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Sunday, September 28, 2003

Posted by Jake
Bush Administration Is Focus of Inquiry (washingtonpost.com)

At CIA Director George J. Tenet's request, the Justice Department is looking into an allegation that administration officials leaked the name of an undercover CIA officer to a journalist, government sources said yesterday.

The operative's identity was published in July after her husband, former U.S. ambassador Joseph C. Wilson IV, publicly challenged President Bush's claim that Iraq had tried to buy "yellowcake" uranium ore from Africa for possible use in nuclear weapons. Bush later backed away from the claim.

The officer's name was disclosed on July 14 in a syndicated column by Robert D. Novak, who said his sources were two senior administration officials.

Yesterday, a senior administration official said that before Novak's column ran, two top White House officials called at least six Washington journalists and disclosed the identity and occupation of Wilson's wife. Wilson had just revealed that the CIA had sent him to Niger last year to look into the uranium claim and that he had found no evidence to back up the charge. Wilson's account touched off a political fracas over Bush's use of intelligence as he made the case for attacking Iraq.

"Clearly, it was meant purely and simply for revenge," the senior official said of the alleged leak.


There is a flurry of chatter about this on the web which is well summarized on Daniel Drezner (who, fair warning, is hopping mad about it).

Comments:

1. It is not a small deal. Politics is politics, but the identities of our operatives should not be being played as chipped in the political poker game.

2. I doubt it was Karl Rove. He is way too smart to risk a felony offense to screw somebody who in the end did not cause that much political fallout.

3. My suspicion is that it was some lower level staffer who thought this up on their own. If so, that person should be shot. First, because they did a very bad thing. Second, because people that stupid shouldn't be involved in government.

4. What the hell was Novak thinking? I am no expert on journalistic ethics, but that was pretty irresponsible.

5. Most of the posts on the subject are preaching patience. The article cites an anonymous source. It is clear that the Feds are taking it very seriously.

Here's hoping that most of the Bush administration is as smart as I would like to believe they are.


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