The US Justice Department has launched a full-blown criminal investigation into who illegally leaked the name of a CIA officer, and President George W. Bush directed his White House staff on Tuesday to cooperate fully. \nThe White House staff was notified of the investigation by e-mail after the Justice Department decided late Monday to move from a preliminary investigation into a full probe. It is rare that the department decides to conduct a full investigation of the alleged leak of classified information. \nWhite House counsel Alberto R. Gonzales told the staff: "You must preserve all materials that might in any way be related to the department's investigation." \nThe disclosure of the intelligence officer's identity by syndicated columnist Robert Novak came shortly after her husband, former Ambassador Joseph C. Wilson, undermined Bush's claim that Iraq had tried to buy uranium in Africa. In what turned out to be a major embarrassment, Bush acknowledged he could not back up his statement. \nThe Wilson case has parallels in Britain where Prime Minister Tony Blair's aides leaked the name of a government scientist, David Kelley, to the British Broadcasting Corp Kelley had questioned Blair's evidence on Iraqi weapons and later commited suicide after his name was made public. \n"The president has directed the White House to cooperate fully with this investigation," White House press secretary Scott McClellan told reporters. "The president wants to get to the bottom of this." \nSenior staff members were told of the investigation at their morning staff meeting, and then Gonzales sent an e-mail to all the staff notifying them of the probe. \nThe justice department notified the counsel's office late Monday that it was launching an investigation but said the White House could wait until the next morning to notify staff and direct them to preserve relevant material, McClellan said. \nThe investigation stems from a CIA complaint two months ago that one of its agent's identities had been disclosed. Justice gets about 50 such complaints from the CIA each year about leaks of classified information and few ever get beyond a preliminary investigation. \nThe White House said that leaking classified information was a serious matter that should be "pursued to the fullest extent" by the Justice Department. But White House officials denied they leaked the CIA officer's identity. \n"There's been nothing, absolutely nothing brought to our attention to suggest any White House involvement, and that includes the vice president's office as well," McClellan said. \nIn particular, McClellan said it was "ridiculous" to suggest that Karl Rove, Bush's top political operative, was involved, as Wilson once charged. "He wasn't involved," McClellan said of Rove. "The president knows he wasn't involved ... It's simply not true." \nDepartment if they had relevant information, officials said. \nNovak, the columnist, said on CNN that his report was based on conversations with two senior administration officials while he was looking into Wilson's trip to Africa to investigate the uranium story. The officials told Novak that Wilson's wife had suggested the mission for her husband, the columnist said. \nHe said the CIA confirmed her role and "asked me not to use her name, but never indicated it would endanger her or anybody else." \nWilson backtracked Monday, saying he had not meant to imply that Rove "was the source or the authorizer, just that I thought that it came from the White House, and Karl Rove was the personification of the White House political operation." \nBut Wilson also said in a telephone interview that "I have people who I have confidence in, who have indicated to me that he [Rove], at a minimum, condoned it and certainly did nothing to put a stop to it for a week after it was out there."
ALEX AZAR: The first visit by a head of the Department of Health and Human Services would strictly observe the CECC’s special regulations, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said US Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) Alex Azar is to lead a delegation to Taiwan — the highest-level visit by a US Cabinet official since the two sides cut formal relations in 1979. The plan was announced yesterday morning by the US Department of Health and Human Services and confirmed by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA). Beijing has expressed its concerns to Washington, Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Wang Wenbin (汪文斌) said later yesterday. Taiwan and the US only issued statements saying that the visit would happen “in the coming days.” MOFA said that due to security concerns, it would
SCHEDULE: The delegation is due to meet with President Tsai Ing-wen this morning and witness the signing of an MOU on bilateral health cooperation in the afternoon US Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) Alex Azar yesterday arrived in Taipei aboard a US government plane at the head of a delegation that is the highest-level visit by a US official since Washington switched diplomatic recognition to China in 1979. Azar’s flight landed at Taipei International Airport (Songshan airport) at 4:48pm, nearly one hour earlier than scheduled, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said. The apron where it landed is reserved for military aircraft, the Songshan Air Force Base Command said. The members of Azar’s delegation included HHS Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response Robert Kadlec, HHS Chief of Staff Brian
‘CROSS-STRAIT CONSIDERATIONS’: Groups said that the Ministry of Education’s policies excluded Chinese and students should not be blocked over political issues The Taiwan International Student Movement yesterday said it would protest today outside the Ministry of Education in Taipei against a policy that excludes some Chinese students from returning to Taiwan amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Since June 17, the ministry has allowed foreign students from 19 “low risk” and “medium-low risk” countries and regions to enter Taiwan. On July 22, it announced that it was relaxing restrictions to include students from all countries and regions who are graduating this semester and on Wednesday it further expanded entry to students enrolled in degree programs. A letter sent by the ministry on Wednesday to universities did
The military last week sent “no small number” of Marine Corps officers to the Pratas Islands (Dongsha Island, 東沙群島) following reports of a Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) drill targeting the islands scheduled for this month. In an interview with Hong Kong’s Bauhinia Magazine published on Saturday last week, PLA National Defense University professor Li Daguang (李大光) confirmed that the Chinese army was planning to stage a simulated invasion of the Pratas Islands in the South China Sea this month. The islands comprise three atolls, with Pratas Island, at 1.74km2, being the largest. They lie southwest of Taiwan proper in the South