Thursday, April 6


Didn't we always know or at least suspect that it went to the top?

President George W. Bush authorized disclosure of classified information on Iraq's weapons program to rebut war critics, a former top administration aide told a grand jury, according to documents filed in federal court.

The documents filed by special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald don't allege the president authorized aides to divulge the identity of covert CIA operative Valerie Plame, whose naming in a July 2003 newspaper column prompted a Justice Department investigation. The court papers also don't suggest Bush violated any rule or law governing the handling of classified material.

The document describes federal grand jury testimony by Vice President Dick Cheney's former Chief of Staff I. Lewis Libby, who was indicted last October of charges of perjury, obstruction of justice and lying to FBI agents investigating the Plame case. Libby has pleaded not guilty and is awaiting trial.

Libby testified that Cheney ``advised him that the president had authorized defendant to disclose the relevant portions'' of a 2002 National Intelligence Estimate on Iraq's pursuit of nuclear weapons to former New York Times reporter Judith Miller, the court filing says.
Libby ``testified that he was specifically authorized in advance of the meeting to disclose the key judgments of the classified NIE to Miller on that occasion because it was thought that the NIE was `pretty definitive' against what Ambassador Wilson had said and that the vice president thought it was `very important' for the key judgments of the NIE to come out,'' Fitzgerald wrote in the document, a motion filed in response to Libby's request for government documents for his defense.
Bush acted under a 1995 executive order governing the distribution of classified information that was signed by then- President Bill Clinton and modified by Bush in March 2003.

The order essentially made it easier for the government to keep classified documents from the public eye as well as authorizing declassification of information. The modification signed by Bush extended to the authority to the vice president.

It appears that Dubya didn't do anything illegal; he can classify info and he can declassify it at will. But I don't think the American people will take this favorably in light of his oft-expressed indignation at government whistleblowers who leak to journalists.

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