Media continue to obfuscate the facts on “Bush authorized leak” story

The mediots far and wide yesterday reported with barely restrained glee the news that  Scooter Libby testified that President Bush authorized the disclosure of key parts of information from a once ‘classified’ NIE.  The NYTimes, of course, was amongst the many declaring this breathlessly with the headline “In Court Filings, Cheney Aide Said Bush Approved Leak“.  The headline is, of course, incredibly (and that was probably done on purpose) misleading. 

I don’t have anything to add to Tom Maguire’s brilliant fisking of this ‘story’ (see also here for more) except to say that once again, the media are manufacturing something out of nothing in an effort to squeeze whatever juice they can out of a ‘scandal’ that becomes less and less of a scandal everytime something new and “revealing” is reported.

Just a couple of links to pass on to you for your perusal regarding this latest ‘revelation’:

Fitz Court Filing Page 23 (emphasis added):

As to the meeting on July 8, defendant testified that he was specifically authorized in advance of the meeting to disclose the key judgments of the classified NIE to Miller on that occasion because it was thought that the NIE was “pretty definitive” against what Ambassador Wilson had said and that the Vice President thought that it was “very important” for the key judgments of the NIE to come out. Defendant further testified that he at first advised the Vice President that he could not have this conversation with reporter Miller because of the classified nature of the NIE. 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.

Defendant testified that he thought he brought a brief abstract of the NIE’s key judgments to the meeting with Miller on July 8. Defendant understood that he was to tell Miller, among other things, that a key judgment of the NIE held that Iraq was “vigorously trying to procure” uranium. Defendant testified that this July 8th meeting was the only time he recalled in his government experience when he disclosed a document to a reporter that was effectively declassified by virtue of the President’s authorization that it be disclosed. Defendant testified that one of the reasons why he met with Miller at a hotel was the fact that he was sharing this information with Miller exclusively.

Disclosure Legal but Unusual, Experts Say 4/7/06

Legal experts say that President Bush had the unquestionable authority to approve the disclosure of secret CIA information to reporters, but they add that the leak was highly unusual and amounted to using sensitive intelligence data for political gain.

“It is a question of whether the classified National Intelligence Estimate was used for domestic political purposes,” said Jeffrey H. Smith, a Washington lawyer who formerly served as general counsel for the CIA.

In court papers filed Wednesday, Special Counsel Patrick J. Fitzgerald said I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby, Vice President Cheney’s former chief of staff, has testified that Cheney told him that Bush had authorized the leak of secret information from the National Intelligence Estimate on Iraq in the summer of 2003. Fitzgerald’s court filing portrays the leak as part of an effort to discredit former ambassador Joseph C. Wilson IV, who contended in a newspaper column that intelligence about Iraq’s nuclear weapons program was distorted in the run-up to the U.S. invasion.

The court filing says that Libby, who is fighting perjury and obstruction-of-justice charges in connection with the leak investigation, was concerned about the legality of sharing classified information with reporters. But he was assured by David S. Addington, who then served as counsel to Cheney, that presidential authorization to disclose the information amounted to declassification.

Experts said the power to classify and declassify documents in the federal government flows from the president and is often delegated down the chain of command. In March 2003, Bush signed an executive order delegating declassification authority to Cheney.

Sidenote:  I started composing my thoughts last night on this issue and at the time I was doing that, the headline to the above article read exactly what I’ve got it as reading.  This morning, the headline has been changed to “Experts: Tactic Would Be Legal but Unusual”.  From “disclosure” to “tactic.” Gotta love it.

Read more commentary via Austin Bay (must-read!), The Jawa Report, Riehl World View, Gateway Pundit, Macsmind, GayPatriotWest, Rick Moran 

See also: Seixon’s righteous debunking of Murray Waas (of National Journal fame) claims that the reason that Cheney, etc, were trying to shut Joe Wilson up was because Bush “lied” about the aluminum tubes.

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