The Happy Leftie

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Thursday, April 06, 2006

Bush okayed the leak

Guilty as sin, the Liar in Chief okayed the loose lips that could sink ships. The surprise ending is, the ship is his own. Glug glug... -hl

President Bush personally authorized leaking long-classified information to a reporter in the summer of 2003 to buttress administration claims, now discredited, that Saddam Hussein was attempting to acquire weapons of mass destruction for Iraq, according to a court filing by prosecutors in the case against former White House aide I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby.

Libby, the former chief of staff to Vice President Dick Cheney, was indicted in October on charges that he lied to investigators about his role in the unmasking of former CIA operative Valerie Plame.

Court papers filed by special prosecutor Patrick J. Fitzgerald late Wednesday said that before Libby's indictment, he told a federal grand jury investigating the leak that Cheney told him to pass on information about a secret National Intelligence Estimate to the press and that Bush had authorized the disclosure, according to the court papers.

That authorization led to a July 8, 2003 conversation between Libby and then New York Times reporter Judith Miller at a Washington hotel, according to the court papers. The filing said that Libby understood that he was to tell Miller that a key judgment of the intelligence estimate was that Iraq was "vigorously trying to procure" uranium.

The conversation between Libby and Miller and the discussion of sensitive information has been known. The government has also alleged in its case against Libby that he gave information to Miller at that meeting about the identity of Plame, but that he later lied to investigators about those conversations. Libby is charged with perjury and obstruction of justice, and is facing a trial next January.

The court filing by Fitzgerald makes no allegation that Bush encouraged or authorized the disclosure of the identity of Plame to anyone. Bush has previously said that he would fire anyone in his administration who was involved in the outing of Plame.

Plame is married to former envoy Joseph C. Wilson IV, who emerged as a principal critic of the administration's war rationale in the spring and summer of 2003. His July 6, 2003 op-ed article in the New York Times challenged statements by Bush in his 2003 State of the Union address about Iraqi attempts to procure weapons-grade uranium in Africa.

His writings triggered a furious counteroffensive campaign by administration officials, which some say led to the surfacing of Plame's identity in a column by syndicated columnist Robert Novak on July 14, 2003.

That Bush reportedly authorized certain disclosures recasts the story of the administration response and puts the president at least in the loop, if not at the helm, of administration efforts to rebut a forceful critic at a time when growing public concern over his handling of the war in Iraq was looming as a threat to his reelection the next year.