A Sidestep and a Backtrack

By Dan Froomkin
Special to washingtonpost.com
Monday, July 18, 2005; 3:33 PM

Does President Bush still intend to fire anyone found to be involved in the leak of Valerie Plame's identity as a CIA operative?

Simple question, really. After all, that's what he said on June 10, 2004 .

But now that Karl Rove, Bush's closest adviser, has been implicated in the leak, Bush's standard seems to have changed.

"If someone committed a crime, they will no longer work in my administration," Bush announced today.

That's not very specific. And it's also not a real big concession.

In fact, even as the case continues to consume Washington, and even as more and more details about White House involvement in the leak continue to emerge from all quarters, Bush today continued the White House's public stonewall.

Here's the transcript of Bush's brief joint appearance with Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh this morning.

The first question came from Terence Hunt of the Associated Press:

Hunt: "Mr. President, you said you don't want to talk about an ongoing investigation, so I'd like to ask you, regardless of whether a crime was committed, do you still intend to fire anyone found to be involved in the CIA leak case? And are you displeased that Karl Rove told a reporter that Ambassador Joe Wilson's wife worked for the Agency on WMD issues?"

Bush: "We have a serious ongoing investigation here. (Laughter.) And it's being played out in the press. And I think it's best that people wait until the investigation is complete before you jump to conclusions. And I will do so, as well. I don't know all the facts. I want to know all the facts. The best place for the facts to be done is by somebody who's spending time investigating it. I would like this to end as quickly as possible so we know the facts, and if someone committed a crime, they will no longer work in my administration."

Karl Rove, Cover Boy

It's a big day for Rove, who appears on both the covers of Time and Newsweek .

Howard Fineman anchors a hefty Newsweek cover describing "The World According to Karl Rove," where "you take the offensive, and stay there. You create a narrative that glosses over complex, mitigating facts to divide the world into friends and enemies, light and darkness, good and bad, Bush versus Saddam. You are loyal to a fault to your friends, merciless to your enemies. You keep your candidate's public rhetoric sunny and uplifting, finding others to do the attacking. You study the details, and learn more about your foes than they know about themselves. You use the jujitsu of media flow to flip the energy of your enemies against them. The Boss never discusses political mechanics in public. But in fact everything is political --- and everyone is fair game."

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