White House Probed Over Leak

us ambassador joseph wilson CBS

The Justice Department is investigating whether to launch a criminal probe of the White House after the CIA complained someone there may have leaked the classified identity of an agency operative, reports CBS News Correspondent Randall Pinkston.

If the allegations are true - whoever is responsible for the leak could be headed to jail - for ten years.

The president's national security advisor, Condoleeza Rice, issued the latest White House denial that senior administration officials had blown the cover of a CIA operative.

"I know nothing about any such calls, and I do know that that president of the United States does not expect his White House to behave in that way," Rice said in a broadcast interview.

In a July article, syndicated columnist Robert Novak said two senior administration officials gave him the agent's name. But a new report reveals the leak may have been more extensive.

A senior administration official told the Washington Post that before Novak's column ran, two top White House officials called at least six Washington journalists and disclosed the identity and occupation of Wilson's wife.

The senior official said he or she came forward to the Post because the leaks were "wrong and a huge miscalculation, because they were irrelevant and did nothing to diminish Wilson's credibility."

Former CIA analyst Raymond McGovern is outraged. "People frequently die from revelations like this," he says. "We don't know what will happen in this case and I suppose it will come out in the end."

The alleged motive for outing the agent, may have been revenge against her husband, former Ambassador Joseph Wilson. Wilson had just published an article detailing his warnings to the administration that there was no concrete evidence that Iraq had purchased uranium from Niger.

"Clearly, it was meant purely and simply for revenge," the senior official told the Washington Post.

Wilson says, "For an administration that came to Washington promising to restore honor and dignity to the White House, this kind of low blow, even in a bare knuckled town like Washington, was neither honorable nor dignified."

Wilson has publicly suggested Bush advisor Karl Rove broke his wife's cover.

Rice downplayed the accusations, saying, "The Justice Department gets these as a matter of routine."

  • Joel Arak

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