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

Wednesday, December 14, 2005 | Bush can settle CIA leak riddle, Novak says

Rob Christensen, Barbara Barrett, Jane Stancill and Dan Kane, Staff Writers
Newspaper columnist Robert Novak is still not naming his source in the Valerie Plame affair, but he says he is pretty sure the name is no mystery to President Bush.
"I'm confident the president knows who the source is," Novak told a luncheon audience at the John Locke Foundation in Raleigh on Tuesday. "I'd be amazed if he doesn't."

"So I say, 'Don't bug me. Don't bug Bob Woodward. Bug the president as to whether he should reveal who the source is.' "

It was Novak who first revealed that Plame, the wife of former Ambassador Joseph Wilson, worked for the CIA. Wilson had angered the Bush administration when he accused it of twisting intelligence to exaggerate the Iraqi threat before the war.Disclosing the identity of a CIA agent is illegal; the disclosure set off a furor in Washington, resulting in an ongoing investigation by a special prosecutor and the indictment and resignation of Lewis Libby, the chief aide to Vice President Dick Cheney.

Woodward, a Washington Post editor, recently disclosed that he, too, had been told by an administration figure about Plame's secret identity -- probably, he said, by the same source who told Novak.

Novak said his role in the Plame affair "snowballed out of proportion" as a result of a "campaign by the left."

But he also blamed "extremely bad management of the issue by the White House. Once you give an issue to a special prosecutor, you lose control of it."

Burr meets with Alito

U.S. Sen. Richard Burr met with Supreme Court nominee Judge Samuel A. Alito for about half an hour Tuesday, according to a release from Burr's office.

The pair discussed Alito's experience and his views on judicial activism.

Burr, a Republican, said in a statement that Alito "has the qualifications and experience necessary" to serve on the nation's highest court. Burr said he hopes Alito receives a fair hearing and an up-or-down vote on his nomination.

Alito was nominated by President Bush to fill the seat being vacated by Justice Sandra Day O'Connor. His Senate Judiciary Committee hearing is scheduled to begin Jan. 9.

Foreign journalists coming

U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice on Tuesday announced a journalism exchange program sponsored by the State Department's Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, the Aspen Institute and six journalism schools, including UNC-Chapel Hill's School of Journalism and Mass Communication.

The Edward R. Murrow Journalism Program will bring 100 foreign media professionals to the United States to study journalism starting in April. UNC-CH's interim journalism dean, Tom Bowers, attended Tuesday's announcement in Washington.

During the event, Rice took time to express sorrow over the killing of Lebanese journalist Gebran Tueni in Beirut. And despite the Bush administration's recent controversies involving the media, she pointed out the importance of a free press.

"We all know that the bedrock pillar of a free society is a free press and that it is crucial for the foundation of any democracy," Rice said.

Protesters' eye on Black

House Democrats might not receive a warm welcome at a party fund-raiser Thursday night at the Biltmore Estate in Asheville. Protesters are planning to congregate near the entrance to call for House Speaker Jim Black's resignation.

Don Yelton, a political activist who has twice tried to win election to the Buncombe County Board of Commissioners, is organizing the protest. He said Black, a Mecklenburg County Democrat, is a big part of the lack of accountability in the legislature, citing among other things the federal investigation into his ties to the creation of the state lottery and the work of his former political director, Meredith Norris.

"It's time that we the people take the state back from the corrupt politicians," said Yelton, a former Democrat turned Republican. He hosts a local public affairs TV show in Asheville.


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