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Tilting at Windmills

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April 6, 2006
By: Kevin Drum

DECLASSIFICATION MAGIC....Today's Valerie Plame news revolves around a recently submitted court document from prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald in which he reveals some new details about Scooter Libby's testimony to the grand jury last year. Apparently Libby admitted that although he disclosed some information from a classified document to New York Times reporter Judith Miller in 2003, he did so only after Dick Cheney gave him the go-ahead. And Cheney did that only after George Bush gave him the go-ahead. Libby claims he asked Cheney's counsel, David Addington, if this was kosher, and Addington told him that Bush's permission "amounted to a declassification of the document."

You can find reams of analysis about this at practically every URL in the blogosphere right now, but I'd just like to highlight the following timeline from 2003:

  1. July 8: Based on Addington's assurances, Libby discloses information from a classified 2002 National Intelligence Estimate to Miller. This information helps Libby make the case that Joseph Wilson was wrong to say that Iraq wasn't seeking uranimum from Africa before the war.

  2. July 11: Time reporter Matthew Cooper speaks with Karl Rove. Rove assured him that "material was going to be declassified in the coming days that would cast doubt on Wilson's mission and his findings." Rove is almost certainly talking about the NIE here.

  3. July 18: The NIE is officially declassified.

So: Cheney and Bush and Addington all supposedly believed they could declassify the NIE on Bush's say-so, but for some reason they continued with the normal declassification process anyway. In fact, "Defendant testified in the grand jury that he understood that even in the days following his conversation with Ms. Miller, other key officials including Cabinet level officials were not made aware of the earlier declassification even as those officials were pressed to carry out a declassification of the NIE." It was just a private little declassification between the three of them that even Karl Rove didn't know about.

Needless to say, this doesn't make sense. Documents are either declassified or they're not, and the president can either declassify them with a mere verbal flick of his wrist or he can't. Which is it?

POSTSCRIPT: Fitzgerald's complete filing is here. Note the statement on page 7 that "Some documents produced to defendant could be characterized as reflecting a plan to discredit, punish, or seek revenge against Mr. Wilson." Do you think we'll ever get to see those documents?

Kevin Drum 4:36 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (181)

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Comments

To tell the truth...

"If there's a leak out of my administration, I want to know who it is," Bush told reporters at an impromptu news conference during a fund-raising stop in Chicago, Illinois. "If the person has violated law, that person will be taken care of.

"I welcome the investigation. I am absolutely confident the Justice Department will do a good job.

"I want to know the truth," the president continued. "Leaks of classified information are bad things."

He added that he did not know of "anybody in my administration who leaked classified information."

It isn't illegal if the President does it...sounding more like 1973 every day...

Posted by: justmy2 on April 6, 2006 at 4:39 PM | PERMALINK

No, those documents are vital to national security and must remain classified.

I wanted to be first to say it.

Posted by: jhupp on April 6, 2006 at 4:40 PM | PERMALINK

Uh, so far all I see is that CHENEY said that Bush said it was OK.

So the two choices are:

1. Bush gave the order to do it, which may not technically be illegal but it sure looks bad, especially after all the Bush "I'm gonna get all those leakers" speeches.

OR

2. Cheney lied about Bush giving the order to do it, in which case hello Vice President Rice.

Posted by: Alderaan on April 6, 2006 at 4:43 PM | PERMALINK

Golly. 1973 it surely sounds like. The only difference is that Dubya didnt use the word "stonewall."

The clown is still defending himself in public about his misdeeds in the wiretapping case. See CNN web page item about a man telling Bush he should be ashamed of himself. Surely our pres has no shame at all.

It is incredible that he would be caught so red-handed. Can we please censure him now?

Posted by: troglodyte on April 6, 2006 at 4:46 PM | PERMALINK

The President can do whatever he wants. His will is the law. Until we get a Democrat elected.

Posted by: peBird on April 6, 2006 at 4:48 PM | PERMALINK

Why does Scooter Libby hate America?

Posted by: 36percent on April 6, 2006 at 4:48 PM | PERMALINK

So: Cheney and Bush and Addington all supposedly believed they could declassify the NIE on Bush's say-so, but for some reason they continued with the normal declassification process anyway

Kevin, since you don't understand classification laws I'll explain it to you. There are two levels of declassification. The first level, which Bush did at the beginning, made it legal for Libby to use it to expose Joe Wilson as a liar. The second level, which Bush did at the end, made it legal for anyone to talk about the document. That's why Bush did two declassifcations and why it makes complete sense.

Posted by: Al on April 6, 2006 at 4:50 PM | PERMALINK

How can authorizing an investigation when you know the answer and deny knowing it NOT fall under the law that Martha Stewart went to the slammer for?

Posted by: Jeffrey Davis on April 6, 2006 at 4:50 PM | PERMALINK

Documents are either declassified or they're not, and the president can either declassify them with a mere verbal flick of his wrist or he can't. Which is it?

Well, this President can do it. Democratic ones cannot. It's in the Constitution somewhere.

Posted by: Alek Hidell on April 6, 2006 at 4:52 PM | PERMALINK

Brit Hume showed himself as a total flak today trying to assert that "it's not a leak". Um Brit, W himself referred to it as a leak.

(Brit: Read your own website from 9/30/03...)
http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,98673,00.html

Bush: I Want to Know Who the Leakers Are

Posted by: Robert on April 6, 2006 at 4:53 PM | PERMALINK

I think Karl Rove, the evil genius, is behind the new documents that were released today.

Rove knew that leaking these documents would cause the Dems to go into orbit. He knows Kevin Drum and KOS and Atrios and the fever swamp loonies will go crazy. In a few days some goofy Demo politicians will start using the "I-word" again.

Rove is a scoundrel. Just when the Dems were starting to talk like normal people onm issues like immigration, he makes them go berserk again!

Posted by: Frequency Kenneth on April 6, 2006 at 4:55 PM | PERMALINK

I just thought of something that Bush will have accomplished in his tenure: he will have proved that the the cover-up doesn't always make things worse. Sometimes, the reality is just too grim for words.

Posted by: Jeffrey Davis on April 6, 2006 at 4:56 PM | PERMALINK

With the current crop of utterly ineffectual leaders, and I am trying to be respectful by calling them ineffectual, all these revelations will come to nought, and will be seen by historians as an insignificant tempest in the proverbial tea cup.

Posted by: lib on April 6, 2006 at 4:56 PM | PERMALINK

Eh, it doesn't necessarily not make sense :)

Say the president has the power to declassify instantaneously on his word alone. It still might be easiest to send the classified material through the regular declassification process to tell everyone else that it is declassified.

I am, however, looking forward to bush firing himself now that he has found out that he is the leaker.

Posted by: jefff on April 6, 2006 at 4:56 PM | PERMALINK

Here it is, the fig-leaf on which the entire defense rests. The president can do pretty much anything he damn well pleases to employees of the government, covert agents of the intelligence community, and members of the military.

If he does it, it is legal.

Who cares if intelligence assets or military assets are destroyed thereby? Not Bush supporters. They think it's great. Finally a prez who can kick ass and get things done, not ask the French for permission to do things.

Posted by: Alan on April 6, 2006 at 4:56 PM | PERMALINK

Although the timing aspect is incriminating, I'm more struck by the rationale for declassification.

It is now quite obvious (if it wasn't already) that the NIE was declassified solely for political purposes and to cause embarassment for a political opponent.

If the Bush Administration can do this with the ease of a mere "hand flip", is it too much of a stretch to suggest that they would just as easily classify things purely for political purposes (i.e., things that create embarassment for themselves)?

Posted by: K Ashford on April 6, 2006 at 4:56 PM | PERMALINK

To use a baseball analogy -- We'll wait till we have a black president and an SF chronicle writer brings it to our attention.

Posted by: B on April 6, 2006 at 4:56 PM | PERMALINK

An Example of what they were hiding:

"Finally, the claims of Iraqi pursuit of natural uranium in Africa are, in INR's assessment, highly dubious."

Odd somehow this "highly dubious" claim still made it into the President's 2003 SOTU.
http://nationaljournal.com/about/njweekly/stories/2006/0330nj1.htm

Posted by: Catch22 on April 6, 2006 at 4:57 PM | PERMALINK

Tom Maguire's blog is a good place to follow this issue.

I'm still amazed at how many people, including news outlets, are confusing (deliberately or otherwise) the release of the NIE with the leaking of Valerie Plame's name.

Posted by: tbrosz on April 6, 2006 at 4:57 PM | PERMALINK

Also, can a lawyer help me out with the following question?

My understanding is the President can authorize that classified information be reviewed for declassification, but I thought the process had to be completed before the information was released. And I also thought it had to be made available to everyone, as opposed to selectively leaked to a specific journalist...

I know I might be wrong on this, so I am hoping a lawyer may be able to assist...

Posted by: justmy2 on April 6, 2006 at 4:59 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin, since you don't understand Bush Apologists, I'll explain it to you. There are two levels of Bush Apologists. The first level, which Bush Apologists do at the beginning is state that Bush did nothing wrong. Then when it is proven Bush did something wrong, they explain why it is OK (unless you are a Democrat). That's why Bush Apologists always have two explanations - the start of the scandal explanation, and the end of the scandal explanation.

Posted by: No Al on April 6, 2006 at 4:59 PM | PERMALINK

Doesn't this kill Liddy's "I forgot" defense? If he was asking permission for declassification, and, according to him, it went to the president, and Cheney informed him that it had been declassified and he could go ahead and spill the beans, is that something Liddy could forget? Isn't that rather exceptional? Or, does it happen all of the time? In which case Liddy might actually forget because they were declassifying stuff all of the time to trash opponents. Either way, these people are an embarrassment to their office.

Posted by: patrick on April 6, 2006 at 5:00 PM | PERMALINK

The only thing I hope for is that on the morning of Nov. 5th, 2006, Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, and a whole host of Republican schmucks submit their resignations rather than subject the country to a long drawn out congressional investigations of Republican malfeasance.
The next thing I hope for is that the short termed replacement, President Rice, in an effort to show international good will, declares victory in Iraq, wishes the Iraqi's a prosperous future, pulls out all troops, and transfers them all to Afghanistan so we can finally bury that SOB OBL and his ilk in a hole 2 miles deep.

Posted by: sheerahkahn on April 6, 2006 at 5:00 PM | PERMALINK

tbrosz,

I'm still amazed at how many people, including news outlets, are confusing (deliberately or otherwise) the release of the NIE with the leaking of Valerie Plame's name.

Are you amazed because its so few or so many? Do you actually have concrete examples of news outlets that are doing so?

Posted by: Catch22 on April 6, 2006 at 5:04 PM | PERMALINK

If, as the Bush Apologists claim, Bush was doing everything on the "up and up" back in the summer of 2003, why didn't he just SAY SO THEN, being the Straight Shooting Man of Honor and Integrity that he is, so we didn't have to go through all this malarkey? Unless, that is, Bush isn't a man of Straight Shooting Man of Honor and Integrity...

Posted by: Robert on April 6, 2006 at 5:05 PM | PERMALINK

Christy has a great post at FDL on the Libby leak via Waas, which includes:

In yet another instance, Libby had claimed that President Bush authorized Libby to speak to and provide classified information to Washington Post assistant managing editor Bob Woodward for "Plan of Attack," a book written by Woodward about the run-up to the Iraqi war.

