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As CIA leak probe passes Rove, Cheney is eyed, lawyer says

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Excerpted to highlight Cheney's role from an article Saturday in the New York Times. The Times' reporters remark: "Ms. Miller's grand jury appearance increased anxiety in the White House and throughout Republican circles about how the investigation might end."

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A lawyer who knows Mr. Libby's account said the administration efforts to limit the damage from Mr. Wilson's criticism extended as high as Mr. Cheney. This lawyer and others who spoke about the case asked that they not be identified because of grand jury secrecy rules.

On July 12, 2003, four days after his initial conversation with Ms. Miller, Mr. Libby consulted with Mr. Cheney about how to handle inquiries from journalists about the vice president's role in sending Mr. Wilson to Africa in early 2002 to investigate reports that Iraq was trying acquire nuclear material there for its weapons program, the person said.

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In that account, Mr. Cheney told Mr. Libby to direct reporters to a statement released the previous day by George J. Tenet, director of central intelligence. His statement said Mr. Wilson had been sent on the mission by C.I.A. counter-proliferation officers "on their own initiative."

Mr. Wilson wrote an Op-Ed article in The New York Times on July 6, 2003, saying that "some of the intelligence related to Iraq's nuclear weapons program was twisted to exaggerate the Iraqi threat," and that his mission to Africa had been set in motion because of questions that Mr. Cheney's office had put to the C.I.A. The account, which Mr. Libby has provided to the grand jury, portrays his conversations with journalists as intended not to leak Ms. Wilson's name or to smear Mr. Wilson, but to distance the vice president from the criticism raised by Mr. Wilson.

A spokesman for Mr. Cheney, Stephen E. Schmidt, said he could not comment because of the inquiry.

The investigation has found that at least two senior White House officials, Mr. Libby and Karl Rove, President Bush's political strategist, spoke with reporters about Mr. Wilson's wife and her employment at the intelligence agency in the week after the publication of the Op-Ed article. People who have been briefed on their accounts have said the officials did not know of Ms. Wilson's status and did not supply journalists her name.

Originally published on Saturday October 1, 2005.

 


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