Key Players in the CIA Leak Investigation

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Updated: Tuesday, July 3, 2007; 11:53 a.m.

On Oct. 28, 2005, a grand jury handed down a five-count indictment in the 22-month-long investigation into whether White House officials illegally leaked the identity of Valerie Plame, a covert CIA agent, in retaliation for public criticisms made by her husband, Joseph Wilson IV, about the Bush administration's case for invading Iraq.

Washington Post reporter Dan Eggen has written an explainer of the CIA leak case and key players in the investigation are listed below.

Valerie Plame | Joseph C. Wilson IV | "Scooter" Libby | Karl Rove | George W. Bush | Richard B. Cheney | Patrick J. Fitzgerald | Reggie B. Walton | Robert D. Novak | Judith Miller | Matthew Cooper | Bob Woodward


Valerie Plame
Valerie Plame
Valerie Plame (Carol Joynt / Getty Images North America)
An undercover CIA operative specializing in weapons of mass destruction, Plame was unmasked in July 2003 by columnist Robert D. Novak after her husband, Joseph Wilson, criticized President Bush for stating that former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein bought nuclear weapons-grade uranium in the African nation of Niger. The revelation set off an investigation into whether White House officials broke a 1982 law prohibiting the disclosure of the identities of covert CIA officers when they revealed Plame's status to Novak and other reporters.

In July 2006, Plame sued Cheney, Rove and Libby, accusing them and other White House officials of conspiring to destroy her career.

Joseph C. Wilson IV
Joseph Wilson
Joseph Wilson (Win Mcnamee / Getty Images)

Joseph Wilson is the husband of Valerie Plame, a covert CIA operative who was unmasked in July 2003 by columnist Robert D. Novak, after Wilson criticized President Bush for stating that Iraqi President Saddam Hussein bought nuclear weapons-grade uranium in the African nation of Niger. The revelation set off an investigation into whether White House officials broke a 1982 law prohibiting the disclosure of the identities of covert CIA officers when they revealed Plame's status to Novak and other reporters.

In February 2002, Wilson, a former ambassador under the first President Bush, was asked by the CIA and other agencies to investigate claims that Iraq had attempted to buy uranium yellowcake from Niger. Wilson said he found the claims to be false and that his reports to administration officials reflected that finding.

In a July 6, 2003, opinion piece for the New York Times the ex-diplomat criticized President Bush for stating in his January 2003 State of the Union address that Iraq was seeking to buy nuclear material in Niger. Wilson wrote, "If my information was deemed inaccurate, I understand. If the information was ignored because it did not fit certain preconceptions about Iraq, then a legitimate argument can be made that we went to war under false pretenses."

Days later Novak's column identified Wilson's wife, Valerie Plame, as a CIA "operative on weapons of mass destruction." Wilson charged that the move was an attempt at intimidation by the Bush administration in retaliation for his criticism.

In his memoir, "The Politics of Truth," Wilson wrote that his wife "would never be able to regain the anonymity and secrecy that her professional life had required; she would not be able to return to her discreet work on some of the most sensitive threats to our society in the foreseeable future, and perhaps ever."


I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby - Chief of Staff, Office of the Vice President
"Scooter" Libby (Joe Marquette / AP)

Vice President Cheney's top aide, Libby was found guilty of lying about his role in the leak of Plame's identity, two counts of perjury, one count of making false statements and one count of obstruction of justice on March 6, 2007. He was acquitted of a single count of lying to the FBI. On July 2, President Bush commuted Libby's sentence, after a federal appeals court refused to let Libby remain free while he appealed his conviction for lying to federal investigators.

In his testimony before the grand jury investigating the Plame affair, Libby reportedly testified that he learned Wilson's wife was in the CIA from NBC correspondent Tim Russert, who denied providing the information to Libby. According to the New York Times, documents show that Libby may have first learned about Plame from Cheney.

The charges stem from whether Libby tried to impede the special prosecutor's inquiry by withholding information about conversations he had with the vice president about Plame. After the charges were announced, Libby resigned his post. He pleaded not guilty to the charges.

Libby has been asking for voluminous amounts of classified information from the government in order to defend himself against the indictments. His attorneys insist they need hundreds of pages of classified daily briefings prepared for President Bush to show that Libby did not intentionally lie about discussing Plame with reporters, as prosecutors allege. Instead, they argue that inaccurate statements made by him are the result of mistakes or forgetfulness caused by the long hours he put in every day dealing with critical national security issues.

On March 6, Libby was found guilty of four felony counts of making false statements to the FBI, lying to a grand jury and obstructing a probe into the leak of Plame's identity. He was acquitted of one count of lying to the FBI about his conversation with Matthew Cooper, and on June 5 he was sentenced to 30 months in prison and fined $250,000.

Born: 1950 in New Haven, Conn.

Education: Yale University, 1972; JD, Columbia University, 1975

Career Highlights: Policy Planning staffer, State Department, 1981; director, Special Projects, Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs; 1982-1985; partner, Dickstein, Shapiro and Morin, 1985-1990; principal deputy undersecretary of defense for strategy and resources, 1990-1992; deputy undersecretary of defense for policy, 1992-1993; legal adviser, House Select Committee on U.S. National Security and Military/Commercial Concerns with the People's Republic of China, 1993-1995; managing partner at the Dechert, Price and Rhoads, 1995-2001; chief of staff and national security advisor, Office the Vice President of the United States, 2001-2005

Personal: Married; two children

Karl Rove - Deputy Chief of Staff, Office of the President
Karl Rove
Karl Rove (Susan Biddle / Post)

A top adviser to President Bush, Karl Rove testified four times before the grand jury charged with investigating the Plame affair. Rove's lawyer revealed that Fitzgerald does not expect to seek charges against his client in connection with the CIA leak case.

Rove is a longtime political adviser to Bush who helped shape the administration's case to the American public for the Iraq war. Rove initially told investigators that Robert D. Novak first mentioned Plame to him during a July 9, 2003 conversation; but in his most recent testimony to the grand jury, Rove said I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby may have been his source on Plame and her CIA status. The chief of staff was also under scrutiny because he did not initially tell the grand jury about a July 2003 conversation with Matthew Cooper.

Born: 1950 in Denver

Education: Attended the University of Utah, University of Maryland, University of Texas at Austin and George Mason University

Career Highlights: Executive director of the College Republican National Committee, 1971-1973; chairman, 1973-1975; finance director of the Virginia Republican Party, 1976; executive director, Fund for Limited Government, 1978; chief of staff, Governor Bill Clements (R-Tex.), 1978-1981; instructor, University of Texas, 1981-1999; chief strategist, George W. Bush presidential campaign, 2000; deputy chief of staff, Office of the President of the United States, 2001-present.

Personal: Married; one child

President George W. Bush
President Bush
President Bush (Joe Raedle / Getty Images)

The president cited British intelligence in his 2003 State of the Union address that Ira was pursuing uranium in Africa. He has said he would fire a member of his staff if he had committed a crime by leaking information.

Born: 1946 in New Haven Conn.

Education: BA, Yale University, 1968; MBA, Harvard University, 1975

Career Highlights: Arbusto Energy, 1979-1986; managing general partner, Texas Rangers, 1989-1994; governor, Texas, 1994-2001; president of the U.S., 2001-present

Personal: Married; two children

Richard Cheney - Vice President
Dick Cheney
Vice President Cheney (Ron Edmonds / AP)

The vice president led the White House effort to build the case that Iraq was an imminent threat because it possessed weapons of mass destruction. Administration officials say Joseph Wilson's trip to Niger to flesh out if Iraq had bought weapons of mass destruction was triggered by questions from Cheney about a Defense Intelligence Agency report. A former aide told The Washington Post it was "implausible" that Cheney was involved in the leaking of Plame's name, but on Oct. 25, White House officials dodged questions about whether Cheney revealed Plame's covert operative status to Libby. Former CIA director George Tenet may have provided the information to Cheney, The New York Times reported.

Born: 1941 in Lincoln, Neb.

Education: BA, University of Wyoming, 1966; MA, University of Wyoming, 1966

Career Highlights: Various positions, Nixon administration, 1969-1974; deputy assistant to President Gerald R. Ford, 1974-1975; assistant and chief of staff to President Ford, 1975-1976; U.S. House of Representatives, 1978-1989; Secretary of Defense; 1989-1993; fellow, American Enterprise Institute, 1993-1995; chief executive officer, Halliburton, 1995-2000; vice president of the U.S. 2001-present


Patrick J. Fitzgerald - Prosecutor, Office of Special Counsel

Patrick Fitzgerald
Patrick Fitzgerald (Charles Dharapak / AP)

Fitzgerald, a political independent, was appointed as special prosecutor to investigate the CIA leak on Dec. 31, 2003. Since 2001 he has been U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois, which includes Chicago. As an assistant U.S. attorney in New York, where he participated in the prosecution of terrorism cases coming from the 1993 bombing at the World Trade Center and the 1998 bombings of U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, Fitzgerald was the first lawyer to build a criminal indictment against Osama bin Laden. (For further details: "The Prosecutor Never Rests" The Washington Post, Feb. 2, 2005).

Born: 1961, Brooklyn, N.Y.

Education: BA, Amherst College, 1982; JD, Harvard University, 1985

Career Highlights: Associate, Christy & Viener, 1985-1988; assistant U.S. Attorney, Southern District of New York, 1988-1993; chief, Narcotics Unit of the Office of the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, 1994-1995; co-chief, Organized Crime and Terrorism Section of the Office of the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, 1995-2001; U.S. Attorney, Northern District of Illinois, 2001-present

Reggie B. Walton - Trial Judge, U.S. District Court

The trial judge in the Libby case, U.S. District Judge Reggie B. Walton sentenced Libby to 30 months in jail and ordered him to pay a $250,000 penalty for his convictions of perjury and obstruction in a probe of Plame's outing.

