Karl Rove boards Air Force One at the airport in Indianapolis, Indiana, for Washington, July 14, 2005. (AP/J. Scott Applewhite)
Can President Bush's close friend and adviser, Karl Rove, survive accusations he took part in leaking the identity of a CIA agent? The answer is probably yes, but not before Democrats take full advantage of the chance to bloody him.
The news this week was that Rove had been a source for a report that former Ambassador Joseph Wilson -- a critic of the Bush policy in Iraq -- had been given a CIA consulting job because his wife recommended him, and she worked for the agency. Rove's lawyer says Rove disclosed only that fact, not her actual name, and thus did not break the law. Democrats said that the news contradicted earlier statements by Rove and by the White House spokesman that Rove was not involved, and they said the president should fire Rove whether or not he committed a crime.
Joining the panel is James Taranto of OpinionJournal.com, who has been following the Rove story especially closely.
"What kind of legal jeopardy is Karl Rove in, based on what we know now? What are the politics underlying the Rove controversy and Joe Wilson's claims against the Bush Administration?"
"The allegation is that Rove violated the Intelligence Identities Protection Act. This is a 1982 law that's meant to shield the identities of covert CIA agents. In order to be a covert CIA agent, you have to be stationed overseas or to have been stationed overseas some time in the past five years. Joe Wilson acknowledges that his wife's last overseas assignment was in 1997, six years before this so-called leak took place."
"This is how it actually all started. Joseph Wilson writes this Op-Ed piece. No one asked him to do it. He blasts the president. When you are looking at what Rove or anyone else said, it was in this context. In writing this Op-Ed, Wilson put his claims up as fair game."
"Politics. Well, it is hilarious to anybody who remembers. The CIA has been the object of slander and assault by various quarters of the left for as long as anybody can remember. Yesterday, moveon.org held demonstrations in which people were holding up signs saying 'Protect our Intelligence Agencies.'"