Key Quotes In The Plame Leak Investigation

President George W. Bush

BUSH CITED IN SOTU JUST TWO PIECES OF INTELLIGENCE ON IRAQ’S ALLEGED WMD PROGRAM: “The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa. Our intelligence sources tell us that he has attempted to purchase high-strength aluminum tubes suitable for nuclear weapons production. Saddam Hussein has not credibly explained these activities. He clearly has much to hide.” [SOTU, 1/28/03]

BUSH WANTED TO KNOW THE TRUTH: “I want to get to the bottom of this.” [Washington Post, 9/30/03]

BUSH PLEDGED TO TAKE ACTION AGAINST THE GUILTY: “Listen, I know of nobody — I don’t know of anybody in my administration who leaked classified information. If somebody did leak classified information, I’d like to know it, and we’ll take the appropriate action.” [9/30/03]

BUSH CALLED LEAK A “CRIMINAL ACTION”: “And, you know, there’s a lot of leaking in Washington, D.C. It’s a town famous for it. And if this helps stop leaks of “” this investigation in finding the truth, it will not only hold someone to account who should not have leaked “” and this is a serious charge, by the way. We’re talking about a criminal action, but also hopefully will help set a clear signal we expect other leaks to stop, as well. And so I look forward to finding the truth.” [10/6/03]


BUSH PROMISED TO FIRE THE GUILTY: Q And, and, do you stand by your pledge to fire anyone found to have done so? THE PRESIDENT: Yes. And that’s up to the U.S. Attorney to find the facts. [6/10/04]

BUSH MOVED GOAL POSTS, BACKED AWAY FROM EARLIER PROMISE: “I think it’s best if people wait until the investigation is complete before you jump to conclusions.” [7/18/05]

BUSH PRAISED FITZGERALD’S INVESTIGATION: “The special prosecutor is conducting a very serious investigation — he’s doing it in a very dignified way.” [10/11/05]

BUSH BACKED OFF ORIGINAL CALLS FOR ACCOUNTABILITY: Matt Lauer: But does it worry you that [the prosecutors] seem to have such an interest in Mr. Rove?Bush: I’m not going to talk about the case. I’ve been asked this a lot, my answer is consistent. The special prosecutor is conducting a very serious investigation — he’s doing it in a very dignified way, by the way — and we’ll see what he says. [10/11/05]

BUSH REFUSED TO COMMENT ON INVESTIGATION: “Nedra, I also said — this may be the fourth time I’ve been asked about this, which I appreciate, you’re doing your job — I’m not going to comment about it. This is a very serious investigation, and I haven’t changed my mind about whether or not I’m going to comment on it publicly.” [10/24/05]

Vice President Dick Cheney

CHENEY DENIED KNOWING ANYTHING ABOUT JOE WILSON: “No. I don’t know Joe Wilson. I’ve never met Joe Wilson. A question had arisen. I’d heard a report that the Iraqis had been trying to acquire uranium in Africa, Niger in particular. I get a daily brief on my own each day before I meet with the president to go through the intel. And I ask lots of question. One of the questions I asked at that particular time about this, I said, “What do we know about this? They take the question. He came back within a day or two and said, “This is all we know. There’s a lot we don’t know, end of statement. And Joe Wilson, I don’t who sent Joe Wilson. He never submitted a report that I ever saw when he came back.” [Meet the Press, 9/14/03]

Stephen J. Hadley

HADLEY ADMITTED THAT CIA WARNED GOVERNMENT ABOUT URANIUM CLAIMS: “Today I learned of a second memorandum sent by the CIA on October 6. This is commenting on draft eight of the Cincinnati speech. And by this time, by draft eight, the reference to Iraqi efforts to acquire uranium has already been deleted from the speech, as DCI Tenet asked me to do in his telephone request. And what the memorandum does is provide some additional rationale for the removal of the uranium reference. The memorandum describes some weakness in the evidence, the fact that the effort was not particularly significant to Iraq’s nuclear ambitions because the Iraqis already had a large stock of uranium oxide in their inventory. The memorandum also stated that the CIA had been telling Congress that the Africa story was one of two issues where we differed with the British intelligence.” [Memo, 10/6/02]


HADLEY REGRETTED NOT RECALLING URANIUM CONTROVERSY: “But the fact is that given the October 5 and 6 CIA memorandum, and my telephone with the DCI Tenet at roughly the same time, I should have recalled at the time of the State of the Union speech that there was controversy associated with the uranium issue.” [Press Briefing, 7/22/03]

Scott McClellan

McCLELLAN DENIED WHITE HOUSE AUTHORIZATION OF LEAK: QUESTION: The Robert Novak column last week . . . has now given rise to accusations that the administration deliberatively blew the cover of an undercover CIA operative, and in so doing, violated a federal law that prohibits revealing the identity of undercover CIA operatives. Can you respond to that?McCLELLAN: Thank you for bringing that up. That is not the way this President or this White House operates. And there is absolutely no information that has come to my attention or that I have seen that suggests that there is any truth to that suggestion. And, certainly, no one in this White House would have given authority to take such a step. [Press Briefing, 7/22/03]

McCLELLAN CONFIRMED THAT BUSH KNOWS ROVE WAS NOT INVOLVED: QUESTION: Has the President either asked Karl Rove to assure him that he had nothing to do with this; or did Karl Rove go to the President to assure him that he . . .McCLELLAN: I don’t think he needs that. I think I’ve spoken clearly to this publicly . . . I’ve just said there’s no truth to it.QUESTION: Yes, but I’m just wondering if there was a conversation between Karl Rove and the President, or if he just talked to you, and you’re here at this . . .McCLELLAN: He wasn’t involved. The President knows he wasn’t involved.QUESTION: How does he know that?McCLELLAN: The President knows. [Press Briefing, 9/29/03]

