Holy Crap!

Ken AshfordBush & Co., Plamegate1 Comment

Why is nobody talking about this (which comes from the right-leaning NY Sun, no less)?!?

A former White House aide under indictment for obstructing a leak probe, I. Lewis Libby, testified to a grand jury that he gave information from a closely-guarded "National Intelligence Estimate" on Iraq to a New York Times reporter in 2003 with the specific permission of President Bush, according to a new court filing from the special prosecutor in the case.

Bush okayed leaks of classified info?!?

The source of this information comes from prosecutor Fitzgerald himself, in papers filed with the Court late last night.  It was based on the testimony of Libby. 

This is the first time the President has been placed in the loop (albeit tangentially) regarding the Plame leak.

I-M-P-E-A-C-H-A-B-L-E.  What’s more, this revelation — if it holds true — shows the duplicity of Bush, who has said:

“There’s just too many leaks, and if there is a leak out of my administration, I want to know who it is.” [Bush, 9/30/03]

“I want to know the truth. … I have no idea whether we’ll find out who the leaker is, partially because, in all due respect to your profession, you do a very good job of protecting the leakers.” [Fox News, 10/8/03]

“I’d like to know if somebody in my White House did leak sensitive information.” [Bush, 10/28/03]

UPDATE:  Ah, it’s starting to get some movement.  Murray Waas is writing about it at the National Journal, and clears it up a bit.

Apparently, Libby received "approval from the President through the Vice President" (emphasis mine) to divulge portions of a National Intelligence Estimate regarding Saddam Hussein’s purported efforts to develop nuclear weapons to NYT reporter Judith Miller.  In the course of this, Libby outted Plame as a CIA agent.

Waas adds:

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.

I think the controversy will lie in this particular paragraph:

Libby also testified that an administration lawyer told him that Bush, by authorizing the disclosure of classified information, had in effect declassified the information. Legal experts disagree on whether the president has the authority to declassify information on his own.

Still nothing on the cable news websites, but the New York Sun website is down (probably from everybody checking out the story).

UPDATE:  Finally, the AP picks up on it (just before noon).  Watch the avalanche.

UPDATE (as of 1:40 pm EST):  Okay, it’s everywhere now.  I like the georgia10 summary at Daily Kos:

Did the President personally authorize the selected release of classified information meant to manipulate public opinion about Iraq? Or did Cheney lie? If Cheney corroborates Scooter Libby’s story, he implicates the President. If he denies it, he calls his former Chief of Staff a liar.

Digby is also thinking:

So we find out today that Bush personally authorized leaking sensitive intelligence information for political reasons.

Explain to me again how we can trust that this President has not used his illegal NSA program to wiretap Americans for political reasons?

VERY LATE UPDATE (posted 4/13/06):  Kevin Drum explains