No Comment — July 2, 2007, 9:36 pm

Karl Rove, Master of Secrecy

Scooter Libby is not the only confidant of President Bush who is apparently above the law. There’s also Karl Rove. Now Rove serves as a senior presidential advisor and in this capacity he has been given a very high level national security clearance, allowing him to examine and hold classified and highly sensitive documents. Of course, this is the same Karl Rove who, as we now know thanks to the Patrick Fitzgerald investigation, used his access to classified information to out a covert CIA agent to reporters, hoping it would be published. Moreover, he did this for malicious, political reasons. The CIA agent’s husband had penned an op-ed column in the New York Times which criticized Bush over a falsehood he told in the State of the Union Address. So, from the perspective of Karl Rove, it was payback time. And isn’t that exactly why White House operatives have national security clearance? So they can take sensitive national secrets and use them for partisan political purposes.

Fitzgerald decided not to prosecute Rove for reasons we don’t know for certain, but evidently the fact that Rove made a return visit to the grand jury and recanted his prior lies had a lot to do with it. But that Rove divulged the information and did it for a purely partisan purpose – no real dispute on that score. So what is Rove’s punishment? Prosecution for mishandling classified documents? Certainly not. Afterall, he’s Karl Rove. How about loss of access to classified documents. That’s what most Washingtonians were expecting. A pretty mild sanction, but something symbolic. Along the lines of Emily Letella’s slap on the wrist with a wet noodle.

And now we learn: no. No punishment or sanction for Rove of any sort. Why? Because he’s Rove, of course. He’s immune. As the Washington Post recounts today:

In a letter sent last week to White House Counsel Fred F. Fielding, Waxman alleged that Rove’s actions amounted to a violation of presidential guidelines that say “deliberate or negligent disclosure” of classified information can disqualify a staffer from future access to such material. Also being less than forthcoming, even about unintentional breaches, can be cause for revoking a security clearance.

“Under these standards, it is hard to see how Mr. Rove would qualify for renewal of his security clearance,” Waxman wrote.

White House spokesman Tony Fratto said he could not discuss details but that Rove’s “clearance was appropriately renewed as part of the regular process that occurs every five years.”

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Many comedians consider stand-up the purest form of comedy; Doug Stanhope considers it the freest. “Once you do stand-up, it spoils you for everything else,” he says. “You’re the director, performer, and producer.” Unlike most of his peers, however, Stanhope has designed his career around exploring that freedom, which means choosing a life on the road. Perhaps this is why, although he is extremely ambitious, prolific, and one of the best stand-ups performing, so many Americans haven’t heard of him. Many comedians approach the road as a means to an end: a way to develop their skills, start booking bigger venues, and, if they’re lucky, get themselves airlifted to Hollywood. But life isn’t happening on a sit-com set or a sketch show — at least not the life that has interested Stanhope. He isn’t waiting to be invited to the party; indeed, he’s been hosting his own party for years.

Because of the present comedy boom, civilians are starting to hear about Doug Stanhope from other comedians like Ricky Gervais, Sarah Silverman, and Louis CK. But Stanhope has been building a devoted fan base for the past two decades, largely by word of mouth. On tour, he prefers the unencumbered arrival and the quick exit: cheap motels where you can pull the van up to the door of the room and park. He’s especially pleased if there’s an on-site bar, which increases the odds of hearing a good story from the sort of person who tends to drink away the afternoon in the depressed cities where he performs. Stanhope’s America isn’t the one still yammering on about its potential or struggling with losing hope. For the most part, hope is gone. On Word of Mouth, his 2002 album, he says, “America may be the best country, but that’s like being the prettiest Denny’s waitress. Just because you’re the best doesn’t make you good.”

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