November 21st, 2007
11:20 AM ET
12 years ago

Spy's husband: Book shows White House 'closed ranks' in leaking wife's identity

Watch former Ambassador Wilson's interview with John Roberts.

(CNN) - The revelation by a former White House spokesman that President Bush and Vice President Cheney were "involved" in the leak of CIA operative Valerie Plame Wilson's identity shows how the White House "closed ranks" to protect themselves, her husband, Joe Wilson, said Wednesday.

The information - from an upcoming book by Scott McClellan - also shows how important it was to the administration to commute the sentence of Lewis "Scooter" Libby, Wilson said on CNN's "American Morning."

"I think it now makes it very clear the extent to which the vice president was involved, which, of course, then makes it very clear how important to the vice president the commutation of Mr. Libby's sentence was," the former U.S. ambassador said.

Libby, who was Cheney's chief of staff, was convicted in March of perjury and obstruction of justice for lying to investigators and a federal grand jury about his contacts with reporters concerning Wilson.

Just before Libby was to report to a federal prison in July to serve 30 months behind bars, Bush commuted his sentence, although the president stopped short of a full pardon and Libby still had to pay a $250,000 fine.

"They basically closed ranks, guaranteed that the cloud (special prosecutor Patrick) Fitzgerald said was over the vice president's head would not be lifted. And now because of McClellan's statement, that cloud is over the president himself.

"He is either completely out of touch or he's an accessory to an obstruction of justice both before the fact and after the fact," he said.

"At a bare minimum, for openers, think it's incumbent upon the president and vice president now to release the transcripts of their statements to the special prosecutor, so we now have a fuller understanding of what they knew, when they knew it, and what they said to Justice."

In addition, the public deserves to know "whether or not they continue to frustrate the efforts of the Justice Department and the efforts of the government to get to the bottom of what is essentially the betrayal of national security of our country," said Wilson.

Amid a swelling controversy about the leak of Valerie Wilson's name, McClellan went to the White House podium in October 2003 and told reporters that Karl Rove, the president's top political adviser, and Lewis "Scooter" Libby, Cheney's chief of staff, had not been involved.

In an upcoming book, McClellan says five administration officials were "involved" in his "unknowingly" passing along false information about the involvement of Rove and Libby in the leak of Valerie Wilson's identity.

"There was one problem. It was not true," McClellan writes in his new book, "What Happened," which is to be released in April. "I had unknowingly passed along false information. And five of the highest ranking officials in the administration were involved in my doing so: Rove, Libby, the vice president, the president's chief of staff and the president himself."

McClellan does not explain what he means by the word "involved," nor does he give specifics about any actions taken by Bush, Cheney, Libby, Rove or Card with regard to McClellan's dissemination of the false information.

Reacting to the release of an excerpt from McClellan's book, which was posted Tuesday on the Web site of the book's publisher, PublicAffairs, White House spokesman Scott Stanzel said, "The president has not misled his spokespeople, nor would he."

The Wilsons believe the "outing" of her identity was an act of retaliation after Joe Wilson questioned of a claim by President Bush before the Iraq war that the British had learned that Saddam Hussein had sought to obtain uranium from Africa.

The Wilsons have sued Cheney, Libby and Rove over the leak, although a federal judge threw the lawsuit out in July on jurisdictional grounds. Joe Wilson said they are in the process of appealing, and hope the suit will be heard early next year.

On Tuesday, Valerie Wilson issued a statement saying she was "outraged to learn" that McClellan had confirmed "that he was sent out to lie to the press corps and the American public."

McClellan, who served as White House press secretary from July 2003 until April 2006, told CNN he's still writing the book and the excerpt was highlighted by the publisher to build interest.

Valerie Wilson's name was revealed in a column by Robert Novak in the summer of 2003, who cited "two top administration officials."

The lawyer for Rove, who left the White House in August, has acknowledged he was one of the sources. Rove was never charged.

Former Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage has said he was Novak's original source for the information, although he insisted the disclosure was not deliberate, and he did not know Wilson was a covert agent.

