By: E&P Staff
With the revelations Thursday that former Vice President Cheney aide Lewis “Scooter” Libby had testified before a grand jury that President Bush had authorized him to leak classified information to reporter Judith Miller in July 2003, it seems appropriate to recall the president’s response to questions on this subject a little more than two months later. It took place in Chicago on Sept. 30, 2003, at a meeting with business leaders.
The transcript follows.
Q: Do you think that the Justice Department can conduct an impartial investigation, considering the political ramifications of the CIA leak, and why wouldn’t a special counsel be better?
THE PRESIDENT: Yes. Let me just say something about leaks in Washington. There are too many leaks of classified information in Washington. There’s leaks at the executive branch; there’s leaks in the legislative branch. There’s just too many leaks. And if there is a leak out of my administration, I want to know who it is. And if the person has violated law, the person will be taken care of.
And so I welcome the investigation. I — I’m absolutely confident that the Justice Department will do a very good job. There’s a special division of career Justice Department officials who are tasked with doing this kind of work; they have done this kind of work before in Washington this year. I have told our administration, people in my administration to be fully cooperative.
I want to know the truth. If anybody has got any information inside our administration or outside our administration, it would be helpful if they came forward with the information so we can find out whether or not these allegations are true and get on about the business.
Yes, let’s see, Kemper — he’s from Chicago. Where are you? Are you a Cubs or White Sox fan? (Laughter.) Wait a minute. That doesn’t seem fair, does it? (Laughter.)
Q: Yesterday we were told that Karl Rove had no role in it —
THE PRESIDENT: Yes.
Q: — have you talked to Karl and do you have confidence in him —
THE PRESIDENT: Listen, I know of nobody — I don’t know of anybody in my administration who leaked classified information. If somebody did leak classified information, I’d like to know it, and we’ll take the appropriate action. And this investigation is a good thing.
And again I repeat, you know, Washington is a town where there’s all kinds of allegations. You’ve heard much of the allegations. And if people have got solid information, please come forward with it. And that would be people inside the information who are the so-called anonymous sources, or people outside the information — outside the administration. And we can clarify this thing very quickly if people who have got solid evidence would come forward and speak out. And I would hope they would.
And then we’ll get to the bottom of this and move on. But I want to tell you something — leaks of classified information are a bad thing. And we’ve had them — there’s too much leaking in Washington. That’s just the way it is. And we’ve had leaks out of the administrative branch, had leaks out of the legislative branch, and out of the executive branch and the legislative branch, and I’ve spoken out consistently against them and I want to know who the leakers are.