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

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Rice Asked if Bolton Testified in Leak Case - Yahoo! News

By LIZ SIDOTI, Associated Press Writer

A Democratic opponent of John Bolton asked Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice on Wednesday whether the nominee for U.N. ambassador had testified to a grand jury about the leak of CIA operative's identity.

Democrats on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee say they want to determine whether Bolton was truthful when he wrote on a questionnaire for his confirmation hearing that he has not been interviewed in any recent investigations.

In a letter to Rice, Sen. Joseph Biden (news, bio, voting record), D-Del., referenced an MSNBC report from July 21 that Bolton was among State Department undersecretaries who "gave testimony" about a classified memo that has become an important piece of evidence in the leak investigation.

Biden asked Rice to tell the committee "whether Mr. Bolton did, in fact, appear before the grand jury, or whether he has been interviewed or otherwise asked to provide information by the special prosecutor or his staff in connection with this matter."

Several Bush administration officials have been interviewed by special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald in his quest to determine who leaked the covert identity of Valerie Plame to reporters and whether any laws were broken.

Plame is the wife of former U.S. Ambassador Joseph Wilson, a critic of President Bush's Iraq policy.

A message left with the State Department was not immediately returned on Wednesday.

California Rep. Jane Harman (news, bio, voting record), the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, has asked the State Department for two different versions of the memo from its bureau of intelligence and research that discussed Plame, a congressional aide said. The aide spoke on condition of anonymity because of the investigation's sensitivity.

The memo could have been the way someone in the White House learned — and then leaked — the information that Plame worked for the CIA and played a role in sending Wilson to Africa to explore whether Iraq was interested in obtaining uranium from Niger for nuclear weapons.

Part of the questionnaire Bolton filled out in March asked him whether he was "interviewed or asked to supply any information in connection with any administrative (including an inspector general), congressional or grand jury investigation within the past five years."

"He indicated in his form that he had not," said Sen. Barbara Boxer (news, bio, voting record), D-Calif.

She said it is unclear whether Bolton lied on his questionnaire because senators do not know if he testified before or after he signed the document — or at all.

The latest Democratic request to the administration for information about Bolton comes just two days before Congress is scheduled to leave Washington for a monthlong break.

With the Senate out of session, Bush could sidestep Congress and install Bolton in the U.N. post on a temporary basis.

Democrats have blocked Bolton's nomination for months. They have demanded that the administration turn over certain information about Bolton before they allow his nomination to proceed.

Republicans have twice attempted — and failed — to break the Democratic filibuster. There has been no sign of a breakthrough since the second attempt in June.

The White House has ruled out withdrawing Bolton's name.


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