Because deliberately leaking a CIA operative's name can be a federal crime, a special prosecutor, Fitzgerald, was appointed to investigate. No one was charged in connection with the leak itself; Libby's charges resulted from statements he made during the investigation.

soundoff (46 Responses)
  1. Richard, St. Paul, MN

    When the heck is someone going to impeach Bush, Cheney and their corrupt Reich?!? More and more information keeps getting revealed that they've been lying and scamming the political system since the first day of their regime! As an American citizen, I'm outraged at their behavior and their lack of accountability. When will Congress get on the ball and restore some respectability to our political system..... on the day we vote these corrupt cretins OUT of office!

    November 21, 2007 11:33 am at 11:33 am |
  2. Jack, Fort Myers, Fl

    Finally at least one person on the White House executive staff...that really feels a conscience. I hope you are able to discredit the entire worthless cadre–and sue their behinds off. YOu know you'll never get GW to admit he's wrong. So the only option to achieve satisfaction will be a suit. Good luck...hope you burn a bunch of smug butts.!!

    November 21, 2007 11:41 am at 11:41 am |
  3. James M. Holmes, Denver CO

    Outing an undercover CIA agent is TREASON and Bush, Cheney and the rest of the traitors in his administration should be charged as such. Anyone doubt that if this were Bill Clinton outing a CIA agent, the "Right Wing Attack Machine" would be out in full force demanding impeachment? How many more crimes are we going to let this administration get away with?

    November 21, 2007 11:42 am at 11:42 am |
  4. John, Brooklyn, NY

    Gee. Am I mistaken or wouldn't "obstruction of justice" during the Fitzgerald investigation constitute "high crimes and misdemeanors" under the constitution's provisions for impeachment?

    Congress really needs to have the guts to push the Justice Department to appoint yet another special prosecutor to the case to specifically investigate these very damaging charges!

    November 21, 2007 11:57 am at 11:57 am |
  5. Henry Miller, Cary, NC

    It may be unfair to generalise from the actions of two individuals–George Bush and Dick Cheney–to the attitude of the political party of which they are members...but I'm going to anyway.

    It looks to me like it's an attitude of self-righteousness, of "the end justifies the means," even when those means include lying, wholesale and retail, to the American public. The truly enormous lie about the "weapons of mass destruction" used to justify a war that makes, and made, no sense in terms of national policy but may have satisfied a neoconservative need to attack their perception of "evil" in defense of their perception of "good"–a revisitation of the Crusades of a thousand years ago. The ancillary string of lies concerning Ms Plame, first in self-righteous retribution fo the "sin" of disbelief on the part of Mr Wilson and subsequently, no doubt with a Jesuit's cross-your-fingers "mental reservation" in defense of those who sinned in a "good" cause.

    Such men as Mr Bush and Mr Cheney, and, by extension, all the neoconservatives, are, given power, dangerous. They seem to feel that they know what's best–and are, like good biblical patriarchs, perfectly willing to impose that philosophy on the mis-guided rest of us.

    Unfortunately, the Democrats share in that self-righteousness, the only difference is what they're self-righteous and arrogant about.

    November 21, 2007 11:58 am at 11:58 am |
  6. Matt, Houston, TX

    IMPEACH CHENEY AND BUSH NOW!!! This DOES rise to the 'high crimes and misdemeanors' required to impeach. Since, as Bush and Cheney continuously remind us, we are in a time of war, the punishment for this crime can be as high as death. I'm not advocating that, but a nice long stretch in Leavanworth would be appropriate.

    November 21, 2007 12:03 pm at 12:03 pm |
  7. Lou, Miami Florida

    These are impeachable offences. Why congress is not doing anything?

    November 21, 2007 12:05 pm at 12:05 pm |
  8. docrock,lewisville,tx

    I was under the impression that the Resident in Thief told America he would make sure whoever outed Ms.Plame would be prosecuted.Isn't what he pulled called High Treason?This is the same fella that said the Constitution is "just a piece of paper".I feel betrayed,lied to and used as a piece of trash.When he hauls out a gun and shoots someone,will we Impeach him like Congress tried to do over some stupid twit over sex?Maybe we should rename our country Lobbyville.For Gods sake America,WAKE-UP!!!!vote for Biden or McCain and try to save ourselves.

