Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Times: Cheney First Disclosed CIA Official's Name

The New York Times reported late Monday that Vice President Cheney has been directly linked to the so-called "Plamegate" scandal involving the disclosure of the name of Valerie Plame, a CIA officer.
The paper reported that Cheney's chief of staff, Lewis "Scooter" Libby "first learned about the C.I.A. officer at the heart of the leak investigation in a conversation with Mr. Cheney weeks before her identity became public in 2003."
The paper sourced their story to "lawyers involved in the case."
The Times said that notes taken by Libby differ from his own testimony before the grand jury as to when he first learned of Plame's identity.

"The notes, taken by Mr. Libby during the conversation, for the first time place Mr. Cheney in the middle of an effort by the White House to learn about Ms. Wilson’s husband, Joseph C. Wilson IV, who was questioning the administration’s handling of intelligence about Iraq’s nuclear program to justify the war."
Cheney apparently discovered details of Plame's CIA work after he questioned then CIA Director George J. Tenet about her husband, Ambassador Wilson.
But even if Libby or Cheney had disclosed Plame's identity as a CIA officer they may not have committed a crime.
"Disclosing a covert agent’s identity can be a crime, but only if the person who discloses it knows the agent’s undercover status," the Times said.