Democratic lawmakers are stepping
up demands for an independent investigation into the still un-resolved leak to
media last year of the name of a CIA officer. The renewed demands come as 10
former CIA employees sent a letter to Democrat and Republican leaders in Congress
saying the unauthorized disclosure seriously damaged U.S. national security.
In a letter sent to congressional leaders of both parties, 10 former CIA
analysts and officers call the disclosure of Valerie Plame's name "an unprecedented
and shameful event in American history."
They say the leak "damaged U.S. national security, specifically the effectiveness
of U.S. intelligence-gathering using human sources," and add that a thorough
congressional investigation would "send an unambiguous message" that those
working in the intelligence community must "never be turned into political
Last year, a syndicated columnist, Robert Novak, published the name of Ms. Plame,
who is married to former U.S. Ambassador Joseph Wilson, who has been critical
of the Bush administration.
Mr. Wilson was thrust into the spotlight last year when he took issue with
President Bush's use of information in his January 2003 State of the Union
address about alleged Iraqi attempts to purchase "yellow-cake" uranium in the
African nation of Niger.
In television interviews and appearances, he became a sharp critic of the
Bush administration's handling of intelligence, noting that his own investigation
in 2002, at the request of the Vice President Dick Cheney, determined that
documents about the alleged purchase attempts were forgeries.
Mr. Wilson alleged that someone in the Bush administration then leaked the
fact that his wife is a CIA agent, in an attempt to discredit his criticisms.
President Bush ordered an investigation into the leak, but in a statement
last year said he thought it was unlikely that the person responsible would
Democrats, including candidates for the 2004 Democratic party presidential
nomination, focused on that comment accusing Mr. Bush of failing to recognize
the damage done to U.S. intelligence.
House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi Thursday renewed her call for an investigation
independent of the probe the administration ordered.
For several months, a group of House Democrats led by Congressman Rush Holt
has been demanding an open investigation into the leak, criticizing the Justice
Department saying it should provide specifics of progress and a timetable for
Attorney General John Ashcroft has recused himself from the Justice Department
A day after President Bush's State of the Union Address, Mr. Holt, a member
of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, introduced a "resolution
of inquiry" asking for all documents relating to the leak of Ms. Plame's identity
with the CIA.
Congress is required to act in some way on such a resolution within 14 days
of its submission. However, it is thought unlikely the Republican leadership
will agree to consider the resolution of inquiry.