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National Journal: Cheney gave Scooter Libby orders to leak classified info against Wilsom/Plame

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FURTHER UPDATE: One thing that is confusing from the Nat'l Journal story is the extent to which Cheney was involved in the leak of Plame's name. But either way, if Bush and Cheney authorized Libby to leak classified information to bolster the case for Iraq, that right there is what we here in Washington call a crime. Especially when the White House and Alberto Gonzales are going nutso over investigating the "crime" committed when the NYT received leaked info about the NSA domestic spying issue. How is it a horrible dangerous crime to leak that info, yet a-okay for Bush and Cheney to authorize leaks left and right with regards to the war in Iraq, which THEY tell us is directly tied to 9/11, so it's classified info of the most important sort?

UPDATE: The National Journal story is here.

Holy shit.

Lewis “Scooter” Libby testified to a federal grand jury that he had been "authorized" by his boss, Vice President Dick 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, according to an article posted today by the National Journal.

Reporter Murray Waas writes that this information comes from attorneys familiar with the matter, and to court records. Waas has broken several stories on the Plame/CIA leak case in recent weeks for the nonpartisan National Journal.

“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,” Waas writes, 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.

“Libby testified to the grand jury that he had been authorized to share parts of the NIE with journalists in the summer of 2003 as part of an effort to rebut charges then being made by former U.S. Ambassador Joseph Wilson that the Bush administration had misrepresented intelligence information to make a public case for war. “

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