Bush flip-flops on firing leaker

The president once said he'd fire anyone involved in leaking Valerie Plame's name. Not anymore.

Published July 18, 2005 4:35PM (EDT)

News flash: George W. Bush is apparently unwilling to have a convicted felon working as a senior official in his White House.

At a brief press availability this morning, a reporter asked Bush about the Valerie Plame case: "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?"

Bush's response: "We have a serious ongoing investigation here, and it's being played out in the press," the president said. "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."

Got that? The reporter asked whether Bush would fire the leaker regardless of whether a crime was committed, and Bush said he'd fire the leaker if a crime was committed. That's called not answering the question. It's also called -- and we hate to say it because we know George W. Bush doesn't do this sort of thing -- a flip-flop. At a press conference on June 10, 2004, Bush was asked if he stood by his "pledge to fire anyone found" to have leaked Plame's name. The president said: "Yes."

By Tim Grieve

Tim Grieve is a senior writer and the author of Salon's War Room blog.

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