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Former aide blames Bush for leak deceit

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  • Greg Cannon
    http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20071120/ap_on_go_pr_wh/cia_leak_mcclellan Former aide blames Bush for leak deceit By MATT APUZZO, Associated Press Writer 39
    Message 1 of 1 , Nov 20, 2007
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      http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20071120/ap_on_go_pr_wh/cia_leak_mcclellan

      Former aide blames Bush for leak deceit

      By MATT APUZZO, Associated Press Writer 39 minutes ago

      WASHINGTON - Former White House press secretary Scott
      McClellan blames President Bush and Vice President
      Dick Cheney for efforts to mislead the public about
      the role of White House aides in leaking the identity
      of a CIA operative.

      In an excerpt from his forthcoming book, McClellan
      recounts the 2003 news conference in which he told
      reporters that aides Karl Rove and I. Lewis "Scooter"
      Libby were "not involved" in the leak involving
      operative Valerie Plame.

      "There was one problem. It was not true," McClellan
      writes, according to a brief excerpt released Tuesday.
      "I had unknowingly passed along false information. And
      five of the highest-ranking officials in the
      administration were involved in my doing so: Rove,
      Libby, the vice president, the president's chief of
      staff and the president himself."

      Bush's chief of staff at the time was Andrew Card.

      The excerpt, posted on the Web site of publisher
      PublicAffairs, renews questions about what went on in
      the West Wing and how much Bush and Cheney knew about
      the leak. For years, it was McClellan's job to field —
      and often duck — those types of questions.

      Now that he's spurring them, answers are equally hard
      to come by.

      White House press secretary Dana Perino said it wasn't
      clear what McClellan meant in the excerpt. "The
      president has not and would not ask his spokespeople
      to pass on false information," she said.

      McClellan turned down interview requests Tuesday.

      Plame maintains the White House quietly outed her to
      reporters. Plame and her husband, former Ambassador
      Joseph Wilson, said the leak was retribution for his
      public criticism of the Iraq war. The accusation
      dogged the administration and made Plame a cause
      celebre among many Democrats.

      McClellan's book, "What Happened," isn't due out until
      April, and the excerpt released Monday was merely a
      teaser. It doesn't get into detail about how Bush and
      Cheney were involved or reveal what happened behind
      the scenes.

      In the fall of 2003, after authorities began
      investigating the leak, McClellan told reporters that
      he'd personally spoken to Rove, who was Bush's top
      political adviser, and Libby, who was Cheney's chief
      of staff.

      "They're good individuals, they're important members
      of our White House team, and that's why I spoke with
      them, so that I could come back to you and say that
      they were not involved," McClellan said at the time.

      Both men, however, were involved. Rove was one of the
      original sources for the newspaper column that
      identified Plame. Libby also spoke to reporters about
      the CIA officer and was convicted of lying about those
      discussions. He is the only person to be charged in
      the case.

      Since that news conference, however, the official
      White House stance has shifted and it has been
      difficult to get a clear picture of what happened
      behind closed doors around the time of the leak.

      McClellan's flat denials gave way to a steady drumbeat
      of "no comment." And Bush's original pledge to fire
      anyone involved in the leak became a promise to fire
      anyone who "committed a crime."

      In a CNN interview earlier this year, McClellan made
      no suggestion that Bush knew either Libby or Rove was
      involved in the leak. McClellan said his statements to
      reporters were what he and the president "believed to
      be true at the time based on assurances that we were
      both given."

      Bush most recently addressed the issue in July after
      commuting Libby's 30-month prison term. He
      acknowledged that some in the White House were
      involved in the leak. Then, after repeatedly declining
      to discuss the ongoing investigation, he said the case
      was closed and it was time to move on.

      ___

      Associated Press writer Jennifer Loven contributed to
      this report.
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