MICHELE NORRIS, host:
Valerie Plame Wilson spoke today in public. The former CIA spy told the House Oversight Committee what it was like when her identity was revealed by administration officials. That happened after her husband, diplomat Joe Wilson, challenged claims by President Bush to justify invading Iraq.
The federal probe of the case ended in the perjury conviction of Vice President Cheney's top aide, Scooter Libby. NPR's David Welna reports from the capitol.
DAVID WELNA: Platinum blonde and glamorous as a movie idol, Valerie Plame Wilson set off a storm of clicking camera shutters when she strode into the hearing room this morning.
(Soundbite of gavel)
WELNA: And then this woman, who's kept a mysterious silence since having her identity revealed nearly four years ago, finally spoke.
Ms. VALERIE PLAME WILSON (Former Central Intelligence Agency Operative): My name is Valerie Plame Wilson, and I'm to have been invited to testify under oath…
WELNA: Henry Waxman, the California Democrat who chairs the panel, warned his colleagues that because of the open nature of the hearing, certain questions could not be asked.
Representative HENRY WAXMAN (Democrat, California): Ms. Wilson was a covert employee of the CIA. We cannot discuss all of the details of her CIA employment in open session.
WELNA: Wilson seemed to overwhelm Georgia Republican Lynn Westmoreland.
Representative LYNN WESTMORELAND (Republican, Georgia): I seem a little nervous. I've never questioned a spy before, and so…
Ms. WILSON: I've never testified before.
(Soundbite of laughter)
Rep. WESTMORELAND: I was going to ask you - I'm sorry?
Ms. WILSON: I've never testified under oath before.
WELNA: Still, she seemed as if she's done this sort of thing all her life. It was testimony driven by anger.
Ms. WILSON: My name and identity were carelessly and recklessly abused by senior government officials in both the White House and the State Department. All of them understood that I worked for the CIA, and having signed oaths to protect national security secrets, they should have been diligent in protecting me and every CIA officer.
WELNA: Virginia's Tom Davis, the panel's top Republican, sprang to the defense of President Bush and his associates, asking how any of them could really know that Wilson could really know that Wilson was a covert operative.
Representative TOM DAVIS (Republican, Virginia): So this looks to me more like a CIA problem than a White House problem. If the agency doesn't take sufficient precautions to protect the identity of those who engage in covert work, no one else can do it for them.
WELNA: Wilson replied it's the assumption of CIA officers that foreign entities would seek to reveal their identities, and that it's a terrible irony, that in fact, administration officials destroyed her cover - for, as she put it, purely political motives. Massachusetts Democrat Stephen Lynch asked about allegations it was she who'd arranged for her husband to travel to Niger, where he found no evidence to support the president's claim that Iraq was trying to buy nuclear materials.
Representative Stephen Lynch (Democrat, Massachusetts): I want to ask you now under oath: Did you make the decision to send Ambassador Wilson to Niger?
Ms. WILSON: No, I did not recommend him, I did not suggest him, there was no nepotism involved. I didn't have the authority.
WELNA: As for President Bush's promise to investigate who leaked Wilson's identity, chairman Waxman pressed another witness, White House Office of Security director James Knodell.
Rep. WAXMAN: Are you aware if there's an investigation that ever took place in the White House about the release of this classified information?
Mr. JAMES KNODELL (Director, White House Security): I am not.
WELNA: A video clip was then played of a White House news conference in 2003 with spokesman Scott McClellan.
(Soundbite of White House news conference)
Unidentified Woman: I wonder if you could tell us more specifically whether any of them told any reporter that Valerie Plame worked for the CIA?
Mr. SCOTT MCCLELLAN (Former White House Spokesman): Those individuals - I spoke with those individuals, as I pointed out, and those individuals assured me they were not involved in this.
WELNA: One of those individuals was presidential advisor Karl Rove, who has since been implicated in the leak, as Washington, D.C. delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton pointed out to Knodell.
Representative Eleanor Holmes Norton (Democrat, Washington, D.C.): Can you explain why Mr. Rove still has a security clearance today, or does he?
Mr. MCCLELLAN: Yes he does.
Rep. NORTON: Due to the admissions that apparently are clear, why does he have that security clearance today?
Mr. MCCLELLAN: It's my understanding that the criminal investigation didn't find any criminal wrongdoing.
WELNA: House Democrats vowed they'll carry out their own investigation. David Welna, NPR News, the Capitol.
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