CIA Leak Fast Facts

CNN —  

Here’s a look at the 2003 CIA leak involving then-operative Valerie Plame and senior members of the George W. Bush administration.

After a lengthy investigation, one member of the Bush administration, I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby, was brought to trial and convicted of obstruction of justice, perjury and making false statements.

February 2002 - Joseph Wilson, a former US diplomat, travels to Niger for the CIA.


March 2002 - Wilson tells the CIA he doubts Iraq tried to purchase uranium from Niger.

January 28, 2003 - In his State of the Union speech, President Bush says, “The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa.”

June 12, 2003 - According to the New York Times, a conversation takes place between Vice President Dick Cheney and Libby, his chief of staff, about the covert identity of Plame, who happened also to be Wilson’s wife.

June 23, 2003 - According to 2007 testimony by Judith Miller of the New York Times, the date when Libby revealed to her that Wilson’s wife may have worked for the CIA.

July 6, 2003 - Wilson’s editorial piece appears in the New York Times: “What I Didn’t Find in Africa.”

July 11, 2003 - Karl Rove, President Bush’s top political adviser, tells Time reporter Matthew Cooper that Wilson’s wife “apparently works at the CIA on WMD issues,” according to an e-mail Cooper sends to his editor.

July 13, 2003 - Cooper’s “A Question of Trust” is posted on Time magazine’s website. The article about President Bush’s 2003 State of the Union speech includes named sources as Libby, Wilson, Plame’s superior Alan Foley, and former State Department proliferation expert Greg Thielmann.

July 14, 2003 - Robert Novak’s Chicago Sun-Times column names Plame as a CIA operative. He lists two senior administration officials as sources. (At the time, Novak also works at CNN.)

September 2003 - The Justice Department launches a full criminal investigation into the leak, an aggravated felony punishable by up to 10 years in prison and a $10,000 fine.

September 29, 2003 - Rove denies any knowledge of the leaked name when asked by an ABC reporter.

September 30, 2003 - Bush 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.”

February 15, 2005 - A federal appeals court in Washington rules that Miller and Cooper may have witnessed a federal crime (disclosure by government officials of a CIA officer’s identity), and will have to cooperate with the grand juries investigating the crime.

June 27, 2005 - The US Supreme Court declines to hear appeals by Miller and Cooper.

June 30, 2005 - Norman Pearlstine, Time’s editor-in-chief, agrees to provide documents concerning the confidential sources of Cooper to a grand jury.

July 6, 2005 - New York Times reporter Miller goes to jail to protect the identity of the person who leaked the identity of a CIA operative to her, despite never having written a story using the information.

July 12, 2005 - Cooper appears before a grand jury investigating the case.

September 19, 2005 - Libby calls Miller in prison to free her from the pledge of confidentiality. She is released on September 19.

October 12, 2005 - Miller testifies for more than an hour before a federal grand jury about a second conversation she had with Libby.

October 28, 2005 - Libby is indicted on one count of obstruction of justice and two counts each of perjury and making false statements. He resigns his position at the White House.

November 3, 2005 - Libby pleads not guilty at his arraignment and is released on his own recognizance.

April 26, 2006 - Rove makes his fifth and final appearance before the federal grand jury investigating the leak.

June 13, 2006 - Rove is told by special counsel Patrick Fitzgerald that he will not be charged in the CIA leak case, according to Robert Luskin, Rove’s lawyer.

July 13, 2006 - Plame and her husband file a lawsuit in US District Court against Cheney, Rove and Libby. The suit alleges that they conspired to ruin Plame’s career in order to seek revenge against Wilson for criticizing the Bush administration’s motives in Iraq.

September 7, 2006 - Former Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage publicly acknowledges for the first time that he was the source who first revealed Plame’s identity to Novak, which he said he did inadvertently. His name is added to the Plame/Wilson lawsuit a week later.

January 16, 2007 - Libby’s trial begins.

March 6, 2007 - Libby is found guilty of four of five counts in his perjury and obstruction of justice trial.

June 5, 2007 - Libby is sentenced to 30 months in prison for lying to investigators about what he told reporters about Plame, two years of probation after his prison sentence, fined $250,000 and $400 dollars in court costs.

June 14, 2007 - Judge Reggie B. Walton rules that Libby is not to remain free while his appeal is pending. Libby’s attorneys say they will appeal this decision to the DC Circuit Court of Appeals.

July 2, 2007 - A three-judge panel from the DC Circuit Court of Appeals rejects Libby’s bid to remain free on bond while appealing his conviction, ruling that Libby has not raised a question for judges “that is ‘close’ or that ‘could very well be decided the other way” - the standard for remaining free on appeal. On the same day, Bush commutes Libby’s prison sentence but leaves in place the $250,000 fine and 2 years of probation.

July 19, 2007- A federal judge in Washington, dismisses the lawsuit brought by Plame and her husband against Cheney, Libby and Rove. A federal appeals court later upholds the dismissal.

October 22, 2007 - Plame’s memoir “Fair Game: My Life as a Spy, My Betrayal by the White House” is published. A movie adaptation of the book, starring Naomi Watts and Sean Penn, is released in 2010.

April 12, 2018 - President Donald Trump pardons Libby.

April 18, 2018 - The Washington Post publishes an op-ed by Plame in which she criticizes Trump for pardoning Libby and discusses the national security risks associated with outing a covert operative.