New Court Filing: Libby Got OK from Bush to Leak to Miller

RSS
Follow by Email
Facebook
Facebook
Twitter
Visit Us
LinkedIn

By: E&P Staff

Former White House aide I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby testified to a grand jury that he gave information from a National Intelligence Estimate on Iraq to New York Times reporter Judith Miller in 2003 with the specific permission of President Bush, according to a new court filing from the special prosecutor in the case.

This information was first published by The New York Sun earlier today. E&P has now examined the 39-page filing in PDF form.

“The court papers from the prosecutor, Patrick Fitzgerald, do not suggest that Mr. Bush violated any law or rule,” the Sun’s Josh Gerstein observes. “However, the new disclosure could be awkward for the president because it places him, for the first time, directly in a chain of events that led to a meeting where prosecutors contend the identity of a CIA employee, Valerie Plame, was provided to a reporter.”

In a court filing late Wednesday responding to requests from Libby’s attorneys for government records that might aid his defense, Fitzgerald wrote about the July 8, 2003, meeting: “Defendant testified that he was specifically authorized in advance of the meeting to disclose the key judgments of the classified NIE to Miller on that occasion because it was thought that the NIE was ‘pretty definitive’ against what Ambassador Wilson had said and that the vice president thought that it was ‘very important’ for the key judgments of the NIE to come out.”

Libby testified that “at first” he rebuffed Cheney’s suggestion to release the information because the estimate was classified. However, according Libby, Cheney subsequently said he received an okay for the release directly from Bush. “Defendant testified that the vice president later advised him that the president had authorized defendant to disclose the relevant portions of the NIE,” the filing said.

Libby told the grand jury that a legal counsel to the vice president, David Addington, said that Bush’s permission to disclose the estimate “amounted to a declassification of the document.”

The court papers “do not make clear whether Mr. Bush knew the disclosure was destined for Ms. Miller, though they indicate Mr. Cheney knew that fact,” the Sun relates. “Messrs. Bush and Cheney have been interviewed by Mr. Fitzgerald and his staff, but it is not known how their accounts of the events compared to that of Mr. Libby.”

Murray Waas, who has broken several key stories about this case, analyzes the latest twist at the National Journal’s site today. He adds this: “Although not reflected in the court papers, two senior government officials said in interviews with National Journal in recent days that Libby has also asserted that Cheney authorized him to leak classified information to a number of journalists during the run-up to war with Iraq. In some instances, the information leaked was directly discussed with the Vice President, while in other instances Libby believed he had broad authority to release information that would make the case to go to war.

“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.”

Waas also relates: “One former senior government official said that both the president and Cheney, in directing Libby to disclose classified information to defend the administration’s case to go to war with Iraq and in formally declassifying portions of the NIE later, were misusing the classification process for political reasons.

“The official said that while the administration declassified portions of the NIE that would appear exculpatory to the White House, it insisted that a one-page summary of the NIE which would have suggested that the President mischaracterized other intelligence information to go to war remain classified.”

The new court filing also quotes from handwritten suggestions Libby gave to the White House press secretary, Scott McClellan, “urging the spokesman to proclaim the vice presidential aide’s innocence with the same vigor that the press secretary previously denounced as ridiculous suggestions that Mr. Rove might have had a hand in leaking Ms. Plame’s identity,” according to Gerstein.

Libby’s note, as typed up by the prosecution, reads “like a stanza of verse,” Gerstein observes. Here it is:

“People have made too much of the difference in
How I described Karl and Libby
I’ve talked to Libby.
I said it was ridiculous about Karl
And it is ridiculous about Libby.
Libby was not the source of the Novak story.
And he did not leak classified information.”

The prosecutor then states in the filing:

“As a result of defendant?s request, on October 4, 2003, White House Press Secretary McClellan stated that he had spoken to Mr. Libby (as well as Mr. Rove and Elliot Abrams) and ‘those individuals assured me that they were not involved in this.’?

A key portion from the filing follows:

*
One of the key conversations that will be proved at trial took place between defendant and reporter Judith Miller at the St. Regis Hotel on the morning of July 8, 2003. Defendant testified in the grand jury that he and Miller did not discuss the CIA employment of Ambassador Wilson?s wife, Valerie Plame, on that occasion, and that he could not have done so because he had forgotten by that time that he had learned about Ms. Wilson?s employment a month earlier from the Vice President.

Defendant further testified that when he spoke with reporter Tim Russert the following day, Russert informed him that Wilson?s wife worked at the CIA, and defendant was ?taken aback.? Defendant
testified that he thought that the information was new to him, and that he made sure not to confirm the information to Russert.

Defendant thereafter testified that he repeated what he learned from
Russert to other reporters (including Cooper and Miller) on July 12, taking care to caution those reporters that he did not know if the information were true or even if Ambassador Wilson even had a wife.

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

Defendant testified that the Vice President later advised him that the President had authorized defendant to disclose the relevant portions of the NIE.

Defendant testified that he also spoke to David Addington, then Counsel to the Vice President, whom defendant considered to be an expert in national security law, and Mr. Addington opined that Presidential authorization to publicly disclose a document amounted to a declassification of the document.

Defendant testified that he thought he brought a brief abstract of the NIE?s key judgments to the meeting with Miller on July 8. Defendant understood that he was to tell Miller, among other things, that a key judgment of the NIE held that Iraq was ?vigorously trying to procure? uranium.

Defendant testified that this July 8th meeting was the only time he recalled in his government experience when he disclosed a document to a reporter that was effectively declassified by virtue of the President?s authorization that it be disclosed. Defendant testified that one of the reasons why he met with Miller at a hotel was the fact that he was sharing this information with Miller exclusively.

In fact, on July 8, defendant spoke with Miller about Mr. Wilson after requesting that attribution of his remarks be changed to ?former Hill staffer.? …

Defendant further testified that when he spoke with reporter Tim Russert the following day, Russert informed him that Wilson?s wife worked at the CIA, and defendant was ?taken aback.? Defendant
testified that he thought that the information was new to him, and that he made sure not to confirm the information to Russert. Defendant thereafter testified that he repeated what he learned from
Russert to other reporters (including Cooper and Miller) on July 12, taking care to caution those reporters that he did not know if the information were true or even if Ambassador Wilson even had a wife.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *