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

Saturday, July 23, 2005

Democrats spotlight CIA leak in radio address

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Democrats slammed President Bush's response to a top aide's role in outing a covert CIA operative on Saturday, turning their radio address over to an ex-agent critical of his actions.

Larry Johnson, a former CIA agent and registered Republican, accused Bush of flip-flopping on his promise to fire anyone at the White House implicated in the leak.

Democrats have called on Bush to fire top adviser Karl Rove or revoke his security clearance after he was identified by a reporter as being a source in the leak of Valerie Plame's name two years ago after her husband, former diplomat Joseph Wilson, criticized the White House's justification for going to war in Iraq.

Bush initially said he would dismiss anyone involved in exposing a covert CIA agent. But as attention in the case focused on White House aides in recent weeks, the president said he would fire anyone who was found by a federal probe to have acted illegally in the case.

Time magazine reporter Matthew Cooper told a federal grand jury that Rove told him Wilson's wife worked for the CIA, but did not disclose her name.

Cooper has also said he discussed the Wilsons with Lewis "Scooter" Libby, Vice President Dick Cheney's chief of staff.

Johnson was one of a handful of former intelligence agents who testified at a Democratic-sponsored hearing on the leak on Friday. He said he knew Plame from a training program, but only as "Val P" because participants were told that would help protect their identities.

"We must put to bed the lie that she was not undercover," Johnson said in response to some Republican efforts to minimize her role at the CIA. "For starters, if she had not been undercover then the CIA would not have referred the matter to the Justice Department."

"We deserve people who work in the White House who are committed to protecting classified information, telling the truth to the American people, and living by example to the idea that a country at war with Islamic extremists cannot focus its efforts on attacking other American citizens who simply tried to tell the truth," Johnson said.


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