Saturday, April 15, 2006

Waas is All That

The latest National Journal report from Murray Waas, Cheney Authorized Leak Of CIA Report, Libby Says, adds another piece to the CIA leak puzzle. Waas has been called the new Bob Woodward -- since the real Bob Woodward gave up that role (see e.g., Jay Rosen's Murray Waas Is the Woodward of Now), and he has been the source for many of the recent scoops regarding the Bush Administration, from Iraq to the Plame scandal.

In last week's article, Libby Says Bush Authorized Leaks, Waas was the first to reveal that Bush authorized the leaks of classified documents to the media, which has caused the latest headache for the White House. This time, Waas says that Libby was not only authorized by Bush - through Cheney - to leak classified information from the 2002 NIE, but was also authorized by Cheney to leak a still-classified CIA summary report on Ambassador Wilson'’s Niger trip. As he explains:

Vice President Dick Cheney directed his then-chief of staff, I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, on July 12, 2003 to leak to the media portions of a then-highly classified CIA report that Cheney hoped would undermine the credibility of former Ambassador Joseph C. Wilson, a critic of the Bush administration's Iraq policy, according to Libby's grand jury testimony in the CIA leak case and sources who have read the classified report.

* * * *

The previously unreported grand jury testimony is significant because only hours after Cheney reportedly instructed Libby to disclose information from the CIA report, Libby divulged to then-New York Times reporter Judith Miller and Time magazine correspondent Matthew Cooper that Plame was a CIA officer, and that she been involved in selecting her husband for the Niger mission.

Both Libby and Cheney have repeatedly insisted that the vice president never encouraged, directed, or authorized Libby to disclose Plame's identity. In a court filing on April 12, Libby's attorneys reiterated: "Consistent with his grand jury testimony, Mr. Libby does not contend that he was instructed to make any disclosures concerning Ms. Wilson [Plame] by President Bush, Vice President Cheney, or anyone else."

But the disclosure that Cheney instructed Libby to leak portions of a classified CIA report on Joseph Wilson adds to a growing body of information showing that at the time Plame was outed as a covert CIA officer the vice president was deeply involved in the White House effort to undermine her husband.

* * * *
The new disclosure also raises the question whether President Bush or his aides knew that Cheney may have been deciding on his own to authorize the leaking of classified information. Senior government officials said that top Bush aides -- including then-deputy National Security Adviser Stephen J. Hadley and White House Communications Director Dan Bartlett -- were not aware that Cheney had authorized the disclosure of the CIA report on Wilson's Niger mission. These officials raised the possibility that Bush himself was unaware at the time of Cheney's action.
Regarding the release of Plame's name and CIA employment, a senior administration official said that even if Cheney did not directly authorize Libby to leak the information to the press, the vice president might have set a climate in which his aides viewed it as routine to release classified information whenever it served their purposes.
The Administration can (and will) spew propaganda and spin on this, but this is the classic definition of "abuse of power." As Firedoglake puts it:
The evidence that Cheney was a key architect in the effort to discredit Wilson -— and quite possibly Fitzgerald'’s target -— is growing.

* * * *

Bottom line: this time there'’s no wiggling out of it. Dick Cheney ordered Scooter Libby to leak classified information to a reporter for nothing more than political hay prior to an election when they felt that the truth of Joe Wilson'’s allegations could hurt them at the polls. They spared nothing -— not even national security -— in the craven pursuit of power.

No comments: