Senior Powell aide focus of CIA leak investigation, former spymaster says

John Byrne
Published: Thursday May 18, 2006

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The former director of the National Security Agency has said a former deputy to Secretary of State Colin Powell is a focus in the CIA leak investigation, RAW STORY can report.

Steve Clemons, editor of the popular foreign relations blog "The Washington Note," revealed Thursday that former NSA chief Bobby Ray Inman has repeatedly said former Undersecretary of State Richard Armitage is a target of the investigation into the outing covert CIA officer Valerie Plame Wilson. While saying he has no knowledge of the veracity of Inman's claim, Clemons notes that the nation's top spy chief might be privy to insider information.

"What Inman shared with some of us," Clemons writes, "is that the person in Patrick Fitzgerald's bull's eye is Richard Armitage."

Armitage International, where Armitage currently employed, declined to comment.

"We've had no comment until the investigation is over," a man who answered the phone at Armitage's firm said. "And that still stands."

Clemons says he hopes Inman is wrong but suggested some possibilities as to why Armitage might be a focus.

"I have written about Armitage many times in the past and hope that this rumor is incorrect," Clemons says. "But I do believe that Armitage was possibly a key source for [the Washington Post's] Dana Priest and Mike Allen early in the Plame outing story and wrote such in November 2005. I don't have more information on whether Armitage was Novak's source or not -- and what legal consequences there might be, if any, if that was the case. I always assumed that Armitage was cooperating closely with Fitzgerald and would not be in any legal jeopardy."

Armitage, he notes, was recently knighted.

"But Inman stating this matters," he adds. "For those who attended the Princeton meetings who will no doubt read this and who may be surprised by my reporting Inman's comments -- do understand that I have been able to confirm that Admiral Inman made the same comments in other venues."

"Inman stating that Richard Armitage is the target of indictment is news and could have some veracity because of who Inman is," he concludes.

Click here to read Clemons' latest account.