- The Washington Times - Sunday, October 30, 2005

Republican and Democratic senators say the White House still has some explaining to do about the leak of a CIA agent’s name and that an internal investigation should be pursued.

Specifically, they want senior Bush political adviser Karl Rove to spell out his role, if any, in revealing Valerie Plame’s association with the agency. Mrs. Plame’s husband, former Ambassador Joseph C. Wilson IV, was sent to Niger to investigate whether Iraq had sought to purchase uranium from the African nation.

He later was critical of the Bush administration’s claims that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction.

Sen. Lindsey Graham, South Carolina Republican, said an internal investigation is “absolutely” appropriate. However, Mr. Wilson should also be held accountable for inaccurate information in an opinion column under his byline in the New York Times.

“You can’t write an op-ed piece suggesting that you were sent to Niger by the vice president when you weren’t and expect nobody to do anything about it,” Mr. Graham told CBS’ “Face the Nation.”

“I really, honestly believe this is the truth, that Joe Wilson, when he wrote the column critical of the Niger event, interjected into the debate that he was sent there by the vice president. And in the White House, they knew that wasn’t true. And they tried to set the record straight. And apparently, they didn’t violate the law in setting the record straight,” Mr. Graham said.

Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, Nevada Democrat, went a step further on the Sunday political talk shows and called on Mr. Rove to resign.

“Here is a man who the president said if he was involved, if anyone in the administration was involved, out they would go,” Mr. Reid told ABC’s “This Week.” “I think Karl Rove should step down.”

On Friday, Vice President Dick Cheney’s chief of staff, I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby Jr. resigned after he was indicted on obstruction of justice, perjury and false-statement charges in connection with a two-year investigation into the Plame case. Mr. Rove was not indicted but remains under investigation.

Sen. Charles E. Schumer said either the president or a nonpartisan person should do an internal investigation of Mr. Cheney’s office to determine what happened and set standards of conduct.

“And if need be, take the vice president to the woodshed,” said the New York Democrat. “And, certainly, there ought to be an explanation, because Karl Rove’s credibility is at stake.”

If the investigation surrounding Mr. Rove is not quickly wrapped up, Sen. Trent Lott, Mississippi Republican, said, the president’s aide must clear up the controversy himself.

“If he has a problem, I think he’s got to step up and acknowledge that and deal with it,” Mr. Lott told “Fox News Sunday.”

He added that the Bush administration needed “new blood, new energy, qualified staff.”

“I’m not talking about wholesale changes, but you’ve got to reach out and bring in more advice and counsel.”

Targeting the vice president, however, would be a mistake, Mr. Lott said.

“I think there are some that will try to do that, and I think that they will fail miserably.”

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