Friday, April 07, 2006

Did Scooter Tell The Truth? Will Americans Demand That Bush, Cheney Be Held Accountable?

The White House today declined to challenge assertions that President Bush authorized the leaks of intelligence information to counter administration critics on Iraq.

Court papers filed by the prosecutor in the CIA leak case against I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby said Bush authorized Libby to disclose information from a classified prewar intelligence report. The court papers say Libby's boss, Vice President Cheney, advised him that the president had authorized the leak to the press to strike back at administration critic Joseph Wilson.

White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan volunteered that the administration declassified information from the intelligence report -- the National Intelligence Estimate -- and released it to the public on July 18, 2003. But he refused to say when the information was actually declassified. The date could be significant because Libby discussed the information with a reporter on July 8 of that year.

Logically, would President Bush go through the charade of having the leak investigated, if he knew that he had declassified the information being leaked?

Or is it more likely that Bush didn't count on Libby not taking the fall?


Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid of Nevada said that "in light of today's shocking revelation, President Bush must fully disclose his participation in the selective leaking of classified information. The American people must know the truth."

There's no clearer way to say it. Americans need to know if their government is honest. Either Libby is lying through his teeth -- a definite possibility -- or Bush and Cheney are in very big trouble.


The Washington Post reports that "legal experts say that the president had the unquestionable authority to approve the disclosure of the information, but added the leak was highly unusual and amounted to using sensitive intelligence data for political gain."

That Bush authorized the leaks "buttresses the contention that many media leaks come from official sources, not whistle-blowers."

"At a minimum it is hypocritical coming from an administration that has claimed that leaks are anathema," Steven Aftergood, director of the Project on Government Secrecy at the nonpartisan Federation of American Scientists told the Boston Globe.


Blogger thewaronterrible said...

Although I have not read the entire transcripts of the White House press corps dance with Scott McClellan over this issue of recent days, it does not appear the media has been seriously challenging face-to-face McClellan's major defense of the declassification: to counter "inaccurate" pre-Iraq invasion intelligence info coming from Joe Wilson.
However, the historical record shows that senior Bush Administration officials had already widely discredited Sadaam's nuclear efforts, including seeking uranium and aluminum tubes from Africa, at the time Bush had "declassified" the info in July of last year.
So, Bush already knew at the time he authorized Scooter Libby to declassify sections of the National Intelligence Estimate that the substance of Joe Wilson's argument was correct.
Of course, you still have some CONS like John Podhoretz in conservative rag New York Post on Friday quoting, what should have been debunked loose interpretation of the Senate pre-Iraq Intelligence Committee Report suggesting that Joe Wilson lied and actually supported the Sadaam procuring Uranium from Africa fantasy.
Podhoretz and other CONS who persist in this Bush apologist argument are wrong. Anyone of an elementary school reading comprehension level who reads the Committee report would acknowledge the report concluded, and I quote: "State Department Bureau of Intelligence and Research analysts believed that (Joe Wilson's) report supported their assessment that Niger was unlikely to be willing or able to sell uranium to Iraq." This is among other evidences cited in the intelligence report supporting Wilson.

It is also known that the Uranium story was a small part of the National Intelligence Estimate that Libby "declassified" to the reporters to discredit Wilson.
In summary, the evidences appear overwhelming that this declassification, including the criminal outing of a CIA agent's name in great harm to U.S. national security, was done purely for political purposes.
It was not done, as McClellan claims, "for the good of America" to silence a wayward critic.

Yes, Bush has the ability to declassify whatever he wants. It does not appear he obtained authorization from the CIA. In addition, a case of unattributed, Bush administration sources providing info selectively to reporters, as opposed to holding a formal press conference, smells more like a leak than a declassification.
With Republican Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee Arlene Spector demanding an explanation, what we have here is a Bush Administration scandal even the Republicans can agree on.

My support: (The link to a Jan. 18, 2006 NYT story without needing a subscription)

12:04 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

For anyone who cares about this case here is a link to a well researched MSNBC video report that does an excellent job of sawing through the b.s. and getting to the heart of the issue, with an inquisitiveness well called for here but normally rare in main stream journalism.

10:42 AM  
Anonymous trinity said...

Michael Ledeen debunks this tired old baseless charge on A couple of excerpts, with an URL to the entire article follows:

April 10, 2006, 7:26 a.m.

Sixteen Words, Again

The myth of a great sin lives on.

"In Sunday’s Washington Post Dafna Linzer and Barton Gellman provide their gullible readers with a reprise of one of the great myths of the run-up to the Iraq war: that President Bush used blatantly false information to justify the war..........

........But Linzer and Gellman are wrong, indeed so clearly wrong that it takes one’s breath away. The British government did indeed have information about Iraqi efforts to purchase uranium in Africa, and it wasn’t connected to the forgeries. And the definitive British parliamentary inquiry — the Butler Commission Report of July, 2004 — not only did not deliver "a scathing critique," but totally endorsed the position of British intelligence.

The key paragraph in the Butler Report is this:

We conclude that...the statements on Iraqi attempts to buy uranium from Africa in the Government’s dossier, and by the Prime Minister in the House of Commons, were well-founded. By extension we conclude also that the statement in President Bush’s State of the Union Address of 28 January 2003 that: "The British Government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa" was well-founded. (Page 123, Paragraph 499)

4:09 PM  
Anonymous trinity said...

And again, I feel I have to state the obvious. A leak, by definition, is the release of information by someone who has no authority to make that information available. That's a leak, and it's illegal. For example, Risen committed a very real and prosecutable crime when he LEAKED the existence of the NSA foreign surveillance program to the NYT.

On the other hand, if the president gives permission for someone to disclose specific information, it is de facto, declassified, and is not a leak, since the president is authorized to do it.

I almost look forward (not really) to the next Democrat president, if only to see how your view on presidential authority will immediately do a 180 degree turnabout. Liberals are quite amusing, albeit maddening, to observe.

2:29 PM  

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