The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer on PBS features a regular segment in which two veteran reporters, syndicated columnist Mark Shields and New York Times columnist David Brooks, discuss the political ramifications of the day's news. In last night's segment, David Brooks takes an incomprehensible stance on the indictment of Vice President Cheney's chief of staff Scooter Libby.
Well, the crucial fact is that it is about Lewis Libby. This is not quite the "Lone Leaker," but this is about, really, the actions of one individual. The danger for the White House was always gonna be that there would be a perception there's a cancer on the White House, that there would be a conspiracy involving [Karl] Rove, and maybe several other people. It's now clear there aren't going to be indictments about several other people, and as the prosecutor said, probably not about Rove. And so we've had somebody — a great prosecutor, [Patrick] Fitzgerald — look for 22 months into this administration with all sorts of access, and he's found that there's no kind of broad conspiracy. And so while this is certainly a bad day for the administration, it's a day that the administration will probably survive, because there is no sort of "cancer" on the Presidency. — David Brooks, 2005-10-28First off, it's certainly not the "Lone Leaker." We know for a fact that Karl Rove did talk to reporters about the fact that Joseph Wilson's wife works for the CIA. Also, Patrick Fitzgerald did not say anything in his press conference that in any way indicated that Rove was unlikely to be indicted. All he said was that no other indictments were issued by the current grand jury, and that the investigation has not concluded. It is also an exaggeration to say that Fitzgerald "found that there's no kind of broad conspiracy."
However, the central point in this remains the undisputed fact that Scooter Libby and Karl Rove both spoke to reporters about important national security information — the identity of a covert CIA employee — for purposes of political retaliation. That in and of itself is a cancer on the Presidency, even if no criminal convictions result.