Fox News contributor Karl Rove exploited the Obama administration's accidental exposure of a CIA operative's identity to absolve his own culpability in deliberately leaking former CIA operative Valerie Plame's identity during the Bush administration.
Over the weekend, the name of the CIA's top officer in Kabul, Afghanistan, was “inadvertently included on a list provided to news organizations of senior U.S. officials participating in President Obama's surprise visit with U.S. troops. The White House recognized the mistake and quickly issued a revised list.”
During the May 27 broadcast of Fox News Radio's Kilmeade & Friends, host Brian Kilmeade discussed the story and remarked: “You think Valerie Plame's a big deal, fine. She's at the -- she's at a desk job in the CIA. What about a guy in one of the most dangerous jobs in the world?”
Plame is a former CIA operative whose identify was leaked by Karl Rove and others in the Bush administration as payback for an opinion piece that her husband, Joe Wilson, wrote rebutting Bush's case for invading Iraq.
Rove -- who was a senior adviser and deputy chief of staff to President Bush -- responded on Kilmeade's show by claiming Plame “was not an active agent” and that he “didn't know her name. All I'd heard was the rumor that Wilson's wife had, at the CIA, had helped send him to Niger”:
ROVE: Right. Well look, one point. Valerie Plame was not covered by the statue that you bring up. She was not an active agent. She was legally outside the law, and that's why there was no action taken by the special prosecutor against anybody who had mentioned her name. And I, for example, didn't know her name. All I'd heard was the rumor that Wilson's wife had, at the CIA, had helped send him to Niger. But you're right.
Rove's claim that Plame “was not an active agent” and Kilmeade's description of Plame as just having “a desk job” are false. Special counsel Patrick Fitzgerald, who lead the Plame leaks investigation, concluded that she traveled “overseas on official business” and “was a covert employee for whom the CIA was taking affirmative measures to conceal her intelligence relationship to the United States.” Plame herself testified in 2007 to the House Government and Oversight Committee: “In the run-up to the war with Iraq, I worked in the Counterproliferation Division of the CIA, still as a covert officer whose affiliation with the CIA was classified.”
Rove's excuse that he “didn't know” Plame's “name” is also a dishonest -- and frequently used -- dodge of his. Rove leaked to the press that Wilson's wife worked for the CIA and thus exposed her covert identity. Specifically, Rove was one of two sources for the late Robert Novak's 2003 column outing Plame. Former Time magazine reporter Matthew Cooper also named Rove as the source who identified Wilson's wife as a CIA agent during a telephone conversation.
Rove has regularly attempted to offer a dishonest accounting of the Plame scandal. Former Newsweek reporter Michael Isikoff noted that Rove wrote a “highly selective (and at times blatantly distorted) version of the events that got him into trouble” in his ironically titled 2010 book Courage and Consequence.
Fox & Friends -- co-hosted by Kilmeade -- similarly used the Obama administration's serious, but accidental, recent release of the CIA Chief of Station's name to draw a false equivalence to the Bush administration's purposeful leak of Plame's identify.