Libby's Strained Pleas Turn Deadly?
It's not the smoking gun. But is it a mushroom cloud? Or just some Libby's mushroom soup?
At first Scooter Libby contended he was way too busy to remember who told who what about secret CIA agent Valerie Plame's identity, or anything to do with her husband, Ambassador Joe Wilson, and his confirmation that Saddam wasn't buying uraninum to make nukes. But Libby's strained pleas went nowhere. In a court filing yesterday, he came up with a new one: Bush made me do it.
Sorting out the significance or even the meaning of Scooter Libby's allegation that Cheney told him that Bush told him to reveal classified information from CIA asssessments to the press (Judy Miller at the NYTimes) is just getting started. But on its first day it was played in the establishment media as the biggest challenge to the Bush administration so far.
The emphasis is on the selective leaking of only the part of the intelligence analysis that supported the Bushwar in Iraq, not the doubts that would have tempered an executive who hadn't already decided to invade, and was only looking for p.r. to silence actual or potential opposition. We've learned recently that Karl Rove was concerned about it in 2003 and 2004, specifically because it could hurt Bush's re-election.
This information in general has been available for awhile. Anyone who watched Bill Moyers on PBS in 2004 and probably before, for example, would know most of this already: that the most knowledgeable experts within State and Energy didn't believe the Saddam is going nuclear story. What's new recently is the proof that Bush himself was presented with these conflicting views, in a form that even he could be expected to understand: a one page memo. And what's new in this story is that these leaks Judy Miller of the NY Times used to write her stories supporting the Bushite view came to her from Libby as directed by Cheney, who claimed they were authorized by Bush.
Therefore Bush is exposed as not telling the truth about what his government knew and didn't know, believed and didn't believe, about Iraq. While this is hardly news to some of us, it is apparently news to the TV bobbleheads and solid enough for major news media to play it as news.
Some stories are claiming that, if true, what Bush did is not illegal because the President does have the power to declassify. But is this the same thing? One of the statements on this that I did understand was by Rep. Jane Harman, ranking Dem on the House Intelligence Committee:
"The President has the legal authority to declassify information, but there are normal channels for doing so. Telling an aide to leak classified information to the New York Times is not a normal channel. A normal declassification procedure would involve going back to the originating agency, such as the CIA, and then putting out a public, declassified version of the document.
"I am stunned that the President won't tell the full the Intelligence Committee about the NSA program because he's allegedly concerned about leaks, when it turns out that he is the Leaker-in-Chief."
There are all kinds of possibilities opened up by this revelation, and it may yet pit Cheney's people against Bush's people. But apropos of a previous post, the press had not a single question on this topic for the White House in the morning press briefing after the story broke. Not one.
In the meantime, Senator John Kerry has called for the U.S. to withdraw troops beginning next month if the Iraqis don't form a government by then, and by the end of the year even if they do. He had a rhetorical battle on the Senate floor over it.
Iraq continues to disintegrate in violence and chaos. The Bushites claim more and more "authority" for their authoritarian wannabe dictatorship on domestic spying, and reports continue to say that the Bushites are preparing to attack Iran. Why? Because they are going nuclear. Or so the Bushites say. Experts estimate that Iran is from 5 to 10 years away from any nuclear weapons. But then, in the fine print, the experts were saying that about Iraq as well, even if Saddam had the nuclear program they said he did, but which he didn't.
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