The president always knows.

Posted by: Apollo 13 on April 6, 2006 at 5:05 PM | PERMALINK

It is incredible that he would be caught so red-handed. Can we please censure him now?
Posted by: troglodyte

Censure him? The motherfucker needs to be sent to jail. This has been, hands down, the most dishonest and damaging presidency since before WWII.

Posted by: Jeff II on April 6, 2006 at 5:08 PM | PERMALINK

Robert: "Brit Hume showed himself as a total flak today trying to assert that "it's not a leak""

It has gotten so depressingly easy to predict what will happen next:

First, flood the airwaves with irrational excuses:
--"The President has the authority to declassify information at will."
--"It wasn't a leak."
-- "Valerie Plame wasn't really a spy. No harm done!"
--"Other wartime Presidents have done the same."

Then the ad hominem attacks:
--"Bush-haters!"
--"Attack the CIC in war time!! Terrorist-lovers!"

Then the distractions:
--Maybe we'll get another tape from OBL?
--Maybe the US will bomb Iran?
--Perhaps Cheney will resign, "for health reasons"?

Posted by: PTate in MN on April 6, 2006 at 5:09 PM | PERMALINK

Tangentially, I think its interesting that the document released seems to reflect that Libby's legal defense strategy rests largely on the same strategy of obfuscation and changing the subject as the PR strategy of the White House and its defenders in response to the leak probe has relied on.

Which is odd, because while it may work as a PR strategy, it seems a desperate and not-likely-effective response to the specific criminal charges here.

Posted by: cmdicely on April 6, 2006 at 5:09 PM | PERMALINK

Quote: Well, this President can do it. Democratic ones cannot. It's in the Constitution somewhere.

That explains it all. [guffaw.] Good one.

Posted by: spectator on April 6, 2006 at 5:10 PM | PERMALINK

Hey, remember this from the PA archive? Kevin posted this interesting tidbit on Nov. 3, 2005:

RATING THE SCANDALS.... Via Atrios, Editor & Publisher takes a look at a recent CBS poll and tells us that the public thinks the Valerie Plame scandal is more important than any scandal in the past 30 years. Here are the numbers:
Plamegate: 86% important 12% not important
Clinton-Lewinsky: 62% important, 37% not important
Whitewater: 49% important, 45% not important
Iran-Contra: 81% important, 19% not important
Watergate: 78% important, 22% not important

Posted by: Apollo 13 on April 6, 2006 at 5:11 PM | PERMALINK

I'm really happy, I've missed the Plame hyperventilating here. It feels like home again.

Posted by: conspiracy nut on April 6, 2006 at 5:11 PM | PERMALINK
I suspect that once the "former and current intelligence officials" we keep hearing about have actual names attached to them, we'll find out two things:

First, much of these leaks are coming from the same small group of individuals.

Second, that their motivation may be more about raw politics than an abstract concern about rights of privacy. The timing alone stinks.

Posted by: tbrosz on December 30, 2005 at 4:08 PM | PERMALINK

Posted by: ghosts of tbrosz past on April 6, 2006 at 5:12 PM | PERMALINK

Heh.

A Fitzmas present is the gift that keeps on giving...

Posted by: grape_crush on April 6, 2006 at 5:16 PM | PERMALINK

Before you guys start shooting the fish in a barrel you might want to go back to your elementary school textbooks on the constitution. It will help you better understand the powers of the President on matters of national security, especially during wartime. It will also help you realize the futility of barking at the moon.

Posted by: tbrosz on April 6, 2006 at 5:20 PM | PERMALINK

Perhaps it was double super-secret declassification?

Posted by: Stefan on April 6, 2006 at 5:20 PM | PERMALINK

Man, fake tbrosz is better than the original! LOL!

Posted by: Apollo 13 on April 6, 2006 at 5:21 PM | PERMALINK

Looking forward to a Fitzmas stocking stuffer.

Posted by: Apollo 13 on April 6, 2006 at 5:24 PM | PERMALINK

Andrew Sullivan has an interesting take on the revelation that GWB may have authorized the leak. He quotes one of his readers who speculates that "...in light of the new information in the Plame case, might it be possible that Cheney and Bush have become so divided that Cheney, with the hunting dog (Fitzgerald) getting closer, has thrown the president under the bus?"

Sullivan comments that "It may be a warning shot not to mess with Cheney, as the Bush meltdown continues."

Very byzantine indeed! Don't mess with Cheney.

Posted by: PTate in MN on April 6, 2006 at 5:26 PM | PERMALINK
So, the Left gets to decide which "classified" items are PROPERLY "classified?" ALL classified documents are designed to keep the public and other nations from knowing something. That's the general point.

Posted by: tbrosz on July 2, 2005 at 5:00 PM | PERMALINK

You're just proving the point I made, that "classified" depends on whether or not your agenda is being served. I don't think that the legal penalties vary depending on whether your cause was "noble" or not.

Posted by: tbrosz on July 2, 2005 at 9:06 PM | PERMALINK

Posted by: ghosts of tbrosz past on April 6, 2006 at 5:26 PM | PERMALINK

Stefan on April 6, 2006 at 5:20 PM:

Perhaps it was double super-secret declassification?

"Fat, drunk, and stupid is no way to go through life"...Seemed to work well enough for Rove, Cheney, and Dubya, respectively...

Posted by: grape_crush on April 6, 2006 at 5:29 PM | PERMALINK

Circular firing squad, PTate! Ah, you've got to appreciate the karma. Couldn't happen to a better crowd of Bushwackos. Now I want to hear about who cooked up the forged Niger uranium docs. Inquiring minds wanna know.

Posted by: Apollo 13 on April 6, 2006 at 5:30 PM | PERMALINK

sheerahkahn:

...and transfers them all to Afghanistan so we can finally bury that SOB OBL and his ilk in a hole 2 miles deep.

Bin Laden is probably in nuclear-armed Pakistan. Let us know what you want those thousands of new troops to do.

***

Catch22:

Do you actually have concrete examples of news outlets that are doing so?

Mostly it's been the radio news, that I listen to while I work. It's been "Bush" and "release of classified information" all morning. Only in the past hour have they mentioned that there is nothing in the new information that says that Bush was responsible for authorizing the leak of Plame's name, a separate issue. To their credit, most written stories I've seen today do make the distinction.

Then, of course, we have blog commenters, but that's another story.

Looking at some of the recent comments, I'm amazed that someone seems to have a research file on me. I usually forget most of the comments here half an hour after I've read them. I had to work to remember where I saw PTate's comment above, and that was quite recent.

I still stand by that comment, by the way. The "anonymous officials'" names will come out sooner or later, and it's all going to be the same few individuals feeding most of the leaked stories.

Posted by: tbrosz on April 6, 2006 at 5:31 PM | PERMALINK

If the president de-classifies documents while crossing his fingers behind his back said de-classification does not need to be made public.

Posted by: Hedley Lamarr on April 6, 2006 at 5:32 PM | PERMALINK

It's becoming clear why tbrosz' rocket never made it more than 75 feet in the air.

Posted by: Clyde on April 6, 2006 at 5:34 PM | PERMALINK

The jokes are writing themselves. Here is a quote from McGuire:

[A]s Mr. Gerstein noted, and as the excerpt printed by Mr. Sullivan makes clear, we don't know what Cheney and Bush discussed before Bush authorized the partial disclosure of the NIE. President Bush may have been vitally interested specifically in discrediting Joe ...

Perhaps we all should have said

.. we don't know why Clinton had to stoop so low as to get a BJ from Monica when Nordic beauties were waiting for him on his beacon call. The President may have been vitally interested in specifically providing an example of how to have safe sex in this age of AIDS. Perhaps he may have been drugged by evil coneheads. ... who knows?

Posted by: lib on April 6, 2006 at 5:36 PM | PERMALINK
Mostly it's been the radio news, that I listen to while I work. It's been "Bush" and "release of classified information" all morning. Only in the past hour have they mentioned that there is nothing in the new information that says that Bush was responsible for authorizing the leak of Plame's name, a separate issue.

No, its not really a separate issue. The issue is the selective leaking of classified information by the White House for political purposes. Yes, there are several bits of leaked classified information at issue, but they aren't separate issues in any substantive sense.

Posted by: cmdicely on April 6, 2006 at 5:42 PM | PERMALINK

If this intelligence was declassified, then what was the point of lying to the grand jury and obstructing justice for 5 felony counts?

Posted by: bcinaz on April 6, 2006 at 5:43 PM | PERMALINK

On an wholly unrelated topic, can anyone knowledgeable on the international law on such matters tell us if there is a clause in the definition of war crimes that includes invading a country on deliberately falsified reasons.

Posted by: nut on April 6, 2006 at 5:44 PM | PERMALINK
If this intelligence was declassified, then what was the point of lying to the grand jury and obstructing justice for 5 felony counts?

As tbrosz points out, only one piece of the classified information leaked was "declassified" by Presidential fiat, assuming Libby's apparent story is true.

Posted by: cmdicely on April 6, 2006 at 5:45 PM | PERMALINK

PTate in MN on April 6, 2006 at 5:26 PM:

Andrew Sullivan has an interesting take..

Yep. My jaw dropped at this part:

Subsequently, one party government has given us massive debt, immense corruption, and a huge expansion in federal power. There's a lesson here. And it's: "Vote Democrat This November."

Then I read his endorsement of that Massachusetts handout to health insurance, complete with dueling think tanks (Cato and Heritage) and realized that he yet has a way to go.

Posted by: grape_crush on April 6, 2006 at 5:45 PM | PERMALINK

Then, of course, we have blog commenters, but that's another story.

Yeah, this ENTIRE THREAD is hilarious, because the entire left-wing mass of commenters are confusing the leak of Plame's name with the disclosure of the NIE. So when Bush said "I want to know the truth ... Leaks of classified information are bad things" he was referring to PLAME and not to the NIE (which, as we see, was declassified).

I have trouble figuring out if the left-wing is comprised entirely of dunces, or if it is just left-wing blog commenters that are dunces.

Also, to answer Kevin's post, it could be that Bush authorized Libby to leak only selected portions of the NIE - which is entirely consistent with Rove et al continuing to work for the next 10 days on declassifying the entire document.

Posted by: Al on April 6, 2006 at 5:45 PM | PERMALINK

The issue is the selective leaking of classified information by the White House for political purposes.
Hmmm, and I thought the indictment was for perjury. I guess I'll have to study up some...

Posted by: conspiracy nut on April 6, 2006 at 5:47 PM | PERMALINK

The issue is the selective leaking of classified information by the White House for political purposes. Yes, there are several bits of leaked classified information at issue, but they aren't separate issues in any substantive sense.

This makes no sense at all. Plame is not the NIE, and the NIE is not Plame. They are COMPLETELY separate issue, in the substantive sense.

Posted by: Al on April 6, 2006 at 5:47 PM | PERMALINK

The issue is the selective leaking of classified information by the White House for political purposes.

You mean something that every White House has done basically forever? Shocking.

Posted by: Al on April 6, 2006 at 5:48 PM | PERMALINK

Perhaps they are still hoping for plausible deniability. Bush declassifies the NIE for Libby to share with Miller, and Libby mistakenly interprets that to mean he can expose the Wilson/Plame connection.

A complete lie, sure, but enough for the wingers to hang onto. Bush can't be indicted, and he can later pardon Libby.

Posted by: tinfoil on April 6, 2006 at 5:49 PM | PERMALINK
Yeah, this ENTIRE THREAD is hilarious, because the entire left-wing mass of commenters are confusing the leak of Plame's name with the disclosure of the NIE. So when Bush said "I want to know the truth ... Leaks of classified information are bad things" he was referring to PLAME and not to the NIE (which, as we see, was declassified).

Well, authorized to be leaked, apparently. It still seems to have been actually declassified after it was leaked.

Though, of course, here is where the "unitary executive" theory comes into play. A procedure which only involves people in the executive branch doesn't bind the President, who holds all their power, and can exercise it all on his own say-so at any time, under the Bush theory.

Though, if they really believe that theory, why declassify it through the regular process later?

The only explanation is that they like to act as if the strong version of unitary executive theory was the law -- or it makes a convenient fallback when all else fails -- but they don't really believe it will stand any scrutiny.

Posted by: cmdicely on April 6, 2006 at 5:51 PM | PERMALINK
The Left still has no problem with publicizing secret information that serves its purposes.

Posted by: tbrosz on October 29, 2005 at 2:07 PM | PERMALINK

So many theories on how the evil Bush administration somehow planted these documents, arranged false stories, and otherwise "set up" the war.

Posted by: tbrosz on August 1, 2004 at 2:35 PM | PERMALINK

As I asked before, exactly how high nowadays is the bar for aiding the enemy?

Does "classified" now simply mean "classified unless I personally think it shouldn't be?"

Posted by: tbrosz on December 6, 2005 at 1:43 AM | PERMALINK

Posted by: ghosts of tbrosz past on April 6, 2006 at 5:52 PM | PERMALINK

You mean something that every White House has done basically forever? Shocking.

Ah, the old "Mommy, she did it too!" defense -- the favorite of cornered five-year olds everywhere.

Posted by: Stefan on April 6, 2006 at 5:52 PM | PERMALINK

Hey, Al, could you please define for us the meaning of the word "is" is? Seriously, since you're going straight into legalistic hairsplitting mode here you're missing the big picture.

Bush on many occasions has said leaking is bad, he doesn't like leakers, he has threatened anyone who leaks in his adminstration. Then there's this big story about leaked, classified documents that also includes the story of an "outed" undercover agent. (Stay with me here, this story requires you to have more than 2 thoughts in your head at once.) For 2 years Bush expresses (mock) outrage, because leaking is bad, and says he will get to the bottom of all this leaking, he will punish the leakers.

Libby is now claiming that Bush himself authorized the private declassification of classified documents to a few select reporters to make his case for war and get back at Joe Wilson-- but the declassification was so private that nobody else knew about it. Bush hates leakers so much that he authorized Libby to leak. Not publish classified documents in a formal way, but share bits in private with reporters.

For two years Bush has acted like the whole thing is a giant mystery, that it is all below his pay grade. But all this time he was at the center of it all. Not leaking Plame's name, per se, but leaking classified info in a secretive manner.

I don't care how much you love the GOP or hate the Dems, how can you say that all this is OK? That it doesn't make you pause, at least for a moment, that Bush has not been totally honest about what he knew or when he knew it or his involvement?

Posted by: zoe kentucky on April 6, 2006 at 5:58 PM | PERMALINK
You mean something that every White House has done basically forever?

Ah. The "everybody does it" argument, complete with, as usual, no support for the claim that everone does it.

Posted by: cmdicely on April 6, 2006 at 5:59 PM | PERMALINK

"Well, this President can do it. Democratic ones cannot. It's in the Constitution somewhere."


Yeah, its another one of those inherent power thingies that W is always talking about.

Posted by: j swift on April 6, 2006 at 6:00 PM | PERMALINK

zoe
Maybe its because there is as yet no evidence of a leak. Libby is up for lying, not leaking.

All the evidence of a leak is apparently confined to lefty blog comment sections, and just can't make it break into the wild world.

Posted by: conspiracy nut on April 6, 2006 at 6:01 PM | PERMALINK

I am dealing with the vagaries of Pro-Engineer at this time, as the deadline for the latest version of the design hangs like a sword over my nipples, so my response to all these purported quotes of mine will have to wait for a more opportune moment. I must say, however, that I am quite pleased that there is a cottage industry of tbrosz enthusiasts that track each and everyone of my utterances. You will hear from me in due course.

Posted by: tbrosz on April 6, 2006 at 6:02 PM | PERMALINK

The idiots at Tom Maguire's are calling the judge's Order a loss for Fitz, because it outlines that the government must make a case for keeping documents secret.

They assume that Fitz is 'the government' who is motivated to keep the documents secret, which I think is quite the opposite.

Fitz probably doesn't care, except that it keeps him drowning in paperwork requests. But if another part of the gov't balks at releasing docs, then it hurts his case. Which of course is Libby's greymail strategy.

This is a win for Fitz, because it passes the buck of defending secrecy of docs to other agencies.


Posted by: tinfoil on April 6, 2006 at 6:02 PM | PERMALINK

Ah. The "everybody does it" argument, complete with, as usual, no support for the claim that everone does it.

Well, for support, I'll turn to Dana Priest, national security reporter for the WaPo:

"Selective leaks are a classic administration game. Every, every administration plays it."

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/discussion/2006/03/31/DI2006033101082.html

She is so adamant that every administration plays this game that she says "every" twice!

Posted by: Al on April 6, 2006 at 6:05 PM | PERMALINK

This is a win for Fitz
Kind of makes you wonder why he was opposing something that was a win for him. Wait, I know, reverse psychology, right?

Posted by: conspiracy nut on April 6, 2006 at 6:05 PM | PERMALINK

On an wholly unrelated topic, can anyone knowledgeable on the international law on such matters tell us if there is a clause in the definition of war crimes that includes invading a country on deliberately falsified reasons.

Not exactly for "deliberately falsified reasons", no, but in general engaging in an unprovoked war of agression is a war crime, yes.

For example, the United Nations Charter, to which the US is a signatory, provides that:

Article 2
3. All Members shall settle their international disputes by peaceful means in such a manner that international peace and security, and justice, are not endangered.
4. All Members shall refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state, or in any other manner inconsistent with the Purposes of the United Nations.

In addition, the "Principles of International Law Recognized in the Charter of the Nremberg Tribunal and in the Judgment of the Tribunal", as adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations (1950), provide that:

Principle III
The fact that a person who committed an act which constitutes a crime under international law acted as Head of State or responsible Government official does not relieve him from responsibility under international law.

Principle IV
The fact that a person acted pursuant to order of his Government or of a superior does not relieve him from responsibility under international law, provided a moral choice was in fact possible to him.

Principle VI
The crimes hereinafter set out are punishable as crimes under international law:
(a) Crimes against peace:
(i) Planning, preparation, initiation or waging of a war of aggression or a war in violation of international treaties, agreements or assurances;
(ii) Participation in a common plan or conspiracy for the accomplishment of any of the acts mentioned under (i).
(b) War crimes:
Violations of the laws or customs of war include, but are not limited to, murder wanton destruction of cities, towns, or villages, or devastation not justified by military necessity.

The Nuremberg judges also found that the "Supreme International Crime" was that of unprovoked aggression, because it contains "the accumulated evil" of all war crimes.

Posted by: Stefan on April 6, 2006 at 6:07 PM | PERMALINK

Stefan
Would that include when Clinton bombed the aspirin factory?

Posted by: conspiracy nut on April 6, 2006 at 6:09 PM | PERMALINK

"mere flick of his wrist"

No, stop stop stop! You're going to take someone's eye out! Besides, you're saying it wrong. It's Declass-i-fy, not Declassifer.

"Wingnuttia Declass-i-fy" swish and flick.

Posted by: Rovedemorte on April 6, 2006 at 6:09 PM | PERMALINK

Hubba, hubba. Read the "papers filed in federal court" PDF at the latest Waas article, Libby Says Bush Authorized Leaks. Note this very interesting nugget:

Defendant claims that Karl Rove will be a key witness in the trial, in that he will testify concerning a conversation with defendant on July 10 or 11, 2003 regarding Robert Novaks intent to print a story regarding Ms. Wilsons employment at the CIA, Indict., Count One, 21, and that Stephen Hadley may offer important testimony about discussions within the Administration
concerning the need to rebut Mr. Wilsons statements about his trip and his conclusions, as well as discussions about the need to declassify and disseminate the NIE and George Tenets public statements regarding the sixteen words. Memo. at 25-26. As indicated above, the government does not intend to call Mr. Rove or Mr. Hadley as witnesses at this time. [Emphasis added.]
Earlier in the PDF on page 9, potential witnesses are listed and a statement that "at this time" Tenet, Hadley, and Rove will not be called to testify in Libby's case. Heh. I know what that tells me. Haven't dissected the PDF completely but Fitzmas is indeed the gift that keeps on giving as grape_crush so aptly commented.

Posted by: Apollo 13 on April 6, 2006 at 6:10 PM | PERMALINK

Though, of course, here is where the "unitary executive" theory comes into play. A procedure which only involves people in the executive branch doesn't bind the President, who holds all their power, and can exercise it all on his own say-so at any time, under the Bush theory.

Though, if they really believe that theory, why declassify it through the regular process later?

That the President can declassify information isn't a "Bush theory" - it's been part of an executive order for decades. So the idea that the President's power to declassify information is merely some cockamamie "Bush theory" is just borne of ignorance.

And I answered your question above - we don't know what exactly Bush authorized Libby to disclose, but he could have authorized the disclosure of only some of the NIE. In that event, others (such as Rove) continuing to work on declassifying the entire NIE is perfectly consistent.

Posted by: Al on April 6, 2006 at 6:10 PM | PERMALINK

Thanks Stefan. Seems to me that the leader of a third world country trying to pull something like this could have easily been nailed.

Posted by: nut on April 6, 2006 at 6:11 PM | PERMALINK
Well, for support, I'll turn to Dana Priest, national security reporter for the WaPo:

Unsupported conclusionary generalizations by of a reporter are not evidence. Its not even a valid (IMO) appeal to expertise since, while reporters positioned as Priest is might (very generously) be considered, presumptively, as experts in current events, expertise in historical context relevant to those events is a separate issue.


Posted by: cmdicely on April 6, 2006 at 6:14 PM | PERMALINK
I'm pretty sure our laws on classified information don't include a clause that says "unless I personally decide it should be passed to the New York Times."

Posted by: tbrosz on December 16, 2005 at 1:13 PM | PERMALINK

Posted by: a demon-haunted tbrosz on April 6, 2006 at 6:15 PM | PERMALINK

Hey, Al, could you please define for us the meaning of the word "is" is? Seriously, since you're going straight into legalistic hairsplitting mode here you're missing the big picture.

Bush on many occasions has said leaking is bad, he doesn't like leakers, he has threatened anyone who leaks in his adminstration. Then there's this big story about leaked, classified documents that also includes the story of an "outed" undercover agent.

Again, why is it that the left-wing cannot get through their collective heads the difference between the NIE and Plame's name? Are they really so unintelligent that they can't understand the difference between those two things?

Again, very s-l-o-w-l-y, for you left-wingers: Bush authorized disclosure of the NIE. The NIE is not Valerie Plame's name. The NIE has nothing to do with Plame's name. The NIE and Plame's name are completely different things.

Bush is against leaks - which are UNAUTHORIZED disclosures of information. Leaking Plame's name was wrong because it was unauthorized. But Libby was apparently authorized to disclose the NIE - again, for those of you left-wingers haveing trouble following along, which is completely separate from Plame's name.

Sheesh.

Posted by: Al on April 6, 2006 at 6:16 PM | PERMALINK

No, Al, it's Fitzmas again. Maybe this time the moonbats will get something besides a lump of coal.

Posted by: conspiracy nut on April 6, 2006 at 6:17 PM | PERMALINK

it doesn't make you pause, at least for a moment, that Bush has not been totally honest about what he knew or when he knew it or his involvement?

You are being far too generous, try the phrase: "Has been lying through his teeth."

Posted by: Another Bruce on April 6, 2006 at 6:20 PM | PERMALINK

Kind of makes you wonder why he was opposing something that was a win for him. Wait, I know, reverse psychology, right?

Fitz was opposing a motion that would have put the onus on him to provide everything, even though various gov't agencies might have balked. Basically, the judge said that Libby must outline exactly why a document is relevant to his defense - instead of the gov't proving it is immaterial. And then, after that, the classifying agency must make the case for witholding it from Fitz, and by extension Libby.

Posted by: tinfoil on April 6, 2006 at 6:21 PM | PERMALINK

Nice attempts at deflection by wingnuts here.

The only persons unable to distinguish between the NIE leak and the Plame leak are the right wing trolls posting feverishly to defend the dear leader from the people who they consider 'moonbats'.

Posted by: lib on April 6, 2006 at 6:23 PM | PERMALINK

conspiracy nut: Maybe its because there is as yet no evidence of a leak.

Robert Novak's op-ed column in which he stated that two senior White House officials told him that Joseph Wilson's wife Valerie Plame was a CIA operative is evidence of a leak, you dumbass.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on April 6, 2006 at 6:24 PM | PERMALINK

tinfoil
I see your point, I imagine prosecutors routinely oppose things that are good for them.

I had a little trouble rectifying your original comment with that one, but hey, you've convinced me.

Posted by: conspiracy nut on April 6, 2006 at 6:24 PM | PERMALINK

Robert Novak's op-ed column in which he stated that two senior White House officials told him that Joseph Wilson's wife Valerie Plame was a CIA operative is evidence of a leak, you dumbass.
Oh man, you must be right! Fitz should maybe talk to Novak. Golly, you'd think a trained prosecutor would be smarter than some moonbat commenter, but I guess not.

Posted by: conspiracy nut on April 6, 2006 at 6:26 PM | PERMALINK

Heh. Sully lashes out again:

The president's self-defense at this point must be that if he, the president, decides to leak classified information, like the NIE assessment, then, by definition, it isn't a classified leak. POTUS gets to decide what is and isn't classified. And so he cannot commit the wrong or crime he decries in others. He can break no secrets because the secrets are his to break. He is above the law because, in terms of executive privilege, he is the law.

Pretty sad to watch the neocons scrambling to maintain a facade of credibility by distancing themselves from their Chosen One...Now, if they'd only realize that people with the ethics of a Dubya, Cheney, or Rove are the natural end product of the ideology they hold so dear.

Posted by: grape_crush on April 6, 2006 at 6:27 PM | PERMALINK

I'm posting as fast as I can! It's just the caffeine! Don't you moonbats go thinking I'm desperate at this news or nothin'! It's just the caffeine!

Posted by: conspiracy nut on April 6, 2006 at 6:31 PM | PERMALINK

Yo, imposter, you messed up the email addy. I hate to see shoddy work in an imposter.

Posted by: conspiracy nut on April 6, 2006 at 6:32 PM | PERMALINK

You mean something that every White House has done basically forever?

I guess 9/11 didn't change everything after all.

Posted by: Irony Man on April 6, 2006 at 6:32 PM | PERMALINK

Bush authorized disclosure of the NIE. ... But Libby was apparently authorized to disclose the NIE...

Again, very s-l-o-w-l-y, for the illiterate, Libby was not authorized to disclose "the NIE" (from pg. 19, Government's response to Defendant's Third Motion To Compel Discovery, April 6, 22006):

"...Vice President advised defendant that the President specifically had authorized defendant to disclose certain information in the NIE." [emphasis added]

Sheesh.

Posted by: has407 on April 6, 2006 at 6:33 PM | PERMALINK

So the talking point is that this story is not about Plame leak.

Lame. Very lame.

Posted by: lib on April 6, 2006 at 6:34 PM | PERMALINK


I'm still amazed at how many people, including news outlets, are confusing (deliberately or otherwise) the release of the NIE with the leaking of Valerie Plame's name.

Posted by: tbrosz on April 6, 2006 at 4:57 PM | PERMALINK

First, the connection:


Libby understood that the Vice President specifically selected him to "speak to the press ... regarding the NIE and Wilson," the court papers said.


What about Wilson? The Wilson issue was actually an error made by one State Department agent from INR in one document known to be on Air Force One at this time, long since corrected by the CIA. This was the genesis of the idea that Plame sent Wilson to Niger.

According to the court papers, "At some point after the publication of the July 6 Op Ed by Mr. Wilson, Vice President Cheney, [Libby's] immediate supervisor, expressed concerns to [Libby] regarding whether Mr. Wilson's trip was legitimate or whether it was in effect a junket set up by Mr. Wilson's wife."

Wilson's wife, Valerie Plame, was a covert CIA officer at the time, and Cheney, Libby, and other Bush administration officials believed that Wilson's allegations could be discredited if it could be shown that Plame had suggested that her husband be sent on the CIA-sponsored mission to Niger.

The INR error was the reason the WH attacked Plame. Now that they know Plame didn't send Wilson to Niger, Cheney has a new story, but Tenet contradicts it:


Cheney told investigators that he had learned of Plame's employment by the CIA and her potential role in her husband being sent to Niger by then-CIA director George Tenet, according to people familiar with Cheney's interviews with the special prosecutor.

Tenet has told investigators that he had no specific recollection of discussing Plame or her role in her husband's trip with Cheney, according to people with familiar with his statement to investigators.


Both the NIE leak and the attack on the Wilson trip's legitimacy (by outing Plame) were aimed at neutralizing Wilson's expos. Were it not for the mistaken notion that Plame sent Wilson, we would not know her status. This is why Cheney is changing his story. Reference to the original source is evidence of the conspiracy.

And then there's this:


The former senior official said in an interview that he believed that the attempt to conceal the contents of the one-page summary were intertwined with the efforts to declassify portions of the NIE and to leak information to the media regarding Plame: "It was part and parcel of the same effort, but people don't see it in that context yet."

Same issue, same damage control effort, all of it leaking out of the same old hole:


[court papers]: Two days after Wilson's op-ed, Libby met with then-New York Times reporter Judith Miller and not only disclosed portions of the NIE, but also Plame's CIA employment and potential role in her husband's trip.

Wanna see it again?


[Libby]: Four days after the meeting with Miller, on July 12, 2003, Libby spoke again to Miller, and also for the first time with Time magazine correspondent Matthew Cooper, during which Libby spoke to both journalists about Plame's CIA employment and her possible role in sending her husband to Niger.


As I keep telling anyone who will listen, the error made by the State Department's INR branch is the taggant that helps identify the White House's efforts to smear Plame. The mistaken belief that Valerie Plame sent her husband Joe Wilson to Niger was both the inspriation for and the content of the attack on Valerie Plame:

At best we have a Vice President claiming that George Bush authorized the attack on Valerie Plame. At worst, the President did it himself.

If the former, this is a crime, since Vice Presidents may only classify, not declassify information. If the latter, however, there is no crime. George Bush was completely within his rights as president to do this. If he did, then this is a political, rather than a legal disaster for George Bush. It means that he was willing to punish a man for telling the truth by attacking his wife in order to protect a lie that got us into a war that's turned into a disaster. Former White House officials have mentioned tme and again that, in long and boring cabinet meetings, the only thing that pricks up Bush's ears is an attack on a personal enemy. The testimony of both material and character witnesses has, so far, uniformly implicated the president in the attack on Valerie Plame.

Posted by: bblog on April 6, 2006 at 6:35 PM | PERMALINK

So the talking point is that this story is not about Plame leak.

Lame. Very lame.

Shorter lib: waaaaah, the truth hurts!

Posted by: Al on April 6, 2006 at 6:38 PM | PERMALINK

On quick review of EO 12356 and the most obviously relevant provisions of Title 50, my initial impression of the degree of procedural specificity in the law and EO about declassification procedures was incorrect; there isn't a clear procedural breach here by the President: the principal question (as a matter of regular law) is when a "declassification" is effective. There's also a question of abuse of discretion, but that's more an impeachment type of question than one for regular law.

Posted by: cmdicely on April 6, 2006 at 6:39 PM | PERMALINK

Can someone remind me why disclosure of the NIE, or portions thereof (whichever), somehow "proved" Wilson was a liar? I see the wingnuts are chanting this mantra, but I am either forgetting or never saw how they connect the dots . . . is this just ad hominem misdirection or what?

Posted by: Onomasticator on April 6, 2006 at 6:41 PM | PERMALINK

Sully lashes out again:

The president's self-defense at this point must be that if he, the president, decides to leak classified information, like the NIE assessment, then, by definition, it isn't a classified leak. POTUS gets to decide what is and isn't classified. And so he cannot commit the wrong or crime he decries in others. He can break no secrets because the secrets are his to break. He is above the law because, in terms of executive privilege, he is the law.

Is Sully so completely ignorant that he doesn't understand that there is an executive order - whose pedigree far predates George Bush - pursuant to which the President may declassify information?

Yes, Sully is apparently that completely ignorant.

Posted by: Al on April 6, 2006 at 6:41 PM | PERMALINK

I still stand by that comment, by the way. The "anonymous officials'" names will come out sooner or later, and it's all going to be the same few individuals feeding most of the leaked stories.
Posted by: tbrosz on April 6, 2006 at 5:31 PM | PERMALINK

You're a little late to the game old boy. Those "few" anonymous officials are the Pres, VP, Scooter and Rove.

Twit.

Posted by: conscious1 on April 6, 2006 at 6:42 PM | PERMALINK

None dare call it treason, right cmdicely?

Posted by: Onomasticator on April 6, 2006 at 6:42 PM | PERMALINK

So how low can Bush go? According to PollingReport.com, even FOX/Opinion dynamics puts Bush at 36% approval. And this was before the Libby revelation.

It is just astonishing. The worst president in American history, possibly a contender for one of the worst leaders in world history, and he still has approval ratings in the 30s.

Posted by: PTate in MN on April 6, 2006 at 6:42 PM | PERMALINK

So why didn't Bush just say all this years ago and save the taxpayers millions of dollars.Or this is just another lie.

Posted by: Right minded on April 6, 2006 at 6:42 PM | PERMALINK

So why didn't Bush just say all this years ago...
Because you haven't believed a word he's said yet, so the call would have still gone out for a special prosecutor, and Bush would have merely wasted good oxygen.

Posted by: conspiracy nut on April 6, 2006 at 6:44 PM | PERMALINK

Condoleeza Rice said and/or implied essentially the same thing on July 11 as did Rove. The NIE was on that day still classified.

