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Plame Says Bush Administration Treated Her Identity 'Recklessly'

By MATT APUZZO
Associated Press Writer

WASHINGTON (AP) - Former CIA officer Valerie Plame told a congressional committee Friday that she believes she was outed in 2003 for "purely political reasons."

Plame, whose outing triggered a federal investigation, said she always knew her identity could be discovered by foreign governments but said she was surprised to be identified by her own government.

"My name and identity were carelessly and recklessly abused by senior official in White House and State Department," Plame testified before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. "I could no longer perform the work for which I had been highly trained."

Democrats are eager make political fodder out of the 2003 leak scandal but it's unlikely the hearing will offer any new information about the leak itself. Committee Chairman Henry Waxman, D-Calif., said that even though prosecutors brought no charges for the leak, questions remain about whether policies were followed.

"It's not our job to determine criminal culpability, but it is out job to determine what went wrong and insist on accountability," Waxman said as he opened hearings.

Plame's testimony was not likely to include any behind-the-scenes details about the CIA or the White House.

The man with that kind of information is Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald, who spent years investigating the leak and interviewed President Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney and several top aides and journalists.

But Fitzgerald isn't talking, citing federal rules prohibiting such discussions. And nobody from the White House involved in the leak was scheduled to testify. Nor was someone from the State Department, where the leak of Plame's identity originated.

That leaves Plame to tell her story to lawmakers. She believes she was outed as retaliation against her husband, former Ambassador Joseph Wilson, who criticized the Bush administration's prewar intelligence on Iraq.

Wilson has written a book and Plame has one expected out soon. They are also suing Cheney and others, claiming their constitutional rights were violated.

Waxman says he wants to know whether the White House appropriately safeguarded Plame's identity. During the obstruction of justice and perjury trial of Cheney's former top aide, I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, it was revealed that many in the Bush administration knew Plame worked for the CIA but not that it was classified.

Fitzgerald never charged anyone with the leak and he told Waxman he could not discuss his thoughts on the case.

Rep. Tom Davis of Virginia, the ranking Republican on the committee, said that since Fitzgerald didn't charge anyone with the leak, the hearings were unlikely to add any insight.

"No process can be adopted to protect classified information that no one knows is classified," Davis said. "This looks to me more like a CIA problem than a White House problem."

Scheduled to testify Friday were attorney Mark Zaid, who has represented whistle-blowers; attorney Victoria Toensing, who said early on that no law was broken and has criticized the CIA's handling of the case, and J. William Leonard, security director of the National Archives, who was to discuss general procedures for handling sensitive information.

James Knodell, director of the White House security office, also could attend to discuss general security procedures, committee officials said.

(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)


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