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

Sunday, October 09, 2005

CIA leak probe puts Bush's top adviser under a cloud - Yahoo! News

President George W. Bush's top adviser, Karl Rove, remains under a cloud of speculation after being called to testify yet again in an investigation into the leaked identity of a CIA agent.

Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald has decided to call Rove to testify for a fourth time, a dramatic twist as the high-stakes investigation draws to a close this month.

Casting a wide net over nearly two years, Fitzgerald has been investigating who in the government leaked the identity of CIA agent Valerie Plame and whether any crime was committed as a result.

The case dates back to July 2003, when a conservative commentator with close ties to the Republican party, Robert Novak, published Plame's name.

The CIA agent is the wife of Joseph Wilson, a former US ambassador who publicly questioned the Bush administration's justification for the war in Iraq.

Under US law, revealing the identity of an undercover CIA agent is a federal crime, though it remains unclear if Plame fell into that category.

The opposition Democrats called the leak an act of political revenge and demanded the White House reveal who had revealed the agent's name.

Wilson promptly pointed to Rove as the likely source.

"At the end of the day, it's of keen interest to me to see whether or not we can get Karl Rove frog-marched out of the White House in handcuffs," Wilson said.

"And trust me when I use that name, I measure my words."

Suspense has been building over whether Rove, known as the mastermind behind Bush's political strategy and election campaigns, will be indicted or emerge unscathed.

The prosecutor has called in numerous officials from the Bush administration to testify and sent a journalist from The New York Times to prison for refusing to reveal who she spoke to in the White House.

The reporter, Judith Miller, who never wrote a story, was freed last month after 85 days in jail. She said her source gave her permission to discuss their conversation before a grand jury.

Miller has identified one of her sources as Vice President Dick Cheney's chief of staff, Lewis "Scooter" Libby.

Another reporter, Matthew Cooper of Time magazine, said in July that Karl Rove told him Wilson's wife was a CIA agent.

By agreeing to testify, Rove has exposed himself to the risk of indictment though his lawyers say they have not received a "target letter" indicating charges were imminent.

Bush has described Rove, 54, as the "architect" of his victorious re-election campaign last year. He has earned a reputation for political savvy and for employing sometimes ruthless tactics against his opponents.

Any indictment of Rove would deliver a damaging blow to Bush, who is already facing the lowest approval ratings of his presidency.

At one point, Bush said that he would fire whoever leaked the information.

As Washington awaits the outcome of the probe, Rove has kept a lower profile.

Usually, Rove attends presidential press conferences but last Tuesday, Rove was absent.


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