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Libby Says Bush Authorized Plame CIA Leak

Libby Says Bush Authorized Plame CIA Leak

Associated Press

April 6, 2006 WASHINGTON — Vice President Dick
Cheney’s former top aide told prosecutors President Bush authorized the
leak of sensitive intelligence information about Iraq, according to court
papers filed by prosecutors in the CIA leak case.

Before his indictment, I. Lewis Libby testified to the grand jury
investigating the CIA leak that Cheney told him to pass on information and
that it was Bush who authorized the disclosure, the court papers say.
According to the documents, the authorization led to the July 8, 2003,
conversation between Libby and New York Times reporter Judith Miller.There was no indication in the filing that either Bush or Cheney authorized
Libby to disclose Valerie Plame’s CIA identity.

But the disclosure in documents filed Wednesday means that the president
and the vice president put Libby in play as a secret provider of
information to reporters about prewar intelligence on Iraq.

Bush foes see opportunity Bush’s political foes jumped on the revelation
about Libby’s testimony.

“The fact that the president was willing to reveal classified information
for political gain and put interests of his political party ahead of
Americas security shows that he can no longer be trusted to keep America
safe,” Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean said.

Libby’s testimony also puts the president and the vice president in the
awkward position of authorizing leaks — a practice both men have long said
they abhor, so much so that the administration has put in motion criminal
investigations to hunt down leakers.

The most recent instance is the administration’s launching of a probe into
who disclosed to The New York Times the existence of the warrantless
domestic surveillance program authorized by Bush shortly after the Sept. 11

The authorization involving intelligence information came as the Bush
administration faced mounting criticism about its failure to find weapons
of mass destruction in Iraq, the main reason the president and his aides
had given for going to war.

Libby’s participation in a critical conversation with Miller on July 8,
2003, “occurred only after the vice president advised defendant that the
president specifically had authorized defendant to disclose certain
information in the National Intelligence Estimate,” the papers by Special
Counsel Patrick Fitzgerald stated. The filing did not specify the “certain

“Defendant testified that the circumstances of his conversation with
reporter Miller — getting approval from the president through the vice
president to discuss material that would be classified but for that
approval — were unique in his recollection,” the papers added.

Opening up the files Libby is asking for voluminous amounts of classified
information from the government in order to defend himself against five
counts of perjury, obstruction and lying to the FBI in the Plame affair.

He is accused of making false statements about how he learned of Plame’s
CIA employment and what he told reporters about it.

Her CIA status was publicly disclosed eight days after her husband, former
U.S. Ambassador Joseph Wilson, accused the Bush administration of twisting
prewar intelligence to exaggerate the Iraqi threat from weapons of mass

In 2002, Wilson had been dispatched to Africa by the CIA to check out
intelligence that Iraq had an agreement to acquire uranium yellowcake from
Niger, and Wilson had concluded that there was no such arrangement.

Libby says he needs extensive classified files from the government to
demonstrate that Plame’s CIA connection was a peripheral matter that he
never focused on, and that the role of Wilson’s wife was a small piece in a
building public controversy over the failure to find WMD in Iraq.

Fitzgerald said in the new court filing that Libby’s requests for
information go too far and the prosecutor cited Libby’s own statements to
investigators in an attempt to limit the amount of information the
government must turn over to Cheney’s former chief of staff for his
criminal defense.

According to Miller’s grand jury testimony, Libby told her about Plame’s
CIA status in the July 8, 2003, conversation that took place shortly after
the White House aide — according to the new court filing — was authorized
by Bush through Cheney to disclose sensitive intelligence about Iraq and
WMD contained in a National Intelligence Estimate.

The court filing was first disclosed by The New York Sun.'I>