July 12, 2005

Karl Rove – Sometimes The Cover-Up Is Worse Than The Crime

During yesterday’s daily briefing with White House reporters, Press Secretary Scott McClellan learned how difficult it can be to defend the indefensible. McClellan was given countless opportunities to clear up previous White House statements regarding the involvement of Deputy White House Chief of Staff Karl Rove in the outing of an undercover CIA agent. McClellan instead dodged all questions regarding the scandal, frustrating the White House press corps and causing NBC White House news correspondent David Gregory to exclaim, “this is ridiculous.” It is indeed ridiculous that the White House is not being forthcoming about a possible breach of national security and criminal activity that involves one of its highest ranking staffers.

McClellan’s excuse for his silence doesn’t hold up when compared to his past actions. During yesterday’s briefing McClellan noted 23 times that he could not comment because there was an “ongoing investigation.” That did not stop McClellan from previously talking about Karl Rove and his role in the scandal. On October 1, 2003, McClellan said, “There is an investigation going on ... you brought up Karl's name. Let's be very clear. I thought – I said it was a ridiculous suggestion, I said it's simply not true that he was involved in leaking classified information, and – nor, did he condone that kind of activity." So it was OK for McClellan to talk about Rove and the scandal in 2003 but not yesterday?

With each “no comment,” the White House is losing credibility with the American people. Even if Rove is not found to have committed any crime, the fact that he leaked Plame’s identity to Time magazine when the White House previously denied any involvement is damaging to the White House and the president. The fact that the White House seems unwilling to even stand by bland assertions that the leak is a "serious matter" (which McClellan did not say yesterday) or that the White House wants to find out the "truth" (which also wasn't stated) indicates how this matter has become one of credibility for the Bush White House. The inability to stand behind those statements yields little confidence that Bush will hold to his pledge to fire anybody who leaked the agent's name.

The president, known to speak up for his friends, has been noticeably silent on Karl Rove. When right-wing conservatives started attacking Attorney General Alberto Gonzales following Justice Sandra Day O’Connor’s retirement, President Bush was quick to come to his defense. Since it was revealed that Rove was Matt Cooper’s source, President Bush has not said a word about Rove’s involvement in Plamegate, nor has he issued a statement of support. President Bush knows he can put an end to all these questions by demanding that Karl Rove himself come forward and tell all that he knows.

July 10, 2005

Conservatives Losing the War on Terror

The tragic bombings in London that left at least 50 people dead and another 700 wounded reaffirmed the world's resolve to defeat global terrorist networks. But the attacks also underscore that the world remains unsafe and that our current approach to fighting terrorism is at a minimum insufficient. While America remains committed to defeating terrorists, many are asking a legitimate question: are our policies making us safer?

The numbers don’t lie: global terrorist acts have increased steadily since 2001. By objective measures, the problem of international terrorism is worse now than it was in 2001. According to State Department data, the number of international terrorist attacks tripled to 650 in 2004. (The number of international terrorist attacks in 2003, 175, was a 20 year high.) This week, the National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC)—part of the intelligence reforms pushed by the 9/11 Commission—revealed that those numbers dramatically understate the scope of the problem. Broadening the definition to include attacks that “deliberately hit civilians or non-combatants” the NCTC found that 3,192 incidents of international terrorism occurred last year, resulting in the "deaths, injury or kidnapping of almost 28,500 people."

Al-Qaeda and other terrorist networks continue to operate and threaten our way of life. The attacks in London illustrated the changing nature of the threat from al-Qaeda and other terrorist organizations. As The Washington Post reports, it has long been Osama Bin Laden's goal to evolve al-Qaeda from "headquarters-planned conspiracies toward diffuse ideological incitement and tactical support." Over the last 18 months, Bin Laden in his top deputies "have persuaded dozens of like-minded young men, operating independently of the core al Qaeda leadership, to assemble and deliver suicide or conventional bombs in Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Spain, Egypt and now apparently London." Thus, despite the President's rhetoric, the threat cannot be defeated "abroad before they attack us at home." Al-Qaeda brand terrorists can emerge anywhere at anytime.

The Bush administration’s incompetence in Iraq has only fueled the terrorist fire. In the face of an al-Qaeda threat that is global, diverse and diffuse, President Bush continues to defend sinking over $200 billion and 138,000 troops into Iraq to fight an insurgency that seems to produce more terrorists than it eliminates. As yesterday’s attacks prove, our enemies are nimble and adaptive yet the conservative leadership in our country remains stubborn and inflexible. American security will continue to suffer until our leaders discard the “stay the course” strategy and start implementing a smarter plan that addresses the real—and changing—nature of global terrorism. President Bush’s mantra that we are fighting them over there so we don’t have to fight them here is now becoming part of the problem not the solution.

For some ideas on how to fight smarter against global terrorist networks, read the American Progress report, Integrated Power.