News and events revolving around the ousting of CIA agent Valerie Plame.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Bush says will deal with CIA leak after probe

By Tabassum Zakaria

President Bush on Tuesday sidestepped a question about whether his top adviser, Karl Rove, offered to resign over the leaking of a covert CIA operative's identity and said he would deal with the issue when an investigation into the case was over.

As controversy over the matter heated up in recent weeks, the White House has refused to answer questions about Rove, who is credited with being the architect of the president's election victories.

Bush and his spokesmen cited the investigation into who told reporters about Valerie Plame two years ago after her husband, former diplomat Joseph Wilson, criticized the Bush administration's justification for going to war in Iraq.

"My answer really hasn't changed from 24 hours ago. It's the same answer," Bush said at a news conference with Australian Prime Minister John Howard.

"I'll be glad to repeat what I said yesterday which is there is an ongoing investigation and people shouldn't, you know, jump to conclusions in the press until the investigation is over," Bush said. "Once the investigation is over I'll deal with it."

About 30 protesters near the White House waved signs "Stop the Leak" and "Fire Karl" as they chanted "hey hey, ho ho, Karl Rove has got to go."

Time magazine reporter Matthew Cooper told a federal grand jury that Rove was the first person to tell him that Wilson's wife worked for the CIA, but that he did not disclose her name. Cooper has also said he discussed Wilson and his wife with Lewis "Scooter" Libby, Vice President Dick Cheney's chief of staff.

Democrats have pounced on the revelations, with some calling for Bush to fire Rove.

"How many more times will Karl Rove make President Bush eat his words and shred his credibility before Karl Rove does the honorable thing and leaves the White House?" Sen. John Kerry, a Massachusetts Democrat who ran against Bush for the White House in 2004, said in a letter to supporters.

Plame in 2003 worked at the CIA undercover when her name was published by columnist Robert Novak. A special federal prosecutor has been investigating who leaked her name and whether any laws were broken. Intentionally making public the identity of a covert operative is a crime.

Bush said on Monday that if anyone had committed a crime they would no longer work for the administration, which was viewed by critics as backing away from previous statements that leaking would be grounds for dismissal.

"I'm very disappointed in the president changing the rules in the middle of the ball game," Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid of Nevada said. "The rules that he set said that if there was anyone involved in this in his White House, they would be gone. And yesterday, his rules were changed in the middle of the game."

Kerry said he would call this week for congressional hearings.

Copyright © 2005 Reuters Limited


Post a Comment

<< Home