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

Tuesday, October 25, 2005 - Poll: Few doubt wrongdoing in CIA leak - Oct 25, 2005

Neighbor questioned with prosecutor's grand jury set to expire

(CNN) -- Only one in 10 Americans said they believe Bush administration officials did nothing illegal or unethical in connection with the leaking of a CIA operative's identity, according to a national poll released Tuesday.

Thirty-nine percent said some administration officials acted illegally in the matter, in which the identity of Valerie Plame, a CIA operative, was revealed.

The same percentage of respondents in the CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll said Bush administration officials acted unethically, but did nothing illegal.

The poll questioned 1,008 adults October 21-23 and has a sampling error of plus or minus 5 percentage points.

Federal law makes it a crime to deliberately reveal the identity of a covert CIA operative, and special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald is heading a probe into the matter.

With the grand jury investigating the leak set to expire Friday, FBI agents interviewed a Washington neighbor of Plame for a second time.

The agents asked Marc Lefkowitz on Monday night whether he knew about Plame's CIA work before her identity was leaked in the media, and Lefkowitz told agents he did not, according to his wife, Elise Lefkowitz.

Lefkowitz said agents first questioned whether the couple was aware of Plame's CIA work in an interview several months ago.

Plame and her husband, retired State Department career diplomat Joseph Wilson, have accused Bush administration officials of deliberately leaking her identity to the media to retaliate against Wilson after he published an opinion piece in The New York Times.

The July 2003 article cast doubt on a key assertion in the Bush administration's arguments for war with Iraq -- that Iraq had sought to purchase uranium for a suspected nuclear weapons program in Africa.

Wilson, who was acting ambassador to Iraq before the 1991 Persian Gulf War, said the CIA sent him to Niger, in central Africa, to investigate the uranium claim in February 2002 and that he found no evidence such a transaction occurred and it was unlikely it could have. (Full story)

Days after Wilson's article was published, Plame's identity was exposed in a piece by syndicated columnist and longtime CNN contributor Robert Novak.

President Bush's top political adviser, Karl Rove, has testified before the Fitzgerald grand jury that he believes it was I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, chief of staff to Vice President Dick Cheney, who first told him that Plame worked for the CIA and had a role in sending her husband to Africa, according to a source familiar with Rove's testimony.

New York Times reporter Judith Miller spent 85 days in jail for contempt before finally agreeing last month to tell grand jurors that Libby told her Wilson's wife may have worked at the CIA, although she said Libby did not identify Plame by name or describe her as a covert agent or operative.

Libby has also testified before the grand jury.

The New York Times reported Tuesday that notes in Fitzgerald's possession suggest that Libby first heard of the CIA officer from Cheney himself. (Full story)

The Times said its sources in the story were lawyers involved in the case.

Cheney said in September 2003 that he had seen no report from Wilson after his assignment in Africa.

"I don't know Joe Wilson. I've never met Joe Wilson. I don't know who sent Joe Wilson. He never submitted a report that I ever saw when he came back," he told NBC.

White House press secretary Scott McClellan on Tuesday declined to specifically address the Times report.

"The policy of this White House has been to carry out the direction of the president, which is to cooperate fully with the special prosecutor," he said.

"There's a lot of speculation that is going on right now. There are many facts that are not known. The work of the special prosecutor continues and we look forward to him successfully concluding his investigation," he said.

The Justice Department opened a criminal probe in September 2003 at the request of the CIA.

Fitzgerald, the U.S. attorney in Chicago, Illinois, was named special prosecutor at the end of 2003 after then-Attorney General John Ashcroft recused himself from the probe.

Once the grand jury term expires, Fitzgerald could ask for an extension of the grand jury's service, request indictments or end the probe without bringing charges.

CNN's Kelli Arena contributed to this report.


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