Bush Official Comes Forward in CIA Leak Case

A Bush administration official who was a confidential source for a Washington Post story about a covert CIA officer and her husband has come forward to speak with investigators probing the unauthorized leak of the officer's identity.

As a result, reporter Walter Pincus (search), who had refused to reveal his source's name to prosecutors, provided a deposition in the case. Pincus did not, however, name the administration official.

Investigators are trying to find out who in the Bush administration leaked the identity of CIA officer Valerie Plame (search), whose name was published by syndicated columnist Robert Novak on July 14, 2003. Novak cited two "senior administration officials" as his sources. It can be a felony to leak the name of an undercover officer.

The Novak column came out about a week after Plame's husband, former ambassador Joseph Wilson (search), was critical in a newspaper opinion piece of President Bush's claim in his 2003 State of the Union address that Iraq sought to obtain uranium in Niger. The CIA had sent Wilson to Niger to investigate that claim, which he concluded was unfounded.

Two days before the Novak piece ran, Pincus said he spoke with a person he has identified only as "an administration official," who told him that Wilson was sent to Niger at the request of his wife, a CIA analyst looking into weapons of mass destruction. Pincus wrote about the conversation last October, without naming the administration official.

In his deposition Wednesday, Pincus said he agreed to be questioned by prosecutors only with the source's approval.

"I understand that my source has already spoken to the special prosecutor about our conversation on July 12, and that the special prosecutor has dropped his demand that I reveal my source. Even so, I will not testify about his or her identity," Pincus said in a statement.

Pincus was one of several reporters subpoenaed in the case. Four have testified about conversations they had with Vice President Dick Cheney's chief of staff, Lewis "Scooter" Libby, with Libby's approval. They testified that Libby did not disclose Plame's name or identity to them, the Post reported.