Bush aides sent to post-CIA leak ethics classes

WASHINGTON - The White House began mandatory, hourlong briefings for an estimated 3000 staffers on ethics and the handling of classified information in response to the indictment of a top official in the CIA leak investigation.

Among those who attended the first ethics briefing were some assistants to the president with top security clearances, White House spokesman Scott McClellan told reporters.

President George W Bush's top political adviser, Karl Rove, was not among the first group, although he was expected to attend an ethics class later this week.

The ethics course comes after Vice President Dick Cheney's former chief of staff, Lewis "Scooter" Libby, was indicted on five counts of obstructing justice, perjury and lying in the two-year investigation into the leak of covert CIA operative Valerie Plame's identity.

If convicted, Libby, who resigned from his post in the White House, faces a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison. He has pleaded not guilty.

- REUTERS

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