Libby Says Bush Authorized Leaks of Highly Classified Iraq Intel to Bolster Case for War
Friday, April 7th, 2006http://www.democracynow.org/article.pl?sid=06/04/07/144207
Lewis "Scooter" Libby - the Vice President's former chief of staff - has testified that President Bush authorized him to leak details of a highly classified intelligence assessment to the press to defend the Bush administration's decision to go to war with Iraq, according to court papers filed Wednesday. We speak with investigative journalist Murray Waas. [includes rush transcript]
Lewis "Scooter" Libby - the Vice President's former chief of staff - has testified that President Bush authorized him to leak details of a highly classified intelligence assessment to the press to defend the Bush administration's decision to go to war with Iraq.
The news has created a firestorm in Washington. Throughout his presidency, Bush has often denounced leaks from his administration and vowed to punish the leakers. The top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, Congressmember Jane Harman of California said, "If the disclosure is true, it's breathtaking. The president is revealed as the leaker-in-chief."
Libby's grand jury testimony was cited in court papers filed by prosecutors late Wednesday. Libby was indicted in October on charges that he lied to investigators about his role in the outing of former CIA operative Valerie Plame, the wife of former Ambassador Joseph Wilson.
In July 2003, Wilson published an OpEd in the New York Times questioning the accuracy of Bush's claim that Iraq had sought nuclear materials from Niger. According to Libby's testimony, Vice President Dick Cheney told Libby to divulge to the media portions of a National Intelligence Estimate regarding Saddam Hussein's alleged efforts to develop nuclear weapons to contradict Wilson's claims.
Libby says that he refused to do so because the NIE was classified. A little later on, Cheney told Libby that he had gone to Bush, and that Bush had specifically authorized leaking the information in the NIE. According to the court papers, Libby testified that such presidential authorization to disclose classified information was "unique in his recollection." Libby also testified that an administration lawyer told him that by authorizing the disclosure, Bush had in effect declassified the information.
That authorization led to a July 8, 2003 conversation between Libby and then-New York Times reporter Judith Miller. The filing said that Libby understood he was to tell Miller that a key judgment of the intelligence estimate was that Iraq was "vigorously trying to procure" uranium. According to The New York Times, the CIA did not believe this finding, which came from the Defense Intelligence Agency and remains unproved to this day.
Prosecutors have alleged in the case against Libby that at that meeting he also gave information to Miller about the identity of Valerie Plame. But the court filing makes no allegation that President Bush or Dick Cheney authorized the disclosure of Plame's identity. However, the papers do place the president, for the first, time, directly in a chain of events that led to Plame's outing.
Murray Waas, veteran investigative journalist who writes for a number of publications. Among them, American Prospect magazine and Salon.com. He has broken a number of stories on the saga of the outing of CIA operative Valerie Plame. He maintains a blog at WhateverAlready.blogspot.com.
- Read Murray's article: Libby Says Bush Authorized Leaks( Collapse )