A HIGH-ranking Republican congressman has exposed what he sees as a dissident faction within the CIA that he says “intentionally undermined” the policies of US President George W Bush.
Rumours about the existence of such a group have circulated in the US capital for a long time, but the comments by Representative Peter Hoekstra, chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, marks the first time they were confirmed by an official with intimate knowledge of the intelligence community.
“In fact, I have been long concerned that a strong and well-positioned group within the agency intentionally undermined the administration and its policies,” Mr Hoekstra wrote in a letter to Mr Bush dated May 18, and made public today.
The CIA has refused to comment on the charge.
The document has been obtained by The New York Times and posted on its website in its entirety. Mr Hoekstra confirmed its authenticity in a television interview today, but did not elaborate on his concerns.
The allegations stem from a Central Intelligence Agency leak investigation that centred on former CIA operative Valerie Plame, whose husband, retired ambassador Joseph Wilson, made a 2002 trip to Niger to check on reports that Iraq had secretly tried to purchase uranium ore there.
The Bush administration had used those reports to accuse the government of then-Iraqi president Saddam Hussein of trying to secretly build a nuclear arsenal, charges that were used to justify the March 2003 US-led invasion of the country.
Ms Plame’s name was disclosed to the public in July 2003 by conservative columnist Robert Novak after her husband accused the Bush administration in a newspaper article of “exaggerating the Iraqi threat”.
Lewis “Scooter” Libby, a former chief of staff for Vice President Richard Cheney, was indicted in connection with the illegal blowing of the cover of the secret agent.