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Has Patrick Fitzgerald finally caught Bush and Cheney breaking the law?

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You'll recall that last week the Washington Post wrote an editorial entitled "A Good Leak." It remarkably, and with multiple errors of fact, defended George Bush having authorized Scooter Libby to leak classified information in order to attack Iraq war critic Ambassador Joe Wilson.

Well, today (Sunday) the New York Times has an editorial called "A Bad Leak," and it's clear that the editorial is just as much a swipe at the Washington Post as it is the Bush adminstration.

Two thumbs up for the New York Times, holding to the truth when it's no longer PC to do so. Some excerpts from the Times editorial, and then the rather chilling fact that it looks like Fitzgerald just caught Bush and Cheney breaking the law.

1. Bush wasn't trying to help people see the truth.

President Bush says he declassified portions of the prewar intelligence assessment on Iraq because he "wanted people to see the truth" about Iraq's weapons programs and to understand why he kept accusing Saddam Hussein of stockpiling weapons that turned out not to exist. This would be a noble sentiment if it actually bore any relationship to Mr. Bush's actions in this case, or his overall record.

....the version of the facts that Mr. Libby was authorized to divulge was so distorted that it seems more like disinformation than any sincere attempt to inform the public.

This fits the pattern of Mr. Bush's original sales pitch on the Iraq war — hyping the intelligence that bolstered his case and suppressing the intelligence that undercut it.
2. Bush didn't declassify the document until AFTER he authorized it to be leaked AND apparently AFTER it was leaked. That means he authorized the leak of still-classified material, which is a crime.
Mr. Bush did not declassify the National Intelligence Estimate on Iraq — in any accepted sense of that word — when he authorized I. Lewis Libby Jr., through Vice President Dick Cheney, to talk about it with reporters. He permitted a leak of cherry-picked portions of the report. The declassification came later.
That's illegal.

3. Had Bush followed the law, he'd have known the information he was leaking was false, thus he either broke the law or he intentionally mislead the American people.
Since Mr. Bush regularly denounces leakers, the White House has made much of the notion that he did not leak classified information, he declassified it. This explanation strains credulity. Even a president cannot wave a wand and announce that an intelligence report is declassified.

To declassify an intelligence document, officials have to decide whether disclosing the information would jeopardize the sources that provided it or the methods used to gather it. To answer that question, they closely study the origins of the intelligence to be disclosed. Had Mr. Bush done that, he should have seen that the most credible information made it clear that the Niger story was wrong.
And in conclusion, let me make a rather interesting point. It looks like Patrick Fitzgerald may have now stumbled upon proof that George Bush engaged in an illegal conspiracy to transmit classified information to parties unauthorized to receive such information, and he did it for malicious reasons.

Whether or not Valerie Plame's name is involved, it's looking a lot like Fitzgerald may have just nailed Bush and Cheney.

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