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Timeline: CIA Leak
Sept. 30

NPR.org, September 30, 2005 ·  Judith Miller, a reporter for The New York Times, is released after being jailed for refusing to divulge her sources during the investigation of a CIA leak. The Times has said that source is Lewis Libby, chief of staff to Vice President Dick Cheney.

The leak came after CIA officer Valerie Plame's husband criticized the White House for exaggerating evidence in its push for going to war against Iraq. Following is a timeline of how the CIA leak case evolved:

February 2002: Former ambassador Joseph C. Wilson travels to Niger at the CIA's request to check for evidence that Iraq bought uranium "yellowcake" from the African country that could be used for production of a nuclear weapon.

Jan. 28, 2003: President Bush delivers his State of the Union address. In the speech he includes the following sentence: "The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa." Those 16 words contradicted what Wilson had reported upon his return from Niger to check out the claim. Months later they would be retracted by the White House.

March 20, 2003: The invasion of Iraq begins.

July 6, 2003: Wilson's op-ed column, "What I Didn't Find in Africa," is published in The New York Times. In it he concludes, "some of the intelligence related to Iraq's nuclear weapons program was twisted to exaggerate the Iraqi threat."

July 7, 2003: President Bush boards Air Force One at Andrews Air Force Base outside Washington en route to Dakar, Senegal. It is the start of a weeklong tour of the continent that become overshadowed by questions about alleged Iraqi WMD.

Also on board is a top-secret briefing book containing a memo prepared by the State Department identifying Valerie Wilson (Plame's married name) as a CIA officer and as the wife of former Ambassador Joseph Wilson.

July 9, 2003: Speaking to a White House press pool in Pretoria, South Africa, the second stop on the president's Africa tour, Press Secretary Ari Fleischer says the State of the Union address should not have included the reference to Iraqi attempts to acquire uranium from Niger. Fleischer says: "With the advantage of hindsight, it's known now what was not known by the White House prior to the speech. This information should not have risen to the level of a presidential speech."

July 14, 2003: Robert Novak, in his syndicated commentary, reveals that Wilson's wife, Valerie Plame, is a CIA operative. Novak attributes the information to "two senior administration officials."

July 17, 2003: Time magazine publishes an online article by Matthew Cooper, Massimo Calabresi, and John F. Dickerson indicating that government officials had disclosed Plame's identity to them.

July 22, 2003: At a White House news briefing, McClellan, when asked about the administration leaking Plame's name, states: "That is not the way this president or this White House operates."

Sept. 14, 2003: Vice President Cheney, on NBC's Meet the Press, is asked if he had been briefed on Wilson's findings when Wilson returned from Niger. Cheney responds: "No. I don't know Joe Wilson. I've never met Joe Wilson." Cheney adds moments later, "I don't know who sent Joe Wilson. He never submitted a report that I ever saw when he came back.

Sept. 16, 2003: McClellan calls "totally ridiculous" the allegation that presidential adviser Karl Rove was the source of the leak.

Sept. 28, 2003: CIA Director George J. Tenet calls on the Justice Department to investigate the leak.

Sept. 29, 2003: McClellan reiterates his earlier defense of Rove, adding that he had spoken to Rove about the leak.

Sept. 30, 2003: The Justice Department launches a full criminal investigation into the leaking of Plame's name. President Bush, speaking to reporters in Chicago, says, "If there is a leak out of my administration, I want to know who it is. And if the person has violated the law, the person will be taken care of..."

Oct. 24, 2003: FBI agents begin interviewing White House administration officials about the leak. Interviewees include Karl Rove and Scott McClellan.

Dec. 30, 2003: Attorney General John Ashcroft recuses himself from the leak investigation and U.S. Attorney Patrick J. Fitzgerald takes over the probe.

Jan-Feb 2004: A federal grand jury questions White House administration officials, including Scott McClellan, Mary Matalin and Adam Levine.

May 21, 2004: Tim Russert, host of NBC's Meet the Press, and Time's Cooper are subpoenaed for the grand jury investigation. Both Time and NBC say that they would fight the subpoenas.

June 18, 2004: White House Counsel Alberto R. Gonzales testifies before the federal grand jury.

