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Rove defense talking points decided; now it's time for drill, drill, drill.

Reported by Chrish - July 13, 2005

After several days of paralyzed silence, Fox has their talking points in a row and is now repeating them ad nauseum. John Gibson's Big Story today 7/12/05 had five, count 'em, five segments on the scandal, all utilizing the same defense tactics and even going so far as to suggest that Karl Rove did the US a favor if he did what he is still denying.

My observations from last night were confirmed by the ever-excellent RawStory.com, that the RNC had issued talking points to be hammered and drilled in the construction of a protective refuge for Bush's Brain. Fox kicked the damage control into high gear today.

For ease of reference I am going to assign numbers to the talking points. The ones I noted last night will be prefaced C, the GOP's are of course R.

C1. It's a summer thing, like shark attacks.
C2. Nobody cares except DC insiders - wonk wonk nudge nudge.
C3. It's personal - it's a "Get Rove" creation.
C4. It's partisan - Democrats smell blood in the water.
C5. The press, which Fox apparently considers itself above, has it in for Rove.

And direct from the GOP talking points special edition:

R1. - Once Again, Democrats Are Engaging In Blatant Political Attacks

R2. - Karl Rove Discouraged A Reporter From Writing A False Story Based On A False Premise. (See here.)

R3. - The False Premise Was Joe Wilson's Allegation That The Vice President Sent Him To Niger...

R4. -The Senate Select Committee on intelligence determined that Rove was right and Wilson was wrong...the Vice President didn't send Wilson anywhere.

R5. - Both the Senate Select Committee on intelligence and the CIA found assessments Wilson made in his report were wrong.

R6. - Karl Rove has complied fully with this investigation and has permitted any reporter he spoke with about Joe Wilson to discuss their conversations.

R7. - Government investigators have specifically asked every witness in this case, including Karl Rove, not to discuss the subject matter of the investigation.

Comment: The subject has now been officially changed and the discussion, off on a wild tangent, will revolve around details surrounding Ambassador Wilson and his trip to Africa.

****************************

The first segment addressed the White House's continuing silence (R7) on "Karl Rove's possible role in leaking the name" of a CIA operative. Gibson said reporters hammered Bush spokesman Scott McClellan and some top Democrats were calling for Rove's head.

Katherine Herridge reported that throughout, the "White House had a consistent strategy today...and that was to say as little as possible." There was a clip of McClellan refusing to comment on the issue as it is an ongoing investigation, but declaring that "any individual that works here at the White House has the confidence of the president. They wouldn't be working here at the White House if they didn't have the president's confidence." Herridge said that one reporter, at the meeting between Bush and the Prime Minister of Singapore, called out asking if Bush would fire Rove, which was answered only with a "thank you".

Herridge says that an email became public over the weekend, and Rove reportedly told Cooper that (R3) Joe Wilson was incorrect in saying that VP Cheney sent him to Niger. Rove said that Wilson's wife apparently worked for the CIA, and that's why he went on the trip. Though Rove reportedly never mentioned Plame by name, Democrats (R1) are crying foul. (Clip of Senator Charles Schumer, D-NY, saying the WH cannot have it both ways, denying any involvement one day and refusing comment the next.)

Herridge says that it's not clear whether Rove knew Plame was undercover and deliberately revealed it, which is a crime; regardless, some in intelligence community say some of her contacts have been permanently compromised and may have been exposed to serious risk as a result.

Back at the studio, segment 2, Gibson asks IF Rove was the leak, did he break the law? He has as guests "former US Attorney Joseph E. DiGenova and former Justice Dept. official Victoria Toensing". According to Media Matters, Toensing and DiGenova are partisan Republicans and personal friends of CNN host and columnist Robert D. Novak, who originally outed Plame in July 2003, and they are law partners.

Gibson cites that these two were involved in "cobbling together" the applicable law in this case, protecting agents' identities, and asks if Rove, had he actually identified Plame as CIA to Cooper, broke the law. Toensing states "No" and then states a hypothetical statement from Rove ("the wife is CIA") which she then says does not give any fact to the prosecutor to the element that he has to prove, intentionally giving up a deep-undercover agent with the knowledge that the agency was taking affirmative measures to keep her identity secret. "They" flunk that on about three counts, she says.

Gibson asks what are the three counts? How was her identity not covert?

Toensing says they weren't taking affirmative measures; Plame had a desk job at Langley and you don't have someone deep undercover going back and forth. (Comment: what better cover than right out in the open?) They allowed Joe Wilson to do an assignment for them and didn't have a signed confidentiality agreement. When the article appeared in the NYTimes the journalists (the leakees) were trying to find out where it came from, says she. And she says the worst thing they did, is when Bob Novak called and said he had the name and asked if she worked for the CIA, "they just kinda shrugged and said, well, y'know, she probably isn't going to have another overseas assignment anyway. Nobody from the top of the agency called and said 'you cannot print this name.' They didn't threaten him with criminal prosecution as they have done with other reporters...there was nothing to signal that this was important to the CIA."

Gibson says, "now let me turn to your husband, if I can reveal that, former
US Attorney Joe DiGenova". Would you prosecute this case? He replies that he would certainly investigate it, as he was asked to do by former AG Ashcroft, who gladly stepped aside when asked to by Democrats in Congress. He says that Patrick Fitzgerald, the Special Prosecutor assigned to the case, knew from the get-go that there would not be any violations found of the Agent Identities Protection Act. The subpoenas issued must have been the result of Fitzgerald's finding that someone was not truthful during the preliminary investigation.

Gibson, who has so far been relatively inoffensive, returns to form and asks "Before I let you two go, because you're a couple in Washington, let me ask you - when you go out parading your wife around, (Victoria visibly grimaces), as Joe Wilson did with his spook wife, can you expect to keep her identity secret very long?"

