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

Saturday, October 29, 2005

Bush aims to move past leak case - Yahoo! News

By Caren Bohan

President George W. Bush, trying to move beyond the damage caused by the indictment of a senior White House aide in the CIA leak probe, said on Saturday that Iraq was taking steps toward democracy that will help isolate militants.

A day after Vice President Dick Cheney's chief of staff, Lewis Libby, resigned following a five-count indictment, Bush focused his weekly radio address on the results of Iraq's October 15 vote on a U.S.-backed constitution.

Bush called Tuesday's announcement of the charter's approval a milestone, but did not mention that on the same day the U.S. military death toll in Iraq surpassed 2,000.

Nor did he mention the CIA leak case.

"Just 30 months removed from the rule of a dictator, and nine months after they first elected their own leaders, the Iraqi people are resolving tough issues through an inclusive political process," Bush said.

"And this process is isolating the extremists who wish to derail democracy through violence and murder."

The approval of the constitution, which was strongly supported by Shiites and Kurds in Iraq but rejected by many minority Sunni Arabs, will pave the way for a December 15 election to shape a new parliament.

The crossing of the 2,000 threshold of U.S. military deaths adds to Bush's political woes at home, where his approval rating has fallen to all-time lows.

The investigation into the leak of covert CIA operative Valerie Plame's identity has its roots in the Iraq war.

Plame's husband, former U.S. diplomat Joe Wilson, had accused the Bush administration of twisting intelligence when officials cited a threat of Iraqi weapons of mass destruction to justify the 2003 U.S. invasion. No such weapons were found.

Lewis Libby was indicted on charges of obstructing justice, perjury and lying and is accused of making false statements about how and when he learned and disclosed to reporters classified information about Plame.

Bush said the leak case was serious and but added he wanted to remain "wholly focused on the many issues and opportunities facing this country" as the investigation proceeds.

Another piece of business he will be turning his attention to will be picking a new Supreme Court nominee after the withdrawal of his long-time friend and White House counsel Harriet Miers.

The Miers nomination prompted a rebellion of Bush's conservative political base as critics questioned her qualifications for the job.

Bush is spending the weekend at the Camp David presidential retreat and shared a long hug with his wife Laura as he arrived there Friday afternoon at the end of a brutal week for him politically.


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