Has Rove simply provided routine political advice and fund-raising counsel for Reinfeldt's successful re-election in September? Perhaps Rove gave media advice, based on his work with Murdoch-owned Fox News and the Wall Street Journal and many other traditional broadcasting and print outlets. Rove's patrons at those media outlets, perhaps not coincidentally, tend to disdain independent, web-based journalists who can disrupt their information gatekeeper role by going directly to documents instead of relying upon high-level contacts, or at least the willingness of bureaucrats to return phone calls.
Or has Rove drawn on any opposition research and dirty tricks skills that earned him such nicknames as "Turd-Blossom" from former President Bush and "Bush's Brain" from others?
One way to learn is to ask Rove himself, which I did via his chief of staff on Dec. 14. I attached for convenience the Shuler column about Sweden and in its inevitable allusions to Rove's prior work.
As readers here well know, Siegelman's convictions came only after years of pre-trial prosecutorial smears, witness sexual blackmail, and a bizarre trial before a judge enriched on the side by Bush contracts for the judge's closely-held company. No one column can encompass at reasonable length every important abuse in this tawdry, nearly decade-long tale. But my OpEd News blog from last April, "Siegelman Judge Asked To Recuse Now, With Kagan, Rove Opposing Oversight," links to the scandals cited above.
Then, all of the wrongdoing was covered up by whitewashes by the Obama administration and Congress. Siegelman, 64, is free on bail after a Supreme Court ruling last June created a new hearing for him in January, forestalling an Obama recommendation last year that he receive an 20 additional years in prison.
The former governor, pictured above in prison before his release on appeal bond in 2008, maintains that his prosecution was orchestrated by Rove and Rove's longtime friend William Canary, whose wife Leura led the state's U.S. attorney office prosecuting Siegelman. Remarkably, the Bush 2001 appointee Canary still runs that Montgomery-based prosecution office more than two years after Obama's election, much to the horror of Siegelman's supporters nationwide.
Authorities initially put the former governor in solitary confinement that prevented contact with family and the media after his 2007 sentencing, which was largely for reappointing to a state board in 1999 a donor to the non-profit Alabama Education Foundation.
Rove denies improper involvement in Siegelman's prosecution, and has not yet responded to my inquiry about Sweden. For reader convenience, I'll note that his memoir Courage and Consequence published this year contains no mention of Sweden or his client Reinfeldt. Rove's book also denies that he was forced from the White House over the firing scandal, or that he had any improper role in the Siegelman case.
Whether or not Rove advised Sweden on how to go after Assange, the WikiLeaks revelations have brought into plain view dramatic opinions that often cross our conventional political divisions.
Feminist scholar, rape victim and longtime volunteer rape counselor Naomi Wolf, for example, describes Sweden's sex assault investigation as "theater" designed to bring Assange into U.S. custody on more serious charges, not to enforce the law in routine fashion. "How do I know that Interpol, Britain and Sweden's treatment of Julian Assange is a form of theater?" she wrote. "Because I know what happens in rape accusations against men that don't involve the embarrassing of powerful governments."
Yet a New York Times article Dec. 18 implies a more straightforward investigation via leak of a 68-page confidential Swedish police report. Earlier, more context was reported in a Daily Mail article and a Crikey blog. Whatever the case, this tale seems more Stieg Larsson than Swedish Bikini Team.
Regarding the espionage allegations, we see impassioned opinions that seemingly conflict with career affiliations:
-- U.S. Rep. Ron Paul, a Texas Republican and tea party hero, spoke on the House floor defending the right of WikiLeaks to cooperate with conventional news organization to publish secret cables.
-- Democrat Bob Beckel (Walter Mondale's 1984 campaign manager) said about Assange on Fox: "A dead man can't leak stuff ... there's only one way to do it: illegally shoot the son of a b****."
-- Former CIA agent Ray McGovern rebuked CNN anchor Don Lemon for disparaging WikiLeaks as "pariah," urged Lemon and his network to emulate Assange by reporting more such news.
But there is a pattern. Defenders of WikiLeaks tend to see more commitment to democracy in fighting for liberties in the United States than in overseas military actions to fight "terror."