Joe replies, "No, especially when you take her to White House dinners and she is photographed by people at the dinner."

Gibson says, yeah, we've had to obscure her photograph...thanks the two and ends the segment.

Comment: Well, that's one point of view. As for Valerie Plame's identity, if she was a "bookkeeper" (for example) at Langely, going back and forth, and her Ambassador husband took her to a business dinner and they were a normal couple, how is that outing her covert identity? She's not invisible or non-existent, her JOB is a secret.

The third Rove/Plame segment was graphically labelled Political Smackdown. Gibson starts with the question "Does America care?" (C2) He is joined by former Congressman Martin Frost (D-TX) and Republican strategist Terry Holt, a former
Senior advisor to the RNC (so presumably well-versed in the talking points).

Gibson firsts asks Holt if the Republicans are ready to get bruised if Rove is proven to be the leaker, and it's illegal, and he gets in big trouble, and Holt laughs it off, saying they're "quakin' in our boots, John." He goes on to say that the Democrats aren't angry that Rove spoke to Cooper, they're mad because he beats them in every campaign (C3, C4, R1). He says he thinks that's why he's the target, as Gibson overtalks asking, are you saying that they're not after him because he illegally exposed the identity of a covert CIA agent? Holt maintains there's no illegality here, they see a partisan opportunity, and points to who is "out there attacking him" - John Kerry, who obviously has an ax to grind against Rove, Chuck "Schumer, and Henry 'I need to have a hearing' Waxman, who's never met a potential hearing....." everyone talks at once and Martin Frost asks to get a word in edgewise.

Gibson asks him if he thinks the story has political traction, does America care? (C2) Frost replies yes, and what we're "talking about is the deceitful, petty nature of what someone in Rove's position did. He used the identity of Wilson's wife to try and discredit Wilson, and also harmed her career". She'll never be able to go out in the field again...Gibson begins to interrupt, the screen goes to split screen so we can see a disgusted Holt shaking his head no, but Frost insists on finishing. He says people in high positions shouldn't be doing things like this and reminds viewers who may be too young that President Eisenhower's chief of staff had to quit over something less than this.

Gibson says, before Terry jumps all over me, "when somebody sends someone out, to make what amounts to a partisan assessment (C4) of whether the president should make a decision to go to war, shouldn't we know who that is? And if it's the guy's wife who's at CIA should she be entitled to a cover of secrecy?"

Frost answers first saying there's no indication she sent him out; there are people higher in the CIA, she didn't have the authority to send him. Gibson is overtalking, saying that Wilson's name would never have come up. Frost reiterates that it was a petty attack by someone who shouldn't be engaging in petty attacks, as Gibson overtalks, asking Holt if he supports petty attacks. Holt of course says no, but at the time Wilson was saying a lot of things that proved to be factually incorrect (R5) and in fact the only person lying in this whole thing is Joe Wilson. The assertions he made in newspaper statements etc. were proven untrue by various investigations. Frost is saying, oh c'mon, c'mon Terry...

Frost interrupts saying there were no WMDs, there was no yellowcake in Niger, what he said was not false...and Gibson says, "But Mr. Frost, I've got the Report of the Select Committee on Intelligence.....(R5) that says that Wilson was wrong and they looked at the same information as he did (Holt is nodding his head like a bobble-dog by now). Holt breaks in now saying "and Karl Rove apparently talked to Matt Cooper to say 'beware, this guy's not telling the truth.'" (R2) I don't know why that's inappropriate. But look, this law is very hard to break, and and anyone who thinks Rove doesn't understand the law and his job is fooling himself.

Frost gets the last word saying there are other issues; there's obstruction of justice and perjury. Rove's been called before the grand jury three times. He might not have broken this particular statute, but he's not out of the woods.

After some London terror reporting and headlines, Judge Andrew Napolitano came on to give HIS view on the Rove/Plame case. You'll never guess what it was.

Gibson, "As we've been reporting, there's a federal criminal investigation into who leaked the name of CIA operative Valerie Plame to the media. You'll notice I am continually leaking her name. (heh heh) If it is presidential advisor Karl Rove, did he break the law? The judge rules."

Gibson says to Napolitano, you heard the case made by what would amount to Rove's defenders, Joseph E. DiGenova and Victoria Toensing but on the other hand you have that Special Prosecutor. (Comment: Hmm, I don't recall hearing a vigorous prosecutor's view.) Would you throw the case out?

Napolitano would ask a few questions first: is there evidence that Rove got her name from a classified source? If he got it from the media or elsewhere, not by virtue of his position and security clearances, he didn't break the law.

Then he would ask, was her name already "out there"? He says it was and cites John Podhoretz in today's NY Post (which he identifies as a sister company) who says Valerie Plame was revealed on Joe Wilson's website as working for the CIA. (Comment: I go back to the "bookkeeper" cover. Saying she works for the CIA doesn't make her an agent, covert or not.)

Then he would go to the questions posed earlier, about the CIA's effort to keep her covert etc., but the judge says that even if everything being said about Rove is true, he's committed no crime.

Gibson asks why did Ashcroft appoint a Democrat prosecutor? Napolitano doesn't really answer, says Ashcroft was right to wash his hands of the case, and says prosecutors in a big visible case look to advance their careers. If he can't get Rove on the main charge, there are always underlying charges, such as lying - remember Martha Stewart.

The fifth segment was the always horrid "My Word". Today was no different.
I've made a seperate post about it here.

Comment: So, the propaganda arm of the Republican White House was in full damage control mode today. Not since "Outfoxed" have we seen such a clear line drawn from the GOP to FNC. Any questions?

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