Tuesday :: Jan 13, 2004

Bush Retaliation Against O’Neill: Treasury Chief Counsel Approved Documents Release

by Steve

Paul O’Neill confirms this morning that all documents he used in his interviews with Ron Suskind were cleared by the department’s Chief Counsel. Furthermore, O’Neill was provided with CDs of documents, which he never read but turned over to Suskind. Suskind and CBS also remind us that only a cover sheet of a secret document was actually shown on the show, a cover document summarizing a list of international companies that want a piece of Iraqi oil field production.

Reacting to an announcement by the Treasury Department that it was launching an inspector general's investigation into how an agency document stamped "secret" wound up being used in his interview Sunday night on the CBS program "60" minutes, O'Neill said, "The truth is, I didn't take any documents at all."

Interviewed on NBC's "Today" show Tuesday, O'Neill said he had asked the Treasury Department's chief legal counsel "to have the documents that are OK for me to have" for use in the book entitled, "The Price of Loyalty."

Asked if he thought the internal Treasury probe was a get-even move by the administration, O'Neill replied, "I don't think so. If I were secretary of the treasury and these circumstances occurred, I would have asked the inspector general to look into it." But O'Neill also said he thinks the questions could have been more readily answered if top Treasury officials had talked to the agency's legal counsel.

"I'm surprised that he didn't call the chief legal counsel," O'Neill said of his successor, Treasury Secretary John Snow.

O'Neill said a cover page for the documents might have suggested they were classified material but said that the legal counsel's office "sent me a couple CDs, which I never opened." He said he gave them to former Wall Street Journal reporter Ron Suskind, the book's author.

Not only that, but the document that has the Bushies so incensed, the one that shows how to let their oil buddies in on the action from the early days of the Administration, has been available on the web for a while.

And as the Post's Dana Milbank reminds us this morning, the Bushies have no problem with releasing secret documents to those who will put Bush in a flattering light: remember that the White House gave Bob Woodward lots of documents of National Security Council minutes and other backup material for his wet-kiss book "Bush at War". Milbank, in his story this morning also has more damaging quotes from the book. The book is out today.

This confirms that the announcement yesterday that the Treasury Department is seeking an Inspector General inquiry into how an allegedly secret document made its way onto “60 Minutes” Sunday is nothing more than an attempt to scare others from doing the same.

Steve :: 6:52 AM :: Comments (13) :: Digg It!