CIA Leak: Ari Fleischer Took the Fifth, Testified Under Immunity

I have long suspected that Ari Fleischer was up to this eyeballs in the leak of CIA agent Valerie Plame’s identity to Bob Novak. Yesterday, during the lawyers’ opening statements in the perjury trial of Scooter Libby, Fleischer’s activities at the time were revealed — as was new information that Fleischer testified about his involvement under a grant of immunity from prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald:

Fleischer was a short-timer when Plame’s name was leaked to Novak. He was replaced by Scott McClellan on July 15, 2003, the day after Novak’s column was published.

[As] the two legal teams began their courtroom battle, new information was disclosed about the leak affair, including the revelation that Ari Fleischer, White House press secretary at the time of the leak, had identified Valerie Wilson as a CIA officer to NBC News reporter David Gregory a week before the leak appeared in Robert Novak’s July 14, 2003 column, and that Fleischer, during the subsequent criminal investigation, took the Fifth Amendment and demanded (and received) immunity before testifying to Fitzgerald’s’ grand jury.

Fleischer told the grand jury that he had learned about Valerie Wilson’s CIA affiliation first from Libby and then from Dan Bartlett, the White House communications director. (This directly implicated yet two more White House officials in the scandal.) Gregory, though, did not report the information, and he later declined to talk to Fitzgerald about his conversation with Fleischer. Fitzgerald never subpoenaed him. (In a response to an email from a colleague asking about today’s disclosure, Gregory emailed, “I can’t help you, sorry.”) The first day of the trial also brought the news that after the Justice Department opened an investigation of the CIA leak in fall 2003, Cheney pressured the White House press office to make a statement clearing Libby of any wrongdoing.

What prompted all this was former Amb. Joe Wilson’s column on July 7, 2003, in the New York Times, titled, “What I Didn’t Find in Africa,” in which he accused Pres. Bush of lying about Iraq’s nuclear weapons program in his State of the Union speech in January 2003. It appears that Fleischer gave reporter David Gregory Plame’s identity within a day or two after Wilson’s article appeared.

Fleischer had announced his resignation in May 2003, and was a short-timer when Plame’s name was leaked to Novak. He was replaced by Scott McClellan on July 15, 2003, the day after Novak’s column was published.

13 Comments

  • Emma
    January 24, 2007 - 1:57 pm | Permalink

    It doesn’t matter who knew what when, our leaders are getting away with “murder” and they know it. Fitzgerald is only going through the motions and the media is playing the same game – our “fearless” government leaders are getting paid to do the bidding of those who have and want “money” & “power” – the tax payer is paying the price of the courts toare only paying lip service.

  • elmike
    January 24, 2007 - 3:03 pm | Permalink

    Ou national press has been out to lunch for the pasted 6 years with no follow up question of any kind to dig out the truth. I can only think of two really tough question asked at some of the last few presidential question and answer period. Our press is a corporate press looking to supress the truth

  • Scribe1937
    January 24, 2007 - 3:19 pm | Permalink

    This is getting so byzantine it’s making my head spin.
    I’m a pretty bright guy. I know a little law. I read. I’ve followed this case from the beginning, but my brain is getting addled with the scene changes and new characters on stage — seemingly by the hour. I need Cliff Notes for “The Ballad of Joe Wilson et ux.”
    Oy vey! I say, and I’m not even Jewish — which just shows you how confused I am.

  • Gremlin
    January 24, 2007 - 3:35 pm | Permalink

    Complicated? Are you nuts this is so crystal clear that a four year old could follow it. Don’t let them win by opening up a new meme about how it is far too complicated for us mere mortals to follow, because it just ain’t.

    Grem-

  • Elaine Kittredge
    January 24, 2007 - 4:38 pm | Permalink

    People! Have you forgotten this is treason? Treating it like a soap is pathetic. Valerie was undercover finding out about Iran and any nuclear blackmarket deals. Perhaps the PNAC administration killed two birds with one stone: No info on Iran so they could proceed to “fool us again”. Will they continue on their insane path because justice is slow? Pay attention. This trial will show all the lies.

  • jerrol davis
    January 24, 2007 - 5:25 pm | Permalink

    Elaine,
    I haven’t forgotten – After July 03, I watched eagerly week after long week just waiting for justice to prevail. The only people talking about this truthfully were on BuzzFlash. The mainstream media was so eager to pish tosh this cowardly and murderous blow from behind and when Fitzgerald delivered his press conference oh so many months ago – I was glued to the TV. I still think he’ll nail the bastards! And I also think the treasonous acts will go unpunished because the perps will be pardoned.

  • Scribe1937
    January 24, 2007 - 5:37 pm | Permalink

    Grem,
    I was being a smart ass.
    Chill out.
    It’s treason and I gotta laugh before I cry.

  • January 24, 2007 - 6:21 pm | Permalink

    I want all to contact their congressional members and have them investigate the administration’s close adherance to the plans put forth by The American Enterprise Administration. Even Bush’s plan for this new “surge” was put forth by the A.E.I.in a Dec 2006 report.Mainstream
    corporate media ignores this and hopefully our newly elected representatives will educate themselves and ask the administration just who is calling the shots in this country.

  • Sundance
    January 24, 2007 - 7:31 pm | Permalink

    Just a simple case of King George’s team following the old credo,”If you can’t dazzle em with brillance(or the truth), baffle em with Bull**it) I am sure we will hear many more conflicting stories, and more finger pointing. When all is said and done, enough doubt will be raised that Libby will be aquitted, Rove, Bush and Cheney will walk away with a smile, knowing that once again, they got away with it. All of them are treasonist criminals, from illegal spying to illegal wars. If any member of congress had an honest bone in his/her body, they would introduce and demand that impeachment proceedings begin, followed by an international war crimes trial.

  • Proud to be a liberal
    January 24, 2007 - 9:36 pm | Permalink

    Nothing would please me more then to see this current administration impeached AND brought to justice by an international war crimes trial. That WOULD be real justice. It would also send a clear message worldwide that such actions will not be tolerated,and perhaps prevent a repeat performance by another know-nothing, greedy, spoiled and down right obnoxious good-for-nothing.

    I’m hoping that Fitzgerald doesn’t back down and that justice prevails. He’s not afraid of the fight and has done a great job in Chicago. Let’s hope he carries that same dedication and determination to this case as well. We can only hope.

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  • Vic Anderson
    January 25, 2007 - 8:05 pm | Permalink

    Glad the arrogant word-butcher finally got a dose of his own advice to “be very careful what you say”!

  • mary
    January 26, 2007 - 3:11 am | Permalink

    Again the Downing Street Memos were over looked in the media. This administration is being looked at, as if under a microscope. Thank the Democrats, Treason is the name of the game and war crimes are the out come of the deeds.We pay a price for not paying attention.

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