Washington Post reporter Walter Pincus testified in court this morning that then-White House press secretary Ari Fleischer, not I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby, was the first person to tell him that a prominent critic of the Iraq war was married to undercover CIA officer Valerie Plame.
Testifying as the first defense witness at Libby’s perjury trial, Pincus for the first time publicly disclosed the confidential source inside the White House who told him in 2003 that the wife of former ambassador Joseph C. Wilson IV worked at the CIA on matters relating to weapons of mass destruction.
Fleischer testified last month as a prosecution witness that he mentioned Plame only to two reporters — John Dickerson, then of Time Magazine, and David Gregory of NBC News — during a trip that President Bush took to Africa.
Pincus, who covers national security and intelligence issues for The Post, told jurors that he was at his newsroom desk on Saturday, July 12, 2003, when he had a telephone conversation with a source. They were discussing a story he was preparing about a trip Wilson took to Niger on behalf of the CIA to explore reports that Iraq had sought to buy uranium from the African nation for its nuclear weapons program.
“The person I was calling suddenly swerved off and said . . . ‘Don’t you know, in effect, his wife works at the CIA, is an analyst on weapons of mass destruction?’ ” Pincus testified. He told the court that the source said, “That’s why people aren’t paying attention” to Wilson’s findings that the Iraq reports were unfounded, because he had been sent on the mission by his wife.
I am wondering if, over the course of the next few days, we are going to have a number of reporters testifying that each one was told about Plame for the first time by a different WH source. This would explain why, despite the cries that “EVERYONE IN WASHINGTON KNOWS WHO THE LEAK IS,” no one ever came forward to say who the leak was- they all had different ideas who that leak is/was.
Just an idea.