Monday, February 5, 2007

The CIA Leak: Boring In on Cheney

The CIA Leak: Boring In on the Veep

Feb. 12, 2007 issue - The Scooter Libby trial has put a new focus on Vice President Dick Cheney's own role in the leak of CIA officer Valerie Plame Wilson's identity. When the CIA on July 11, 2003, sent over a draft statement taking responsibility for President George W. Bush's inaccurate assertion that Iraq had sought uranium from Africa, Cheney wrote on the cover sheet "Unsatisfactory" and underlined the word, according to a trial document. The veep thought the agency wasn't going far enough in distancing Cheney's office from the trip by Joseph Wilson (in which the ex-ambassador claimed he'd debunked the uranium shopping reports). "The vice president was frustrated and upset," Libby told the FBI, according to Deborah Bond, an FBI agent who later questioned Libby on the leak.

The next day, aboard Air Force Two, Libby and Cheney talked media strategy, Bond said. "There was some discussion ... about whether they should report to the press that Ambassador Wilson's wife worked at the CIA," Bond testified that Libby told her. Bond added that Libby said "they may have talked about it." This is the first suggestion that Cheney himself talked about disclosing Wilson's wife's identity to the press as a way of undercutting Wilson's credibility.

After the talk on the plane, Libby at Cheney's direction began making phone calls to reporters. One of them, Matt Cooper, testified that Libby confirmed to him (he'd heard it from Karl Rove) that Wilson's wife worked at the CIA. Former New York Times reporter Judy Miller testified that Libby mentioned Wilson's wife to her that day (as in two previous talks). The new testimony could make things more awkward for Cheney, due to be called as a defense witness soon. Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald plans to wrap up his case with Tim Russert (likely to deny Libby's grand-jury testimony that Russert told him about Plame's CIA job). The defense may call reporters—including columnist Robert Novak—to say Libby never told them about Plame.

—Michael Isikoff

No comments: