Vice President Dick Cheney told the FBI he had no idea who leaked to the news media that Valerie Plame, wife of a Bush administration critic, worked for the CIA.
An FBI summary of Cheney's interview from 2004 reflects that the vice president had deep concern about Plame's husband, Joseph Wilson, a former U.S. ambassador in Africa who said the administration had twisted prewar intelligence on Iraq.
Cheney's chief of staff, I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, was convicted of perjury, obstruction and lying to the FBI in the probe of who leaked Plame's identity to the news media. President George W. Bush commuted Libby's 30-month prison sentence but rejected Cheney's vehement appeals to pardon Libby.
The 28-page FBI interview summary was released Friday to a watchdog group, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington.
"For years the American people have wondered what role Vice President Cheney played in outing former CIA officer Valerie Plame Wilson. While we may never know the whole story, with the release of these documents we are one step closer," said Melanie Sloan, executive director of CREW.
In the interview whose participants included federal prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald, Cheney told agents that he did not recall having a conversation about either Plame or her husband with Bush.
The vice president said he probably discussed Wilson with Bush's top political adviser, Karl Rove, but told the FBI he would not have talked to Rove about Wilson's wife.
No recollection of key events
Cheney's denials that he talked about Plame are among the few things in the lengthy interview with the FBI that Cheney appeared certain about. He repeatedly said he could not recall key events. Among them, he said he did not recall discussing Wilson's wife with Libby before her CIA employment was publicly revealed by conservative columnist Robert Novak in mid-July 2003.
Evidence at Libby's criminal trial showed that Cheney had told Libby about Wilson's wife in mid-June 2003.
According to courtroom testimony, Rove was one of Novak's sources for his column disclosing Plame's CIA identity and Rove and Libby were sources for Time magazine reporter Matt Cooper, who also wrote a story identifying Plame.
Cheney said he was not aware of any discussions Libby may have had with Rove about Wilson or Wilson's wife, and Cheney said Libby did not tell him about any such discussions.
The vice president advised the agents that he had no idea what Libby knew on the days before Plame's CIA identity was publicly revealed.
Cheney said he did not recall if he told Libby about Wilson's wife and her employment at the CIA or if Libby revealed to the vice president his independent knowledge about that fact.