White House officials implicated in CIA leak probe

A federal grand jury indicted I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby, Vice President Dick Cheney’s former chief of staff, on five counts in the most recent development of the two-year investigation surrounding the leaking of the identity of a CIA operative.

The investigation, led by special counsel Patrick Fitzgerald, is being conducted to determine whether presidential advisor Karl Rove, Libby, and others knowingly revealed classified information about Valerie Plame’s involvement with the CIA or committed perjury by lying to investigators.

Libby resigned from his position after being indicted last Friday.

“I have conducted my responsibilities honorably and truthfully,” he said in a statement.

The case stems from the Bush administration’s search for Iraqi possession of uranium in March of 2003.

In May of that year, a New York Times article refuted the administration’s claim that a former ambassador who was sent by President Bush to Niger to investigate if Iraq purchased uranium had reported to the CIA that no such evidence could be found and any documents alluding otherwise were false.

Libby received information from both the CIA and Vice President Cheney that Joseph Wilson was the former ambassador who made the trip to Niger and that Valerie Plame, Wilson’s wife, was a CIA operative and had helped in planning the trip.

Libby discussed Plame’s involvement with the CIA with various reporters, including Matt Cooper, Tim Russert and Judith Miller. He was also told by a person labeled by investigators as “Official A,” widely believed to be Rove, that CNN columnist Robert Novak would publish an article about Plame in July 2003.

Judith Miller, who originally protected her source, spent 85 days in jail for refusing to release the name of the person she received Plame’s identity from until she agreed to testify in Sept. 2005.

Federal law prohibits government officials to release the identities of CIA operatives or any other classified information to reporters or the public.

Libby was indicted on five counts: obstruction of justice, two false statement charges, and two counts of perjury.

“A CIA officer’s name was blown, and there was a leak, and we needed to figure out how that happened, who did it, why, whether a crime was committed, whether we could prove it, whether we should prove it,” said special counsel Fitzgerald in a statement.

If convicted on all counts, Libby could face a maximum of 30 years in prison and a $1.25 million fine, Fitzgerald said.

Cheney announced replacements for Libby on Monday naming David Addington as his new chief of staff and John Hannah as his assistant for national security affairs.

Rove was not indicted along with Libby but is still under investigation.

“I think that Karl Rove should be fired. I think that this idea that you can, with impunity, call journalists and leak national security information is repugnant,” said former ambassador Wilson in a recent interview with CNN.

Fitzgerald and various officials vowed the investigation regarding the leak is far from over.

“My wife was a covert officer at the time that these people were leaking her name,” said Wilson. “I believe it’s an abuse of the public trust.”

Libby pleaded not guilty on Thursday, November 3 in a federal court in Washington D.C.

“I am confident that at the end of this process I will be completely and totally exonerated,” Libby said in a statement.

The Hatchet has disabled comments on our website. Learn more.