Fellow judges and lawyers who appear before him say Walton has a reputation for giving very tough and long sentences to those defendants whom he believes have misled him and/or the jury. During the case, Walton chided the defense for leading him to believe that Libby would testify in his own defense. Libby never took the stand.

"Evidence in this case overwhelmingly indicated Mr. Libby's culpability," said Walton prior to sentencing.

Career: First appointed to a judgeship on the D.C. Superior Court in 1981 by President Ronald Reagan; served as associate director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy; appointed to the federal bench in 2001 by President Bush. In 2004, Bush named Walton to chair commission investigating ways to curb inmate rape; appointed in May 2007 by Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. to sit on Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court. Prejudicial career: June 1980-July 1981: executive assistant U.S. attorney in Washington. March 1976-June 1980: assistant U.S. attorney. June 1979-June 1980: chief of the career criminal unit, U.S. attorney's office. August 1974-February 1976: staff attorney in the Defender Association of Philadelphia.

Born: Donora, Pa., 1949.

Education: BA, West Virginia State College, 1971; JD, The American University, Washington College of Law, 1974.

Thomas F. Hogan - Chief Judge, U.S. District Court

Hogan had jurisdiction over the grand jury that rejected the reporters' claims that the First Amendment protected them from testifying and held them in contempt of court.

Education: AB, Georgetown University, 1960; JD, Georgetown University Law Center, 1966


Robert D. Novak - Columnist
Robert Novak
Robert Novak (Alex Wong / AP)

In July 2003 Novak wrote a column about Joseph Wilson's claim (written eight days earlier in the New York Times) that reports of Iraqi attempts to procure uranium from Niger were false. Novak identified Wilson's wife, Valerie Plame, by name as a CIA operative and noted that "two senior administration officials told [him] that Wilson's wife suggested sending him to Niger to investigate" possible Iraqi involvement. In addition to Novak, six other journalists are reported to have known Plame's identity before the Novak column was published, including Judith Miller.

Novak's career as a reporter and columnist dates back to the 1950s. He writes a regular, syndicated column for the Chicago Sun-Times and is well-known as a conservative television personality, appearing regularly on programs like CNN's "Capital Gang" and "Crossfire."

Judith Miller - Reporter, New York Times (formerly)

Jailed for 85 days after refusing to testify about her source before the grand jury, New York Times reporter Judith Miller never wrote about Valerie Plame's role as a CIA operative. She eventually testified that Libby talked to her about Plame on three separate occasions before the Novak column publicly identified Plame as a covert CIA operative. In the days since her release Miller has said that she initially refused to testify because she believed Libby did not want her to cooperate in the CIA leak investigation unless her account would clear him.

Matthew Cooper - Reporter, Time Magazine

Matthew Cooper
Matthew Cooper (Alex Wong / AP)

Along with Judith Miller, Cooper was initially held in contempt of court and threatened with imprisonment for refusing to disclose his sources to the grand jury investigation. Unlike Miller, Cooper wrote a story for his magazine based, in part, on his confidential sources.

On July 6, 2005, Cooper agreed to comply with the court order compelling him to testify. Cooper told the judge he received a last-minute call from his confidential sources freeing him from his confidentiality agreements. Karl Rove's attorney, Robert Luskin, later confirmed the senior Bush adviser as Cooper's source.

Bob Woodward - Assistant Managing Editor, The Washington Post
Bob Woodward
Bob Woodward (Brad Barket / Getty Images)

One of the most well-known journalists in America, Bob Woodward told Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald on Nov. 14, 2005, that a senior government official talked to him about Plame and her covert status two years ago. This revelation cast doubt on allegations that I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby was the first Bush administration official to out Plame. Woodward's testimony also raised questions about his decision to keep silent about the conversation during the past two years, despite an ongoing investigation into the affair. Woodward, who gained notoriety when he and then-reporter Carl Bernstein uncovered the Watergate scandal, issued an apology to the Post.

Born: 1943 in Geneva, Illinois

Education: Yale University, 1965

Career highlights: Communications Officer, U.S. Navy, 1965-1970; reporter, Montgomery County (Md.) Sentinel, 1970-1971; reporter, 1971-1979; assistant managing editor/Metro, 1979-1982; assistant managing editor/Investigative, 1982-present, The Washington Post. Co-author "All the President's Men," 1974; co-author "The Final Days," 1976; co-author "The Brethren: Inside the Supreme Court," 1979; author "Wired: The Short Life and Fast Times of John Belushi," 1984; author "Veil: The Secret Wars of the CIA," 1987; author "The Commanders," 1991; "The Man Who Would Be President: Dan Quayle," 1992; "The Agenda: Inside the Clinton White House," 1994; "The Choice," 1996; "Shadow: Five Presidents and the Legacy of Watergate," 1999; "Maestro: Greenspan's Fed and the American Boom," 2000; "Bush at War," 2002; "Plan of Attack," 2004; "The Secret Man: The Story of Watergate's Deep Throat," 2005; "State of Denial," 2006.

Personal: Married; two children

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