Skip to comments.Pincus Tags Fleischer As Leak Source ~
Posted on 02/12/2007 2:25:08 PM PST by Ernest_at_the_Beach
WASHINGTON (AP) -
Former White House press secretary Ari Fleischer leaked the identity of a CIA operative to Washington Post reporter Walter Pincus during a 2003 phone call, Pincus testified Monday as the first defense witness in the CIA leak trial.
Pincus was one of the first reporters to learn the identity of Valerie Plame, the wife of former ambassador and prominent Iraq war critic Joseph Wilson. Pincus said he learned her identity July 12, 2003 but did not immediately write about it. Plame was outed by syndicated columnist Robert Novak two days later.
Pincus testified on behalf of Vice President Dick Cheney's former chief of staff, I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby. Libby is accused of lying and obstructing the investigation into the leak of Plame's identity.
Pincus, a veteran national security reporter, said he was talking to Fleischer for a story about weapons of mass destruction. He said Fleischer "suddenly swerved off" topic and asked why Pincus continued to write about Wilson.
"Don't you know his wife works for the CIA as an analyst?" Pincus recalled Fleischer saying.
Fleischer testified at the trial earlier that Libby had told him about Plame over lunch. Fleischer testified he leaked the information to three reporters during a presidential trip to Africa but he did not mention the Pincus conversation. In exchange for his testimony, prosecutors promised not to charge Fleischer.
Libby argues that he never discussed Plame with Fleischer. Pincus' testimony helps defense attorneys make the argument that Fleischer needed someone to blame to cover up his own leaking.
Novak, whose column triggered an FBI investigation into the leak, was also scheduled to testify Monday, attorneys said.
Novak has said that Richard Armitage, the former deputy secretary of state, and Bush aide Karl Rove were the sources for his July 2003 column.
"You're going to hear that," defense attorney Theodore Wells said in court Monday morning. "He's going to testify about that in a few hours."
Novak and Pincus are two of several journalists whom Libby's attorneys planned to call. These lawyers also are fighting hard to force NBC foreign affairs reporter Andrea Mitchell to testify about why she said that Plame's identity was "widely known" even before the Novak column was published.
Mitchell has since recanted those comments and has said that she cannot explain them.
A key dispute in the case involves Mitchell's NBC colleague, Tim Russert. Libby says Russert told him in July 2003 that "all the reporters know" Plame worked for the CIA. Russert said that never happened because he didn't know who Plame was at the time.
Prosecutors say Libby concocted the Russert story to shield him from prosecution for discussing information he had learned through official government channels.
Libby's attorneys want to show that Russert had heard that Plame worked at the CIA. Fleischer has already testified that he told NBC reporter David Gregory about her. If Libby can show that Mitchell knew, too, they think they can persuade jurors to believe Libby's account of the Russert conversation.
U.S. District Judge Reggie B. Walton said Mitchell can be called as a witness but he wouldn't allow Libby's attorneys to ask about her inconsistent statements.
In addition to Mitchell, attorneys have said several other journalists are expected to testify this week: New York Times managing editor Jill Abramson, Newsweek assistant managing editor Evan Thomas, and Bob Woodward and Glenn Kessler, along with Pincus, from The Washington Post.
Associated Press writer Michael J. Sniffen contributed to this report.
Hot potato, pass it around...
Did you see Fedora's post?
What a circus....
The finger pointing will go on and on. Meanwhile Scooter will go to jail for a crime that is not a crime.
What? Nobody's allowed to question little miss crater-face's public pronouncements? Why should that arrogant skank get a pass?
I just wanted to capture an AP post on this topic ... totally,...as they tend to pull stuff if it suits them....
Welcome to the Gulag.
Good damn question.
Between you and I...
Corn, Pincus and Vandeghi should be called. Pincus has a lot of nerve, he and Corn said Joe was 'one' of their sources later.
Sheesh, now I have to dig up those columns.
Even if he did, it wasn't a crime!
And Sandy can get his security clearance back and actually work for the WH and Hillary... background check be damned.
Only a Washington Post Puke would consider a WMD denier "off topic" when the subject is WMD.
That's intended to reinforce the "they were out to frame Joe Wilson" lie. Wilson jumped in with both feet. He inserted himself in the debate by calling others liars, counting on the liberal media to close rank around him, which they did.
That's why when I hear reporters talk of themselves as "journalists" I laugh.
A serious constitutional violation? I mean, what about Libby's right to a fair trial? Doesn't sound like he's getting one.
". . . as an analyst."
Case closed. Not an operative.
Let me guess... did Ari say Cheney told him to? I didn't hear him say that. s/