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

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

New York Daily News - World & National Report - Leakers' boat cut adrift by White House


WASHINGTON - For the first time, the White House yesterday injected a little distance between President Bush and top subordinates at the center of the CIA leak probe.
With an announcement of possible indictments coming as early as today from the special prosecutor amid reports "target letters" have been issued, Bush spokesman Scott McClellan used carefully parsed language to hint that Karl Rove and Lewis (Scooter) Libby could have misled him when they said they were not involved in outing CIA spy Valerie Plame.

Asked specifically whether Rove and Libby left him "hung out to dry" when he vouched for them, McClellan said, "There are facts the President doesn't know. There are facts I don't know."

He was later queried again on the topic and told reporters, "You pointed back to some past comments that I gave, and I've talked to you about the assurances that I've received on that."

But McClellan didn't mince words in defending Vice President Cheney, who reportedly told his chief of staff Libby about Plame well before she was outed - contradicting Libby's claim that reporters gave him her name. He described Cheney as someone who tells the truth, "a straightforward, plain-spoken person."

A story about the Cheney link in yesterday's New York Times was a new bombshell for the White House because it dramatically elevated the focus of the leak probe from powerful staffers - Rove, Bush's deputy chief of staff, and Libby - to the vice president.

"Cheney can't like this story," a former Bush White House staffer said. "Even if he has no legal exposure, this is more political exposure for him."

A former Cheney aide was more blunt: "For the first time, this puts him right in the middle of it."

Associates of both men scoffed at suggestions that a rift was developing between Cheney and Libby.

"Any suggestion they are trying to distance themselves from one another is outrageously preposterous," said a former colleague of both. "They have always been joined at the hip."

With the grand jury expiring Friday, FBI agents questioned Plame's neighbors, apparently establishing even they did not know she was a CIA operative. White House colleagues of staffers implicated in the probe anxiously awaited word of their fates.

"In this case, I presume no news is bad news," one friend said.


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