Skip to comments.Washington Post Says CIA Angry Over Talon News 'Leak' Story; Ashcroft Steps Down from Investigation
Posted on 12/31/2003 3:45:51 PM PST by Jeff Gannon
HOUSTON (Talon News) -- The Washington Post reported Friday that according to their sources, the Central Intelligence Agency believes people in the Bush administration are continuing to release classified information to damage figures at the center of the Niger "yellowcake" controversy.
According to the Washington Post story, the CIA has alleged that one or more senior administration officials revealed the name of a covert operative to columnist Robert Novak. The complaint has led to an FBI investigation of the White House to determine circumstances surrounding the release of the identity of Valerie Plame to the media.
Plame's husband, former Ambassador Joseph Wilson, claims someone at the White House sought to destroy his wife's career because of the report he filed after his mission to Africa in 2002. Wilson disputed the administration's statements about Saddam Hussein's efforts to buy uranium from Niger to advance his WMD programs.
The Washington Post cites an unnamed source who says, "The CIA is angry about the circulation of a still-classified document to conservative news outlets." They point to a memo referenced in a Talon News interview of Wilson that suggests his wife was instrumental in his selection for the fact-finding trip to Africa.
Talon News was the only service identified by the Washington Post as having knowledge of the memo's existence. The newspaper goes on to say that CIA officials have challenged the accuracy of the document purportedly written by a State Department official who works for the Bureau of Intelligence and Research.
Jeff Gannon, the White House correspondent and Washington Bureau Chief for Talon News declined to reveal whether he had seen the memo or had its contents described to him.
While he would not disclose his source, Gannon said, "I will tell you that the information did not come from inside the administration."
"For something that is supposed to be classified, it seems that this document is easily accessible," Gannon added. "Washington is leaking like a cheap umbrella. Just look at what's happening over on Capitol Hill."
Gannon was referring to private Senate Intelligence and Judiciary Committee memos that have been leaked to various media outlets in the last few months.
Gannon's exclusive interview with Wilson focused on the many unanswered questions about the "outing" of his wife.
Gannon points out that other possibilities exist which might explain how Plame's name was revealed without the malice that Wilson believes was retribution for his decision to go public with criticism of the White House.
"When Bob Novak asked why a known partisan like Wilson would be sent on a critical mission to help the administration build its case to go to war with Iraq, the answer might have been that his wife got him the job, not realizing her identity was classified," Gannon said. "It's not as if nepotism is unheard of in Washington."
The Talon News reporter added, "Some people out there see a clandestine war going on between the White House and the CIA. It is generally perceived that a substantial amount of blame for intelligence failures that otherwise might have prevented the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 has been laid at the agency's doorstep by the administration. They suggest the agency is fighting back with an allegation of a wrongdoing in the Plame matter."
In related matters, Attorney General John Ashcroft recused himself from the leak investigation on Tuesday and called on Patrick J. Fitzgerald, the U.S. Attorney in Chicago, to serve as a special prosecutor.
Fitzgerald led the investigation of former Illinois Gov. George Ryan, who was charged with 22 counts of corruption.
In a Tuesday press conference, Deputy Attorney General James Comey said that Ashcroft's decision was not based on a conflict of interest but rather the desire to eliminate any appearance of conflict or favoritism.
"The attorney general in an abundance of caution believed that his recusal was appropriate based on the totality of the circumstances and the facts and evidence developed at this stage of the investigation," Comey said. "I agree with that judgment."
Copyright © 2003 Talon News -- All rights reserved.
He's been disloyal, and the Bushes don't brook disloyalty.
Incomplete, for one, that it failed to mention his advisory role in the Kerry campaign. Even if irrelevant to his claims, it's relevant to his background story, which made the omission quite glaring.
For me the most interesting parts were those given short shrift.
It reminded me of the Ed Bradley interview with Jackson...his purpose wasn't to hang him, but some interesting nuggets for further inquiry came up. Same with the Vanity Fair article, and VF was trying more than Bradley to appease its subject.
The parts I'm speaking about were those about his business. There was a brief mention that Wilson had solicited a gold mining license in Niger on behalf of a private party. Soooo, was he soliciting this deal from the Niger govt at the same time he was exonerating the Niger govt. from UN sanctions busting conduct? Indeed, is that why he was going to Niger in the first place? And further, he has several business dealings, or attempts at, in that region of Africa.
Other interesting bits were his connection to Rock Creek Corp. and Saudis - two other issues he dodged, or weren't put directly to him.
Then there's his second wife of several years...hard to tell by the article, but she might have been part of the French diplomatic corps.
He's an interesting character, for sure.
One should not be too surprised, I suppose, at an intensely partisan newspaper trying to turn an ethically correct move into something sinister.
It is also amazing to see Wilson on TV,claiming his wife had a "covert" job. She didn't. She was an Analyst,who worked at a desk alongside hundreds of others with similar low-to-medium-level employees.
At the end of the day it's of keen interest to me to see whether or not we can get Karl Rove frog-marched out of the White House in handcuffs. - Former ambassador Joseph C. Wilson IV
That seems to be the main thing at issue. Some accounts I've read claim her "analyst" job is just cover for her real spy job. This thing has Set-Up painted all over it, but the Usual Suspects hope to turn it into a new Watergate.
Or, as another might say, "There are still many Clinton people infecting our agencies."
Infiltrated is a more apt characterization.