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Bush acknowledges his administration leaked CIA operative’s name

Thursday, July 12, 2007

 


WASHINGTON: President George W. Bush on Thursday acknowledged publicly for the first time that someone in his administration likely 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,” 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. Wilson is an outspoken Iraq war critic.

Ten days ago, Bush commuted the 30-month sentence given to I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby by a federal judge in connection with the case.

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.

Bush would not directly address answer a question about whether he is disappointed in the White House officials who leaked Plame’s name.

“I’m aware of the fact that perhaps somebody in the administration did disclose the name of that person,” 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 Libby’s sentence. “The Scooter Libby decision was, I thought, a fair and balanced decision,” Bush said.

Bush also presented a mixed picture of progress in Iraq, coinciding with an interim report to Congress by his administration that asserted progress on some fronts but not on others.

He said he understood the growing opposition to the war among the American public and recent defections by some Republicans in Congress.

“There’s war fatigue in America. It’s affecting our psychology. I understand that. It’s an ugly war,” Bush said.

He said he had listened carefully to influential Republican senators who had recently been critical of his war strategy. But, in the end, he said, he was commander in chief and he would rely on advice from his military commanders.

“I value the advice of those senators, I appreciate their concern. … I’m going to continue to listen to them,” Bush said.

He said he still believed the war could — and must — be won. “If we increase our support at this crucial moment, we can hasten the day when our troops come home,” Bush said.

Questions on Iraq dominated Bush’s news conference, his first full-blown question and answer session with reporters once since May 24.

The administration’s report said there has been satisfactory progress on eight political and military benchmarks, unsatisfactory progress on another eight, and mixed results in two other areas.

On one of the few other questions of the news conference not related to Iraq, Bush was asked whether he also had a “gut feeling” there might be a terror attack this summer, as Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff had recently suggested.

“My gut tells me that, which my head tells as well, is that: When we find a credible threat, we’ll share it with you.”

From the International Herald

Say “When.”

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