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Fitzgerald says Plame was covert agent; Cheney further scrutinized
Published: Tuesday May 29, 2007
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Special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald has asserted in new court filings that Valerie Plame was indeed a covert agent at the time of her outing, according to a Newsweek report filed by Michael Isikoff and Mark Hosenball.

"In new court filings, special counsel Patrick Fitzgerald has finally resolved one of the most disputed issues at the core of the long-running CIA leak controversy: Valerie Plame Wilson, he asserts, was a 'covert' CIA officer who repeatedly traveled overseas using a 'cover identity' in order to disguise her relationship with the agency," Newsweek reports.

Wilson's covert status, which is substantiated in an employment report filed by Fitzgerald, was cited as part of a recommendation to sentence former Cheney aide I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby to up to three years in prison.

According to that report, Plame traveled "sometimes in true name and sometimes in alias -- but always using cover -- whether official or non-official (NOC) -- with no ostensible relationship to the CIA."

The report added, "When traveling overseas, Ms. Wilson always traveled under a cover identity...At the time of the initial unauthorized disclosure in the media of Ms. Wilsonís employment relationship with the CIA on 14 July 2003, Ms. Wilson was a covert CIA employee for whom the CIA was taking affirmative measures to conceal her intelligence relationship to the United States."

The finding severely hampers a key defense by Libby's lawyers and supporters who have claimed that, since Plame was not covert, Libby had commited no "underlying crime" in revealing Plame's identity.

Furthermore, Washington Post columnist Dan Froomkin noted that Fitzgerald's court filing further points to Vice President Cheney's involvement in the outing of Plame.

"Special counsel Patrick J. Fitzgerald has made it clearer than ever that he was hot on the trail of a coordinated campaign to out CIA agent Valerie Plame," writes Froomkin, "until that line of investigation was cut off by the repeated lies from Vice President Cheney's former chief of staff, I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby."

Froomkin adds that in response to charges that Libby's prosecution was unwarranted, "the special counsel evidently felt obliged to put Libby's crime in context. And that context is Dick Cheney."