"Q Is there a chance that that particular citation could be declassified, so we could see it?

"DR. RICE: You know, we don't want to try to get into kind of selective declassification, but we're looking at what can be made available."

http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2003/07/20030711-7.html

Posted by: robert on April 6, 2006 at 6:47 PM | PERMALINK

lib: So the talking point is that this story is not about Plame leak.

Yes and no. The big story seems to be the President authorizing the leak of portions of the Iraq WMD NIE. (Note: that version is stillclassified. There is a bullshit/unclassified version that was subsequently released.)

However, a reading of the most recent filing (see link above) paints a very interesting picture of why Libby might leak Plame's identity (with or without others' knowledge or participation) and a very compelling picture of why Libby would then lie to cover it up.

Posted by: has407 on April 6, 2006 at 6:48 PM | PERMALINK

Al's right -- if the president issues an executive order exposing NOCs and their contacts and undermining our non-proliferation strategy, that's okay. Besides, the wingers have comforted themselves by parsing the definition of NOC ad infinitum.

It's not like Bush lied in irrelevant testimony in civil deposition -- which is far worse.

Posted by: Onomasticator on April 6, 2006 at 6:50 PM | PERMALINK

Because you haven't believed a word he's said yet, so the call would have still gone out for a special prosecutor, and Bush would have merely wasted good oxygen.

Now that's some good comedy: "Why do I keep lying? Because you won't believe me! I have no choice -- you're forcing me to lie! Pity me!"

Posted by: Stefan on April 6, 2006 at 6:53 PM | PERMALINK

I can't believe it is front page news and so many comments about the leak of information by the Presidient 10 days before the document is going to be declassified with the proviso that it is soon going to be classified.

If this is the type of story that gets the Democrats and the press all jazzed up - we truly have reached new heights (or lows really) in partisan bickering.

Posted by: John Hansen on April 6, 2006 at 6:54 PM | PERMALINK

John Hansen

Were you born yesterday?

Posted by: lib on April 6, 2006 at 6:56 PM | PERMALINK

Surely our pres has no shame at all.

Psychopathic mass murderers have no capacity for shame.

Posted by: Hostile on April 6, 2006 at 6:57 PM | PERMALINK

Man I hope you wingnut trolls are gettin' paid. 'Cause you can't possibly be stupid enough to post crap like you do for free.

Kinda neat that the internets allow you to post this stuff from your hooches in Iraq, though.

Posted by: Jim J on April 6, 2006 at 7:00 PM | PERMALINK

Now that's some good comedy
I'm kind of disappointed there, I was expecting a comeback based on the "waste of oxygen" part.

Posted by: conspiracy nut on April 6, 2006 at 7:01 PM | PERMALINK

Onomasticator: Can someone remind me why disclosure of the NIE, or portions thereof (whichever), somehow "proved" Wilson was a liar?

The NIE "Key Judgements" asserted that Iraq was attempting acquire/create nuclear weapons. It included assertions that Iraq was attempting to acquire uranium, as well as the aluminum tubes required to build the centrifuges needed to produce weapons-grade material, and attempting to reconstitute other parts of the infrastructure needed to produce nuclear weapons.

In short, the NIE provided a laundry-list of mutually reinforcing claims, and the imprimatur of the US intelligence community. That constituted a significant counter-weight to Wilson's claims.

Posted by: has407 on April 6, 2006 at 7:01 PM | PERMALINK

lib-

No I was not born yesterday which is why I can tell the difference between substantive issues and petty nitpicking.

Posted by: John Hansen on April 6, 2006 at 7:02 PM | PERMALINK

John Hansen

Surely then you realize that this issue cannot be a new low in partisanship, considering the lengths to which the Repubs went to try to get Clinton, not only for the BJ but for so many other totally trivial issues.

Posted by: lib on April 6, 2006 at 7:07 PM | PERMALINK

In short, the NIE provided a laundry-list of mutually reinforcing claims, and the imprimatur of the US intelligence community. That constituted a significant counter-weight to Wilson's claims.

Except that it was all a crock and Bush knew it was a crock. The aluminum tubes/centrifuge gag was the wor of a single scientist and was strenuously objected to. As for as "yellowcake" The CIA itself objected to its inclusion in the SOTU address.

Posted by: Jeffrey Davis on April 6, 2006 at 7:08 PM | PERMALINK

Yeah what could possibly be substantive about selectively leaking classified information to hack reporters in order to punish a political rival while ginning up a bogus case for war?

Posted by: n.o.l.t.f. on April 6, 2006 at 7:11 PM | PERMALINK

No I was not born yesterday which is why I can tell the difference between substantive issues and petty nitpicking.

Yeah lib, or haven't you heard that Clinton got a blowjob? How can you compare that to selectively de-classifying secret info to get revenge on your political enemies.

Posted by: Another Bruce on April 6, 2006 at 7:11 PM | PERMALINK

At best we have a Vice President claiming that George Bush authorized the attack on Valerie Plame. At worst, the President did it himself.

The next step will be for liberal pundits to claim that they knew Bush was behind this all along, so this story is really old news and not worth discussing.

Posted by: Boots Day on April 6, 2006 at 7:14 PM | PERMALINK

DNC just issued a statement that they are not going to use this as a campaign issue lest they give the opportunity to Karl Rove to remind the voters in November that the Dems are soft on security.

Lieberman issued a separate statement concurring with the DNC position and adding that we must support our President at the time of war.

McCain kissed Jerry Falwell on his fat white ass, saying that in these critical times we must all be united.

Posted by: lib on April 6, 2006 at 7:22 PM | PERMALINK

"What did the President know, and when did he know it?"

That was the standard Howard Baker held out as the "impeachable evidence" to go after the Big Crook who employed all the Little Crooks who became Big Crooks in the current administration.

Will Republicans hold this Republican president to the same standard they held his predecessor?

Posted by: TCinLA on April 6, 2006 at 7:25 PM | PERMALINK

Maybe it was double-secret declassification.

Posted by: j swift on April 6, 2006 at 7:26 PM | PERMALINK

MR. RUSSERT: Now, Ambassador Joe Wilson, a year before that, was sent over by the CIA because you raised the question about uranium from Africa. He says he came back from Niger and said that, in fact, he could not find any documentation that, in fact, Niger had sent uranium to Iraq or engaged in that activity and reported it back to the proper channels. Were you briefed on his findings in February, March of 2002?

VICE PRES. CHENEY: No. I dont know Joe Wilson. Ive never met Joe Wilson. A question had arisen. Id heard a report that the Iraqis had been trying to acquire uranium in Africa, Niger in particular. I get a daily brief on my own each day before I meet with the president to go through the intel. And I ask lots of question. One of the questions I asked at that particular time about this, I said, What do we know about this? They take the question. He came back within a day or two and said, This is all we know. Theres a lot we dont know, end of statement. And Joe WilsonI dont who sent Joe Wilson. He never submitted a report that I ever saw when he came back.

Posted by: Broken on April 6, 2006 at 7:32 PM | PERMALINK

This is our Fitzmas,Whatching you wingnuts type at supersonic speeds to defend this dumbass is reward enough.Your doing a heck of a job wingnuts. ha hah ahha ahha ZAHhaa.

Posted by: Right minded on April 6, 2006 at 7:38 PM | PERMALINK

At this point Bush should have to pay back all the money wasted on this matter.

Posted by: Right minded on April 6, 2006 at 7:39 PM | PERMALINK

I freaking love it. The President of the United States personally declassifies intelligence documents with the sole purpose of leaking them to smear a political critic and the trolls here say, "No news here." Just for curiosity, John Henson, if this is "nitpicking" what constitutes a "real issue?"

Posted by: Pat on April 6, 2006 at 7:40 PM | PERMALINK

Just for curiosity, John Henson, if this is "nitpicking" what constitutes a "real issue?"

it's only news to them if there's a blowjob involved--and that's only due to jealousy.

Posted by: haha on April 6, 2006 at 7:43 PM | PERMALINK

The President of the United States personally declassifies intelligence documents with the sole purpose of leaking them to smear a political critic

What an utter lie. Can't the left wing do anything other than lie? The President approved disclosing information necessary to rebut Joe Wilson's lies.

Rebutting the lies of a left-wing liar is perfectly appropriate.

Posted by: Al on April 6, 2006 at 7:49 PM | PERMALINK

The Bush administration is like the guy who edits together all the movie critic's quotes into a trailer. They take a classified document that says, "Some say, 'Saddam has nukes', but they are wrong." and they explain on deep background that the gist of the document is that "Saddam has nukes".

It's sleazy, It's under-handed, and the rubes always, always, eat it up. Those of you that waste your time defending these guys are chumps. Venting your frustrations is therapeutic. Defending the indefensible is masturbation.

Posted by: enozinho on April 6, 2006 at 7:50 PM | PERMALINK

John Hansen: If this is the type of story that gets the Democrats and the press all jazzed up - we truly have reached new heights (or lows really) in partisan bickering.

And meanwhile you are posting comments on another thread about how atheists cannot possibly have any "morality", while here you are smugly condoning Bush/Cheney's deliberate leaking of classified information to smear an honest man who exposed their despicable lies about what they knew to be a nonexistent "threat" of a "mushroom cloud" from nonexistent Iraqi nuclear weapons -- lies that they told to justify a war of unprovoked aggression that has directly caused the hideous deaths of tens of thousands of innocent Iraqi civilans.

What a flaming hypocrite you are.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on April 6, 2006 at 7:56 PM | PERMALINK

They take a classified document that says, "Some say, 'Saddam has nukes', but they are wrong." and they explain on deep background that the gist of the document is that "Saddam has nukes".

This is another lie by a lying left-winger.

Here is what the NIE concluded:

"Iraq is continuing, and in some areas expanding its chemical, biological, nuclear and missile programs contrary to UN resolutions.

We are not detecting portions of these weapons programs.

Iraq possesses proscribed chemical and biological weapons and missiles.

Iraq could make a nuclear weapon in months to a year once it acquires sufficient weapons grade fissile material."

That is the CONSENSUS ESTIMATE of the US intelligence community.

To say otherwise is simply a LIE.

But, of course, the left-wing continues to LIE, because that is all they know to do. Joe Wilson LIED, and the NIE was declassified to expose his LIES.

Posted by: Al on April 6, 2006 at 7:59 PM | PERMALINK

Bush/Cheney's deliberate leaking of classified information to smear an honest man

Again, another LIE by a LYING left-winger.

Joe Wilson LIED. The NIE was declassified to expose those left-wing LIES.

Posted by: Al on April 6, 2006 at 8:01 PM | PERMALINK

This is just another piece of evidence that Bush is a fucking liar and hypocrite.

Posted by: angryspittle on April 6, 2006 at 8:04 PM | PERMALINK

Al, Jesus, will you just go sit in ypur corner and resume eating your own feces?

Posted by: angryspittle on April 6, 2006 at 8:05 PM | PERMALINK

Al, Jesus, will you just go sit in your corner and resume eating your own feces?

Posted by: angryspittle on April 6, 2006 at 8:07 PM | PERMALINK

Al, you forgot to read the little asterisks at the end of each one of these assertions. Don't worry, I found it for you:

.."Iraq could make a nuclear weapon in months to a year once it acquires sufficient weapons grade fissile material.*"

*In Bed.

Posted by: enozinho on April 6, 2006 at 8:08 PM | PERMALINK

Just for curiosity, John Henson, if this is "nitpicking" what constitutes a "real issue?"

Blowjobs, of course.

Posted by: Stefan on April 6, 2006 at 8:08 PM | PERMALINK

*In Bed.

Another lie by the lying left-wing. Isn't there anything you people can tell the truth about?

Posted by: Al on April 6, 2006 at 8:11 PM | PERMALINK

Al on April 6, 2006 at 7:59 PM

That is the CONSENSUS ESTIMATE of the US intelligence community.

Hey! Welcome back, Patton/Alice! Not really, 'tho...

Caps lock sticking again? When you are done breathing into that paper bag to stop your hyperventilation, could you provide a link to that leaked-then-declassified NIE so we can see what it really says?

Thanks, and we missed you. Not really, 'tho.

Posted by: grape_crush on April 6, 2006 at 8:13 PM | PERMALINK

Well, I see by the rapid deployment of the 101st Trolletariat battalion this issue has some in the GOP machine more than a little uneasy. This just goes to show yet again that national security issues are for the Bush Administration subordinate to the partisan political interests they have. While leaking is an age old pastime of the WH and Presidents past, how many of those leaks have been of classified national security information, used to first sell and then justify a war, used to discredit critics of the war, etc? There is a large degree of difference, especially when this is supposedly wartime, or so Bushco has been telling everyone since 9/11/01.

Whether or not this ends up being a legal problem for Bush, it is definitely a political problem for him, especially given all he has said about both leakers of national security information for partisan political purposes and how in time of war it is irresponsible for any politician to disclose any national security information which might even slightly be construed as helping the enemy. Bushco has gone out of its way to demonize leakers of national security information, went out of its way to claim it knew nothing of any such leaks, and that of course this President would never place partisan political interests above the national security interests of the United States of America. That is why this revelation is so damaging, it runs completely counter to everything he has said on these matters, it also shows all his protestations of serious concern over leaked information about national security programs/issues that make him and his Administration look bad were rooted solely in the political damage they did him and not the declared reason of needing to guard America's secrets so closely.

Well, no doubt the Trolletariat is going to froth at full steam to protect Dear Leader, demonstrating yet again that the difference between the cult of personality of Bush and the qualifications for membership in the Trolletariat are nonexistent. This is a major political problem for Bush, further undercuts his credibility in the one realm he still had any (national security), and generally shows yet again that there is one rule for Bushco and another for everyone else, especially its critics.

Posted by: Scotian on April 6, 2006 at 8:20 PM | PERMALINK

I don't know why I'm even responding to you Al, but I'd like to point out two things:

1. All those statements you quoted in the NIE turned out to be dead wrong. period.

2. You proved my point by selectively quoting from the document.

Anyone who is interested can read the NIE here. You can see that the only portions of the document that turned out to be true were the caveats from the State Department. So I guess the "lying left-wing liars" at State were not only correct, but honest about it. Unlike someone we know.

Posted by: enozinho on April 6, 2006 at 8:25 PM | PERMALINK

sa-

A discussion about the philosophical underpinnings of morality is much different from the political bickering in D.C. Taking part in both threads makes me no hypocrite.

And for the record I am tired of partisan bickering from both parties.

It seems you think Joe Wilson is a great American who tried to stop an illegal war, I look at him as an egotistical self-promoting dolt who, because his ego clouded his judgement, thought more highly of his classified report, than it warranted.

For this reason, he leaks to the press not an accurate depiction of his report, but his own blown up fantasy of what his report does.

This put the administration in a bad position. They could not answer the charges which the attacker was leaking because that would mean leaking information themselves. They worked at doing what was best. Considering they were being embattled by an egotistical liar and his friends in the press - I thought they did an admirable job.

Posted by: John Hansen on April 6, 2006 at 8:35 PM | PERMALINK

John Hansen: It seems you think Joe Wilson is a great American who tried to stop an illegal war, I look at him as an egotistical self-promoting dolt who, because his ego clouded his judgement, thought more highly of his classified report, than it warranted.

OK, Secular Animist. I understand your point completely with the above comment from JH.

Sheesh. The clueless are... clueless.

"Forgive them for they know not what they do."

Well, it's definitely gonna take divinity to forgive the steenking pile of GOP elephant dung dropped here on this thread and at 1600 Penn. Ave.

I say, Dear Karma,
Please bring it on now.

Posted by: Apollo 13 on April 6, 2006 at 8:49 PM | PERMALINK

Except the part where they leaked his wife's name, huh John?

Before you hit caps lock, Al, I'm not talking about the NIE right this second. Not yet anyway.

Posted by: es on April 6, 2006 at 8:49 PM | PERMALINK

That's a great Postscript you found there.

Posted by: jerry on April 6, 2006 at 8:56 PM | PERMALINK

Guys, you don't have to thank me all at once for sending Al off to search for vindication in that NIE.

Posted by: enozinho on April 6, 2006 at 9:05 PM | PERMALINK

enozinho: Guys, you don't have to thank me all at once for sending Al off to search for vindication in that NIE.

Let me give a regular Al response: *snicker*

Smart of you, enozinho. That was goooooood.

Posted by: Apollo 13 on April 6, 2006 at 9:09 PM | PERMALINK

Apollo 13:

Their karma seems to have run over their dogma. (Squished that sucker flat.)

Posted by: mama on April 6, 2006 at 9:13 PM | PERMALINK

Mama,
Funny! LOL! Yep. I'd say you got that right.

Posted by: Apollo 13 on April 6, 2006 at 9:21 PM | PERMALINK

Hansen, I'll meet you halfway. I think Wilson is an egotistical self-promoting dolt who tried to stop an illegal war. (I suspect you have an elegantly simple, even minimalist, worldview with little room for frou-frous such as complexity or ambiguity. However, it is possible for people you don't particularly like or respect to do things you consider acceptable, even admirable. Really and truly -- it's a fact. I hope this unsolicited glimpse of reality doesn't confuse and upset you too much.)

As for the rest of your comment, it's a farrago of vintage wingnuttery, a torrent of accusations and assertions backed up with impressive amounts of carefully sourced nothing. Wilson lied? When? To whom? And please explain how the "lies" you're talking about discredited or falsified the relevant point of his report and editorial, e.g., the fact that Iraq did not acquire or attempt to acquire yellowcake from Niger. Are you saying he lied about that? That Iraq did stock up on Nigerien yellowcake? It'll take more than your say-so to make that, or any your accusations, at all credible. Hop to it, Johnny. Chop chop!

And while you're out, pick up some Febreze. I can smell your flopsweat through the monitor.

Posted by: vetiver on April 6, 2006 at 9:45 PM | PERMALINK

I'd like to hear from the genuine legal/Constitutional experts what is OK and not in Presidential power, in all ranges from explicit laws to the unwritten traditions, etc.

Posted by: Neil' on April 6, 2006 at 9:47 PM | PERMALINK

Well, now that it's clear that Bush abused the powers of the Presidency to attack a political opponent by playing games with classified information, we can only conclude that he would have no compunction about misusing the NSA program against dissenting Americans in a similar fashion.

The ghost of Nixon is dancing a jig in delight.

Posted by: Windhorse on April 6, 2006 at 10:00 PM | PERMALINK

John Hansen on April 6, 2006 at 8:35 PM:

I look at him as an egotistical self-promoting dolt who, because his ego clouded his judgement

Projecting your faults on to another, I see...Especially the 'dolt' part. See below:

thought more highly of his classified report, than it warranted.

Wilson didn't make a classified report, you dolt. From Senate Select Committee's Report on Prewar Intelligence, page 39:

Because the former ambassador did not uncover any information about (struck) during this visit to Niger, CPD did not distribute an intelligence report on the visit.

Sucks not to know your facts, John...Doesn't it?

This put the administration in a bad position.

No, John...The administration put itself in a bad position. They admitted that the Niger-Iraq-yellowcake claim was a mistake.

They worked at doing what was best.

For themselves, you mean...Smearing critics of the invasion and occupation of Iraq.

I thought they did an admirable job.

No, John...Outing a CIA operative in an attempt to discredit her husband doesn't qualify as admirable. It's sad that a supposedly moral man such as yourself doesn't understand that.

Posted by: grape_crush on April 6, 2006 at 10:02 PM | PERMALINK

Looks like this story is over, no?

"Libby says that Cheney told him that Bush said it was ok, i.e. declassified."

Cheney will say that he never told Libby such a thing.
Bush will say that he never told Cheney such a thing.

Story over.

Documents showing that Libby sought counsel for what Cheney ALLEGEDLY told him, are not proof that Cheney did indeed tell Libby any such thing.

I think all parties involved - from Bush to Wilson - have nothing to be proud of in this matter. Rather frightening, actually, that these are the people we entrust our safety to.

Posted by: slick on April 6, 2006 at 10:40 PM | PERMALINK
"...you still probably have to go to court to show that motivation. With the leaks, we have the situation where there's a guy on the road with tire tracks on him, and nobody willing to say they were driving the car.

In other words, to continue your analogy, the intelligence leakers are currently in the status of hit-and-run."

Posted by: tbrosz on December 30, 2005 at 6:57 PM | PERMALINK

Posted by: tbrosz of the double standard on April 6, 2006 at 10:40 PM | PERMALINK
John Hansen 8:35 PM: I look at him as an egotistical self-promoting dolt who, because his ego clouded his judgement, thought more highly of his classified report, than it warranted.
All he did was go to Niger, examine the situation and determine that there was no attempt by Iraq to purchase yellowcake as claimed by the Bush regime.

He did nothing else until he saw that claim was still being used as a casus belli when he knew it wasn't factual. What they disclosed did not refute Ambassador Wilson's information, but they did try to change the subject to aluminum tubes, also a false report; and later, attempt to impugn Ambassador Wilson's reputation and credibility albeit unsuccessfully.

It is hardly credible for you to say that you are tired of partisan bickering because partisan snipping is your stock in trade.

Dems call for Bush to 'come clean,' cite 8 denials
RAW STORY
Published: Thursday April 6, 2006
"President Bush must fully disclose his participation in the selective leaking of classified information," said Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid in a brief statement. "It's time for the President to come clean about his involvement in the leak case."
The statement was accompanied by eight of the numerous instances in which Bush or his spokesman, White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan, denied the President had knowledge of the leak.

Posted by: Mike on April 6, 2006 at 11:16 PM | PERMALINK

"The President approved disclosing information necessary to rebut Joe Wilson's lies."

Then why didn't he just issue a press release? Why all this sneaking around with Judy Miller?
Why have an investigation at the expense of the taxpayers?

I can only conclude the reason they all act so guilty is because they are guilty.

Posted by: lin on April 6, 2006 at 11:38 PM | PERMALINK

DailyKos: Fitz has emails that finger Bush and Cheney:

The officials, some of whom are attorneys close to the case, added that more than two dozen emails that the vice president's office said it recently discovered and handed over to leak investigators in February show that President Bush was kept up to date about the circumstances surrounding the effort to discredit former Ambassador Joseph Wilson.
The sources indicated that the leak probe is now winding down, and that soon, new information will emerge from the special counsel's office that will prove President Bush had prior knowledge of the White House campaign to discredit Plame Wilson's husband, former Ambassador Joseph Wilson, who accused the administration of "twisting" intelligence on the Iraqi threat in order to win public support for the war.
Lots more...

