Robert Sterling
Fri Oct 3 15:45:58 2003

Please send as far and wide as possible.

Robert Sterling
Editor, The Konformist

Hardball (MSNBC - 9/30/03):

CHRIS MATTHEWS: Don't you think it's more serious than Watergate,
when you think about it?

RNC CHAIRMAN ED GILLESPIE: I think if the allegation is true, to
reveal the identity of an undercover CIA operative -- it's abhorrent,
and it should be a crime, and it is a crime.

CHRIS MATTHEWS: It'd be worse than Watergate, wouldn't it?

GILLESPIE: It's -- Yeah, I suppose in terms of the real world
implications of it. It's not just politics.


White House denies leaking CIA agent's identity
By Deb Riechmann

Sept. 29, 2003 | WASHINGTON (AP) -- The White House on Monday
emphatically denied that President Bush's chief political strategist
was involved in revealing the identity of a CIA operative, in
possible violation of the law. A Democratic senator has asked the
Justice Department to appoint a special counsel to probe the matter.

The naming of the intelligence officer's identity by syndicated
columnist Robert Novak came shortly after her husband, former
ambassador Joseph C. Wilson, had undermined Bush's claim that Iraq
had tried to buy uranium in Africa.

Wilson has publicly blamed Karl Rove, Bush's top political adviser,
for the leak, although Wilson did say Monday he did not know whether
Rove personally was the source of Novak's information.

"He wasn't involved," White House press secretary Scott McClellan
said of Rove. "The president knows he wasn't involved. ... It's
simply not true."

A senior administration official, speaking on condition of anonymity,
has confirmed that the Justice Department has received a letter from
CIA Director George Tenet to look into the matter. The department and
the FBI are trying to determine whether there was a violation of the
law and, if so, then whether a full-blown criminal investigation is
warranted, the official said.

"It's a serious matter and it should be looked into," McClellan said.

Asked whether Bush should fire any official found to have leaked the
information, McClellan said: "They should be pursued to the fullest
extent by the Department of Justice. The president expects everyone
in his administration to adhere to the highest standards of conduct --
and that would not be."

Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., said the matter should be investigated
from someone outside the Bush administration.

"If there was ever a case that demanded a special counsel, this is
it," he said. "This is a very serious national security matter where
there is a clear conflict of interest for the attorney general
because it could involve high-level White House officials."

The Justice Department had no immediate comment on Schumer's request.

On Sunday, Bush national security adviser Condoleezza Rice said she
was unaware of any White House involvement in the matter.

"I know nothing of any such White House effort to reveal any of this,
and it certainly would not be the way that the president would expect
his White House to operate," she told "Fox News Sunday."

Secretary of State Colin Powell also denied knowledge of the matter.

The flap began in January when Bush said in his State of the Union
address that British intelligence officials had learned that Iraq had
tried to purchase yellowcake uranium in Africa.

In an opinion piece published in July by The New York Times, Wilson
said he told the CIA long before Bush's address that the British
reports were suspect and the administration has since said the
assertion should not have been in Bush's speech.

A week after Wilson went public with his criticism Novak, quoting
anonymous government sources, said Wilson's wife was a CIA operative
working on the issue of weapons of mass destruction.

The Washington Post on Sunday quoted an unidentified senior
administration official as saying two top White House officials
called at least a half-dozen journalists and revealed the identity
and occupation of Wilson's wife. Disclosing the name of an undercover
CIA agent could violate federal law.

"I know nothing about any such calls and I do know that the president
of the United States would not expect his White House to behave in
that way," Rice said on NBC's "Meet the Press."

Wilson said Monday he believes the White House leaked his wife's
name "to intimidate others and to scare them and to keep them from
coming forward and speaking."

Wilson had said in a late August speech in Seattle that he suspected
senior Bush adviser Karl Rove. But on ABC's "Good Morning America"
Monday, he backtracked somewhat from that assertion.

"In one speech I gave out in Seattle not too long ago, I mentioned
the name Karl Rove," he said. "I think I was probably carried away by
the spirit of the moment. I don't have any knowledge that Karl Rove
himself was either the leaker or the authorizer of the leak. But I
have great confidence that, at a minimum, he condoned it and
certainly did nothing to shut it down."

The White House has denied that accusation.

Powell told ABC's "This Week" that he thought that if the CIA
believed the identity of one of its covert employees have been
revealed, it had an obligation to ask the Justice Department to look
into the matter. But he added: "Other than that, I don't know
anything about the matter."

Rice said the matter has been referred to the Justice Department
and "I think that's the appropriate place. ... Let's just see what
the Justice Department does."

Pressed whether anyone at the White House raised concerns that the
Wilson matter posed a problem for the administration, she replied: "I
don't remember any such conversation."

Wilson said Monday that if the administration actually took an
intelligence asset "off the table," that would have been "a dastardly
deed ... coming from an administration that came to office promising
to restore dignity and honor to the White House. It was contemptible."


Bush Aides Say They'll Cooperate With Probe Into Intelligence Leak
By Mike Allen
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, September 29, 2003; Page A01

President Bush's aides promised yesterday to cooperate with a Justice
Department inquiry into an administration leak that exposed the
identity of a CIA operative, but Democrats charged that the
administration cannot credibly investigate itself and called for an
independent probe.

White House officials said they would turn over phone logs if the
Justice Department asked them to. But the aides said Bush has no
plans to ask his staff members whether they played a role in
revealing the name of an undercover officer who is married to former
ambassador Joseph C. Wilson IV, one of the most visible critics of
Bush's handling of intelligence about Iraq.

An administration official told The Washington Post on Saturday that
two White House officials leaked the information to selected
journalists to discredit Wilson. The leak could constitute a federal
crime, and intelligence officials said it might have endangered
confidential sources who had aided the operative throughout her
career. CIA Director George J. Tenet has asked the Justice Department
to investigate how the leak occurred.

National security adviser Condoleezza Rice said on "Fox News Sunday"
that she knew "nothing of any such White House effort to reveal any
of this, and it certainly would not be the way that the president
would expect his White House to operate."

She also said the White House would leave the probe in the hands of
the Justice Department, calling it the "appropriate channels now."

White House press secretary Scott McClellan said the Justice
Department has requested no information so far. "Of course, we would
always cooperate with the Department of Justice in a matter like
this," he said.

Asked about the possibility of an internal White House investigation,
McClellan said, "I'm not aware of any information that has come to
our attention beyond the anonymous media sources to suggest there's
anything to White House involvement."

The controversy erupted over the weekend, when administration
officials reported that Tenet sent the Justice Department a letter
raising questions about whether federal law was broken when the
operative, Valerie Plame, was exposed. She was named in a column by
Robert D. Novak that ran July 14 in The Post and other newspapers.

CIA officials approached the Justice Department about a possible
investigation within a week of the column's publication. Tenet's
letter was delivered more recently.

The department is determining whether a formal investigation is
warranted, officials said. The officials said they did not know how
long that would take.

Democratic lawmakers and presidential candidates seized on the
investigation as a new vulnerability for Bush. Sen. Charles E.
Schumer (N.Y.), who has been pushing the FBI to pursue the matter for
two months, said that if "something this sensitive is done under the
wing of any direct appointees, at the very minimum, it's not going to
have the appearance of fairness and thoroughness."

>From the presidential campaign trail in New Hampshire, Rep. Richard
A. Gephardt (Mo.) called it "a natural conflict of interest" for
Justice Department appointees to investigate their superiors, and
said congressional committees should step in to try to determine what

Former Vermont governor Howard Dean said Attorney General John D.
Ashcroft should play no role in the investigation and should turn it
over to the Justice Department's inspector general, who operates
independently of political appointees. "President Bush came into
office promising to bring honor and integrity to the White House,"
Dean said. "It's time for accountability."

Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman (Conn.) said the investigation "must be
conducted by an independent, nonpartisan counsel."

Although the Independent Counsel Act, created after the Watergate
abuses, expired in 1999, the attorney general can appoint a special
counsel to investigate the president and other top government
officials. Special counsels have less independence from the attorney
general, but proponents of the system said that makes them more

More specific details about the controversy emerged yesterday. Wilson
said in a telephone interview that four reporters from three
television networks called him in July and told him that White House
officials had contacted them to encourage stories that would include
his wife's identity.

