Waxman launches investigation tied to Valerie Plame

House Democrats yesterday launched their own investigation into the Bush White House’s leak of CIA agent Valerie Plame’s identity.

Focused around a hearing set for Friday, March 16, the investigation seeks to breathe new life into a scandal that started to wind down after Tuesday’s conviction of former vice presidential chief of staff I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby on perjury charges.

 The star witness of the hearing will be Plame herself, who will testify before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. Chairman Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) has also invited Special Counsel Patrick Fitzgerald to testify.

“The identity of undercover CIA operatives is supposed to be one of the most closely guarded national security secrets,” Waxman wrote in a letter to Fitzgerald. “Yet the trial proceedings raise questions about whether senior White House officials, including the vice president and senior advisor to the President Karl Rove, complied with requirements governing the handling of classified information.”

Plame’s true identity was disclosed in 2003 by a Bush administration official. Administration critics have said the disclosure was an effort to punish her husband, who had accused the administration of distorting intelligence information on Iraq.