President Bush's apparent order authorizing a senior White House official to reveal to a reporter previously classified intelligence about Saddam Hussein's efforts to obtain uranium came as the information was already being discredited by several other officials in the administration, interviews and documents from the time show.
The events took place at a time when the administration's failure to find illicit weapons in Iraq had raised serious questions about the credibility of prewar intelligence. The White House was finding itself under fire from critics, like former ambassador Joseph C. Wilson IV, who were suggesting that the administration's claims about Iraq's efforts to acquire uranium, featured in Mr. Bush's State of the Union address in 2003, had been exaggerated.
The court filing asserts that Mr. Bush authorized the disclosure of the intelligence in part to rebut claims that Mr. Wilson was making, including those in a television appearance and in an Op-Ed article in The New York Times on July 6, 2003. The filing revealed for the first time testimony by Mr. Libby saying that Mr. Bush, through Mr. Cheney, had authorized Mr. Libby to tell reporters that "a key judgment of the N.I.E. held that Iraq was 'vigorously trying to procure' uranium."
While we're back to the idea that the president has the authority to have a revolving door policy on classifying , declassifying, then reclassifying parts of the NIE, while their are open questions about the legality of this , it is beyond question except for some blind mice on the right, that Bush, Cheney, and Libby knew that the uranium claims were not true and used the power of their public offices to cast doubt on a critic that had exposed their lies. from Fitzgerald's filing 4/5/06
Page 20 – Vice President advised defendant that the President specifically had authorized defendant to disclose certain information in the NIE. Defendant testified that the circumstances of his conversation with reporter Miller – getting approval from the President through the Vice President to discuss material that would be classified but for that approval – were unique in his recollection.
Libby has testified that he didn't know that the information had been classified,
Defendant testified in the grand jury that he understood that even in the days following his conversation with Ms. Miller, other key officials – including Cabinet level officials – were not made aware of the earlier declassification even as those officials were pressed to carry out a declassification of the NIE
This would seem to point to some maliciousness on Libby's part since he was willing to reveal classified information, or really cherry picked disinformation to members of the press known to be sympathetic to the adminisration. In the Murray Waas article, Libby Says Bush Authorized Leaks
Two days after Wilson's op-ed, Libby met with then-New York Times reporter Judith Miller and not only disclosed portions of the NIE, but also Plame's CIA employment and potential role in her husband's trip.
Unless Libby can show that he has a history of being a malicious gossip the only reason for him to mention Wilson's wife as part of the Whitehouse efforst to discredit Wilson would be use the juvenile smear that nothing Wilson said could be true merely because the Whitehouse believed ( though not true, his wife merely offered up his services and her superiors made the decision to send Wilson) that his wife sent him. I wouldn't suggest that what Bush, Cheney, and Libby made any rational sense, only that to drag M's Plame name in was actually just the opposite. If M's Plame would have been left out of this whole scenario, the Whitehouse between claiming the right to the revolving door classification process and executive privledge could have escaped legal scrutiny, where they failed is trying to somehow sell the idea that it was also necessary to reveal the identity of a CIA agent. Page 23 of the filing,
Defendant testified that the Vice President later advised him that the President had authorized defendant to disclose the relevant portions of the NIE. 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.
To state the obvious, we don't have a denial of a leak, we have a justififcation of leaking information that was known to be false because Libby felt he needed to for the sake of the cause or was at liberty to do so. A 'Concerted Effort' to Discredit Bush Critic
One striking feature of that decision — unremarked until now, in part because Fitzgerald did not mention it — is that the evidence Cheney and Libby selected to share with reporters had been disproved months before.
United Nations inspectors had exposed the main evidence for the uranium charge as crude forgeries in March 2003, but the Bush administration and British Prime Minister Tony Blair maintained they had additional, secret evidence they could not disclose. In June, a British parliamentary inquiry concluded otherwise, delivering a scathing critique of Blair's role in promoting the story. With no ally left, the White House debated whether to abandon the uranium claim and became embroiled in bitter finger-pointing about whom to fault for the error. A legal brief filed for Libby last month said that "certain officials at the CIA, the White House, and the State Department each sought to avoid or assign blame for intelligence failures relating to Iraq's weapons of mass destruction."
It was at that moment that Libby, allegedly at Cheney's direction, sought out at least three reporters to bolster the discredited uranium allegation. Libby made careful selections of language from the 2002 estimate, quoting a passage that said Iraq was "vigorously trying to procure uranium" in Africa.
Leaking false information and conflating that false information with a personal attack doesn't speak well for the moral standing of this administration. The alternative was that the administration would have had to publicly admit that Iraq was far from being a grave threat to America and while there were a range of options to use in dealing with Saddam they were set on war regardless of the evidence. Why else all the deception.
At Cheney's instruction, Libby testified, he told Miller that the uranium story was a "key judgment" of the intelligence estimate, a term of art indicating there was consensus on a question of central importance.
In fact, the alleged effort to buy uranium was not among the estimate's key judgments, which were identified by a headline and bold type and set out in bullet form in the first five pages of the 96-page document.
Unknown to the reporters, the uranium claim lay deeper inside the estimate, where it said a fresh supply of uranium ore would "shorten the time Baghdad needs to produce nuclear weapons." But it also said U.S. intelligence did not know the status of Iraq's procurement efforts, "cannot confirm" any success and had "inconclusive" evidence about Iraq's domestic uranium operations
These preliminaries settled, he did not care to put off any longer
the execution of his design, urged on to it by the thought of all
the world was losing by his delay, seeing what wrongs he intended to
right, grievances to redress, injustices to repair, abuses to
remove, and duties to discharge. So, without giving notice of his
intention to anyone, and without anybody seeing him, one morning
before the dawning of the day (which was one of the hottest of the
month of July) he donned his suit of armour, mounted Rocinante with
his patched-up helmet on, braced his buckler, took his lance, and by
the back door of the yard sallied forth upon the plain in the
highest contentment and satisfaction at seeing with what ease he had
made a beginning with his grand purpose. But scarcely did he find
himself upon the open plain, when a terrible thought struck him, one
all but enough to make him abandon the enterprise at the very
outset. It occurred to him that he had not been dubbed a knight, and
that according to the law of chivalry he neither could nor ought to
bear arms against any knight; and that even if he had been, still he
ought, as a novice knight, to wear white armour, without a device upon
the shield until by his prowess he had earned one.
from Don Quixote (Chaper II) by Miguel de Cervantes