Hubris-gate

A big question regarding Rove-gate, ignoring for the moment that it’s taken the Downing Street Memos off the table, is how could the man who is Bush’s brain have committed such a blatant and easily prosecutable act?

It is being argued that the man who got Bush elected, the man behind the most nefarious machinations of the current regime, has orchestrated even the accusing fingers pointing his way. It is contended to be his plan that he’ll be vindicated on the revelation that it wasn’t actually him but a subordinate. Henceforth Rove will be be beyond critique for having been falsely accused.

The theory is plausible, considering again that it has taken the Deerlove revelation off the radar, which threaten a larger indictment of our administration. It might be a better strategy not to pursue Rove at this time.

But let’s address what may have happened as opposed to the debate over whether it matters.

I contend that it was hubris, ego maniacal hubris that lead Rove to leak the CIA identity of Valerie Plame to the press. The same battle of egos that sees our leaders on the left wishing to see Rove fired.

Hubris

The Plame leak is being summarized as a politically motivated reaction for Ambassador Wilson’s stand against the war. Well that would be half the story. It’s seen as a warning to others who might consider blowing the whistle. That would be another half. Can you see the Republicans as spoilsports, saying “damn that Joe Wilson, let’s burn him?” Maybe. I can envision an even less flattering scenario.

Wouldn’t it be more likely that Valerie Plame’s CIA role, and the safety of all her friends and contacts worldwide, was the Achilles heel that kept Joe Wilson in line? That might even be the technique used with most of our diplomats overseas: recruit their family members and friends into the CIA where they will forever be compromised?

It is often contended by host nations that our diplomatic corps are ridden with security operatives. Memoirs and historical accounts bear this out. We’re learning with the Plame revelation that there’s an acronym for operating under diplomatic cover, just as there is an acronym for operating without diplomatic cover. And it seems the former is more common than the latter, without the black passport that’s a get out of jail free card.

Yes the Plame leak revealed much about how our intelligence agencies work. But let’s get back to what may have happened to Joe Wilson.

Joe Wilson was sent to Niger to investigate suspicions that Iraq tried to buy uranium. Was this a real fact finding mission? The letters which suggested such a transaction were already considered to have been fake. Let’s not forget that they were faked by someone, and it’s hard to imagine it would have been anyone but us who would have produced them. No other interest is served. So let’s say Joe Wilson is sent to Niger to confirm the suspicions and build upon our case for a war against Iraq.

Joe Wilson was a safe choice. In the lingo of the mob, he was a made man. His wife being a CIA operative, their friends and acquaintances in every country they’d been would be in jeopardy if Plame’s identity was revealed. Plame’s coworkers at the fake firm which gave her cover would be suspect and jeopardized, as would all their contacts and friends.

And so Joe Wilson had too much to lose if he come back from Niger and reported that the documents were fake, as was the fabrication that Iraq was accelerating its acquisition of uranium.

And Joe Wilson did not make a big deal about it when he came back. It was only on the verge of war that Wilson had a pang of conscience and he made his case. Again, not as a spoilsport but as leverage to stop the inevitable war.

What would you do if you held a whistle blower’s secret? Would you sing to the press and wreck every future job prospect for having shown disloyalty or would you go to your boss and try to influence a rehabilitation?

Joe Wilson did just that. He contacted his superiors in hope that the truth about the false charges against Iraq would deter the administration from going to war.

And so it would have been a battle of wills. Who does Joe Wilson think he is?! We can burn your wife, you know that?! How dare you think you can upset our plans! You are made and we can break you.

And Joe Wilson was playing a similar tack, I can show this Niger story to be false, how dare you nutcases go to war!

And as the cat got out of the bag, the administration threat couldn’t be seen to come to nothing. If Wilson was a made man, there had to be some means to make it mean something.

I see it very likely that Rove made the call himself to Robert Novak. Rove has top billing as the brains of the outfit, he may have felt invincible. And to remain invincible you have to cut Johnny come lately off at the knees.

When someone says “fuck you!” How hard is it not to say “fuck you” back? There’s not much satisfaction in having someone else say it for you. You certainly don’t creep off and have an underling go back and say it for you.

When you’re powerful, you want to say it yourself. Joe Wilson can’t cross me. Imagine the phone call. “If you cross me Joe, I will personally see your world destroyed.”

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Eric Verlo

About Eric Verlo

On sabbatical
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