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Cheney reportedly told aide about CIA operative

[JURIST] US Vice President Dick Cheney was the first person to discuss Valerie Plame [JURIST news archive] with his Chief of Staff I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby [official profile], lawyers involved in the leak investigation said Monday according to the New York Times. The revelation seems to be inconsistent with Libby's grand jury testimony that he learned the identity of the undercover CIA operative from journalists and is the first time that Cheney has been identified as a focus of the investigation into the disclosure of Plame's identity. According to notes taken by Libby of a June 2003 conversation with Cheney, Cheney learned about Plame from CIA director George Tenet in an effort to get additional information on US ambassador Joseph Wilson, who was arguing that the administration had mishandled Iraq intelligence in the run-up to the Iraq war. The notes don't indicate whether Cheney and Libby knew of Plame's undercover status; according to the 1982 Intelligence Identities Protection Act [50 USC s. 421 text] disclosing a covert agent's identity is a crime only if the person who discloses it knows of the status. Efforts by Libby to steer investigators away from his conversation with Cheney could, however, be considered an illegal effort to impede a grand jury investigation. Charges made by Special Counsel Patrick Fitzgerald [official website] must be made by Friday when the grand jury term expires. Libby and White House Deputy Chief of Staff and top advisor Karl Rove [Washington Post profile] both face the possibility of indictment. The New York Times has more.

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