SHERMAN: ROVE MUST GO
President Bush should keep his word and fire top White House aide Karl Rove for leaking information about a Central Intelligence Agency undercover operative, Congressman Brad Sherman said Wednesday.
"The president said he would fire any White House staffer who leaked the identity of an undercover operative," Sherman said. "Now that Karl Rove has been exposed as one of the leakers, the president should keep his word without delay and without making more excuses."
Bush on Wednesday dodged questions about Rove's role in revealing that Valerie Plame, the wife of a Bush administration critic, worked for the CIA. Rove referred indirectly to Plame in a July 11, 2003, conversation with Time magazine, which published an article that identified her as a CIA operative.
The leak was part of a ham-handed White House attempt to undercut the credibility of the CIA agent's husband, Joseph Wilson. A former ambassador, Wilson had forcefully disputed Bush claims that then Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein was developing nuclear weapons. A special prosecutor is investigating whether anyone in the White House broke the law by revealing the identity of a CIA operative.
"It does not matter whether Rove's actions meet all of the elements to constitute a felony; what he did was terribly wrong," Sherman said. "It matters even less whether Rove used Valerie Plame's name, or merely referred to her as the wife of Ambassador Joseph Wilson.'"
President Bush, Sherman added, should heed the words of his father. The former president and former CIA director forcefully declared in a 1999 speech, "I have nothing but contempt and anger for those who betray the trust by exposing the names of our sources. They are, in my view, the most insidious of traitors."
Sherman also cited testimony at a congressional hearing two years ago by former CIA agents who called the exposure of agents by political operatives "treacherous, if not treasonous." The White House leaks, the three ex-agents lamented, had "set a sickening precedent."