The Plame Leak Investigation
Timeline compiled from various sources
February 2002: Former Ambassador Joseph Wilson is asked by the CIA to travel to Niger to look into an intelligence report that Iraq purchased yellowcake uranium from Niger for use in nuclear weapons.
Jan. 28, 2003: In his State of the Union address, President Bush tells the nation that "The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa." Bush, however, doesn't mention that U.S. agencies had questioned the British intelligence.
July 6: In a New York Times opinion article, Wilson says that he could not verify that Niger sold yellowcake to Iraq. "It did not take long to conclude that it was highly doubtful that any such transaction had ever taken place," he writes.
July 7: President Bush boards Air Force One for an overseas trip. The plane holds a top-secret briefing book that includes a State Department memo that identifies "Valerie Wilson" as a CIA officer and as the wife of Wilson.
July 14: Robert Novak in his regular political column identifies Wilson's wife, Valerie Plame, as a (CIA) "operative on weapons of mass destruction." Novak says "two senior administration officials" are his sources.
July 17: Time.com publishes a piece online by Matthew Cooper, Massimo Calabresi, and John F. Dickerson indicating that government officials had disclosed Plame's identity to them. Another article appears in Time's July 21 print issue.
Sept. 16, 2003: White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan says allegations that presidential adviser Karl Rove was the source of the leak are "totally ridiculous."
Sept. 28, 2003: CIA Director George J. Tenet calls on the Justice Department to investigate the leak.
Sept. 29: The Justice Department informs then-White House counsel Alberto Gonzales that it has opened an investigation into the Plame affair.
Sept. 29: Gonzales informs the president of the Justice Department's move the next day. Bush tells the press: "I don't know of anybody in my administration who leaked classified information. If somebody did leak classified information, I'd like to know it, and we'll take the appropriate action."
Oct. 24: FBI agents begin interviewing White House administration officials about the leak.
Dec. 30: Chicago U.S. Attorney Patrick J. Fitzgerald is named special counsel to lead a probe into whether a crime was committed. Attorney General John Ashcroft recuses himself.
May 21, 2004: Tim Russert, host of NBC's Meet the Press, and Time's Cooper are subpoenaed for the grand jury investigation. Both Time and NBC say that they would fight the subpoenas.
Aug 9: U.S. District Judge Thomas F. Hogan's rejects claims that the First Amendment protects Cooper from testifying and finds Cooper and Time in contempt of court. Hogan also orders Time to pay $1,000 per day until the source is revealed. Time magazine appeals the ruling.
Aug 12 : New York Times reporter Judith Miller, who gathered material for a story but never wrote one, is subpoenaed by the grand jury. The New York Times says it will fight subpoena.
Aug 24: Cooper's jail time order is cancelled after he agrees to give a deposition. Cooper says Lewis "Scooter" Libby, Vice President Dick Cheney's chief of staff, personally released the reporter from his promise of confidentiality.
Sept 13: According to court documents, the grand jury issues a further subpoena to Cooper seeking additional information relating to the case. Cooper and Time move to quash the subpoena.
Oct 7: Miller held in contempt of court.
Oct. 13: Cooper and Time held in contempt of court.
Oct. 15: Rove testifies before the grand jury for two hours. He is assured that he is not a target of the probe.
Feb. 15, 2005: When the DC Circuit of the U.S. Court of Appeals rules against Miller and Cooper, both Time and The New York Times appeal to the Supreme Court.
June 27: The Supreme Court refuses to review the case.
June 30: Time magazine agrees to comply with the court order and turn over Cooper's notes, e-mail and other documents. Cooper and Miller continue to refuse to divulge sources.
July 3: The Washington Post reports that Cooper talked to Karl Rove about Plame in 2003.
July 6: Miller goes to jail for refusing to divulge her source on the Plame leak. Cooper avoids jail time by agreeing to name his source after he says he received permission from the source to do so.
Sept. 29: After 85 days behind bars, Miller is released from the city jail in Alexandria, Va., after agreeing to testify before a grand jury. She says in a statement that her source has "voluntarily and personally released me from my promise of confidentiality."
Sept. 30: Miller testifies at the federal courthouse in downtown Washington, ending her silence in the investigation.
Oct. 16: The New York Times runs a lengthy package laying out its account of what happened with the investigation. The piece shows a newsroom full of disputes and disagreements on how Miller was treated and what was said and done. Included is a piece by Miller herself that raises more questions and says she can't recall who revealed Plame's identity to her.
Oct. 22 : Times Editor Bill Keller tells the paper's staff in a memo that he regretted how he handled Miller and said he she "seems to have misled" the Times' Washington Bureau. A piece from Times columnist Maureen Dowd criticizes how Miller was handled at the paper. "Sorely in need of a tight editorial leash, she was kept on no leash at all, and that has hurt this paper and its trust with readers," Dowd writes. She adds that allowing Miller to return to the paper to cover national security would be dangerous for the Times.
Oct. 23: Times Public Editor Byron Calame is strongly critical of Miller and Times editors in his Sunday column. "The Times must now face up to three major concerns raised by the leak investigation," he writes. "First, the tendency by top editors to move cautiously to correct problems about prewar coverage. Second, the journalistic shortcuts taken by Ms. Miller. And third, the deferential treatment of Ms. Miller by editors who failed to dig into problems before they became a mess."
Oct. 28: Lewis "Scooter" Libby is the only person charged in the leak investigation. The indictment lists five counts -- one count of obstruction of justice, two counts of perjury and two counts of making false statements. Libby resigns later that day.
Nov. 9: Judy Miller retires from the New York Times. As part of her agreement she writes a letter published in the Times the next day that says she is leaving because "I have become the news."
Nov. 14: Washington Post reporter Bob Woodward tells Special Counsel Patrick Fitzgerald that a senior Bush Administration official told him Valerie Plame's identity in mid-June of 2003 -- now the earliest know leak. Woodward had not gone on the record with the news earlier because his anonymous source had not released him from their agreement, the reporter says. During the investigation, Woodward had appeared on TV talk shows commenting on the case without revealing he was involved.
Nov. 18: Special Counsel Patrick Fitzgerald announces his investigation remains active and he is going back before a different grand jury.
Nov. 27: Time magazine announces in its issue dated December 5 that Washington reporter Viveca Novak (no relation to columnist Bob Novak) has agreed to provide sworn testimony to Fitzgerald about her discussions with Robert Luskin, lawyer for Karl Rove, President Bush's deputy chief of staff .
June 13, 2006: Fitzgerald tells Rove's attorney, Robert Luskin, that he "does not anticipate seeking charges" against Rove, the Washington Post reports on June 14. This announcement ends months of uncertainty surrounding Rove's legal future.
July 12, 2006: Novak's column in the Chicago Sun-Times confirms that two of his sources in the leak case were Rove and Bill Harlow, then a CIA public information officer who was Novak's source for the column confirming Plame's identity. Novak, however, does not reveal his primary source because he or she "has not come forward to identify himself."
August 26, 2006: An article by Newsweek’s Michael Isikoff – based on a new book he co-authored with the Nation’s David Corn – identifies former deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage as the official who leaked Valerie Plame’s identity as a CIA operative to columnist Robert Novak. Isikoff also reports that Armitage provided similar information about Plame to Bob Woodward. In an Aug. 27 appearance on “Meet the Press,” Novak refuses to confirm Armitage as his source but says, “I believe that the time has way passed for my source to identify himself.”