Top Cheney Aide Among Sources in CIA Story

By PETE YOST, Associated Press Writer 1 hour, 22 minutes ago

WASHINGTON - Vice President Dick Cheney's top aide was among the sources for a Time magazine reporter's story about the identity of a CIA officer, the reporter said Sunday.

Until last week, the White House had insisted for nearly two years that vice presidential chief of staff Lewis Libby and presidential adviser Karl Rove were not involved in the leaks of CIA officer Valerie Plame's identity.

The White House refused last week to repeat those assertions when it was revealed that Rove had told Time reporter Matt Cooper that the wife of Bush administration critic Joseph Wilson apparently works at the CIA and that she had authorized his trip to Africa. The CIA dispatched Wilson to check out a report that the government of Niger had sold yellowcake uranium to Iraq for nuclear weapons.

Cooper said on NBC's "Meet the Press" that he spoke to Libby after first learning about Wilson's wife from Rove.

According to Cooper, Libby and Rove were among the government officials referred to in Cooper's subsequent Time story that said Wilson's wife was a CIA official and that she was involved in sending her husband on a trip to Africa.

Cooper's article was headlined, "A War on Wilson?"

On Sunday, Cooper also said there may have been other sources for that information. He declined to elaborate.

In a first-person account in the latest issue of Time, Cooper said Rove ended their telephone conversation with the words, "I've already said too much." Cooper speculated that Rove could have been worried about being indiscreet or "it could have meant he was late for a meeting or something else."

Republicans are responding to the revelations about Rove's role in the leak by saying that the deputy White House chief of staff first heard about Wilson's wife from a reporter.

The chairman of the Republican National Committee, Ken Mehlman, told NBC that the disclosure about getting the information from a reporter vindicates Rove and that Democrats who have called for Rove's dismissal should apologize.

But John Podesta, former White House chief of staff in the Clinton administration, said the White House's assurance in 2003 that Rove was not involved in the leak "was a lie." Rove's credibility "is in shreds," said Podesta, who appeared with Mehlmen.

Wilson was the top U.S. diplomat in Iraq during the Persian Gulf War.