Posted by: Apollo 13 on April 6, 2006 at 11:53 PM | PERMALINK

OK, so the president can sigle-handedly declassify something. But shouldn't he first check with the intelligence services to find out what damage this could cause (such as exposing programs, agents, etc.)? Did he? If not, what was the urgency? Was national security going to be compromised if Judy Miller got the story a few days later?

And if it was declassified for Judy Miller on the 8th why was it still classified for Matt Cooper on the 11th?

Posted by: JS on April 7, 2006 at 1:14 AM | PERMALINK

I slay myself!

Posted by: farrago of vintage wingnuttery on April 7, 2006 at 1:27 AM | PERMALINK

This is an impeachable offense. It is obstruction. For instance, it is illegal to intentionally and for the purpose of harming a CIA agent to disclose their identity. For the so-called President of the United States to condone, let alone approve of such a strategy strikes at the very foundations of the Republic and its very security.

One must also ask the question as to why the information now being revealed was not revealed in the first place. Someone has lied to a Federal Grand Jury. It does not matter if it was for political or other purposes that this lying occurred.

Declassifying a document is not a verbal thing except in national emergencies. The Executive does not have the right to declassify anything without due diligence! Let's look at this another way. If the Executive can decide today that something is declassified...but only to a select group of people...who is to say that any privileged information, national secrets, etc, can't just be disclosed to the heads of corporations, legal firms, private individuals that give them the ability to blackmail, intimidate, coerce, and/or compromise anyone they so choose. This is a case of abuse of the Executive powers of the United States in that case and a crime against the people of the United States. For, if there is no check on the Executive power, there is no Republic. And with no Republic, all we are left with is a government of the venal.

And the question then becomes "Which 'George' was the 'President' named after in deed?"

Posted by: parrot on April 7, 2006 at 2:18 AM | PERMALINK

What it all comes down to is if POTUS declassified documents, then no leak occured. So, they're all having a good laugh about eveyone getting their knickers in a twist about Bush's statements regarding the "leaks", which instead becomes selective nonclassified material distributed to favoured reporters. How all of this is supposed to defend against a lying to a grand jury charge has me a bit baffled, but maybe the idea is that it is ok to lie if the information is declassified.

Posted by: synecdoche on April 7, 2006 at 2:29 AM | PERMALINK

vetiver, gc

Sorry, I forgot. What Wilson discovered on his junket to Niger was not even worthy of a report. I should have remembered this, but I haven't spent much time analyzing this story as those who are out to try and nail Bush.

Just think a bit about what you are admitting here. Joe Wilson's work was so inconsequential, he did not even bother writing a report. My boss at my company makes me write a report whenever I travel. Much less if I was part of an official envoy of the U.S. govt.

Why do you trust the findings of someone who did not even file a report after his mission? Is it because your hatred of GWB so colors your judgment that you will latch onto anything to try to bring down the President?

This is what some in my party did to President Clinton. If you think that was a mistake - which I am almost certain you will - then why is this a noble cause?

Posted by: John Hansen on April 7, 2006 at 2:37 AM | PERMALINK

Let's just review the progress of your "arguments," Mr. Hansen.

1) The president nobly did what he had to do to save the country from the devastating damage of Joe Wilson's story. Maybe he did it a little, um, furtively, but I'm sure he knows what he's doing.

2) No, wait. Joe Wilson had nothin'. I wipe my nose with Joe Wilson's findings.

Having a little trouble finding our position, are we?

You continue to avoid the question of why, if Bush were on the right side of things, he couldn't simply have said so publicly instead of repeatedly lying about it and having his staff do the same. You've got more contortions going on there than a drunken Twister game.

Keep trying to shine this one up for public consumption. We're enjoying this.

Posted by: shortstop on April 7, 2006 at 7:33 AM | PERMALINK

All the leaks, the lies and misrepresentations about the leaks, the investigations -- all distract us from the original problem, which was the highly selective interpretation and deliberate, public misrepresentation of intelligence in the run-up to the Iraq war.

We will probably go into a period of months where pundits sit around and parse the laws about declassification of national security documents, responsibility in the chain of command, etc.

But the fact is, Bush and his GOP backers in the Congress have proven to be poorly qualified leaders and as a nation we are beginning to understand what a heavy price we pay for this.

I am very concerned about how we repsond to Iran and Korea when the President's credibility is so low.

Posted by: pj_in_jesusland on April 7, 2006 at 7:51 AM | PERMALINK

That is the CONSENSUS ESTIMATE of the US intelligence community.

No. That was merely what the writers of the NIE wrote.

Posted by: Jeffrey Davis on April 7, 2006 at 9:09 AM | PERMALINK

Not to mention that:

  • The CIA had changed its tune as of June 17 2003, and no longer believed Iraq (see here and here), which set the stage for Tenet's subsequent retraction of the "16 words".
  • The judgements from the classified NIE (the part that was declassified) differed in content and tone from the unclassified NIE (see here). The judgements in the classified NIE were far more qualified, and the INR and DOE dissented with the uranium acquisition and aluminum tube claims. While the NIE is itself a consensus product, there was no "consensus" on judgements in question.
Which brings into questoin why the Whitehouse was still flogging this horse as of Libby's June 23 meeting with Miller.

Posted by: has407 on April 7, 2006 at 10:27 AM | PERMALINK

John Hansen on April 7, 2006 at 2:37 AM:

Joe Wilson's work was so inconsequential, he did not even bother writing a report.

Sigh. Read the Senate Select Committee on Prewar Intelligence report I linked to earlier, pages 39-44, before you touch that keyboard again...Mm'kay?...Research before taking a position, John, not after. You'll come across as less of a shallow ass if you do.

My boss at my company makes me write a report whenever I travel.

Heh. What color of crayon do you use?

Much less if I was part of an official envoy of the U.S. govt.

'Official envoy'...John, you are clueless.

Why do you trust the findings of someone who did not even file a report after his mission?

The Bush administration admitted that the Niger-Iraq-yellowcake claim was a mistake. Don't you trust Dubya?

Is it because your hatred of GWB so colors your judgment that you will latch onto anything to try to bring down the President?

Is it because your love of GWB so colors your judgment that you will latch onto anything to try to defend the President?

See, I can play these stupid little word games as well, John.

If you think that was a mistake - which I am almost certain you will - then why is this a noble cause?

Hmmm...Lying about a blowjob and lying about leaking an CIA operative's name to smear her husband, a critic of a rationale given for invading and occupying another country, is equivalent only in the mind of the sex-obsessed.

Really, John; come back when you've read a little more about this subject and can substantiate your (shifting) positions. It's like freakin' amateur hour in here...

Posted by: grape_crush on April 7, 2006 at 10:30 AM | PERMALINK

Quick tip to Frequency Kenneth, Al, tbrosz, and whoever else might be listening in: "You liberals is crazy," even if/when true, does not constitute an argument, much less a refutation.

I'll give an example of such usage:

KEVIN DRUM: . . . this doesn't make sense. Documents are either declassified or they're not, and the president can either declassify them with a mere verbal flick of his wrist or he can't. Which is it?

FREQUENCY KENNETH: Oh, you libs is crazy!

While Frequency's comment may be cute and snarky, it doesn't give any legal justification for Bush's actions; it does nothing to dispel any clouds of doubt surrounding why the documents were declassified the way they were; it offers no defense of the White House whatsoever.

It is therefore as useless as tits on a bull . . . as, I suspect, is Frequency himself.

We now return you to your regularly scheduled moonbatting.

Posted by: Doug on April 7, 2006 at 10:54 AM | PERMALINK
Well, now that it's clear that Bush abused the powers of the Presidency to attack a political opponent by playing games with classified information, we can only conclude that he would have no compunction about misusing the NSA program against dissenting Americans in a similar fashion.

The ghost of Nixon is dancing a jig in delight.

Of course, given that Cheney openly admitted that the motivation between many of this Administrations power grabs was to undermine the effect of laws passed in the wake of and to prevent repetition of Nixon's abuses, no one should be surprised that this Administration is also repeating the abuses.

Posted by: cmdicely on April 7, 2006 at 11:06 AM | PERMALINK

Damn, Bush is like Jesus to some of you people-- he's not a politician, he's your fucking prophet.

That is the HUGE distinction between lefties and righties, lefties still see their leaders as human, we think criticizing them for doing and saying WRONG, STUPID things is healthy for our democracy. But righties? Bush could be taped going on a hunt for blind, legless puppies and kittens and you'd defend his actions and still idiolize him as some kind of ideal manly man who can do no wrong.

Seriously, what would it take for you to stop defending him? What does this administration have to do for you to you wake up and realize how amoral and utterly corrupt they are?

At least all signs point to the fact that you're the last holdouts-- Bush is at 36% right now. The majority of the American people have lost confidence in his abilities and his honesty, the kind of character issues that don't come back.

Posted by: trolls suck one another on April 7, 2006 at 11:12 AM | PERMALINK

"My boss at my company makes me write a report whenever I travel."

Given the level of your written work product, I imagine your boss spends much of his work day trying to put out his own eyes.

Posted by: solar on April 7, 2006 at 11:15 AM | PERMALINK

Let's just review the progress of your "arguments," Mr. Hansen.

1) The president nobly did what he had to do to save the country from the devastating damage of Joe Wilson's story. Maybe he did it a little, um, furtively, but I'm sure he knows what he's doing.

2) No, wait. Joe Wilson had nothin'. I wipe my nose with Joe Wilson's findings.

Having a little trouble finding our position, are we?

Let me help you realize that these are not contradictory positions. There are two views of Joe Wilson's data from his trip to Niger.

1. His superiors view of his findings which implied that he added nothing to the intelligence about the possible Iraq/Niger deal. Indeed if anything it seemed to make it more likely that some deal was sought by Iraq. One of the reasons we know his findings were pretty worthless was no written report was required. Try to think objectively a minute man, if Joe Wilson had gathered some earth shatterting important information from his trip, don't you think it would have been put in writing instead of just given orally.

2. Joe Wilson's view of his findings which only got reported in the press because a major newspaper willing to give op-ed space to an egotistical man who saw himself as the great whistle-blower.

If this isn't clear please respond again and I'll do my best to make it clearer. But there is a limit to how much explaining I can do. You have to put a bit of effort into understanding.

Posted by: John Hansen on April 7, 2006 at 12:17 PM | PERMALINK

solar on April 7, 2006 at 11:15 AM:

I imagine your boss spends much of his work day trying to put out his own eyes.

Now that was funny.

John Hansen on April 7, 2006 at 12:17 PM:

these are not contradictory positions.

No, John. shortstop has it right. Either Wilson's findings were 'damaging' or 'pretty worthless'. Based on the rest of your comment, you've settled for the latter.

Of course, you are always free to flip-flop your position. Again.

His superiors view of his findings which implied that he added nothing to the intelligence about the possible Iraq/Niger deal.

Then why did they rate Wilson's findings as 'Good', John?

Indeed if anything it seemed to make it more likely that some deal was sought by Iraq.

'Seemed'...It 'seemed' like they used the portions of Wilson's findings that supported their desired conclusion and discarded the rest.

One of the reasons we know his findings were pretty worthless was no written report was required.

