Date registered: Aug 2002
Vehicle: 2021 SL770
Location: Fountain Hills, AZ
Mentioned: 1 Post(s)
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Bush Admits White House CIA Leak
WASHINGTON (AP) -- President Bush acknowledged publicly for the first time Thursday that someone in his administration "perhaps" leaked the name of a CIA operative, although he also said he hopes the controversy over his decision to spare prison for a former White House aide has "run its course."
"And now we're going to move on," Mr. Bush said in a White House news conference.
The president had initially said he would fire anyone in his administration found to have publicly disclosed the identity of Valerie Plame, the wife of former Ambassador Joseph Wilson and a CIA operative. Mr. Wilson is an outspoken Iraq war critic.
Ten days ago, Mr. Bush commuted the 30-month sentence given to I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby by a federal judge in connection with the case. Mr. Libby, the former chief of staff to Vice President Dick Cheney, had been convicted of lying and obstruction of justice in the CIA-leak case.
Mr. Bush would not directly answer a question about whether he is disappointed in the White House officials who leaked Ms. Plame's name. "I'm aware of the fact that perhaps somebody in the administration did disclose the name of that person," Mr. Bush said. "I've often thought about what would have happened if that person had come forth and said, 'I did it.' Would we have had this endless hours of investigation and a lot of money being spent on this matter? But, so, it's been a tough issue for a lot of people in the White House. It's run its course and now we're going to move on."
He also defended the decision to commute Mr. Libby's sentence. "The Scooter Libby decision was, I thought, a fair and balanced decision," Mr. Bush said.
Several Bush administration officials revealed Ms. Plame's identity. White House political adviser Karl Rove and Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage were the primary sources for a 2003 newspaper article outing Ms. Plame. Former White House press secretary Ari Fleischer also admitted telling reporters about her. And jurors apparently believed prosecutors who said Mr. Libby discussed Ms. Plame with reporters from the New York Times and Time magazine. Mr. Libby was the only one charged in the matter.
Meanwhile, the sentencing judge, U.S. District Judge Reggie B. Walton, took issue Thursday with Mr. Bush's characterization of Mr. Libby's sentence as "excessive."
"It is fair to say the Court is somewhat perplexed as to how its sentence could be accurately described as "excessive,'" wrote Judge Walton, a Bush appointee. He noted that the 2-1/2 year sentence was at the low end of federal sentencing guidelines. Judge Walton's comments came in a footnote to an opinion formalizing Mr. Libby's probation term. Mr. Bush kept in place two years probation and a $250,000 fine, which Mr. Libby has already paid.
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