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Will Bush give Rove a pass?

NOTHING IN the Bush administration happens ''by accident." George W. Bush did not win two terms as president by accident. He did it with the carefully thought-out ideas of Karl Rove. Rove has never done anything in his political career without first considering all angles. He then acts when he believes it will further his or his boss's political cause.

Bush has staked his integrity on having an administration that does not leak information. In fact, he has said that he would fire anyone who would do so. Yet he seems to have changed this criterion in the face of the fact that Rove did just that -- leaked information that resulted in the outing of an undercover CIA agent (''Bush seems to shift on his grounds for dismissal," Page A1, July 19). By making it appear ''accidental" because he made a ''casual" remark, Rove has perhaps saved himself from going to prison for having committed a federal crime. But fact is fact: He leaked classified information.

So why has Bush not acted? It seems there are two possibilities. The first is that he is a man of his word only when it suits his interests. Rove has been instrumental in Bush's political success. Perhaps Bush meant to say that he has one set of rules for his advisers and another for everyone else. The second, more disturbing, possibility is that Bush authorized, either explicitly or implicitly, the leak to retaliate against Joseph C. Wilson IV, who publicly presented evidence that the administration was distorting facts to sell the American people on going to war. Either way, the president has painted himself into a corner.

Kittery, Maine

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