Ex-CIA official blasts Bush on leak of operative's name
Democrats' radio address focuses on White House aides' role
(CNN) -- A former CIA intelligence official who once worked with Valerie Plame blasted President Bush and his administration for their response to the role of top White House aides in allegedly leaking Plame's identity as a CIA operative.
Speaking on behalf of Democrats in the party's weekly radio address Saturday, Larry Johnson said, "The president has flip-flopped on his promise to fire anyone in the White House implicated in a leak."
Johnson, a registered Republican who voted for Bush in 2000, said he and Plame have been friends since they began their training at the CIA in 1985.
Her name was disclosed in a column by Robert Novak, who is also a contributor to CNN, in July 2003 -- days after her husband, Joe Wilson, a former ambassador, questioned part of President Bush's justification for invading Iraq in a New York Times op-ed piece.
Time magazine correspondent Matthew Cooper said last week that Bush's chief political adviser, Karl Rove, told him Wilson's wife worked for the CIA but did not say her name. Cooper said also that Lewis "Scooter" Libby, chief of staff for Vice President Dick Cheney, confirmed that piece of information.
In reference to the investigation, Bush told reporters last week that "If someone committed a crime, they will no longer work in my administration."
That statement shifted from his previous comment on his response to the reported leak. When asked in June 2004 whether he stood by his promise to fire whoever was found to have leaked Plame's name, Bush replied, "Yes."
A federal grand jury is investigating whether a crime was committed.
Disclosure of an undercover intelligence officer's identity can be a federal crime if prosecutors can show the leak was intentional and the person who released the information knew of the officer's secret status.
Cooper testified before a grand jury last week in connection with the probe.
In Saturday's radio address, Johnson said he was "stunned" by government officials' "ignorance about a matter so basic to the national security structure of the nation."
He strongly responded to some Republican allegations that minimized Plame's role in the CIA. "We must put to bed the lie that she was not undercover," he said.
"Instead of a president concerned first and foremost with protecting this country and the intelligence officers who serve it, we are confronted with a president who is willing to sit by while political operatives savage the reputations of good Americans like Valerie and Joe Wilson."
"We deserve people who work in the White House who are committed to protecting classified information, telling the truth to the American people and living by example the idea that a country at war with Islamic extremists cannot focus its efforts on attacking other American citizens who simply tried to tell the truth," Johnson added.
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