View Full Version : Karl Rove: "Look, I Make No Apologies" For The Iraq War, We Did "The Right Thing."

07-09-2007, 10:10 PM
Rove takes questions on Iraq, CIA case


Brent Gardner-Smith - Aspen Daily News Staff Writer
Sun 07/08/2007 09:01PM MST

Against the backdrop of a renewed level of carnage in Iraq over the weekend, Karl Rove remained unapologetic Sunday morning in Aspen about the war in Iraq.

Rove — whose titles include assistant to the president, deputy chief of staff and senior advisor to President Bush — spoke at the Greenwald Pavilion at the Aspen Ideas Festival at the Aspen Institute.

"Look, I make no apologies," Rove said in response to a question from the audience about whether he felt personally responsible for the war.

"It was the right thing to do. The world is better off with him gone," he said, referring to Saddam Hussein. "We all thought he had weapons of mass destruction. The whole world did. He didn't."

Rove said that Hussein had the intent to develop new weapons, and he tied the war in Iraq to the administration's global "war on terror."

"In the aftermath of the removal of the regime, al-Qaida decided to make its stand in Iraq," he said. "And we have got to, in my opinion, fight 'em and win 'em and beat 'em there, otherwise we are going to face them somewhere else."

Aspen Institute CEO Walter Isaacson interviewed Rove at the morning session of the Ideas Festival and asked him if the Bush administration would redefine the mission in Iraq.

"Yes, we will be redefining the mission because the goal of the surge was to get us to a place where we could redefine the mission," said Rove. "Our goal is to be in a place where the United States' principle role is to help protect the territorial integrity of Iraq, to hunt down al-Qaida and Jihadist elements, to assist and train the Iraqi army, and to provide force protection to our assets there."

Overall, Rove said the goal was to make the "U.S. combat footprint smaller," but he also surmised later in the interview that when the next president is sworn in on Jan. 21, 2009, plenty of American troops would still be in Iraq.

Isaacson also asked Rove, "Who is the enemy?"

Rove said the enemy fell into three categories.

First, he said that 80 to 90 percent of the bombs that are killing U.S. soldiers are from al-Qaida of Iraq. That differed from the opinion of former Secretary of State Colin Powell, who said in Aspen on Thursday that al-Qaida was only 10 percent of the problem in Iraq.

Second, Rove said that Sunni insurgents were fighting the Shiite-dominated Iraqi government, although he pointed out that in some areas, Sunnis were now working closely with American forces to rid certain cities of foreign al-Qaida fighters.

Third, Rove said that "criminal elements" were playing a large role, and he included the Shiite militias in Iraq in this category.

Rove also faced questions from the audience on Sunday, from Andrea Mitchell of NBC News and from Rep. Jane Harman, a Democrat from California who is a member of the Homeland Security Committee.

Both Mitchell and Harman asked Rove about a report in Sunday's New York Times that the CIA was prepared in 2005 to go into Pakistan to capture or kill top al-Qaida members, but that the administration called off the mission so as not to upset the government of Pakistan.

"If the New York Times story today is true, it is enormously disturbing," Harman said. "Is this administration seriously focused on getting the top al-Qaida people or is it not?"

Rove replied, "Well, obviously we are."

But he also said there were "subjective judgments" about the intelligence involved in the incident and that he "wasn't at that table."
"I'm not going to jump to depicting a story in the New York Times as being the end all and be all on a sophisticated intelligence operation," Rove said.

Rove was also asked about his role in the CIA leak case involving Valerie Plame Wilson.

He replied, "My contribution to this was to say to a reporter, which is a lesson about talking to reporters, the words 'I heard that, too.'"

Rove said he was responding to a statement from columnist Bob Novak about the status of Valerie Wilson. Wilson worked at the CIA and was married to former ambassador Joe Wilson, who was publicly critical of the Bush administration's rationale for the war in Iraq.

Rove also said that all he told Matt Cooper of Time magazine, in an off-the-record conversation, was to be careful about reporting the Wilson story.

Rove said he was not part of the strategy discussions at the White House that led to last week's commutation of Lewis "Scooter" Libby's prison sentence by President Bush, but that the President's statement "hit the right tone" as it was "respectful of the decision" that Libby "was guilty of misleading the grand jury."

Former Secretary of State Colin Powell stood up in the audience during the question-and-answer period to say that it was his deputy secretary of state, Richard Armitage, who sparked the CIA leak case. Powell said that Armitage responded to a question by Novak about Wilson, saying "I think she works for the CIA..."

