MAR DEL PLATA, Argentina - White House officials will be required to attend briefings next week on ethics and the handling of classified information after the indictment last week of a senior official in the CIA leak probe, according to a memo released on Saturday.
The White House counsel's office will conduct a series of presentations on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday for those aides with security clearances.
ETHICS BRIEFING FOR KARL & GANG
Karl Rove, President Bush's top political adviser, is shown in this April 9, 2005. Ethics briefings were scheduled for staffers according to the first letter of their last name. If that practice is followed, Rove would be expected at a session at 4 p.m. on Wednesday. (AP Photo/Andy Manis)
"Your attendance at one of these sessions is mandatory," said a memo to White House staff from White House counsel Harriet Miers.
The memo was released in Mar del Plata, where President George W. Bush was attending a 34-nation Summit of the Americas.
The briefings will provide a refresher course on general ethics rules, including "the rules governing the protection of classified information," the memo said.
The ethics course comes after Vice President Dick Cheney's former chief of staff, Lewis "Scooter" Libby, 55, was indicted last week on five counts of obstructing justice, perjury and lying in the two-year investigation into the leak of covert CIA officer 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 innocent.
The five-count indictment against Libby maintains that other government officials were aware of, if not involved in, leaking the identity of Plame to the media.
Aides said Bush decided to require the ethics course during private meetings last weekend with Chief of Staff Andrew Card and Miers, whose office will conduct the ethics briefings.
The ethics briefings come amid pressure from congressional Democrats to fire top White House aide Karl Rove or strip his security clearance.
Rove remains under investigation because of his reported conversations with reporters about Plame, the wife of Iraq war critic Joseph Wilson.
Bush on Friday dodged questions about Rove and other aspects of the CIA leak, saying the case was still under investigation.
The briefings were scheduled for staffers according to the first letter of their last name. If that practice is followed, Rove would be expected at a session at 4 p.m. on Wednesday.
© 2005 Reuters Ltd.