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Possible charges for Bush aides over spy scandal

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Possible charges for Bush aides over spy scandal


The spectre of a spy scandal hangs over the White House and some of the president’s men. George Bush’s top political advisor, Karl Rove, is in the eye of the storm as prosecutors consider whether to press charges over the revelation of a CIA operative’s identity. Also implicated is Lewis Libby, who is chief of staff to vice president Dick Cheney.

Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald has interviewed several senior White House staff over the affair. It is thought he may seek charges of obstructing justice and disclosing classified information. The story has its roots in the run-up to the Iraq war when Bush administration officials were building a case for invasion. The White House claimed to have the evidence that Saddam Hussein was attempting to develop weapons of mass destruction. In January 2003, Bush said: “The British government has learned Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of Uranium from Africa.” Several weeks later former diplomat Joseph Wilson, who was investigating the Uranium claims, revealed in an interview with the New York Times that he had informed the White House that they were not credible. Within days his wife Valerie Plame was exposed in the press as a CIA agent. Wilson denounced it as an act of revenge by the White House where, it was claimed, his pronouncements on the Uranium claims had not gone down well. His wife’s intelligence role was protected by secrecy laws, it was pointed out. So who her leaked her name? The speculation gathered pace in the media, focusing on Rove and Libby. With an official investigation underway Bush signalled he would not be influenced by press reports. He said: “I have instructed every member of my staff to fully cooperate in this investigation. I also will not prejudge the investigation based on media reports.” The scandal could not have come at a worse time for Bush. With public support for both him and the war in Iraq falling dramatically, the case has resurrected uncomfortable questions about his administration’s justification for invading the country.
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