Powell said that Armitage later called him and told him he had been the one who had talked to Novak about Wilson. Powell and Armitage then met with the FBI on the matter.

"The FBI knew on day one of Mr. Armitage's involvement," Powell said.

And so did Patrick Fitzgerald, Powell said. Fitzgerald was the special counsel brought in to find out if someone had maliciously exposed Ms. Wilson's undercover identity with the CIA, where she was known as Valerie Plame.

"If everybody who had any contact with a reporter during that period, had done what Armitage had done, I think this would have ended early on and not dragged out the way it has dragged out," Powell said, adding that he knew early on that no crime had been committed in the incident. "Mr. Libby got in trouble for an entirely different set of reasons and circumstances."

Rove also mentioned Sunday morning, in the context of another anecdote about Aspen, that he had "dinner at the Maleks'." That was apparently a reference to dinner at the home of Frederic V. Malek, an advisory member of Scooter Libby's legal defense fund. Malek is chairman of Thayer Capital Partners and served in the White House of Richard M. Nixon in a personnel recruitment role.

When reached yesterday at his Aspen residence, Malek confirmed that he is a member of Libby's defense fund, but said he wasn't going to confirm who he had dinner with on Saturday night.

Rove was also asked about the detention camp at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

"The president would like to close Gitmo," Rove said, but there were still outstanding issues, including whether the foreign nationals being held there would be accepted by their home countries, how to deal with those detainees thought to be still dangerous, and what the proper process was to prosecute other detainees.

"It may not be Gitmo," Rove said about where the prisoners might go. "But it's going to be the brig in Charleston, South Carolina. Or it's going to be the Pitkin County Jail. Or the Florence, Colorado maximum-security facility. We've got to hold them somewhere. These are bad people. These are people who threatened the United States of America."

Rove also said the prisoners at Gitmo were being treated very well compared to prisoners at detention camps during other wars.

"Our principle health problem down there is gain of weight, we feed 'em so well," he said of the prisoners.

This was the second year in a row that Karl Rove has spoken at the Aspen Ideas Festival. And the second time he has done so the day after former President Bill Clinton addressed the conference.

At the beginning of the session on Sunday, Isaacson thanked Rove for coming, saying "I know you are not exactly coming into the heart of the base here...".

Rove, who was born in Denver and whose father worked around the state as a geologist, drove over Independence Pass on Saturday to reach Aspen. He told the audience that he stopped at the Nordic Inn in tiny Twin Lakes and was surprised to find that Charlie Gandy was the owner of the Inn. Gandy was a former Democratic state representative from east Dallas who lost an election in 1984 at the hands of an effort by Rove to elect more Republicans.

Rove and Gandy caught up on old times and Rove asked to use the facilities. When he returned, he heard Gandy tell someone else that Karl Rove was, somewhat unbelievably, at the Inn in Twin Lakes.

"'I'd like to hit that son of a bitch!'" Rove said the man responded.

Gandy then told the man, "He's right behind you!"

The audience laughed.

"I knew I was getting close to Aspen," Rove said.

On Sunday, Gandy confirmed the anecdote, saying his friend was stunned to turn and actually see Rove standing there.

Gandy said it appeared that Rove was traveling by himself and that Rove said he would stop back by on Sunday.

Gandy said he had a great deal of respect for Rove as a political operative.

"I think he is to Bush what Rasputin was to Czar Nicholas," Gandy said.


07-10-2007, 12:11 AM
First, he said that 80 to 90 percent of the bombs that are killing U.S. soldiers are from al-Qaida of Iraq

Does he have a source for that?

07-10-2007, 11:56 AM
Honestly, I think he really does believe they did the right thing...For the Neocon globalist agenda.

07-10-2007, 12:04 PM
Honestly, I think he really does believe they did the right thing...For the Neocon globalist agenda.

And I'm sure Charles Manson thought he was doing the right thing, and I'm sure Adoph Hitler thought he was doing the right thing, and I'm sure Genghis Khan thought he was doing the right thing.

If people murder, and practice fascism because they think it's right, doesn't mean they are.

07-10-2007, 01:49 PM
And I'm sure Charles Manson thought he was doing the right thing, and I'm sure Adoph Hitler thought he was doing the right thing, and I'm sure Genghis Khan thought he was doing the right thing.

If people murder, and practice fascism because they think it's right, doesn't mean they are.I think Genghis Kahn may have been diong the right thing...