Yet the Bush administration admitted that there was no basis for a Iraq-Niger-yellowcake claim to be in the SOTU address. You can't get around that, can you, John?

don't you think it would have been put in writing instead of just given orally.

Wilson didn't file a written report because his findings were the same as the US ambassador to Niger's. Why this fixation on a 'written' report, by-the-way, John?

Joe Wilson's view of his findings which only got reported in the press because a major newspaper willing to give op-ed space to an egotistical man who saw himself as the great whistle-blower.

And your point about this is what, John?...That his findings weren't valid because: A) He didn't file a written report after returning from Niger and B) He wrote about the his findings in a newspaper? That's a pretty weak argument, John.

If this isn't clear

It isn't, John.

I'll do my best to make it clearer.

Thanks for the effort, but I doubt that you can. If Wilson's findings were worthless, then the effort made to smear him was unnecessary, and Dubya should not have withdrawn those '16 words'. If Wilson's findings had value, then why were they ignored in the intelligence estimate?

Them's your choices, John.

You have to put a bit of effort into understanding.

I have. It's your turn now, John.

Posted by: grape_crush on April 7, 2006 at 12:53 PM | PERMALINK

In the Interest of the Republic, take the stand now! This treason against our Constitution, needs to be laid bare, in the open, for all to see. It is difficult to understand, but the underlying ideology, that the Authorities can do no Wrong, that they can do whatever they want to make themselves seem Good and Infallible, is plain to see. They believe themselves better and less fallible, less human, than their opponents. I'm not a perfect person. But, to assume that the better part of ones day should be spent, that the entire country's Executive Branch, its resources, our resources (!?), should be spent making someone as venal and ugly as this President (!?), this Bush (!) seem more perfect than any other person, more just, more even handed, more perfect than any other human being, is not only the ultimate in hubris, it is also a sin before a Judaic God. But, perhaps not all the servants of the Administration are prostate...except in the service of a single man, a man, a burnt out Bush, who must, at all costs, be defended against the People and their Constitution, that he may continue to abuse our Rights.

Posted by: parrot on April 7, 2006 at 1:02 PM | PERMALINK

Relax, wingnuts everywhere. I'm sure we can trust the American people to parse the press statements about Bush's "leaks" into "NIE leaks" and "Plame identity leaks." They will understand that when the President expressed his ignorance of the leaks surrounding the outing of Plame, he was making mental reservations to himself, reminding himself that he DID know about the NIE leak, and had no curiosity about it whatever.

If there's anything the American public likes and admires it's nuance.

This administration has called for total honesty from the media, never branding those voicing unpopular thoughts as "un-American," or "Saddam lovers" or "aiding the terrorists." This administration, under the careful guidance of Karl Rove, has encouraged the American people to examine news statements carefully, to look at the motives behind assertions, to consider the sources of intelligence and to demand the evidence so that it can be examined by every citizen. Americans applied these rigorous principles to administration claims that Iraq had ties to al Qaida and weapons of mass destruction as evenhandedly as they applied them to the Swiftboat Vets' insults to Kerry's war record.

I'm sure that this leakage matter will be filtered through fine American minds as thoughtfully as the Dubai ports deal was.

Careful what you wish for

Posted by: Steve and Eydie on April 7, 2006 at 1:32 PM | PERMALINK

Johnny, you're so cute when you get all puffed-up and preachy.

Since you've displayed minimal knowledge or understanding of the circumstances and results of Wilson's trip, I suggest you follow grape_crush's excellent advice and read the SSC's report itself. (Oooh! Consulting primary sources! How radical!) g_c even provided a link and page numbers, so you don't have to master the intricacies of google or battle your way through a table of contents.

But since you seem to think you've come up with a "gotcha!" and since you seem so proud of yourself, like a toddler showing mommy what a good poo he made, I'll humor you.

Arguendo, let's say the situation is exactly as you've described it. If the lack of a written report from Wilson is such a devastating blow to his credibility and the value of his findings -- why didn't the administration just say that? Why did they secretly declassify the NIE report so they could leak it? Why did they even bring up Wilson's wife and her role in arranging his trip? Why engage in all this indirect and ethically dubious subterfuge, if such a powerful refutation was handy? (Also, please note that Wilson's op-ed did not disclose any classified information.)

You don't seem like a bad sort, Johnny, and you show some rudimentary cognitive ability. Acquire some info that hasn't been pre-chewed for you by Wingnut Media LLC, and you might have something to bring to the discussion. Something more meaningful than the gaseous bloviations you've shared thus far.

Still wondering what Wilsonian lies you were referring to and why they're significant.

*sniff sniff* You forgot the Febreze, didn't you?

Posted by: vetiver on April 7, 2006 at 1:37 PM | PERMALINK

AL

You are a stinking liar:

Executive Order 13292:

http://www.fas.org/sgp/bush/eoamend.html

Note the signature at the bottom of the page.

Your time has come.

Posted by: rougy on April 7, 2006 at 4:27 PM | PERMALINK

Just to clarify an issue, there was without question a written report of Joe Wilson's findings in Niger. When he returned from his trip, Wilson was debriefed by a reports officer who wrote down the information he'd gathered, compiled it, and passed it on to an analyst, which is typical for someone returning from this kind of assignment. There was likely a case officer present as well.

It's done this way is so the agency can get answers and clarifications to specific questions at the debriefing, and not have to seek them out afterward. The operative is not even necessarily aware of all the questions the agency might have or the angles they're looking at.

Consequently, no conclusions should be extrapolated from the fact that Joe Wilson did not sit down at his own computer and type up a report. The manner of his debriefing was SOP.

Posted by: Windhorse on April 7, 2006 at 5:39 PM | PERMALINK

grape_crush, vetiver,

I still don't think you guys get the point.

1. Joe Wilson's report of his findings back to his superiors was worthless.

2. Joe Wilson's view of what he found was damaging. I really don't have the time to go back and reread the Wilson op-ed right now. I just remember when I originally read it, it read like someone who was obsessed with his own self importance and giving way too much consequence to his trivial findings.

The reason this public bloviation of Joe Wilson became politically damaging is not because of how great Joe Wilson is, or how damaging his finding were - its because the liberal MSM became an even bigger cheerleader about his nothing findings than he is.

I, however, do admit to being blessedly naive about what the real world of politics is like. Maybe someday I will have my bubble burst and we will find a tape where Cheney, Bush and Libby and Rove sat down in a back room and said:

Bush: "What are we going to do about this Joe Wilson guy?"
Cheney" "Hey, I know, he's married to a covert operative. Valerie Plane... no .. Plame I think. If we blow her cover by leaking her name to the press. Than she'll have to quit. This will surely hurt Wilson's income."
Rove:"I can see I'm finally getting you guys to think really evil, who knows it might even cause the dissolution of his marriage. Heh, heh,heh."
Libby: "O.K. , I'll be the point man on this. Everyone else make sure they have plausible deniability."
Bush (with apparent glee): "Oh Shucks! You guys are the greatest!"

Until then, I will continue to believe that Bush et al. were just trying to get out the truth about how the facts appeared to them and to try and make an honest case to the people.

Posted by: John Hansen on April 7, 2006 at 5:40 PM | PERMALINK

Windhorse - Thanks for this information. if this is really SOP I will no longer use the fact that he didn't issue a written report as ammunition.

Just curious - how do you know this is SOP for the CIA?

I still think the view that his superiors had of his report does not jibe with what he pretended his report suggested when he wrote his op-ed.

Posted by: John Hansen on April 7, 2006 at 5:44 PM | PERMALINK

Until then, I will continue to believe that Bush et al. were just trying to get out the truth about how the facts appeared to them

By misrepresenting something that was not a "key finding" of the NIE as a "key finding", releasing that misrepresentation on "deep background" before the NIE was declassified, and then doing everything possible to avoid it being authoritatively being tracked back to them, including refusing to acknowledge it when it was waved in their face?

That's how you get the truth out when you are President of the United States?

Posted by: cmdicely on April 7, 2006 at 6:35 PM | PERMALINK

cmdicely,

I think it is almost impossible, given the way reporting is done, for anyone Republican or Democrat to get what he thinks the truth is out to the general public. The best he can hope for is that his sound bite sized material is not hacked up to badly.

Bush can always call a press conference, but remember hardly anybody sees the whole thing. It is always filtered by the lens of the media.

BTW - I think the words "truth" and "lie" are used incorrectly and used way to much in politics these days.

"Truth" is of course substituted for the politician's opinion.

"Lie" is used not for a deliberate fabrication by my opponent, but when my opponent says something which even if he may believe, I don't believe.

I wish we could get to a state of good old disagreement instead of where the debate was about whether someone lied.

Lets reserve the word "lie" for actual lies - not policy disagreements.

I would be interested in your thoughts.

Posted by: John Hansen on April 7, 2006 at 6:57 PM | PERMALINK
I think it is almost impossible, given the way reporting is done, for anyone Republican or Democrat to get what he thinks the truth is out to the general public.

Assuming, from context, by "anyone" you mean "any politician" and, more importantly, by "to the general public", you mean "to the general public through the mass media", I agree; the most important communication method for any but the simplest concepts is 1:1 grassroots person-to-person activism (media like the blogosphere assist this by enhancing networking opportunities for committed activists, as do partisan traditional media outlets, like talk radio and Fox News.)

Posted by: cmdicely on April 7, 2006 at 7:17 PM | PERMALINK

I still think the view that his superiors had of his report does not jibe with what he pretended his report suggested when he wrote his op-ed.

You're correct, he disputes the reports officer's characterization of his findings and in fact has requested that the officer be questioned by the Senate to clarify the discrepancies, IIRC.

My take on this, based on anonymous comments to both the press and members of Congress by CIA analysts is that the information received from Wilson was consciously or unconsciously massaged to fit White House expectations by the time it reached the end of the reporting chain; although no one went on record to that effect when the Senate investigated those claims.

The White House was putting tremendous pressure on intelligence gathering agencies to come up with justification for a pre-ordained attack on Iraq -- not to go out and seek the truth about the state of Iraq's weaponry. Enough insiders have come forward from Karen Kwiatkowski in the DoD to former treasury secretary Paul O'Neill to make this a pretty uncontested conclusion. The administration's defense seems to be that "everybody knew" Saddam had illegal weapons so they were just getting their ducks in a row by seeking to gather the appropriate intelligence more as a formality to back up their decision.

The problem was that there was no fresh intelligence, caveats everywhere for what old intelligence there was, and often the harder they looked the less real evidence there was of WMD's. The aluminum tubes, the forged Niger documents, the bioweapon drones and terror trailers of Powell's speech: at the point at which each of these pieces of intelligence was presented as evidence by this administration there were experts in the respective fields contradicting the administration's case. The clincher, of course, was having actual inspectors on the ground reassuring the U.S. they were getting the appropriate cooperation from the Iraqis and asserting there was no evidence of weapons or weapons manufacturing facilities.

While I think it was possible based on the evidence prior to the inspections to correctly deduce that there were were no longer any WMD's in Iraq, the inspections certainly closed the case. But as we know now from the Downing Street memos, the decision to go to war had been made almost a year prior, and was not contingent on the findings of the inspectors at all.

Posted by: Windhorse on April 7, 2006 at 8:43 PM | PERMALINK




 

 

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