McCLELLAN DENIED ALL WHITE HOUSE INVOLVEMENT IN LEAK: “There’s been nothing, absolutely nothing, brought to our attention to suggest any White House involvement, and that includes the vice president’s office as well.” [Press Briefing, 9/29/03]

McCLELLAN CONFIRMED THAT WHITE HOUSE WILL RID OF GUILTY PARTIES: “If anyone in this administration was involved in it, they would no longer be in this administration.” [Press Briefing, 9/29/03]


McCLELLAN SAID ROVE, ABRAMS, AND LIBBY TOLD HIM OF THEIR INNOCENCE: QUESTION: Scott, earlier this week you told us that neither Karl Rove, Elliot Abrams nor Lewis Libby disclosed any classified information with regard to the leak. I wondered if you could tell us more specifically whether any of them told any reporter that Valerie Plame worked for the CIA?McCLELLAN: I spoke with those individuals, as I pointed out, and those individuals assured me they were not involved in this. And that’s where it stands.QUESTION: So none of them told any reporter that Valerie Plame worked for the CIA?McCLELLAN: They assured me that they were not involved in this. [Press Briefing, 10/10/03]

McCLELLAN SAID BUSH RETAINS CONFIDENCE IN ROVE: Q Well, he has spoken about these questions that have come up as part of a leak investigation. So does he retain confidence in Karl Rove, specifically? MR. McCLELLAN: Yes. Any individual who works here at the White House has the President’s confidence. They wouldn’t be working here if they didn’t have the President’s confidence. [Press Briefing, 7/12/05]

McCLELLAN SAID ADMINISTRATION WILL TELL ALL AFTER INVESTIGATION: “The President believes it’s important to let the investigators do their work, and at that point, once they have come to a conclusion, then we will be more than happy to talk about it.” [Press Briefing, 7/18/05]

McCLELLAN INDICATED THAT BUSH’S CONFIDENCE IN ROVE HAS WANED: JESSICAL YELLIN: Does the president still have full confidence in Karl Rove?MCCLELLAN: Yeah, Jessica, this is asking questions all in the context of an ongoing investigation and “” YELLIN: He is one of the the president’s chief advisors. Does he have confidence is his -MCCLELLAN: Karl continues to do his duties as deputy chief and staff and chief advisor to the president, and you’re trying to ask a question in the context of an ongoing investigation. The president has made it very clear that we’re not going to comment on an ongoing investigation. What we’re going to do is support the efforts of the special prosecutor. [10/14/05]

Judith Miller

MILLER CONFIRMED THAT SHE AND LIBBY DISCUSSED PLAME: “Mr. Fitzgerald asked me to read the final three paragraphs aloud to the grand jury. “The public report of every other reporter’s testimony makes clear that they did not discuss Ms. Plame’s name or identity with me,” Mr. Libby wrote. The prosecutor asked my reaction to those words. I replied that this portion of the letter had surprised me because it might be perceived as an effort by Mr. Libby to suggest that I, too, would say we had not discussed Ms. Plame’s identity. Yet my notes suggested that we had discussed her job.” [New York Times, 10/16/05]

Colin Powell

POWELL REJECTED URANIUM CLAIM: “I didn’t use the uranium at that point because I didn’t think that was sufficiently strong as evidence to present before the world.” [Briefing, 7/10/03]

Condoleezza Rice

RICE CLAIMED SHE FIRST LEARNED OF WILSON’S TRIP FROM A TV SHOW: “[O]n Ambassador Wilson’s going out to Niger, I learned of that when I was sitting on whatever TV show it was, because that mission was not known to anybody in the White House.” [State Department, 7/11/03]

RICE FEIGNED IGNORANCE ABOUT INTELLIGENCE COMMUNITY’S DOUBTS ON WMD CLAIMS: “Now, if there were doubts about the underlying intelligence to that NIE, those doubts were not communicated to the President, the Vice President, or to me.” [Press Briefing, 7/11/03].

RICE DENIES PRESIDENTIAL INVOLVEMENT: “I know nothing of any such White House effort to reveal any of this. And it certainly would not be the way the president would expect his White House to operate.” [Fox News, 9/28/03]

RICE SPOKE TO FITZGERALD, EXPECTS A REPORT: “I am not going to talk about, Chris, as you might imagine, an ongoing investigation. I have, like everybody else, cooperated with prosecutor Fitzgerald and am quite certain that he will make his report. But I don’t think that it’s appropriate to comment about those events.” [FOX News, 10/16/05]

Karl Rove

ROVE DENIED ANY KNOWLEDGE OF LEAK: Reporter: Did you have any knowledge or did you leak the name of the CIA agent to the press?Rove: No. Good morning. [ABC, 9/29/03]

ROVE CONFIRMED CLAIM THAT HE HAD NO KNOWLEDGE OF PLAME’S IDENTITY: Rove: Well, I’ll repeat what I said to ABC News when this whole thing broke some number of months ago. I didn’t know her name and didn’t leak her name. [CNN, 8/31/04]

George Tenet

TENET APOLOGIZED FOR 16 WORDS: “These 16 words should never have been included in the text written for the President.” [Statement, 7/11/03]

Joseph Wilson

WILSON DISCREDITS ADMINISTRATION’S WMD CLAIMS FOR WAR IN IRAQ: “Based on my experience with the administration in the months leading up to the war, I have little choice but to conclude that some of the intelligence related to Iraq’s nuclear weapons program was twisted to exaggerate the Iraqi threat.” [NYT, 7/6/03]