Reporter Disputes Ari Fleischer's Testimony at CIA Leak Trial

A former Time Magazine correspondent says former White House press secretary Ari Fleischer got it wrong when he testified under oath Monday at the CIA leak trial that he disclosed to the journalist the identity of a secret CIA operative.

"I assumed that in some context, my name would come up," John Dickerson, Slate Magazine's chief political correspondent, told on his way Tuesday to cover the trial. "I didn't realize it would come up in that fashion."

Fleischer took the stand Monday to answer questions in the trial of I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, former chief of staff to Vice President Dick Cheney. Libby is charged with perjury and obstruction relating to the investigation of who outed CIA operative Valerie Plame.

Fleischer also testified that he first heard about Plame from Libby over lunch on July 7, 2003. Libby says he first learned about Plame on July 10 from NBC reporter Tim Russert.

Dickerson said he was surprised when he heard his name — and his photo popped up on the big screen in the courtroom — when Fleisher took the stand.

"I was at the Scooter Libby trial to cover it, and all of a sudden, I found myself in the middle of the case," Dickerson wrote.

Click here to read Dickerson's piece in Slate.

Fleischer said he told Dickerson, then White House correspondent for Time, that he had told him that Wilson's wife worked at the CIA.

Reporters Robert Novak, Matt Cooper and Judith Miller are known to have received the Plame leak, but Dickerson's name hasn't come up in the same category — until now.

Dickerson said no one has contacted him about his piece yet and plans to continue covering the trial.

Other reporters covering the trial looked over at Dickerson when Fleischer started talking about him because they were also surprised at what Fleischer was saying, Dickerson said.

Dickerson said he wrote the piece about himself in Tuesday's Slate editions to set the record straight and clear up journalism ethical questions.

Dickerson wrote about NBC reporter David Gregory and said he expected his name to come up regarding the piece he wrote last year.

Prosecutors are using testimony from journalists to show Libby lied about what he told reporters he knew about Plame. Plame says her identify was revealed after her husband, Joseph Wilson, publicly criticized the Bush administration's prewar intelligence on Iraq.

Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald will begin calling reporters to the stand Tuesday, with plans to question former New York Times reporter Judith Miller.

Dickerson says he doesn't remember Fleischer telling him directly that Plame worked at the CIA, just hints to "go inquire about who sent Wilson to Niger."

"As far as I can remember — and I am pretty sure I would remember it — neither of them ever told me that Wilson's wife worked at the CIA," Dickerson wrote.

Fleischer said he told Dickerson and David Gregory of NBC that Wilson's wife worked at the CIA, Dickerson wrote.

"Could I have forgotten that Ari told me?" Dickerson wrote. "I don't think so."