The Corner

Colin Powell, The State Department, and The Cia Leak

I have a new piece on the extraordinary motion filed late Friday by the Lewis Libby defense team in the CIA leak case. In the motion, Libby points a finger straight toward the State Department. In one passage concerning former Secretary of State Powell that hasn’t received much attention in the press — at least it hasn’t appeared in the Washington Post, the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, or on television — Libby’s lawyers write:

The defense may call Mr. Powell to testify about a September 2003 meeting at the White House during which he is reported to have commented that everyone knows that Mr. Wilson’s wife works at the CIA. At the same meeting, Mr. Powell also reportedly mentioned a 2002 meeting during which Ms. Wilson suggested her husband for the CIA mission to Niger.

In another passage, the Libby team requests “Any notes from the September 2003 meeting in the Situation Room at which Colin Powell is reported to have said that (a) everyone knows that Mr. Wilson’s wife worked at the CIA and that (b) it was Mr. Wilson’s wife who suggested that the CIA send her husband on a mission to Niger.”

Finally, the Libby motion discusses former top Powell deputy Richard Armitage and former Department official Marc Grossman:

Documents pertaining to Mr. Wilson’s trip from Mr. Grossman’s files must also be examined carefully by the defense because Mr. Grossman may not be a disinterested witness. This week, Vanity Fair, the Washington Post and The New York Times, as well as other media outlets, reported that Richard Armitage, former Deputy Secretary of State, told Bob Woodward of the Washington Post that Ms. Wilson worked for the CIA. There has been media speculation that Mr. Woodward’s source and Mr. Novak’s source are the same person. If the facts ultimately show that Mr. Armitage or someone else from the State Department was also Mr. Novak’s primary source, then the State Department (and certainly not Mr. Libby) bears responsibility for the “leak” that led to the public disclosure of Ms. Wilson’s CIA identity.

Byron York is a former White House correspondent for National Review.

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