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Karl Rove: Dreyfus or Valachi? The Press Needs to Find Out

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In the same breath he used to announce that Karl Rove won't be indicted, his attorney indicated he won't make "any further public statements" about the situation. Many questions remain, however, and the public has a right to know.

Who knows? Maybe those other witnesses were lying, and Karl's completely innocent. If so, why would his attorney zip his lip like that? You'd think that an innocent man and his lawyer would be eager to go on record to clear his name - but Rove hasn't even pledged to "find the real killers."

As it stands, the public record on Rove's behavior is damning. And now, the Bush/McClellan mantra about "not commenting on an ongoing investigation" - often used while they were, in fact, commenting on it - is now inoperative. It's Q&A time.

Media Matters (courtesy FDL) leads off with the most critical one: Given what we know about Rove's disclosure of sensitive information, shouldn't his security clearance be revoked? That's what his security agreement requires, which is why "sixteen former CIA and military intelligence officials(have) urged President Bush to suspend (his) security clearance."

The press has had its feisty moments of irritation on this topic, but they've usually been self-centered in nature. You're not telling me what I want to know. You're playing games with me. But the country deserves to know whether a leaker is sitting at the seat of power with access to highly classified data. We need to know how the Administration will ensure that harmful, politically-motivated leaks won't occur again.

We deserve to know whether Rove cut a deal in return for an agreement not to indict him. Conservatives are already lining up to describe him as a man unjustly accused, as if the Plame investigation was a modern-day Dreyfus Affair. But if he's a criminal who turned states' evidence to avoid indictment, he's not Alfred Dreyfus. He's Joe Valachi.

So that's the next question: Is the President's Senior Advisor a Dreyfus or a Valachi?

There are many more questions that need to be answered, too, including this one: Prosecutors turn witnesses when they're after a bigger fish. Who would that be in this case?

But the first question isn't for the White House. It's for the media: Will you pursue this story until it's resolved, now that the artificial barrier's been removed by the White House? Judging by CNN's swallowing of White House spin (as in this video clip entitled "Watch how Rove announcement helps the White House"), I'm not optimistic.

Karl Rove's behavior in the Plame Affair was sleazy. We deserve to know whether it was illegal. We also have a right to know whether we'll be protected from any further security breaches for political reasons. If the prosecutor believes there are more leakers in the White House, we should know that.

We also deserve to know whether we have a press corps that's up to the task.

UPDATE: Dan Froomkin at the Washington Post website makes the same point about the media's responsibility going forward - and provides a useful overview of what we know about Rove's behavior. It ain't pretty.

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