Cheney told top aide of CIA officer: report
Mon Oct 24, 2005 11:58 PM ET165
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Vice President Dick Cheney's
chief of staff first learned about the CIA officer at
the center of a leak investigation in a conversation
with Cheney weeks before her identity became public in
July 2003, The New York Times reported on Monday.
Notes of the conversation between chief of staff Lewis
Libby and Cheney on June 12, 2003, put a spotlight on
the vice president's possible role in the leak. The
account also appears to run counter to Libby's
testimony to a federal grand jury that he first
learned about the CIA officer, Valerie Plame, from
Patrick Fitzgerald, the federal prosecutor
investigating the leak of Plame's identity, is said by
lawyers involved in the case to be considering
bringing charges against Libby for making false
statements and possibly obstruction of justice.
Another possible target for indictment is Karl Rove,
President George W. Bush's top political adviser.
Fitzgerald's announcement is expected later this week.
Plame's identity was leaked to the media after her
diplomat husband, Joseph Wilson, accused the Bush
administration of twisting prewar intelligence on
Iraq. Wilson based the criticism in part on a
CIA-sponsored mission he made to Africa in 2002 to
check out an intelligence report that Iraq sought
uranium from Niger.
Cheney's office had sought more information about the
uranium deal, prompting the CIA to dispatch Wilson.
Eager to distance the vice president from Wilson's
mission and findings, Cheney's office began looking
into Wilson's background in May or June of 2003, after
details of his mission began to appear in the press
but well before he came out publicly in July 2003 with
his criticisms, people close to the investigation
Libby's notes indicate that Cheney got his information
about Plame from George Tenet, who was then the CIA
director, according to the Times, which attributed its
report to lawyers involved in the case.
According to the Times, the notes do not show that
Cheney knew the name of Wilson's wife. But they do
show that Cheney did know and told Libby that she was
employed by the CIA and that she may have helped
arrange her husband's trip.
Libby's lawyer, Joseph Tate, did not return phone
calls seeking comment.
Randall Samborn, Fitzgerald's spokesman, declined to
Cheney spokeswoman Lea Anne McBride would only say,
"We're cooperating fully, as the president and the
vice president directed us."
A former intelligence official close to Tenet said the
former CIA director has not been in touch with
Fitzgerald's staff for over 15 months and was not
asked to testify before the grand jury.
"Mr. Tenet does not wish to make any comments
regarding an ongoing investigation," the former
intelligence official said.