Nor does it surprise me that Bush covered up his misdeeds with more lies and misinformation over the past 3 years.
Yesterday, it became public information that Scooter Libby directly implicated the President and Vice President as not only knowing about the leak of the NIE estimate, but ordering it done. What Bush did is not per se illegal. But it was unethical without question. The President has the authority to authorize the declassification of classified material. No one disputes that. And, putting aside the fact that he did not follow the established procedures for declassifying information (Bush has never been big on following rules... or the constitution for that matter), the use of classified information for political purposes is just plain wrong.
Libby testified under oath:
"Defendant further testified that he at first advised the Vice President that he could not have this conversation with reporter Miller because of the classified nature of the NIE. Defendant testified that the Vice President later advised him that the President had authorized defendant to disclose the relevant portions of the NIE," the filing further states. "Defendant testified that he also spoke to David Addington, then Counsel to the Vice President, whom defendant considered to be an expert in national security law, and Mr. Addington opined that Presidential authorization to publicly disclose a document amounted to a declassification of the document. Defendant testified that he thought he brought a brief abstract of the NIE's key judgments to the meeting with Miller on July 8. Defendant understood that he was to tell Miller, among other things, that a key judgment of the NIE held that Iraq was 'vigorously trying to procure' uranium. Defendant testified that this July 8th meeting was the only time he recalled in his government experience when he disclosed a document to a reporter that was effectively declassified by virtue of the President's authorization that it be disclosed. Defendant testified that one of the reasons why he met with Miller at a hotel was the fact that he was sharing this information with Miller exclusively."
"Defendant further testified that on July 12, 2003, he was specifically directed by the Vice President to speak to the press in place of Cathie Martin (then the communications person for the Vice President) regarding the NIE and Wilson," the court filing states. "Defendant was instructed to provide what was for him an extremely rare "on the record" statement, and to provide "background" and "deep background" statements, and to provide information contained in a document defendant understood to be the cable authored by Mr. Wilson."
Going beyond the obvious implications of Bush directing an administration official to leak the information, there is the cover up. Bush, since the beginning, has held firm that he had no knowledge of this and that he was cooperating fully with the investigation.
"I want to know the truth. I want to see to it that the truth prevails." -- Bush to reporters, Oct. 7, 2003, on determining the identity of the leaker. He also said his staff was cooperating in the investigation.
Not only did he claim that he wanted "truth" to prevail, he railed against those in Washington who leaked information for political gain. But, hypocricy has alwasy been the hallmark of this administration.
Sept. 30, 2003: "Let me just say something about leaks in Washington. There are too many leaks of classified information in Washington. … And if there is a leak out of my administration, I want to know who it is. And if the person has violated law, the person will be taken care of. And so I welcome the investigation. … I have told our administration - people in my administration to be fully cooperative. I want to know the truth. …"
"I mean this is a town full of people who like to leak information," Bush said during a press conference on Oct. 7, 2003. "And I don't know if we're going to find out the senior administration official. Now, this is a large administration, and there's lots of senior officials. I don't have any idea."
All along, the president claimed that he would see that anyone in the administration involved in the leaking of classified information that lead to the outing of a CIA agent, would no longer be working in the White House.
"I would like this to end as quickly as possible. If someone committed a crime, they will no longer work in my administration." -- Bush, July 18, 2005.
Two years ago when Bush was interviewed in the leak investigation, he retained a private attorney. Bush was questioned about any knowledge he had in regards to the leak and who may have authorized such a leak. at that point, Bush claimed he had no knowledge of anyone in his administration involved in any effort to discredit Joe Wilson's allegations, or anyone involved in the leaking of Valerie Plame's name to journalists. After the interview (not under oath) Scott McClellan informed the press:
"He was pleased to do his part to help the investigation move forward. No one wants to get to the bottom of this matter more than the president of the United States and he has said on more than one occasion that if anyone inside or outside the government has information to help get to the bottom of this, they should help."
"The president was glad to do his part to cooperate with the investigation. The president was pleased to share whatever information he had with the officials in charge and answer their questions." -- White House press secretary Scott McClellan, June 25, 2004
During his 70 minute interview, wouldn't the first thing you would do to "cooperate" with the investigation so the person or persons responsible for the leak, be telling the lead prosecutor that Scooter Libby was directed to leak the information? Wouldn't that be an obvious starting point in an investigation?
"Hey, Fitzy, check out this guy first. We told him to leak some info and that is where Plame's outing may have come from since it all came from the same source"
No, the president did not do this. He not only lied to the investigators, he lied to the American people. It was not hard to put 2 and 2 together. The guy who was directed to leak the NIE was all most certainly the same guy who leaked Plame's name. It does not matter if Bush and Cheney directed Libby to release Valerie Plame's name. They had direct knowledge of who the source most likely was. He lied when he said he had no knowledge. Most likely, Bush broke no laws in releasing the NIE info, even though he did not follow accepted procedures. But that does not mean that he did not break the law by obstructing an investigation. He had both the moral and legal obligation to inform the prosecutor and the public of his administrations role.
Bush has played the "national security" and "I am honest and full of integrity" to get let off on this one. I am tired of being lied too by the leaders of our country. It is time that he and his administration is held accountable for his actions and overt lies. In 2003, Bush set the bench mark for how to deal with this situation. If Bush did have any integrity, he would follow his words and leave the White House, but we all know that will not happen.
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