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February 09, 2006

Libby Fingers Cheney Politics

Murray Waas writes in National Journal (via BuzzFlash) that Scooter Libby has testified that Dick Cheney authorized him to leak classified information. Excerpt:

Vice President Dick Cheney's former chief of staff, I. Lewis (Scooter) Libby, testified to a federal grand jury that he had been "authorized" by Cheney and other White House "superiors" in the summer of 2003 to disclose classified information to journalists to defend the Bush administration's use of prewar intelligence in making the case to go to war with Iraq, according to attorneys familiar with the matter, and to court records.

Libby specifically claimed that in one instance he had been authorized to divulge portions of a then-still highly classified National Intelligence Estimate regarding Saddam Hussein's purported efforts to develop nuclear weapons, according to correspondence recently filed in federal court by special prosecutor Patrick J. Fitzgerald.

Beyond what was stated in the court paper, say people with firsthand knowledge of the matter, Libby also indicated what he will offer as a broad defense during his upcoming criminal trial: that Vice President Cheney and other senior Bush administration officials had earlier encouraged and authorized him to share classified information with journalists to build public support for going to war. Later, after the war began in 2003, Cheney authorized Libby to release additional classified information, including details of the NIE, to defend the administration's use of prewar intelligence in making the case for war. [...]

The new disclosure that Libby has claimed that the vice president and others in the White House had authorized him to release information to make the case to go to war, and later to defend the administration's use of prewar intelligence...significantly adds to a mounting body of information that Cheney played a central and personal role in directing efforts to counter claims by Wilson and other administration critics that the Bush administration had misused intelligence information to go to war with Iraq. [...]

Libby's legal strategy in asserting that Cheney and other Bush administration officials authorized activities related to the underlying allegations of criminal conduct leveled against him, without approving of or encouraging him to engage in the specific misconduct, is reminiscent of the defense strategy used by Oliver North, who was a National Security Council official in the Reagan administration. [...]

If Libby's defense adopts strategies used by North, it might be in part because the strategies largely worked for North and in part because Libby's defense team has quietly retained John D. Cline, who was a defense attorney for North. [Emphasis added]

Not sure what this means for Cheney, so I'm not getting my hopes up just yet.

Posted by Jonathan at February 9, 2006 06:39 PM  del.icio.us digg NewsVine Reddit YahooMyWeb


Have we heard any calls from the wingnut right for Cheney to be indicted or tried for treason for releasing classified information?

No - nothing but (((( SILENCE ))))!

Posted by: Percy's PoP at February 10, 2006 02:52 PM