Bush Aides Testify in CIA Leak Probe
Tue Feb 10 15:58:00 2004
Bush Aides Testify in Leak Probe
Grand Jury Called McClellan, 2 Others
By Mike Allen and Susan Schmidt
Washington Post Staff Writers
Tuesday, February 10, 2004; Page A01
A federal grand jury has questioned one current and two former aides to
President Bush, and investigators have interviewed several others, in an effort
to discover who revealed the name of an undercover CIA officer to a newspaper
columnist, sources involved in the case said yesterday.
White House press secretary Scott McClellan said yesterday that he talked to the
grand jury on Friday. Mary Matalin, former counselor to Vice President Cheney,
testified Jan. 23, the sources said. Adam Levine, a former White House press
official, also testified Friday, the sources said.
Mary Matalin, a former aide to Vice President Cheney, testified before the grand
jury in January, sources said. (Craig Blankenhorn)
None is suspected by prosecutors of having exposed undercover CIA officer
Valerie Plame, but they were questioned about White House public relations
strategy, the sources said.
FBI agents have interviewed those and at least five other current and former
Bush aides and have questioned them about thousands of e-mails that the White
House surrendered in October, along with stacks of call logs and calendars, the
The logs indicate that several White House officials talked to columnist Robert
D. Novak shortly before July 14, when he published a column quoting "two senior
administration officials" saying that Plame, "an agency operative on weapons of
mass destruction," had suggested her husband for a mission to Niger to
investigate whether Iraq tried to acquire uranium there as part of an effort to
develop nuclear weapons.
White House witnesses have been asked about cell phone calls and have been shown
handwritten, diary-style notes from colleagues, as well as e-mails from
reporters to administration officials. In at least a few cases, the FBI
questioning was portrayed as very aggressive, with agents homing in on specific
conversations with journalists. "Even witnesses that they describe as being
potentially helpful are being treated as adversaries," a source close to the
Plame is married to Joseph C. Wilson IV, former U.S. ambassador to Gabon. He
became a prominent critic of Bush's case for war after conducting the mission in
2002 and finding no proof that Iraq had tried to buy nuclear materials.
The White House e-mails include criticism of Wilson, the sources said. Wilson is
an unpaid foreign policy adviser to the front-runner in the Democratic
presidential race, Sen. John F. Kerry (Mass.), and has made campaign stops for
him in Iowa, New Hampshire, Maine, New York, Massachusetts and Washington state.
A parallel FBI investigation into the apparent forgery of documents suggesting
that Iraq attempted to buy yellowcake uranium from Niger is "at a critical
stage," according to a senior law enforcement official who declined to
elaborate. That probe, conducted by FBI counterintelligence agents, was launched
last spring after U.N. officials pronounced the documents crude forgeries.
Several sources involved in the leak case said the questioning suggests
prosecutors are preparing to seek testimony from Novak and perhaps other
journalists. "There's a very good likelihood they're going to litigate against
journalists," one source said.
News organizations typically resist subpoenas or other methods of obtaining
information about confidential sources. In the Plame case, prosecutors have
tried to overcome that obstacle by asking several White House officials to sign
waivers requesting "that no member of the news media assert any privilege or
refuse to answer any questions from federal law enforcement authorities on my
behalf or for my benefit."
The sources said most officials declined to sign the form on the advice of their
attorneys. "It would just be helping the government to put more pressure on
journalists to reveal sources," one of the lawyers said.
Legal experts said the request for waivers may be intended to show that the FBI
has used all possible means to get the information, as Justice Department
regulations require, before bringing reporters before the grand jury. The
reporters' news-gathering privilege is limited, and "it's most vulnerable in the
course of a criminal probe," said Washington defense lawyer Solomon Wisenberg.
The Intelligence Identities Protection Act makes it a felony to disclose a
covert agent's identity if the person making the disclosure knew the covert
status of the employee and revealed it intentionally.
Officials interviewed by the FBI include Karl Rove, Bush's senior adviser;
McClellan; Matalin; Levine; White House communications director Dan Bartlett;
former White House press secretary Ari Fleischer; I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby,
Cheney's chief of staff; and Cathie Martin, a Cheney aide, according to the
McClellan said at a briefing on Oct. 10 that Rove and Libby, the only interview
subjects about whom he had been publicly questioned, "assured me they were not
involved in this."
McClellan told reporters on Air Force One yesterday that his appearance was a
matter of "doing my part to cooperate, as the president directed all of us to
Matalin, reached by telephone, said, "I can't comment."
Wilson has said his CIA mission was undertaken in response to questions raised
by the vice president. But administration officials have said Cheney knew
nothing about Wilson or his trip.
Officials said authorities are very interested in who had the security clearance
to know about Plame's identity, and how that information might have come into
the White House or have been spread once it did.
The investigators have also studied how the White House reacted to Wilson's
first public attack on Bush's case about Iraq. Eight days before Novak's column,
Wilson was quoted in The Washington Post, published an opinion article in the
New York Times and appeared on NBC's "Meet the Press."
• Video: The Post's Mike Allen talks about the latest news from the
investigation into the leak of a CIA operative's name to columnist Robert Novak.
CLICK FOR UPDATES:
On September 12 and November 26, 2003, Ellen Mariani filed a Complaint
and an Amended Complaint, respectively, against Bush & Company under
RICO, the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act. Her case
is about truth and justice. She fights for us all. But, in order to do
so, she had to forego compensation from the special fund set up for
those left behind. (http://www.ratical.org/ratville/CAH/MarianiAC.html)
SEE APFN - WMD - LEAKGATE:
Intelligence Identities Protection Act of 1982 (50 U.S.C. 421 et seq.)
(governing disclosures that could expose confidential Government agents)
Wiretap recorded Perle discussing classified information PR WATCH, Tue Feb 10 18:55
Lie number two: “Bush was misled” Barry Grey, Tue Feb 10 17:43
Iraq Intelligence Failure Was Unavoidable J. David Galland, Tue Feb 10 18:41
INTELLIGENCE: Warnings deleted in Iraq report before war JONATHAN S. LANDAY, Tue Feb 10 17:32
BUSH ADMIN LIES ABOUT IRAQ'S WMD "QUOTES" Jackson Thoreau, Tue Feb 10 17:08
Congress has the power to censure the President mike montagne, Tue Feb 10 18:36
We can’t go to war based on ignorance. David Hackworth, Tue Feb 10 16:28
Why Not ??? Anonymous, Tue Feb 10 22:37
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