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AP's Ron Fournier To Karl Rove: "Keep Up The Fight"

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Via Talking Points Memo: the House Oversight Committee has unearthed a key quote from the 50-page report on Pat Tillman - the former Arizona Cardinals star killed in the line of duty in Afghanistan under circumstances that the military labored to conceal from Tillman's family - and Jessica Lynch, who was caught up in some Iraq War mythmaking of her own.

On page 21 of the report, the committee reprints an email exchange between Ron Fournier - then a reporter for the Associated Press, now the head of the AP's Washington bureau - and Bush's chief adviser Karl Rove:

Rove exchanged e-mails about Pat Tillman with Associated Press reporter Ron Fournier, under the subject line "H-E-R-O." In response to Mr. Fournier's e-mail, Mr. Rove asked, "How does our country continue to produce men and women like this," to which Mr. Fournier replied, "The Lord creates men and women like this all over the world. But only the great and free countries allow them to flourish. Keep up the fight."

An email to Fournier, seeking clarification on what "fight" he thought Rove was engaged in at the time, was not returned.

***UPDATE 8:24pm ET, July 14, 2008***

In a story that crossed on the AP wires, Fournier is quoted as saying he was simply interacting with a source in the course of his duties as a political reporter, and regrets the "breezy nature of the correspondence."

From the AP story:

The committee cited one exchange between White House political chief Karl Rove and Ron Fournier, then a political reporter for The Associated Press.

In a chain under the subject line "H-E-R-O," Rove replied to an e-mail from Fournier by saying, "How does our country continue to produce men and women like this?"

Fournier replied, "The Lord creates men and women like this all over the world. But only the great and free countries allow them to flourish. Keep up the fight."

Fournier, now the AP's acting Washington bureau chief, said Monday: "I was an AP political reporter at the time of the 2004 e-mail exchange, and was interacting with a source, a top aide to the president, in the course of following an important and compelling story. I regret the breezy nature of the correspondence."