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  • Tuesday, July 26, 2005

    Don't Plame Me.

    American Progress has a piece about the ongoing Rove/Plame scandal. It seems that inside work was done to try to buy time to shred to appropriate documents. But were we really expecting something more from these people?

    On September 29, 2003 the Department of Justice told Alberto Gonzales (then the White House counsel) that it was launching a criminal investigation into the leak of Valerie Plame's identity. Gonzales was instructed to notify the White House staff to preserve all documents related to the case. But Gonzales, by his own admission, decided he didn't want to comply with the request immediately. Instead, he went to Chief of Staff Andrew Card and told him that the White House staff would be told to preserve all documents related to the leak the following morning. As a result, Card had a 12-hour window to tip off White House staff, including Karl Rove, about the request (which, as Bob Schieffer noted yesterday, "would give people time to shred documents and do any number of things.") But Andrew Card and the White House can end the speculation. All they have to do is answer a simple question: after Alberto Gonzales tipped off Andrew Card about the imminent request to preserve documents, who did Card talk to and what did he tell them? (The White House was asked on Sunday and didn't respond.)

    Gonzales argued that the 12-hour head start was appropriate because he contacted the Department of Justice about it and was told: "Go ahead and notify the staff early in the morning. That would be OK." But at the time, the investigation was controlled by former Attorney General John Ashcroft. Karl Rove "worked for Ashcroft over the course of two decades." After Ashcroft lost his Senate seat in 2000, Rove "lobbied intensely for his former employer's nomination" to Attorney General. In December 2003, Ashcroft recused himself from the investigation amidst criticism that his close ties to the White House created a conflict of interest. According to a Justice Department official, "Ashcroft's decision not to recuse himself earlier was a matter of efficiency."

    Andrew Card is not on the periphery of the leak scandal. The White House Chief of Staff was aboard Air Force One in July 2003 with Ari Fleischer, Colin Powell, and the top secret State Department document that contained the identity of Valerie Wilson. Card also shares the blame with President Bush for keeping Rove on staff after it was clear he lied to the American people about a national security matter. As John Podesta said last week on Meet the Press: "I think if he [Rove] won't [resign] and Bush can't [fire him], then Andy Card ought to call him in and say, 'Karl, what you did was wrong, and you ought to be out of here.'"

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