Arianna Huffington, Lawrence O'Donnell and others on this post have done a terrific job of staying on top of every new fact in the Plame-CIA leak case. I, however, want to go beyond the facts and engage in a little conjecture:
George W. Bush will pardon Karl Rove.
I know I'm getting WAY ahead of the facts, but this thing has the smell of a serious legal problem for the Bush Administration. From the outside, Mr. Fitzgerald does not look like a prosecutor who sees wrongdoing but believes it falls short of criminal conduct, like, say, Joe DiGenova did when he investigated allegations that the Bush 41 Administration rummaged Bill Clinton's passport file.
The Bush team excels at political strategy. They pride themselves on seeing three moves ahead on the chess board. So let us look a few moves ahead as well:
Mr. Fitzgerald indicts Mr. Rove. Maybe for violating the Intelligence Identities Protection Act, maybe the Espionage Act (which outlaws mishandling classified information). Perhaps the charge is a criminal cover-up –- obstruction of justice, perjury, conspiracy or lying to a federal investigator.
What does the President do? What does he say?
As a former White House speechwriter, I've taken the liberty of drafting the speech for Mr. Bush:
My fellow Americans. We meet once again in dark and dangerous times. I remember well the terrible tragedy of September the 11th, 2001. Today, we have the terrorists on the run, and yet they attack our soldiers nearly every day in Iraq. They bomb tourists in Egypt, kill innocents in London and Madrid and Indonesia and Kenya. This truly is a global struggle against violent extremism.
This is not a conventional war, and it will not be fought nor won by conventional means. At the heart of our success will be tactics and techniques that I am not free to divulge to you -- strategies and secrets you will never know. At a time like this, in a post-September the 11th, 2001 world, preserving, protecting and defending our national security secrets is literally a matter of life and death.
That is why I was so angry when the name of one of our CIA agents was revealed two years ago. I vowed then to cooperate in every way to bring the wrongdoers to justice, and I have done so. But what started as an investigation into national security has gone off track. Those who seek to undermine me politically are now pursuing a course that will harm America's security and could invite another September the 11th, 2001.
Let me put this as plainly as I can: the charges against Karl Rove are false. He is an innocent man. He was a strong and steady presence at my side on September the 11th, 2001. And he has a right to defend himself, his good name, his lifetime of service to our country and his wonderful family. The charges that have been filed against him are the result of a secretive grand jury proceeding in which Karl has not been shown the evidence against him, has not been able to confront his accusers, has not even had a lawyer present when he was questioned -- a right every murderer in every police station has.
But now that the secret grand jury proceedings are over, more than anything else, Karl wants to stand up in the cold, clear light of day and defend his good name.
But here's the problem. If Karl were to explain how and why he is innocent; if he were to offer his strong and compelling defense in public, it would reveal even more of our nation's secrets. The terrorists have CNN, you know, and Karl's trial would give them a daily tutorial in just how we fight the war on terror. They would learn lessons from the trial that might allow them to attack us here at home, just as they did on September the 11th, 2001.
I cannot allow this to happen. I cannot jeopardize the lives of our fighting men and women -- no matter how much I love Karl and no matter how badly he wants to clear his name. I have not forgotten the lessons of September the 11th, 2001. And I will not allow anything to happen that makes another September the 11th, 2001 possible. And so, in an act of selfless patriotism, Karl has agreed not to offer any public defense. He has agreed to keep secret all the evidence that clears him. And he has agreed -- at my insistence -- to accept a full, free and absolute pardon.
Although innocent, Karl will pay dearly. Those who oppose our efforts to combat terrorism will vilify him. I would remind them that in front of the Department of Justice stands a statue of Nathan Hale. A noose around his neck, Hale stands defiant, about to be executed by the British for keeping secrets that led to America's independence. Nathan Hale said he regretted that he had but one life to give to his country. Karl himself has told me he regrets he has but one reputation, but he is willing to sacrifice it for his country, especially if it helps to prevent another September the 11th, 2001.
Karl's selfless act will end the matter immediately and allow us all to get back to the life and death struggle against those who hate us for our freedoms, and who attacked us on September the 11th, 2001.
God bless you all, and may God bless the United States of America.