On July 6, 2003, the New York Times published an op-ed by former ambassador Joseph C. Wilson, “What I Didn’t Find in Africa,” about his mission to Niger on behalf of the Bush administration to investigate allegations that Iraq had attempted to purchase uranium on the black market there. He concluded that, contrary to sixteen words in President Bush’s State of the Union address, evidence of such a purchase was scant.
A week later, columnist Robert Novak identified Wilson’s wife, Valerie Plame, as a covert CIA agent. Blowing the cover of an undercover government agent could be a felony under the Intelligence Identities Act of 1982.
The White House initially denied the involvement of Bush Chief of Staff Karl Rove and Dick Cheney’s Chief of Staff Lewis “Scooter” Libby in the leak. A grand jury investigation resulted in Libby’s indictment for obstruction of justice, perjury, and making false statements. President Bush commuted his sentence.
In 2006, Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage admitted to being the source of the Plame leak, saying that it was done by mistake in casual conversation. Karl Rove confirmed the information for Novak prior to publishing.
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