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

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Philippine News Online: 'Upset' Ralston says she's not going anywhere

Rita M. Gerona-Adkins, Dec 21, 2005
WASHINGTON, D.C. --- Susan B. Ralston has determined to clear the air once and for all after speculations about her job at the White House have been published, including in the Philippine News.

“I am focused on my job serving the President in my current capacity,” she said in a telephone call from her office at the White House on December 12 to this correspondent.

Ralston, the 38-year old, highest ranking Filipino American in the Bush White House, works as Special Assistant to President George W. Bush in addition to her functions as Assistant to Karl Rove, the president’s Senior Adviser and Deputy Chief of Staff.

A correction was posted online Dec. 7 by the Philippine News, but she took the opportunity to express her lingering discomfort about the “inaccuracy” of an earlier report [Dec. 5-11, 2005 issue] about her having left the White House for the U.S. Department of Commerce.

Not mincing her words, she added, “It was inappropriate, completely irresponsible…without checking. I am so upset!”

“I am trying to do my job, and creating rumors is not appropriate, and has been very damaging,” she added.

She did not elaborate on the damage, but according to Maria Tamburri, White House Liaison for Media Affairs, mainstream media had flooded the White House with follow-up calls after a Dec. 5-11, 2005 PN story had come out about Ralston’s transfer to the commerce department.

Responding to the question about her leaving the White House on Dec. 31, as reported Nov. 29 by the Manila Mail, a bi-monthly metropolitan D.C.-based FilAm publication, Ralston said, “I don’t have any definite plans to leave the White House, on Dec. 31 or at another time. I do not know what my [future] plans are, what I may or may not do, but I continue to work here at my [White House] desk.”

She also said that she was not called for verification about that report.

As for further speculations, she indicated they are not necessary and urged those interested to check directly with the White House.

“Call the White House – switchboard telephone 202-456-1414,” she advised.

Asked if she may be called to testify again by Special Prosecutor Patrick J. Fitzgerald regarding further investigation of CIA leakage and outing of agent Valerie Plame, and possible White House cover-up, Ralston said she could not comment as the case is still under investigation.

However, she stressed, “I have not been notified.”

Ralston had appeared twice at the grand jury investigation, specifically on why a telephone call to Rove by a Time reporter was not logged. However, despite the explanation that calls that are channeled to the White House switchboard are not typically recorded on the telephone logs, the prosecutor got documentation of switchboard calls that also were recorded in the logs.

Washington watchdogs are speculating that Rove may be called for further investigation by a new grand jury. There is also speculation that Ralston may also be called to testify again.

As Rove’s assistant that bloggers refer to as Rove’s stalwart “gatekeeper”, Ralston – who in an earlier assignment had worked with lobbyist Jack Abramoff who is currently undergoing investigation for alleged shady lobby deals – has acquired high visibility in Washington’s corridors of power.

She also has become a continuing object of curiosity and concern in the Filipino American and Asian Pacific American communities – communities that on some occasions, she has lent her presence and given of her personal support for their advocacy causes.