Story from two senior whitehouse employees
Original Source Link: (May no longer be active)
From Capitol Hill Blue
Rice Claims Ignorance on CIA Leak
By Staff and Wire Reports
Sep 29, 2003, 07:27
U.S. national security adviser Condoleezza Rice said on Sunday she knew "nothing of any" White House effort to leak the identity of an undercover CIA officer in July, a charge now under review at the Justice Department.
On Fox News Sunday, the top aide to President Bush said, "This has been referred to the Justice Department. I think that is the appropriate place for it."
Rice said the White House would cooperate should the department headed by Attorney General John Ashcroft decide to proceed with a criminal investigation of the matter, which centers on the alleged public disclosure of the wife of former U.S. Ambassador Joseph Wilson.
Capitol Hill Blue and NBC News first revealed Friday night that the CIA was asking the Justice Department to investigate the leak that led to the naming of Wilson's wife, a top CIA operative, in a column by Robert Novak. Novak confirmed the story came from two "senior White House officials," but would not disclose their names.
The Washington Post reported in Monday editions that White House officials said they would turn over phone logs if the Justice Department asked them to. But the aides said Bush had no plans to ask staff members whether they were involved in revealing the name of Wilson's wife.
Wilson was sent by the CIA to Niger in 2002 to investigate a report that Iraq was trying to obtain uranium from Niger, but returned to say it was highly doubtful.
Multiple sources have confirmed that two top White House officials called at least six Washington journalists and revealed the identity and occupation of Wilson's wife -- apparently in retaliation for his conclusion, which undermined the position of the White House.
CIA Director George Tenet sent a memo to the Justice Department raising questions about the alleged leak, which could mean prison time and a fine.
Rice said, "I know nothing of any such White House effort to reveal any of this. And it certainly would not be the way the president would expect his White House to operate."
Bush made the Iraq uranium claim in his January State of the Union speech. Critics have said the Iraq-Niger assertion, which later was found to be based partly on forged documents, showed the administration had tried to hype intelligence to make a case for going to war.
Asked if the White House was not concerned that top officials might have done such a thing, Rice said she did not recall any discussions of the matter.
"I don't remember any such conversations," Rice said.
"It is well known that the president of the United States does not expect the White House to get involved in such things, anything of this kind," she added.
On NBC's Meet the Press, U.S. Rep. Richard Gephardt of Missouri, a Democratic presidential candidate, said Bush personally should "investigate what happened ... And people ought to be punished for doing this."
Rice also said top officials "didn't remember" in the case of the president's State of the Union address in January, in which he said, "The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa."
© Copyright 2003 Capitol Hill Blue