Powell gives testimony to grand jury
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Powell Testified in CIA Leak Investigation
Sun Aug 1, 2004 12:02 PM ET
WARSAW (Reuters) - Secretary of State Colin Powell has spoken to a grand jury probing whether Bush aides leaked the name of a CIA agent to retaliate against her husband, an Iraq war critic, the State Department said Sunday.
State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said Powell spoke to the grand jury on July 16 about the case of CIA officer Valerie Plame, whose name surfaced in a piece written by columnist Robert Novak after her husband raised questions in public about the intelligence used to justify the Iraq war.
Boucher declined specific comment on the testimony but he stressed Powell had not talked to Novak about Plame. He said the secretary of state was not a subject of the investigation.
Revealing such classified information is a federal crime punishable by up to 10 years in prison. Connecting the leak to any of President Bush's senior aides would be an embarrassment to the president in an election year.
Several other top U.S. officials have been interviewed in connection with the investigation, including Bush himself, former CIA Director George Tenet and U.S. national security adviser Condoleezza Rice.
"The grand jury invited the secretary to appear on July 16. The secretary is not a subject of their inquiry. He was pleased to cooperate," Boucher said in a statement.
Asked if Powell called or spoke to Novak about Plame, Boucher said: "Of course not."
Plame's husband, former diplomat Joseph Wilson, has accused administration officials of leaking her name in retaliation for his challenge to one of the reasons cited by Bush for going to war against Iraq last year.
Wilson went to Niger early in 2002 at the CIA's request to assess a report that Iraq sought to buy uranium from Niger but returned saying he had found no evidence to back the claim. The Niger allegation was later found to have been based partly on forged documents.
But it was mentioned in Bush's January 2003 State of the Union speech to help build a case for war against Iraq. The White House has since admitted Bush should not have included the charge, which he attributed to British intelligence.