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Karl Rove, Master of Secrecy

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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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