Novak attributed his account to "two senior administration
officials." An administration aide told The Post on Saturday that the
two White House officials had cold-called at least six Washington
journalists and identified Wilson's wife.

She is a case officer in the CIA's clandestine service and works as
an analyst on weapons of mass destruction. Novak published her maiden
name, Plame, which she had used overseas and has not been using
publicly. Intelligence sources said top officials at the agency were
very concerned about the disclosure because it could allow foreign
intelligence services to track down some of her former contacts and
lead to the exposure of agents.

The disclosure could have broken more than one law. In addition to
the federal law prohibiting the identification of a covert officer,
officials with high-level national security clearance sign
nondisclosure agreements, with penalties for revealing classified

Wilson had touched off perhaps the most searing controversy of this
administration by saying he had determined on a mission to Niger last
year that there was no clear evidence that Saddam Hussein had tried
to buy "yellowcake" uranium ore for possible use in a nuclear weapon.

His statement led to a retraction by the White House, and bolstered
Democrats' contention that Bush had exaggerated intelligence to build
a case against Iraq. The yellowcake allegation became known as "the
16 words" after Bush said in his State of the Union address in
January that the British government had learned that Hussein recently
sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa.

An administration official said the leaks were "simply for revenge"
for the trouble Wilson had caused Bush.

Wilson said that in the week after the Novak column appeared, several
journalists told him that the White House was trying to call
attention to his wife, apparently hoping to undermine his credibility
by implying he had received the Niger assignment only because his
wife had suggested the mission and recommended him for the job.

"Each of the reporters quoted the White House official as using some
variation on, 'The real story isn't the 16 words. The real story is
Wilson and his wife,' " Wilson said. "The time frame led me to deduce
that the White House was continuing to try to push this story."

Wilson identified one of the reporters as Andrea Mitchell of NBC
News. Mitchell did not respond to requests for comment.

Wilson has suggested publicly that Bush's senior adviser, Karl Rove,
was the one who broke his wife's cover. McClellan has called
that "totally ridiculous" and "not true."

Secretary of State Colin L. Powell said on ABC's "This Week"
program: "The CIA has an obligation, when they believe somebody who
is undercover was outed, so to speak, has an obligation to ask the
Justice Department to look into it. But other than that, I don't know
anything about the matter."

Democrats also questioned why Bush's aides had seemed to show little
interest in the disclosure before the CIA request was made public.
McClellan was asked about the Novak column during briefings on July
22 and Sept. 16. He replied that no one in the White House would have
been authorized to reveal the operative's name and that he had no
information to suggest White House involvement.

Democrats e-mailed a quotation from former president George H.W.
Bush, a former CIA director, who said in 1999 at the dedication of
the agency's new headquarters that those who expose the names of
intelligence sources are "the most insidious of traitors."

Staff writer Walter Pincus contributed to this report.


White House Denies Rove Leaked Secret Information
Mon September 29, 2003
By Steve Holland

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The White House denied on Monday that
President Bush's top political adviser, Karl Rove, was behind a leak
of secret information apparently aimed at discrediting a vocal critic
of pre-war intelligence on Iraq.

The controversy centers on the public disclosure that the wife of
former U.S. Ambassador Joseph Wilson, Valerie Plame, was an
undercover CIA operative specializing in weapons of mass destruction.

White House spokesman Scott McClellan said he had spoken to Rove
about the allegations and was assured that it was "simply not true"
that Rove had anything to do with the leak.

McClellan pledged the White House would cooperate with the Justice
Department if it investigated the leak, even as some Democrats called
for a special counsel to be appointed to lead the probe.

"This administration has played politics with national security for a
long time, but this is going too far," retired Gen. Wesley Clark told
Reuters. The Democratic presidential hopeful suggested an independent
commission look into the allegations.

The Justice Department would not say whether it would investigate the

But a senior Bush administration official said the Justice Department
was conducting a preliminary inquiry to determine whether it needed
to carry out a full investigation.

The official said part of the inquiry was to determine whether the
leak was a violation of law, whether it was a violation of national
security or if it caused any damage.

Then the department will determine whether to go into a full
investigation, said the official, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Wilson, a long-time State Department veteran and former U.S.
ambassador to Gabon, has been a

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