Waas: "Get Wilson" Effort Came From Bush
Thanks to a tip from reader mainsailset, we find out that Murray Waas’s latest piece in the National Journal today reports that the effort to get the word out to undermine Joe Wilson’s credibility was ordered from the top; the very top. But Bush claimed in his 2004 interview with Fitzgerald that he assumed Cheney would follow the normal declassification process to release previously-classified national security information on Joe Wilson’s trip and the 2002 National Intelligence Estimate. Bush claimed that he never knew or authorized Cheney to direct Scooter to leak this information while still classified to the media.
President Bush told the special prosecutor in the CIA leak case that he directed Vice President Dick Cheney to personally lead an effort to counter allegations made by former Ambassador Joseph C. Wilson IV that his administration had misrepresented intelligence information to make the case to go to war with Iraq, according to people familiar with the president's statement.
Bush also told federal prosecutors during his June 24, 2004, interview in the Oval Office that he had directed Cheney, as part of that broader effort, to disclose highly classified intelligence information that would not only defend his administration but also discredit Wilson, the sources said.
But Bush told investigators that he was unaware that Cheney had directed I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, the vice president's chief of staff, to covertly leak the classified information to the media instead of releasing it to the public after undergoing the formal governmental declassification processes.
During the same time that Cheney and Libby's effort to leak classified information to discredit Wilson was under way, other White House officials were working through a formal interagency declassification process to make public portions of one or both of the same documents. It is unclear why Cheney and Libby were apparently acting without the knowledge of other senior government officials who were working with Cheney and Libby to formally declassify much of the very same information.
A senior government official who has spoken to the president about the matter said that although Bush encouraged Cheney to get information out to rebut Wilson's charges, Bush was unaware that Cheney had directed Libby to leak classified information.
(Cue chainsaw on branch)
Waas points back to David Addington as the guy who told Libby that it was OK to release classified information once Dear Leader had spoken.
"[Libby] 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. [Libby] testified that the Vice President later advised him that the President had authorized [Libby] to disclose the relevant portions of the NIE."
And Libby "testified that he spoke to David Addington, then Counsel to the Vice President, whom [Libby] 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 a document."Sure, who needs to have all those other people working on doing the declassification the right way when David “Fu*k the Constitution” Addington is telling you to do whatever Chimpy or Edgar Bergen tell you to do?
At least we have it established now that the effort came from the top, and that Bush will claim any errors were Cheney’s fault. This makes the trial all the more interesting, because Libby will apparently testify that the Vice President’s current Chief of Staff doesn’t know a thing about their own declassification process, and Rove will presumably testify that any mistakes that were made occurred exclusively within the Office of the Vice President.
Which is why Bush will make sure this trial never sees the light of day and will pardon Scooter after November but before February.