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Cheney Notes Add Twist to CIA Leak Probe

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  • Greg Cannon
    http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20060514/ap_on_go_pr_wh/cia_leak_case;_ylt=ArD8u7m0ta4E1cUT6Ksu1cqs0NUE Cheney Notes Add Twist to CIA Leak Probe By PETE YOST,
    Message 1 of 1 , May 14, 2006

      Cheney Notes Add Twist to CIA Leak Probe

      By PETE YOST, Associated Press Writer 7 minutes ago

      WASHINGTON - The prosecutor in the
      CIA leak case said more than six months ago that he
      was not alleging any criminal acts by Vice President
      Dick Cheney regarding the leak of agency operative
      Valerie Plame's identity.

      Today, the prosecutor is leaving the door open to the
      possibility that the vice president's now-indicted
      former chief of staff, I. Lewis Libby, was acting at
      his boss' behest when Libby allegedly leaked
      information about Plame to reporters.

      A new court filing presents handwritten notes of
      Cheney. Special Counsel Patrick Fitzgerald is using
      them to assert that the vice president and Libby,
      working together, were focusing much attention on
      Plame and her husband, former Ambassador Joseph
      Wilson, a Bush administration critic.

      Cheney's notes ask whether Plame had sent Wilson on a
      "junket" to Africa. Subsequently, Plame's supposed
      role in her husband's trip to Africa allegedly was
      leaked to the media by both Libby and by presidential
      adviser Karl Rove.

      Cheney's notes on the margins of Wilson's opinion
      column in The New York Times on July 6, 2003, reflect
      "the contemporaneous reaction of the vice president,"
      Fitzgerald said in the court filing late Friday.

      Wilson's column "is relevant to establishing some of
      the facts that were viewed as important by the
      defendant's immediate superior, including whether Mr.
      Wilson's wife had 'sent him on a junket,'" the court
      papers say.

      Cheney's notes "support the proposition that
      publication of the Wilson op-ed acutely focused the
      attention of the vice president and the defendant —
      his chief of staff — on Mr. Wilson, on the assertions
      made in his article, and on responding to those
      assertions," according to the file.

      In the column, Wilson recounted how he had been sent
      by the CIA in 2002 to the Niger to assess intelligence
      that Iraq had an agreement to acquire uranium
      yellowcake from the African country. His conclusion:
      It was highly doubtful that such a deal existed.

      A year later, the intelligence about an Iraq-Niger
      uranium deal was still being given credence by the
      administration as it made the case for invading Iraq.

      Scribbled in the days leading up to the leaks of
      Plame's identity, Cheney's notes refer to the CIA and
      to Wilson's trip, asking, "Have they done this sort of
      thing before? Send an Amb. to assess a question? Do we
      ordinarily send people out pro bono to work for us? Or
      did his wife send him on a junket?"

      Accused of lying about how he learned of Plame's
      identity and what he told reporters about her, Libby
      says Plame's CIA identity was a trivial matter. Libby
      says he was focused instead on Wilson's accusations
      that the administration had twisted prewar
      intelligence to exaggerate the threat from Iraq's
      weapons of mass destruction.

      In an effort to undercut Libby's defense, Fitzgerald
      wants to introduce the evidence that refers to Cheney
      and to Wilson's wife.

      At a news conference last October, on the day he
      obtained an indictment against Libby, Fitzgerald asked
      a series of rhetorical questions including, "Why were
      people taking this information about Valerie Wilson
      and giving it to reporters?"

      Fitzgerald said he does not know the answer because
      Libby had concealed the truth from investigators.
      Drawing a baseball analogy putting the prosecutor in
      the role of baseball umpire, Fitzgerald said, "The
      umpire gets sand thrown in his eyes. He's trying to
      figure out what happened and somebody blocked their
      view. As you sit here now and if you're asking me what
      his motives were, I can't tell you."

      The Oct. 28 indictment charges Libby with five counts
      of perjury, obstruction and lying to the

      The language in the indictment provided the first
      indication that the Libby case might also be a case
      focusing closely on Cheney.

      According to the indictment, Libby acknowledged to
      investigators that Cheney had told him in June 2003
      about Wilson's wife working at the CIA. But Libby,
      according to the indictment, told the investigators
      that by the next month, he had forgotten that the vice
      president had told him about her.

      The newly filed court papers disclose substantial new
      detail about Cheney that was not in the indictment,
      which did not reveal the fact that Cheney had made
      handwritten notes about Wilson's wife in the margin of
      Wilson's column in the Times.
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