CIA requests investigation into leak

Oct. 2, 2003, midnight | By Robin Hernandez | 18 years, 7 months ago

Bush officials accused of disclosing CIA agent's identity

The CIA has requested that the Justice Department conduct an investigation into President Bush's administration to determine if officials leaked the name of an undercover CIA agent.

According to the Washington Post, the agent's name was disclosed to several reporters, one of whom revealed her identity in a July article. The operative is the wife of former US ambassador to Iraq, Joseph C. Wilson IV, who has publicly criticized Bush's allegations that Iraq tried to obtain "yellowcake" uranium ore from the African county of Niger. Bush has claimed that the uranium was possibly used in the manufacturing of nuclear weapons.

Reports from the Washington Post detail that an administration official revealed on Saturday that two White House "officials leaked [the operative's identity] to selected journalists to discredit Wilson." The leak could be a violation of federal crime, under the 1982 Intelligence Protection Act, which protects covert agents from being exposed by government officials. A conviction could possibly lead to a 10 year prison sentence and a $50,000 fine.

In early March of 2002, Wilson disclosed to the CIA that reports claiming Iraq had bought uranium from Niger were not true. In February, Wilson traveled to Niger to investigate Bush's claims, while Bush continued to report that Iraq had tried to buy uranium.

On July 6, 2003 in a New York Times article, Wilson wrote, "some intelligence related to Iraq's nuclear weapon program was twisted to exaggerate the Iraqi threat," thereby flaunting his disapproval of the Bush administration.

According to Washington Post reports, Bush insiders attempted to discredit Wilson's authority after the New York Times articles was published, by revealing his wife's name.

A staff writer for the Washington Post, conservative Robert D. Novak, published Wilson's wife's name on July 14 in a syndicated column. Novak admitted that his sources were "two senior administration officials." Wilson's wife, Valerie Plame was exposed by Novak as a CIA operative on weapons of mass destruction.

In late July, the CIA informed the Justice Department that the identity of an undercover agent had been leaked, however it was not until September 26 that news reports revealed the CIA's request for an investigation.

Wilson revealed to the CIA that he had been sent to Niger to look into Bush's claim and reported he had found no evidence. Wilson now believes that the recent leak of his wife's name is to discredit him and according to a senior official who spoke with the Washington Post, the disclosure was "meant purely and simply for revenge."

Democrats are concerned that an investigation conducted by the Justice Department will not be as effective as an outside inquiry. According to the Washington Post, a congressional committee might not have a prior bias and "appointees would not be investigating their superiors."

The CIA and Department of Justice declined comment.

Information for this article was compiled from the Washington Post

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