Well, lookie who was authorizing Scooter Libby to leak like a glass full of birdshot in the run-up to the Iraq War, according to Libby’s own testimony (via Waas):
Although not reflected in the court papers, two senior government officials said in interviews with National Journal in recent days that Libby has also asserted that Cheney authorized him to leak classified information to a number of journalists during the run-up to war with Iraq. In some instances, the information leaked was directly discussed with the Vice President, while in other instances Libby believed he had broad authority to release information that would make the case to go to war.
In yet another instance, Libby had claimed that President Bush authorized Libby to speak to and provide classified information to Washington Post assistant managing editor Bob Woodward for "Plan of Attack," a book written by Woodward about the run-up to the Iraqi war.
Bush and Cheney authorized the release of the information regarding the NIE in the summer of 2003, according to court documents, as part of a damage-control effort undertaken only days after former ambassador Joseph C. Wilson IV alleged in an op-ed in The New York Times that claims by Bush that Saddam Hussein had attempted to procure uranium from the African nation of Niger were most likely a hoax.
According to the court papers, "At some point after the publication of the July 6 Op Ed by Mr. Wilson, Vice President Cheney, [Libby’s] immediate supervisor, expressed concerns to [Libby] regarding whether Mr. Wilson’s trip was legitimate or whether it was in effect a junket set up by Mr. Wilson’s wife."
Long time readers here at FDL will recall our coverage of the White House Iraq Group (WHIG), and their media circle jerk plan of planting information via one member of the WHIG cabal so that others could cite the leak as proof that the Administration’s position was on "solid" ground — ground of their own making, anyway. (See here and here, just as a couple of examples.) And that last paragraph quoted above sure does call the whole "I never asked anyone to look into Wilson’s trip." tap dance by Cheney and company into question, doesn’t it?
I gotta wonder — has Fitz spoken with Lawrence Wilkerson about the big, slimy Cheney accounting trail on the run-up to Iraq yet? If not, perhaps someone on his team ought to do so. Seems like things might dovetail nicely…I’m just saying.
ThinkProgress contrasts some prior Presidential statements on leaking and protecting classified information and national security matters with today’s big news. Interesting, to say the least…when does Scotty brief again?
And so this is crystal clear for everyone — the NIE did not say that Saddam was actively seeking nuclear materials. Eriposte at The Left Coaster has hit this numerous times and provides a great summary today.
So, immediately after the NIE was released, the CIA started to seriously backtrack and dismiss the uranium claim as not credible. The CIA’s unclassified White Paper (which was actually a truncated version of the Key Judgements section of the classified NIE) that was released *after* the NIE was released, did not mention the uranium from Africa claim. This is important to note because even if the CIA did not want to reveal "sources and methods" (as was incredulously claimed by the WINPAC Director as the reason why he wanted the claim removed from the Bush 2003 SOTU – see Sec. 3.2.5 below) they could easily have introduced a simple, general statement that Saddam Hussein was seeking uranium from Africa, in the NIE Key Judgements and the White Paper (just like the British did in their own declassified White Paper released prior to the NIE). That would not have revealed sources or methods. Yet they chose not to do so – because the claim was not based on credible or reliable intelligence.
Naptime is fast approaching at our house, meaning I can finally sit down and do some serious writing and analysis on the legal docs. My goodness, it’s a meaty, information-filled day in the world of Traitorgate, isn’t it?