Wilson calls for Rove removal

Friday, July 15, 2005

U.S. Federal grand jury testimony by Karl Rove was reported in the press Friday detailing testimony by Karl Rove on the Plame "leak". The information was obtained by Associated Press on the condition of anonymity because of grand jury hearing secrecy. The reported source was in the legal profession.

The press reports followed Thursday's televised call by former U.S. Ambassador Joseph Wilson, the husband of one-time CIA operative Valerie Plame, for President Bush to honor his word to remove any official involved in the Plame leak.

On Thursday's NBC's "Today" show, Wilson said it was time for the President to "stand up and prove to the American people that his word is his bond and fire Karl Rove." and "this cover-up is becoming unraveled. That's why you see the White House stonewalling."

Amid refusals by President Bush or his White House press secretary Scott McClellan to comment on the on-going investigation into the Plame leak, the Bush overall approval rating, now at 45%, has slipped one point from May. The Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll found for the first time that 45% chose poor, versus 41% good, for rating the president as "honest and straightforward". His disapproval rating, now 49%, is up 2 points.

American support for the war effort in Iraq remains strong, at 57 to 42% in favor. And the majority believe the war in Iraq is part of the broader goal of battling global terrorism by a margin of 61 to 34 %.

Given the favorable opinion ratings on the war, the current furor in the press and by partisan Democrats are questions about personal accountability, and not about U.S. war policy. Bush has so far demonstrated by his silence that he is willing to let the matter of Rove be settled by the court.

Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald is in charge of the federal probe seeking what is believed to involve two officials at the White House. At issue concerning Rove is whether he broke the Intelligence Identities Protection Act. The act makes it a felony crime for Rove to intentionally and knowingly leak the identity of Plame. At the time, Plame was a CIA Counter-proliferation Division employee.

Fitzgerald is not obliged to publicly reveal any information on testimony received during grand jury hearings on the matter, and has not commented. What is known is that Matt Cooper's reporting notes sent by e-mail to his employer TIME magazine show that Rove identified Judith Plame as "Wilson's wife", and from the context of their conversation, Cooper's notes report that she "apparently works" at the CIA. Whether he revealed that Plame was a covert agent remains to be found.

Mr. Wilson has from the start shown his willingness to comment on the actions of the Bush administration. From his July 2003 Op-Ed piece, which started this whole affair, he was critical of statements made by Bush during his State of the Union Address. Then in August 2003 after his wife's covert cover was blown, came his angry statement to try and get Karl Rove "frog-marched out of the White House in handcuffs".

On Tuesday this week, during the heightened controversy from the Supreme Court ordered release by TIME of Cooper's notes, Wilson said "that Rove was intimately involved in the smear campaign launched after the [Novak] article appeared," according NBC News report. "Now to find out he talked to Matt Cooper before then only compounds the outrage at the abuse of power." Wilson's statements were made off camera.