Bush-Cheney Nucleus Of Leak & Propagenda...
According to trial transcripts obtained by Truthout, former White House staffer I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby testified before a grand jury in 2004 that Vice President Dick Cheney instructed him to divulge portions of a then-classified report to New York Times reporter Judith Miller. Libby testified that Cheney said authorization to leak a section of the report had come directly from President George W. Bush, the court transcripts state.
The document, titled the National intelligence Estimate, was officially declassified on July 18, 2003. However Libby testified before the grand jury in March 2004 that he had received instructions from Cheney on July 8, 2003, to release portions of the report to Judith Miller.
"The vice president instructed me to go talk to Judith Miller to lay things out for her," Libby said, according to court transcripts. Libby added that President Bush did not know Judith Miller, but authorized Libby to share the NIE with her. Miller did not publish a story based on the information Libby leaked to her.
Libby testified that the leak of the NIE to Miller was aimed at undermining the credibility of former ambassador Joseph Wilson, who on July 6, 2003, wrote an op-ed for the New York Times accusing the Bush administration of "twisting" pre-war intelligence on Iraq. Wilson's stinging rebuke of the administration led Libby and other White House officials to leak Wilson's wife's covert CIA status to reporters one week later.
Libby said, according to the court transcript, that the leak of the NIE on July 8, 2003, was a closely guarded secret and that only he, Vice President Dick Cheney, and President Bush were aware that some of its contents would be leaked.
Libby testified that the White House discussed on a daily basis Wilson's accusations that the administration had manipulated pre-war intelligence regarding Iraq. Those conversations included President Bush, Libby testified, according to the court transcript. Libby testified that his own handwritten notes indicate that President Bush wanted him to to speak with reporters and to rebut Wilson's charges.
"If the president tells you to talk about a document, it's declassified," Libby testified about the why he believed he was authorized to discuss what was then still a classified document.
The information that surfaced during Tuesday's court proceedings places President Bush at the center of the probe, and once again raises the question of whether Bush knew in advance the lengths to which senior White House officials would go to discredit Wilson. President Bush retained a private attorney when he was interviewed by Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald in the leak probe three years ago, but details of the president's interview have yet to be released publicly.
Libby's testimony is backed up by a court document filed by Fitzgerald last year, in which the special prosecutor wrote that Libby had testified he was authorized by Bush and Cheney to discuss the NIE with Miller. <more>