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Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Rob Simmons is the ultimate GOP spinmaster

First he defends the treatment of prisoners at Gitmo, now Congressman Rob Simmons sinks to a new low defending Karl Rove in the Valerie Wilson (Plame) scandal.

As a former CIA employee, you would think that Simmons would understand that "outing" a covert operative is a serious matter and even more serious when the outing was for political revenge. You would also think that Simmons would know that someone could have a "desk-job" at the CIA headquarters in Langley VA and still be considered "covert" and apparently the grand jury hearing this case understands that also or else the case would of been dismissed years ago.

Simmons had no problem condeming the outing of Plame back in 2003 before anyone knew that Karl Rove was the mastermind behind the outing. I guess loyality to the Republican party means more to him now than national security or the fact that the outing put CIA agents lives at risks.

The backlash over Simmons comments is mounting and this can't help his reelection in the 2nd district. The latest shot at Simmons comes from an op-ed in today's Norwich Bulletin
On July 15, Simmons' stunningly dismissive comment to The Hartford Courant was the Rove affair is "much ado about nothing." That remark was stunning. First, he is ex-CIA and should be highly sensitive to the harm disclosures create; second, because in 2003 when the leak occurred, an outraged Simmons denounced this behavior in the Courant as "a matter of life and death."

Why Simmons' stark reversal?

In his follow-up comments to in the July 18 Courant and the July 19 Journal Inquirer, Simmons parroted the Republican National Committee talking points to a T: "Mrs. Wilson had a desk job. ... it appears the government was not taking affirmative measures to protect her identity."

Apparently, Simmons was content with the partisan talking points his 11 former CIA colleagues condemned. Of course, those 11 are not partisan politicians. Now that the Wall Street Journal has confirmed Plame's identity was indeed classified, it is clear Simmons' nonchalance about Rove's actions was premature to say the least.

People in the 2nd District can draw their own conclusions about the consistency and integrity of these comments. One suggestion I would make is for all elected officials to put down the spin and recognize: This investigation is not a partisan game of "gotcha," started by the enemies of the administration, but rather a criminal referral by the CIA that is being acted on by the FBI and career Justice Department prosecutors.

As a former agent, Simmons should know better. And his partisan sympathies with Rove should come second to upholding the law.

Simmons needs to tone down the rhetoric and stick to saving the base in Groton. Defending Karl Rove and the Bush administration treatment of prisoners at Gitmo could leave an impression on some voters minds that he's more interested in making headlines by spewing GOP talking points instead of commenting on how he's working on saving the base and jobs in Groton.