Ex-Press Aide Links Bush, Cheney to Plame Outing
Former White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan has implicated President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney in misleading the public on the outing of ex-CIA agent Valerie Plame. As White House spokesperson, McClellan repeatedly claimed senior aides Karl Rove and Lewis ‘Scooter’ Libby were not involved in revealing Plame’s identity. But in a forthcoming memoir, McClellan writes: “I had unknowingly passed along false information. And five of the highest ranking officials in the administration were involved in my doing so: Rove, Libby, the vice president, the president’s chief of staff, and the president himself.”
U.S. to Hold 1-Day Mideast Peace Conference
The Bush administration has announced it will hold a long awaited Mideast peace conference next week. The White House says its invited more than fifty countries and institutions to convene in Annapolis, Maryland. State Department Spokesperson Sean McCormack says the U.S. expects the one-day gathering to kick-start final-status talks to resolve the Israel-Palestine conflict.
- State Dept. spokesperson Sean McCormack: “This conference will signal international support for the courageous efforts of Prime Minister Olmert and President Abbas and will serve as a launching point for negotiations with an eye towards establishing an Israeli and Palestinian state.”
The White House is indicating its top concern ahead of the conference will be to convince Arab nations to attend. A senior administration official told the New York Times: “We’re trying to rally the Arab world for support of this process, and they are master fence-sitters.” But the Bush administration has refused to endorse a five-year-old Arab League-Palestinian plan offering Israel full peace in return for a complete withdrawal from the Occupied Territories. Israel has essentially rejected the deal, claiming it would only agree to unspecified elements. Israeli leaders have long vowed to hold on to the West Bank’s major settlement blocs and water resources.