June 24, 2004: Prosecutors question President Bush in the Oval Office. The questioning takes over an hour, and the president is not under oath.

Aug. 9, 2004: Cooper, refusing to reveal his confidential source, is held in contempt of court and ordered to jail by a federal judge in Washington. Judge Thomas F. Hogan also orders Time to pay $1,000 per day until the source is revealed. The decision is stayed pending an appeal.

Aug. 12, 2004: New York Times reporter Judith Miller is subpoenaed by a grand jury.

Aug. 24, 2004: The order to jail Cooper is canceled after he submits to questioning by Justice Department prosecutors.

Oct. 7, 2004: Miller is held in contempt of court for refusing to name confidential sources. Miller has not published any articles about the Plame case. Judge Hogan stays the order pending appeals.

Oct. 13, 2004: Cooper is again held in contempt of court for refusing to identify a confidential source who informed him about Plame's identity.

Oct. 15, 2004: Rove testifies before a federal grand jury for two hours. Fitzgerald assures Rove that he is not a target of the probe.

June 27, 2005: The U.S. Supreme Court declines to review appeals by Cooper and Miller.

June 30, 2005: Time agrees to turn over Cooper's notes and e-mails.

July 3, 2005: The Washington Post reports that Karl Rove spoke with Matthew Cooper in July 2003 when Cooper was reporting on Plame's husband. Rove's attorney, Robert Luskin, states, "Karl did nothing wrong."

July 6, 2005: Miller is jailed for refusing to reveal her confidential source. Judge Hogan declares that she was "defying the law." The same day, Cooper agrees to cooperate with the investigation, saying his confidential source granted him permission to comply.

July 10, 2005: Newsweek cites Rove as Cooper's source for the leak.

July 11, 2005: During a contentious White House press briefing, McClellan is asked to reconcile his statements from 2003 that Rove had no involvement in the leak with new revelations that Rove had spoken to reporters about Plame. McClellan refuses to discuss the matter, citing the ongoing investigation.

July 12, 2005: The White House says President Bush continues to have confidence in Rove.

July 15, 2005: Rove attorney Robert Luskin tells the Associated Press that Rove made three appearances before the grand jury and answered all questions. Luskin also says he has been assured that his client is not a target of the investigation.

July 17, 2005: In Time magazine, Matt Cooper discusses his testimony before the grand jury investigating the leak. He says Rove never referred to Valerie Plame by name, but that Cooper did learn from that conversation with Rove that Wilson's wife worked for the CIA and was involved in WMD issues.

July 18, 2005: President Bush, during a White House appearance with India's Prime Minister Singh is asked if, regardless of whether a crime was committed, he still intends to fire anyone found to be involved in the CIA leak case. The president replies that if someone "committed a crime, they will no longer work in my administration."

Aug. 4, 2005: Novak swears in disgust and walks off the set of CNN's program Inside Politics in response to a comment from Democratic strategist James Carville. Carville tells viewers that he thinks Novak is trying to "show these right-wingers that he's got a backbone." The two were discussing U.S. Rep. Katherine Harris (R-FL), and Carville's comment was unrelated to the CIA leak investigation. But CNN correspondent Ed Henry said he was about to ask Novak about the CIA leak case when the columnist walked off the set.

Aug. 5, 2005: Novak apologizes for walking off the set of Inside Politics but says it had "absolutely nothing" to do with the CIA leak probe. "I was sorry he said that," Novak said of CNN's Ed Henry.

Sept. 29, 2005: Reporter Judith Miller is released from the Alexandria Detention Center in Virginia. Editors at The New York Times say she reached a deal with U.S. Attorney Patrick J. Fitzgerald to testify. The editors say her source in the leak probe offered assurances that he wanted her to testify and was not coerced into releasing her from a promise of confidentiality.

Sept. 30, 2005: The Times identifies Miller's source as I. Lewis Libby, Cheney's chief of staff. In Washington, Miller testifies before the grand jury. Afterwards, she declines to confirm that Libby was her source, but says the source sent her a letter and called her in prison. "I concluded from this that my source genuinely wanted me to testify," she says.

Sources: NPR research, news reports, Facts on File