US President George W. Bush said on Monday that the unauthorized disclosure of an undercover CIA officer's identity was a "very serious matter" and "a criminal action" as the White House announced that 500 of its 2,000 employees had responded to a Justice Department demand for documents as part of an investigation into the source of the leak. \nThe announcement and Bush's adamant words reflected a tougher public approach by the White House to the leak. The administration has been criticized by Democrats for not treating the disclosure of the classified information more forcefully. \n"This is a very serious matter, and our administration takes it seriously," Bush said in response to a question from a reporter during a joint White House news conference with President Mwai Kibaki of Kenya. \nBush, in his most extensive comments about the leak to date, urged the person who disclosed the information to come forward. \n"I'd like to know who leaked, and if anybody has got any information inside our government or outside our government who leaked, you ought to take it to the Justice Department so we can find the leaker," the president said. \nBush added that "we're talking about a criminal action" and that he looked forward "to finding the truth." \nThe White House had given its employees until 5pm yesterday to comply with a Justice Department demand that they turn over "all documents that relate in any way" to the disclosure of the CIA officer's identity. \nInvestigators say they want access to electronic records, phone logs, documents and diaries that relate to former ambassador Joseph Wilson IV, a trip he took to Niger last year, his wife's relationship with the CIA, or any contact with the syndicated columnist Robert Novak and two other reporters who wrote about Wilson. \nThe investigation is focused on finding who leaked the identity last summer of Wilson's wife, a CIA undercover officer named Valerie Plame. Wilson, who undertook a mission for the CIA last year to investigate whether Iraq had tried to buy uranium for its nuclear weapons program from Niger, concluded in a New York Times Op-Ed article on July 6 that it had not, and that the administration had twisted evidence to make the case for war in Iraq. \nEight days later, Novak wrote that it was Wilson's wife who had suggested sending him on the mission, implying that Wilson's trip was of minor importance. \nNovak identified Plame, and attributed the information to "two senior administration officials." Wilson then accused Karl Rove, the president's chief political aide, of involvement in leaking the information to Novak to intimidate Wilson into silence. But he has since backed off and said that Rove at least condoned the leak. \nTwo reporters for Newsday, Timothy Phelps, the Washington bureau chief of the newspaper, and Knut Royce, are part of the investigation because of an article they wrote in July that said "intelligence officials" had confirmed and expanded on Novak's account. \nIn response to Wilson's statement and questions from reporters, the White House has said three people were not sources for the leak: Rove; Lewis Libby, Vice President Dick Cheney's chief of staff; and Elliott Abrams, the director of Middle East affairs at the National Security Council. \nScott McClellan, the White House press secretary, said that the office of the White House counsel, Alberto Gonzales, was to remain open until 11pm Monday to receive responses from employees to the Justice Department demand. Some of the responses, McClellan said, were likely from people who simply checked off an entry on a form provided by the White House.
OFF BORDER ISLAND: The fisheries official disappeared from a patrol vessel wearing a life jacket and leaving behind his shoes, indicating an intentional move, Seoul said North Korean soldiers shot dead a suspected South Korean defector at sea and burned his body as a COVID-19 precaution after he was interrogated in the water over several hours, Seoul military officials said yesterday. It is the first killing of a South Korean citizen by North Korean forces for a decade, and comes with Pyongyang at high alert over the COVID-19 pandemic and inter-Korean relations at a standstill. The fisheries official disappeared from a patrol vessel near the western border island of Yeonpyeong on Monday, the official said. More than 24 hours later, North Korean forces located him in their waters and
ACADEMIC FREEDOM: One professor told her students to submit anonymized papers and not to record any online classes. Some US schools have announced similar steps Students at Oxford University specializing in the study of China are being asked to submit some papers anonymously to protect them from the possibility of retribution under the sweeping new security law introduced three months ago in Hong Kong. The anonymity ruling is to be applied in classes, and group tutorials are to be replaced by one-to-ones. Students are also to be warned that it will be viewed as a disciplinary offence if they tape classes or share them with outside groups. The Hong Kong National Security Law was imposed on June 30 by Beijing after more than a year of pro-democracy
Japan’s government yesterday urged people to seek help if they were struggling to cope, following Sunday’s death of the popular actress and Miss Sherlock star Yuko Takeuchi, 40. News of her death shocked the nation and follows other recent cases of Japanese celebrities taking their lives, with figures showing a recent rise in suicides. Takeuchi was a household name in Japan and had given birth to her second child in January. Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Katsunobu Kato did not mention a particular case, but said that some people were struggling to cope during the COVID-19 pandemic. “There has been an uptick in the number
China on Thursday lashed out at the US at a high-level UN meeting over its criticism on the COVID-19 pandemic, with its envoy declaring, “Enough is enough.” Two days after US President Donald Trump used his annual address to the General Assembly to attack China’s record, US Ambassador to the UN Kelly Craft, also took an outraged tone — after which her Chinese counterpart showed palpable anger. “I must say, enough is enough. You have created enough troubles for the world already,” Chinese Ambassador to the UN Zhang Jun (張軍) told a Security Council meeting on global governance attended through videoconference