Libby says Powell, Armitage and Grossman were source for Plame Leak
April 3-9, 2006 issue
Attorneys for former Vice President Chief of Staff Lewis "Scooter" Libby say one of three senior State Department officials was the source of a leak that exposed CIA agent Valerie Plame.
They say the officials are: former Secretary of State Colin Powell, former Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage and then-Undersecretary of State Marc Grossman.
The attorneys for Mr. Libby plan to argue that a senior official in the State Department leaked Mrs. Plame's identity amid the administration's defense of the U.S. failure to find weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. The attorneys have sought to highlight heavy infighting between White House staff and the CIA and State Department amid criticism by Mrs. Plame's husband, former Ambassador Joseph Wilson.
"The media conflagration ignited by the failure to find WMD in Iraq and in part by Mr. Wilson's criticism of the administration, led officials within the White House, the State Department and the CIA to blame each other, publicly and in private, for faulty pre-war intelligence about Iraq's WMD capabilities," papers filed by Mr. Libby's defense team said.
Attorneys for Mr. Libby, who has been indicted on five counts of perjury, have been subpoenaing documents that expose the disputes within the top echelon of the administration. The infighting focused on failed intelligence assessments before the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in 2003.
Mr. Libby has asserted that he did not remember details of Mrs. Plame and how her identity was leaked to columnist Robert Novak. Mr. Libby's trial has been scheduled for January 2007.
Court papers filed by Mr. Libby suggest that one of three senior State Department officials discussed or leaked Mrs. Plame's identity. In September 2003, then-Secretary of State Colin Powell was reported to have identified Mrs. Plame as a CIA agent who convinced the agency to send her husband on a mission to Niger in 2002.
The second official fingered by the defense has been former Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage. Court papers filed by the defense suggest that Mr. Armitage leaked Mrs. Plame's identity to Mr. Novak and perhaps to The Washington Post's Bob Woodward.
"If the facts ultimately show that Mr. Armitage or someone else from the State Department was also Mr. Novak's primary source, then the State Department and certainly not Mr. Libby bears responsibility for the 'leak' that led to the public disclosure," the defense said in the March 17 filing.
The defense has also identified another former State Department official as the possible leaker. Then-Undersecretary of State Marc Grossman was alleged to have told Mr. Libby of Mrs. Plame's employment at the CIA a month before her identity was leaked.
"If Mr. Armitage or another State Department official was in fact the primary source for Mr. Novak's article, Mr. Grossman's testimony may be colored by either his personal relationship with Mr. Armitage or his concern for the institutional concerns of the State Department," the defense said.
The defense team plans to subpoena Mr. Powell, Mr. Armitage, Mr. Grossman and Karl Rove. Mr. Rove, deputy White House chief of staff, has been under investigation in connection with the leak. National Security Advisor Stephen Hadley has also been targeted by the defense.