Democratic lawmakers are eager to hear from outed CIA operative Valerie Plame as they try to make political fodder out of the 2003 leak scandal.
Plame was testifying before a congressional committee Friday, but it was unlikely the hearing would offer any new information about the Bush administration's discussions of her employment at the spy agency.
"Valerie's going to be talking in general about the need to protect intelligence assets," her attorney, Melanie Sloan, said prior to her appearance before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. "She's basically talking about how important national intelligence is and about how leaking is bad."
Her prepared testimony would take about five minutes, Sloan said, and wouldn't include any behind-the-scenes details about the CIA or the White House.
The man with that kind of information is Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald, who spent years investigating the leak and interviewed President Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney and several top aides and journalists.
But Fitzgerald isn't talking, citing federal rules prohibiting such discussions. And nobody from the White House involved in the leak was scheduled to testify. Nor was someone from the State Department, where the leak of Plame's identity originated.
That leaves Plame to tell her story to lawmakers. She believes she was outed as retaliation against her husband, former Ambassador Joseph Wilson, who criticized the Bush administration's prewar intelligence on Iraq.
Wilson has written a book and Plame has one expected out soon. They are also suing Cheney and others, claiming their constitutional rights were violated.
Committee Chairman Henry Waxman, D-California, says he wants to know whether the White House appropriately safeguarded Plame's identity. During the obstruction of justice and perjury trial of Cheney's former top aide, I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, it was revealed that many in the Bush administration knew Plame worked for the CIA but not that it was classified.
Fitzgerald never charged anyone with the leak and he told Waxman he could not discuss his thoughts on the case.
Scheduled to testify Friday were attorney Mark Zaid, who has represented whistle-blowers; attorney Victoria Toensing, who said early on that no law was broken and has criticized the CIA's handling of the case; and J. William Leonard, security director of the National Archives, who was to discuss general procedures for handling sensitive information.
James Knodell, director of the White House security office, also could attend to discuss general security procedures, committee officials said.