    November 21, 2007 12:05 pm at 12:05 pm |
  9. J.Crobuzon

    I bet McClellan's lawyers have already told him that he was never briefed at a level that would have made him liable in this lawsuit, and that he can't be made to testify. So he's safe in releasing his 'opinion,' which is that he was used and made a fool and a screen.

    November 21, 2007 12:17 pm at 12:17 pm |
  10. Letha, Sioux Falls, SD

    No surprise! There has been no honesty in any part of this administration or presidency. Six years ago we lost all credibility around the world and this is just one more reason why.

    November 21, 2007 12:26 pm at 12:26 pm |
  11. Katie, Omaha, NE

    It continues to infuriate me that Bush, Cheney and Rove got away with ruining Valerie Plame's career to punish dissent and with disclosing the identity of a CIA agent which must have compromised our intelligence efforts abroad. By commuting Scooter Libby's sentence, Bush ensured that Libby would not sing. Of course they deliberately lied to Scott McClellan who was left looking like a fool. If you remember, when Scooter Libby was indicted, it appeared that Karl Rove would too be indicted that day, but then Rove shared some "secret information" with Patrick Fitzgerald, and whatever that was caused Fitzgerald not to indict Rove, probably because Rove was given a direct order by Bush and/or Cheney to leak the information and thus, Fitzgerald felt Rove could not be convicted. Right now it appears that evil has triumphed but I still remain hopeful that somehow good will still prevail here.

    November 21, 2007 12:27 pm at 12:27 pm |
  12. Jeff Iowa

    I guess that explains why Cheney and his henchmen would only testify off-the-record, and not under oath. I sincerely hope everyone, at election time, remembers the names of all the remaining Republicans still in office, who supported these criminals throughout their ravaging of America. It's a shame that these crooks will probably be allowed to complete their terms and collect their benefits -at the taxpayers' expense.

    November 21, 2007 12:29 pm at 12:29 pm |
  13. Jack, Fort Myers, FL

    If a member of the CIA or military had leaked that kind of information on an would be considered TREASON. And they would be handled accordingly. Why should the White House be any different. This is a serious breach...not an incident or error in judgement. This was the planned, and executed release of an agent whose identify was classified: TOP SECRET...everyone involved should receive appropriate punishment and humiliation any executive or staffer would recieve in any other government agency for intentionally releasing TOP SECRET information. Anything else is BS. This event..truly crossed the line and put American lives at risk...the culprits (even if old smurk and fart himself GW) should be prosecuted to the maximum extent. The ONE entity an operative in the field should be able to trust is the WHITE HOURSE–when that is in question–our whole intelligence community is in jeopardy! Even..GW's Daddy has been silent...for once ..wasn't he in the CIA. Wake up America!!

    November 21, 2007 12:34 pm at 12:34 pm |
  14. Terry, El Paso, TX

    The behavior of the Bush administration has been disgraceful from the very beginning. Bush is a neo-conservative with Nixonian ethical standards.

    Democratic administrations have used sleazy tactics to punish their opponents, to their shame. Lyndon Johnson's efforts to intimidate the opponents of the War in Vietnam comes to mind as a good example of a bad example.

    Shortly after Harry Truman assumed the presidency after Roosevelt's death, he was reading the folder of papers that was delivered to the President every morning, to update him on recent events. Pres. Truman found himself reading about an extra-marital affair that the wife of a Republican senator was having. After a paragraph or two Truman asked, "Why am I reading this?" He was told that President Roosevelt liked to be kept aware of such things. Truman replied (I'm paraphrasing), "I do not wish to see this kind of material again. See that the federal employees who collected this are given other assignments."

    Ah Harry, where are you when we need you.

    November 21, 2007 12:37 pm at 12:37 pm |
  15. Paul Abeln, Bloomington, Minnesota

    Now we hear from a White House insider that Bush, Cheney and Rove were not truthful regarding the outing of Valerie Plame. It is time to hold these people accountable for their actions. They want a secret government where they can break laws with impunity. Folks, the government belongs to us, the people, not to the bunch of creeps occupying the White House. It is time to start impeachment hearings. The more this transpires, the more Bush looks like Nixon and Cheney looks like Agnew. Time to throw the bums out!

