Friday, February 10, 2006

Leaking for war: Cheney, Libby, and the politicization of intelligence

At National Journal, Murray Waas has this rather interesting item:

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.

So, you see, this whole thing is only superficially about the disclosure of Valerie Plame's identity and the criminal case against Libby. What it's really about is how the Bush Administration made the case for war -- the lies, the leaks, and the misleading of the American people, the marketing of a case for war at all costs.

If the media (and that includes the blogosphere) do their job, more and more of this is going to come out. And, more and more, the truth will trump the culture of misinformation that characterizes the Bush presidency.

(Make sure to read the whole Waas piece.)

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For more, see The Carpetbagger Report, Shakespeare's Sister, The Left Coaster, Booman Tribune, The Mahablog, TalkLeft, The Next Hurrah, Taylor Marsh, AMERICAblog, King of Zembla, Obsidian Wings, Stygius,

And here's Andrew Sullivan: "So some intelligence matters are so important that the administration will not divulge them even to critical members of Congress. But others are leaked to journalists to win a political war. This is a pointed reminder that when the administration says it is withholding information to protect national security, a hefty dose of skepticism is in order. The same goes for their assurance that their wire-tapping has never been abused. Remind me again: at this point, why should we trust them?"

It's simple. We shouldn't.

There you go.

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