Three Republican senators are asking retired CIA employee Valerie Plame to explain what they call discrepancies in several accounts that she has given of her role in the decision to send her husband, former U.S. Ambassador Joseph C. Wilson IV, to Niger in 2002 to investigate reports that Iraq was trying to buy uranium ore there.
“One area of inquiry, which now seems to be unresolved, is why [Mrs. Plame] provided different testimony to the CIA inspector general, [Senate intelligence] committee staff and the House Committee on Oversight and Reform,” they wrote in additional views to a Senate report about prewar intelligence on Iraq, published Friday.
The additional views were submitted by Senate Select Committee on Intelligence Vice Chairman Sen. Christopher S. Bond of Missouri, Sen. Orrin G. Hatch of Utah and Richard M. Burr of North Carolina.
Mr. Wilson’s trip became the subject of press accounts in 2003, after he said — first privately and then in public — that his inquiries in Niger the previous year had debunked the yellowcake reports long before they became part of the Bush administration’s case for war against Iraq.
Several administration officials told reporters that Mrs. Plame, a covert employee who used nonofficial cover, worked for the CIA and had suggested her husband for the trip. A subsequent criminal investigation into the leak resulted in the conviction of vice-presidential aide I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby Jr. for obstruction of justice and lying to federal agents.
In the additional views, the three senators published for the first time the full text of an e-mail sent by Mrs. Plame on Feb. 12, 2002, in which she writes that Mr. Wilson “may be in a position to assist” the CIA’s inquiries into the Niger reports.
This, they say, is consistent with what Mrs. Plame told the CIA’s inspector general, who testified to the committee that she had “made the suggestion” that Mr. Wilson look into the matter for the agency.
“Additional information recently made available to the committee indicates that this information came from [Mrs. Plame’s] own testimony to the CIA inspector general,” they wrote.
But they point out that in sworn testimony before the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform in March this year, Mrs. Plame said the Senate committee had “taken out of context a portion” of her e-mail to “make it seem as though I had suggested or recommended him.”
“I did not recommend him. I did not suggest him,” she said.
Instead, she said, Mr. Wilson’s name was brought up by a colleague in a conversation after a query from Vice President Dick Cheney’s office. Mrs. Plame said she subsequently sent the e-mail at the request of her supervisor.
The additional views note that although the e-mail was sent Feb. 12, there is no evidence of any queries from the vice president’s office until Feb. 13.
Moreover, she had told Senate committee staff that she did not recall whether it was she or her supervisor who originally suggested her husband.
The senators said Mr. Bond has written to the CIA requesting interviews with Mrs. Plame and the other participants in the conversation that she described before the House committee “to enable us to tie up these loose ends once and for all.”
Mrs. Plame could not be reached for her response, and no one at the Center for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington — a nonprofit whose lawyers represent her in a civil suit against Libby — responded to requests for comment.