So it looks as if Karl Rove actually did it. President Bush’s top strategist purportedly leaked the identity of CIA operative Valerie Plame to the press in an attempt to discredit former Ambassador Joseph Wilson, who had criticized the Bush Administration’s faulty claim that Saddam Hussein was going nuclear.
The latest revelation that Karl Rove served as Matt Cooper’s inside guy thrills many liberals in Washington. Senator John Kerry and Hilary Clinton, along with several other top Democrats, have all called on Bush to fire Rove for threatening our national security by outing a CIA operative. David Corn declared in The Nation that Rove acted “in a reckless and cavalier fashion, ignoring national security interests to score a political point against a policy foe.” The White House press corps is also up in arms over Press Secretary Scott McClellan’s blatant lies, as he assures them repeatedly that the leak did not originate within the White House.
It’s all a bunch of liberal hoopla, however. Despite Rove’s political motivations for leaking Plame to the press, we shouldn’t be so quick to dub him a traitor, or even call for his firing over the leak. Sure Rove should be hauled off to the pen for helping propagate Bush’s illegal war on Iraq — but he should also be commended for outing an undercover CIA agent, no matter how inadvertent his good deed may have been.
That’s right. I don’t share the liberals’ admiration for the Central Intelligence Agency. But I think it is important to note the broader context of the alleged Rove leak. Unlike most mindless punditry’s take on the matter, Rove’s move was not just a personal tit-for-tat aimed at Joseph Wilson, but part of a larger White House effort to counter increasing CIA rumblings about the short sightedness of Bush’s Iraq endeavor. Thus some might say that Plame should not have been leaked to the press. But the fact is the CIA, besides its potential “good deeds,” has for far too long served as the front for US supremacy across the globe, as well as at home.
The numerous actions the CIA has taken since 1945 have been guilty, either directly or indirectly, of helping remove dozens of governments from power – many of which were democratically elected.
According to William Blum, author of “Rogue State”: “From 1945 to the end of the [20th] century, the USA attempted to overthrow more than 40 foreign governments, and to crush more than 30 populist-nationalist movements struggling against intolerable regimes. In the process, the USA caused the end of life for several million people, and condemned many millions more to a life of agony and despair.”
The CIA of course, played an integral role in all of these bloody coups. In 1949 the CIA successfully helped to change the government in Syria, as well as in Greece that same year. They did the same in Cuba in 1952 and Iran in 1953, Guatemala in 1954, South Vietnam in 1955, Haiti in 1957, Laos in 1958, South Korea and Ecuador in 1960, the Dominican Republic and Honduras in 1963, Brazil and Bolivia in 1964, Zaire in 1965, Ghana in 1966, Cambodia in 1970, El Salvador in 1972, Chile in 1973, South Korea in 1979, Liberia in 1980, Chad in 1982, Grenada in 1983, Fiji in 1987,
Venezuela in 2002 and Haiti in 2004. And this only represents a list of “successful” US interventions. Many others have failed. Let us not overlook what the CIA has done here in the United States under the guise of “national security.”
As the late journalist Gary Webb exposed in the mid-1990s, right-wing drug dealers in Latin America helped finance a CIA-backed covert war in Nicaragua by selling loads of cocaine to street gangs in Los Angeles, who then turned the pale powder into crack and distributed it throughout poor black neighborhoods nationwide.
But the CIA’s narcotics dealings didn’t begin in the 1990s – the CIA’s drug propagation dates back at least to 1947 in Afghanistan, as Alexander Cockburn and Jeffrey St. Clair explain in their seminal book, “Whiteout: the CIA, Drugs and the Press.”
Back in the 1960s the CIA, along with the FBI, routinely used “mail covers” (the recording of names and addresses) and electronic surveillance in order to spy on activists in the anti-war and civil rights movements. The CIA alone admitted to photographing the outside of 2.7 million pieces of mail during those years, as well as opening more than 214,000.
Right now, as Professor David Price recently exposed in CounterPunch, the CIA places covert agents in American university classrooms to spy on students and faculty. And this is just the tip of the iceberg regarding the CIA’s invasive and violent history in the US.
So you’ll have to excuse me if I think Karl Rove did us all a favor by outing Valerie Plame. We can only hope more Beltway insiders follow his lead.
JOSHUA FRANK is the author of the brand new book, Left Out!: How Liberals Helped Reelect George W. Bush, which has just been published by Common Courage Press. You can order a copy at a discounted rate at www.brickburner.org. Joshua can be reached at Joshua@brickburner.org.