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Wagons circle around White House? « Previous | |Next »
September 29, 2003

I mentioned this story in The Washington Post in passing in the previous post. I failed to click to its significance this morning. It slowly sneaked up on me during the day. So I've gone back to it and had a closer look.

It says that the Director of the CIA, George J. Tenet, has requested the Justice Department to look into an allegation that administration officials leaked the name of an undercover CIA officer to a journalist. The journalist was one Robert D. Novak who then disclosed it on July 14 in a syndicated column.

The Post story then says that a senior administration official said that before Novak's column ran, two top White House officials called at least six Washington journalists and disclosed the identity and occupation of Wilson's wife. Disclosing the name of an undercover CIA agent could violate federal law.

Put it together and you get this. The CIA is requesting the Justice Department to examine the top officals in the White House for leaking an undercover agent who just happened to be the wife of Joseph C. Wilson IV. Wilson had been sent by the CIA to Niger last year to look into the UK claim Iraq had tried to buy "yellowcake" in Niger. Wilson has then publicly challenged President Bush's claim made at the State of the Union that Iraq had tried to buy uranium ore from Africa for possible use in nuclear weapons.

The background is provided by JustOneMinute. Here is Josh Marshall's two part interview with Ambassador Wilson over at Talking Point Memo.

The White House has been caught in engaging in dirty politics. The Justice Department is sitting on the probe into the intelligence leak---as they have been for a couple of months---but I cannot see the CIA going all quiet. And the White House is still playing dumb according to Billmon over at Whiskey Bar.

Then I checked out the American liberal weblogs I usually read. As Brad DeLong observes:

"This is not a single rogue White House official, after all--this is two of his closest advisors, plus whoever they planned it with, plus all the other White House and other administration officials who have been sitting on evidence of a crime rather than phoning the Justice Department for the past several months. Perpetrators. Accessories before the fact. Accessories after the fact."

So what does top officals in the White House mean. Atrios goes through the possibilites and comes up with a list of eight candidatesthat includes some big fish. I quote:

"That leaves eight candidates:
1) Dick Cheney – Vice President
2) Karl Rove Senior -- Advisor to the President
3) Condi Rice -- Assistant to the President for National Security
4) Andy Card – White House Chief of Staff
5) Ari Fleisher -- Press Secretary
6) Dan Bartlett – Assistant to the President for Communication
7) John Gordon -- Assistant to the President and Homeland Security Advisor
8) Scooter Libby – Vice President’s Chief of Staff
I am not sure I would consider Libby and/or Gordon to be top and senior but maybe they are. If any of the first 5 (Cheney, Rove, Rice, Card or Fleischer) is involved, it is a major scandal."

You could say that this is a story that has legs, given that the identity of the six journalists may soon be known. Rodger A. Payne has a lovely image: Karl Rove: "Frog-Marched out of the White House in Handcuffs"? Lovely image, but highly unlikely.

I haven't read the conservative US webloggers to see their reaction.

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 9:26 PM | | Comments (0)