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Hannity & Colmes Spins Rove’s Non-Indictment As Legal And Political Victory

Reported by Ellen - June 14, 2006

Like a Rumpelstiltskin of the airwaves, FOX News did its best to spin Karl Rove’s escape from indictment into a complete acquittal of the Bush administration on the entire matter. Each of the two guests seemed to consider the case closed, or that it should be, despite the fact that neither was a legal expert and that Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald has made no statement indicating his investigation has ended. Neither guest seemed to think that even if no further legal charges are filed, there might still be a number of questions that the Bush Administration ought to answer.

College dropout and self-appointed legal expert Sean Hannity declared at the beginning of the discussion that “no underlying crime” had been committed. Who cares if Special Prosecutor Fitzgerald thinks otherwise? Hannity has cut his teeth on the Duke rape case and obviously knows “exculpatory evidence” when he sees it! In this case, Hannity declared that Rove "informed" Time reporter Matt Cooper that neither the Vice President Cheney nor then-CIA Director Tenent had sent Wilson to Niger as he claimed. Hannity added, “Rove pointed out that Wilson’s wife, who worked at the CIA, lobbied for her husband’s assignment.” In reality, as Media Matters reports, “Unnamed intelligence officials have been quoted in the media claiming that the CIA -- not Plame -- selected Wilson for the mission. Also, CIA officials have disputed the accuracy of a State Department intelligence memo that reportedly indicates that Plame 'suggested' Wilson's name for the trip.” Media Matters also debunks the myth that Wilson claimed Cheney sent him.

Reporter Byron York was the first guest to speak. York never flat-out declared that no crime had been committed. Apparently, he’s not the legal eagle Hannity is. But York piggy-backed on Hannity’s claims by saying that the only indictment that had occurred is “what is sometimes called a process kind of charge,” meaning not an underlying crime.

But does the fact that Rove will not be charged with such a crime mean nobody will? Isn’t it quite possible Rove, who testified five times before a grand jury, will provide evidence against someone else? Isn’t the silence of Special Prosecutor Fitzgerald worth noting? Not on FOX News. There’s an interesting analysis of the possibilities at Firedoglake, however.

Besides the legal issues, there are still a host of political ones. Media Matters did an excellent job of laying out the questions to which the press ought to be demanding answers from the Bush Administration, including asking whether Karl Rove ought to have his security clearance revoked.

Alan Colmes seemed as though he wanted to talk about some of those other issues when he started his portion of the discussion by saying sarcastically, “It’s a great day in Washington when what the administration is celebrating is one of its chief staff members not being indicted. What a great day for America, right?”

But the other guest, James Warren, of the Chicago Tribune, simply lamented not having “as good a hold on the chronology as Sean does.”

Colmes continued, “There’s no doubt that this was an attempt by the White House to go after somebody who they deemed unfriendly to them, who said things they didn’t want them to say.”

Warren agreed that the White House had not behaved well but seemed to have concluded that any misconduct on the part of the Bush Administration was not worthy of further examination because it “does not justify prosecution.” Warren added, “Any savvy person with a computer could have figured out that Valerie Plame, at the same time she supposedly was an independent energy consultant and was, in fact, a junior diplomat at our embassy in Athens, and put two and two together as to what she was really up to.”

Comment: The way I understand it, it's a crime to leak classified information regardless of how easily somebody else could access it. See, for example, Wikipedia's article on the Plame affair. Warren's "justification" is really nothing more than an excuse along the lines of "I didn't really steal the car because the keys were in it."

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