Recently, the press has tried to get a commitment from President Bush to fire Karl Rove. They bring these questions up, regardless of the occasion. Watch this sandbag question (all emphasis added by me):
Occasion: President, Prime Minister of India Discuss Freedom and Democracy
The East Room , July 18, 2005
Q Mr. President, you said you don't want to talk about an ongoing investigation, so I'd like to ask you, regardless of whether a crime was committed, do you still intend to fire anyone found to be involved in the CIA leak case And are you displeased that Karl Rove told a reporter that Ambassador Joe Wilson's wife worked for the Agency on WMD issues? [Did you notice that the second question implies that Rove sought the reporter? - Rick]
PRESIDENT BUSH: We have a serious ongoing investigation here. (Laughter.) And it's being played out in the press. And I think it's best that people wait until the investigation is complete before you jump to conclusions. And I will do so, as well. I don't know all the facts. I want to know all the facts. The best place for the facts to be done is by somebody who's spending time investigating it. I would like this to end as quickly as possible so we know the facts, and if someone committed a crime, they will no longer work in my administration.
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Some in the media claim that President Bush is now changing the rules. Just where did this "crime" criteria come from? He never said that in June of last year! They want to go back to another sandbag question from last year. Watch closely:
Occasion: President Bush Holds Press Conference Following the G8 Summit
International Media Center
Savannah, Georgia June 10,2004
Q: Given -- given recent developments in the CIA leak case, particularly Vice President Cheney's discussions with the investigators, do you still stand by what you said several months ago, a suggestion that it might be difficult to identify anybody who leaked the agent's name?
THE PRESIDENT: That's up to --
Q: And, and, do you stand by your pledge to fire anyone found to have done so?
THE PRESIDENT: Yes. And that's up to the U.S. Attorney to find the facts.
Q: My final point would be -- or question would be, has Vice President Cheney assured you --
THE PRESIDENT: It's up to the --
Q: -- subsequent to his conversations with them, that nobody --
THE PRESIDENT: I haven't talked to the Vice President about this matter, and I suggest -- recently -- and I suggest you talk to the U.S. Attorney about that.
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It is obvious to me that they were talking past each other. This reporter didn't give the President time to answer the first question before asking two more. They want to twist this exchange into a promise that the President will fire anyone who leaked information. But notice that the recent question (above) goes even further - fire anyone involved in the case. That is not what the President said "several months ago".
This is what he "said several months ago" and which he promised to stick to:
Occasion: President Discusses Job Creation With Business Leaders
University of Chicago
Chicago, Illinois September 30, 2003
Q: Do you think that the Justice Department can conduct an impartial investigation, considering the political ramifications of the CIA leak, and why wouldn't a special counsel be better? [Do they teach this questioning technique in journalism school? - Rick]
THE PRESIDENT: Yes. Let me just say something about leaks in Washington. There are too many leaks of classified information in Washington. There's leaks at the executive branch; there's leaks in the legislative branch. There's just too many leaks. And if there is a leak out of my administration, I want to know who it is. And if the person has violated law, the person will be taken care of.
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The President has been consistent in saying that violation of the law, or a crime, was the criteria for removing someone. It is clear from what has already been revealed that Rove is not a target of the investigation. It seems pretty clear to me that Judith Miller's source is not Karl Rove. So why all the hoopla about Karl?
Update 4:41 AM July 23, 2005
FactCheck.org, in an otherwise accurate article, includes this editorial comment about the July 18 statement: Bush – easing off his earlier statement to fire anyone who leaked – says. I sent them an email calling them on it.
Update 7:44 PM July 23, 2005
One of the commenters mentioned that the factcheck.org article states that Scott McClellan, on September 29, 2003, stated “If anyone in this administration was involved in it [the leak], they would no longer be in this administration.” So I went back to read it again. I found it interesting that everywhere in the White House briefing that Mr. McClellan used some form of "leak", the words classified information also appear. Some examples (emphasis added):
MR. McCLELLAN: Bill, if someone leaked classified information of this nature, the appropriate agency to look into it would be the Department of Justice.
MR. McCLELLAN: The President has been -- I spoke for him earlier today -- the President believes leaking classified information is a very serious matter.
MR. McCLELLAN: If someone leaked classified information of the nature that has been reported, absolutely, the President would want it to be looked into.
Apparently the editors thought "[the leak]" was sufficiently clear that we are talking about classified information.
So I sent them a second email on this point.