March 11th, 2010
12:03 AM ET
13 years ago

Rove: Need more info on DOJ lawyers who represented detainees

(CNN) - Karl Rove, one-time senior adviser to former President George W. Bush, took a cautious approach Wednesday when asked about a cadre of Justice Department lawyers who represented military detainees prior to joining the Obama administration.

Keep America Safe, a conservative advocacy group focused on national security and foreign policy issues and affiliated with Liz Cheney, released a Web video last week that raised questions about the loyalties of Obama Justice Department lawyers who previously represented terrorism suspects detained by the federal government.

Cheney, the daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney and a former Bush State Department official, has caught flak from other conservatives, including former Independent Counsel Kenneth Starr, for her group's efforts to focus on these DOJ lawyers.

Asked where he stood on the issue of the lawyers targeted by Cheney's group, Rove was noncommittal.

"We need to have full information," Rove told CNN's Wolf Blitzer in an interview that aired on "The Situation Room" Wednesday.

The man dubbed "Bush's Brain" likened the situation to taking lawyers who had represented companies guilty of massive accounting scandals and giving those attorneys posts at the Securities and Exchange Commission.

But Rove would not say that he thought it was wrong under any circumstances to have lawyers who previously represented detainees working at the Justice Department now.

"I think we need to know more about this before coming to a conclusion," he told Blitzer.

In the wide-ranging interview, Rove also touched on his new memoir, "Courage and Consequence: My Life as a Conservative in the Fight."

In the book, Rove discusses the Bush administration's decision to wage war in Iraq on the since-discredited belief that Saddam Hussein's regime possessed weapons of mass destruction.

Notwithstanding the faulty intelligence about Hussein's military capabilities, Rove said Wednesday that the Iraq war was worth waging.

"The right decision was made, Wolf, and - and the world is a better place for Saddam Hussein being gone from power and for the ... emergence of a democracy in the heart of the Middle East. It will be a powerful force for good and - and for America's security interests in the years to come."

Rove also told Blitzer that his "biggest mistake" during his time at Bush's side was failing to launch an aggressive response when Bush fell under attacks from high-ranking Democrats on Capitol Hill because of the bad intelligence.

"Over the course of the eight years, that was the biggest mistake, not to respond to that, because it was close and it ate away at people's credibility, confidence in the president's credibility and it affected a lot of other things besides simply the conduct of the war," Rove said.

The veteran Republican strategist also weighed on the Tea Party movement, a conservative grassroots movement organized in the last year in opposition to some of the Obama administration's policies.

"It will hurt the Republican Party if some elements of the Tea Party decide to become third-party advocates, because it will split the conservative vote," he said.

Despite that concern, Rove said he believes the vast majority of Tea Party adherents "are trying to figure out, in a decentralized, grassroots way, how they can remain a force, a movement, that holds the feet of elected officials in both parties to the fire."

And Rove said he stays in close contact with the man he helped put in the White House.

"I talk to him every couple of days and e-mail him every day or two," Rove said.

Rove added that Bush is "doing really well. He's - he's got a wonderful life. He's deeply involved in his presidential center in Dallas. He's polishing a book that will be out in November. And life is really good for him."

Filed under: Justice Department • Karl Rove • Liz Cheney
soundoff (5 Responses)
  1. thersa

    We need to have full information on you and all the other psychopaths in the Bush White House.

    March 11, 2010 01:09 am at 1:09 am |
  2. Jon Stephens, Palo Alto, CA

    The Cheneys are Joe McCarthy incarnate. Even conservatives are offended by the Cheneys' antipatriotic assault on attorneys.

    March 11, 2010 01:33 am at 1:33 am |
  3. Jim

    America will fall as fast as it rose. Once a great nation it is now morally, intellectually and finacially bankrupt and a lot of the credit can be attributed to the likes of Karl Rove

    March 11, 2010 02:34 am at 2:34 am |
  4. rdepontb

    Along with ex-VP Cheney, Rove's current talk shows us a fuller picture of just who was pulling Bush 43's strings. America, how could we, collectively, let this happen...and invite it back again for another four years?

    It is becoming more and more clear that 43 was but a child-a spoiled child at times, yes, but much too tardy in throwing a tantrum and finally showing resistance to Cheney-Rove. Rove and Cheney are re-writing history, no doubt, and it seems to at least exculpate 43 from much of the mess he's been blamed for.

    March 11, 2010 02:56 am at 2:56 am |
  5. Sara

    All the names of the lawyers are already on the internet ! It is not an issue!!

    What Liz Cheney is trying to do is pure and dispicable McCarthyism!
    She is a disgrace!!! I wander if she is also going to demand all the names of the US military lawyers who have also defended Gitmo detainees! And is Liz Cheney also going to call smear these military lawyers as well?!

    Liz Cheney, and Karl Rove are disgusting pigs – who have no souls, and no conscience. Their entire days are spent lying, and trying to smear, and damage the names of good Americans.

    March 11, 2010 05:07 am at 5:07 am |