Bush expects 'full cooperation' from staff in leak probe
Dems press for special prosecutor
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Despite Democratic criticism and skepticism, President Bush expressed anew Monday his confidence in the Justice Department to investigate the leak of a CIA operative's name and said he expects his staff to offer "full cooperation" in that criminal probe.
"We will cooperate fully with the Justice Department. I have every confidence in the world that the Justice Department will do a good, thorough job," Bush said.
Bush talked about the leak while taking questions from reporters at a news conference with Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki.
"I'd like to know who leaked," Bush said. "And if anybody's got information inside our government or outside our government who leaked, you ought to take it to the Justice Department, so we can find the leaker."
Democrats have called for a special prosecutor, saying it would ensure more independence in the investigation. (Full story)
About 500 of the roughly 2,000 White House staffers required to search their records as part of the leak investigation turned over records to the White House counsel's office Monday or certified that they had no relevant records, a senior White House official told CNN.
The official said the overwhelming majority of the White House employees who had filed with the counsel's office reported finding nothing covered by a Justice Department search request.
The counsel's office has a set a 5 p.m. deadline Tuesday for staffers to reply.
Meanwhile, retired career diplomat Joseph Wilson, said Sunday that he would to love to see whoever blew the cover on his wife as a CIA operative "frog-marched out of the White House."
Wilson also said that he and his wife are concerned about their personal security because of the leak.
"There have been a number of other people who've come out and suggested that perhaps this does make her a target," he told CBS' "Face the Nation." "We, of course, as a consequence of that, have begun to rethink our own security posture."
But Robert Novak, the syndicated columnist who disclosed her identity, said he has no regrets.
"It is up to the government to keep the government's secrets," Novak said on NBC's "Meet the Press."
The Bush administration faces a criminal investigation into the leak, which occurred when Novak named Wilson's wife, CIA operative Valerie Plame, in a July 14 column about her husband. (Full story)
Novak was writing about Wilson's trip to Niger for the CIA in 2002 to investigate a British intelligence report that Iraq had tried to obtain uranium from the African country.
Wilson, who was director of African affairs at the National Security Council late in the Clinton administration, had disclosed the trip in a New York Times op-ed article the week before.
Wilson wrote that he told the CIA he could find no evidence to prove the Iraq-Niger connection nearly a year before President Bush referred to it in his 2003 State of the Union speech as part of the rationale for war with Iraq. (Full story)
Wilson's revelations helped fuel allegations that the administration had exaggerated the threat posed by Iraq before the war. The White House later backed off the assertion.
Wilson, who was acting U.S. ambassador to Iraq during the Persian Gulf War in 1991 and later was ambassador to Gabon, said on "Meet the Press" that he believed the leak was meant "to discourage others from coming forward."
He said other reporters have told him that White House political adviser Karl Rove told them his wife was "fair game."
Wilson said he believes the leak came from White House officials. White House officials deny the accusations, saying they are cooperating with a Justice Department probe into the matter. (Full story)
Whoever released the name, Wilson said, "potentially engaged in outing a national security asset.
Novak said he would not have named Plame, whose duties involve information on weapons of mass destruction, if he had been told that identifying her would have jeopardized her life.
Republican allies of the White House have tried to portray Wilson as a Democratic partisan bent on undermining the Bush administration.
Wilson contributed to the 2000 Bush campaign but also gave money to 2004 Democratic contender John Kerry. Asked if he considered himself a Democrat, he said, "I certainly am now."
CNN Senior White House Correspondent John King contributed to this report.