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Inside Politics

Ex-White House press aide questioned in CIA leak

From Dana Bash
CNN Washington Bureau

Former Ambassador Joseph Wilson
Former Ambassador Joseph Wilson

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WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Former White House press aide Adam Levine testified before a federal grand jury last week as part of a federal investigation looking into who revealed the name of a CIA officer, according to source close to the investigation.

White House press secretary Scott McClellan confirmed that Monday he also testified last Friday.

Levine's testimony was described as "brief" and non-combative, and followed several interviews with FBI agents.

He was specifically told that he is not the target of the investigation, according to the source.

The source said there were many questions about which reporters they and other senior officials talked to, suggesting investigators are trying to get as much information as possible from press officials, knowing the reporters are unlikely to talk.

The CIA operative, Valerie Plame, was named in a July 14 syndicated newspaper column by journalist Robert Novak, a CNN contributor. He cited two senior administration officials as his sources.

It is a felony offense to reveal the name of a CIA operative, punishable by up to 10 years in prison and a $50,000 fine.

Plame's husband, retired career diplomat Joseph Wilson, accused White House officials of leaking his wife name to punish him and intimidate others after he wrote a critical op-ed article about the administration's handling of prewar intelligence on Iraq. Administration officials have disputed that charge.

Wilson wrote that he told the CIA he could find no evidence to prove Iraq tried to buy uranium from Niger almost a year before President Bush referred to the connection in his 2003 State of the Union address as part of the rationale for war with Iraq.

Wilson is a former U.S. envoy in Iraq and Gabon.

President Bush and many of his top aides were on a trip to Africa the week after the article was published.

Levine was one of the few press officials at the White House to answer reporters' calls that week.

Investigators have interviewed White House and CIA officials as well as Wilson and Plame as part of the probe. Novak was also questioned last year.


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