    November 21, 2007 12:44 pm at 12:44 pm |
  16. jw, canadian,ok

    We are truly the laughing stock for the whole freaking world. If we're going to let Bush ignore the Constitution, why can't Pelosi appoint herself acting President and tell King Goerge to get out of my chair?

    November 21, 2007 01:06 pm at 1:06 pm |
  17. Linda, Salt Lake City, Utah

    Well duh. We don't need Scott to tell us that this Administration is the slimiest in history!

    November 21, 2007 01:08 pm at 1:08 pm |
  18. D. Endo, Honolulu HI

    It's amazing that anyone with half a brain could conceive that the leaking of Valerie Plame's name to the various news outlets in an effort to smear Ambassodor Wilson's name could have come from anyone else than Dick "Vader" Cheney. Also if dirty tricks are involved, can Karl Rove be far behind. The lengths that this corrupt administration will go to further the corporate evil in this country is amazing. GW, Cheney, Rove, Rummey, Condi and the rest of these bastard should be tried for war crimes and crimes against humanity for this illegal and immoral war in Iraq. They also should be charged with the crimes and misdemeanors for the corporate "crap" that is rooted in the likes of Halliburton and the oil companies not to mention the rape of the Constitution and civil liberties. I think it is truly amazing that people are paying $3.50/ gallon when their corporate oil cronies are posting billion dollar profits.

    Shame, shame, shame.

    November 21, 2007 01:08 pm at 1:08 pm |
  19. Lee, Mays Landing NJ

    It was simply treason.
    And the cover-up, lies and Bush's clemency for the perjurer and co-conspirator Libby makes it look like the White House is a criminal enetrprise.
    Why do Republicans hate America?

    November 21, 2007 01:17 pm at 1:17 pm |
  20. Francis D'Silva, New Orleans, LA

    By commuting Libby's sentence hurriedly, Libby lost all the urge to shed more light on the case. In short, Bush and Cheney made him shut-up. Libby should have gone to jail for sometime to get commuted. I bet no republican has come forward to protest this. But, on Clintons private affair which in no way affecting national security, these right wingers came attacking Clinton for impeachment. Hypocrites!

    November 21, 2007 01:39 pm at 1:39 pm |
  21. spinstopper

    "The revelation that President Bush and Vice President Cheney were "involved" in the leak"

    Wow CNN! 0 – 60 in 0.0 secs. Impressive journalism!!
    I mean, who could possibly miss that connection from "Bush misleading me into saying that they knew nothing.."

    November 21, 2007 01:40 pm at 1:40 pm |


    November 21, 2007 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
  23. Les Blackwell Temple N.H.


    Rudy Guliani was too busy before 9-11 protecting the interests of Kerik who is now under federal indictment.He knew about his mafia connections and kickbacks.
    He was protecting his friend – a pedophile preist.
    He got kickbacks from the company that made defective radios that firemen had to use.
    He was seeing another women while married.
    No wonder he did not protect Americans before 9-11.

    November 21, 2007 02:04 pm at 2:04 pm |
  24. Ken, Suitland MD

    The best you right-wing nutjobs can muster on this story is a long "yawn"?

    You've supported this lying and treasonous administration up to this point. Why not now? Does this treachery finally overstep even your poorly defined and partisan-serving limits?

    Pathetic...from George, Dick, Donald, Carl...down to Robert, the mindless right-wing reporter who gloatingly spread the outing...down to all you mindless Republican twits who continued to blame everyone for this story, except the very people who deserved it.

    Talk about lack of personal responsibility!

    November 21, 2007 02:05 pm at 2:05 pm |
  25. Gary, Boston MA

    The people are speaking, yet the government is not listening. You should question 'who in government represents you?'. If you answer 'nobody'... then you have answered correctly.

    November 21, 2007 02:13 pm at 2:13 pm |
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