President Bush says whoever disclosed to a reporter the name of a CIA officer whose husband has been critical of administration policy on Iraq will be held accountable. Some 2,000 White House employees are facing a Tuesday deadline to turn over all relevant information they may have about a leak, which is now the subject of a criminal investigation by the Justice Department.
President Bush is among those who would like to know who revealed the name of a CIA officer to syndicated columnist Robert Novak, an act which could be a crime, if it is found to have compromised a national security asset.
"This is a serious charge by the way. We're talking about a criminal action," the president said. "And, hopefully, we'll help send a clear signal, we expect other leaks to stop as well."
The identity of the CIA officer was disclosed in a column by Mr. Novak in July. The employee's husband is former U.S. Ambassador Joe Wilson, who says he believes his wife's identity was revealed to punish him for criticizing the intelligence used by the Bush administration before the war in Iraq. The former ambassador was dispatched to Niger before the Iraq war to look into claims Baghdad was trying to acquire uranium from the African nation, but found the claims not to be credible.
A White House spokesman says anyone in the Bush administration who is found to have disclosed the identity of the CIA employee will be fired.