firing U.S. attorneys and the outing of CIA operative Valerie Plame, were designed to make sure Republicans won elections.
What is truly striking about Rove’s appearances on all the Sunday interview shows was the reminder of how unprepossessing this advocate of torture, scorched-earth warfare and carpet bombing is in person. He once said of his high school days, “I was the complete nerd. I had the briefcase. I had the pocket protector. I wore Hush Puppies when they were not cool. I was the thin, scrawny little guy. I was definitely uncool.”
The modern GOP, by contrast, is meant to be the party of resolute action, not pensive, doughy geeks. Does Rove hide the disjuncture between his lack of physical presence and the overt, almost comic machismo of the Republican Party by his single-minded loyalty to a great leader? Rove himself describes his first meeting with George W. Bush as an instant political crush: “Charisma, swagger, cowboy boots, flight jacket … wow.” Does Rove overcompensate for his frailty with a savage commitment to violence and to humiliating and destroying his opponents? If so, he would not be the first specialist in propaganda of whom this has been suggested.
Joseph Goebbels, the campaign advisor for Adolf Hitler and the inventor of many of the techniques that Rove later honed, was a similar breed of nerd. The culture of the German far right was violent and anti-intellectual, which posed a challenge to a scrawny pseudo-intellectual like Goebbels. He struggled to fit in. As historian Joachim Fest wrote:
This was the source of [Goebbels’] hatred of the intellect, which was a form of self-hatred, his longing to degrade himself, to submerge himself in the ranks of the masses, which ran curiously parallel with his ambition and his tormenting need to distinguish himself. He was incessantly tortured by the fear of being regarded as a “bourgeois intellectual” … It always seemed as if he were offering blind devotion to make up for his lack of all those characteristics of the racial elite which nature had denied him.
Rove, of course, is no Nazi. But he did continue significant portions of Goebbels’ approach to politics, which depended on smear tactics, endlessly repeating lies, blurring distinctions and making sure one’s own party always wins.
Now Rove’s willingness to mislead the public in the service of war and violence has caused the fortunes of his party to plummet. As Iraq has become a quagmire and Afghanistan threatens to imitate it, history may even view MoveOn.org’s misgivings about the latter war with some kindness.
But his most tragic legacy lay in taking something that happened to all Americans, the murderous attacks of Sept. 11, and attempting to turn those calamities into a stick with which to beat his Democratic opponents. In so doing, he desecrated the nearly 3,000 dead for petty factional gains, and wrought enormous injustices on genuine war heroes such as Max Cleland, George McGovern and John Kerry. Long after his permanent Republican majority is forgotten, Rove will be remembered for using his rhetorical gifts to divide instead of unite. As Chris Wallace, of all people, asked, “Was that a mistake?”