Today in Holy Shit: The New York Sun reports that Vice-President Cheney's former chief of staff, Scooter Libby, told a grand jury that an Iraq intelligence leak to the Times was authorized by none other than President Bush himself. Not that this surpises us — someone's got to get the press behind this war, and nothing melts Judith Miller like Bush's big, blue eyes. But what's particularly horrifying is that this not-really-illegal intelligence leak, supposedly OK'd by the big guy, lead to the eventual disclosure of CIA operative Valerie Plame's identity.
Because Drudge is linking to the Sun's exclusive, their website is only intermittently working — it's the Republican agenda in action! Impressive synergy, that. If you can't read the actual article, we've got the important bits after the jump.
A former White House aide under indictment for obstructing a leak probe, I. Lewis Libby, testified to a grand jury that he gave information from a closely-guarded "National Intelligence Estimate" on Iraq to a New York Times reporter in 2003 with the specific permission of President Bush, according to a new court filing from the special prosecutor in the case.
The court papers from the prosecutor, Patrick Fitzgerald, do not suggest that Mr. Bush violated any law or rule. 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.
"Defendant testified that he was specifically authorized in advance of the meeting to disclose the key judgments of the classified NIE to [Times reporter Judy] 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," Mr. Fitzgerald wrote.
Mr. Libby is said to have testified that "at first" he rebuffed Mr. Cheney's suggestion to release the information because the estimate was classified. However, according to the vice presidential aide, Mr. Cheney subsequently said he got permission for the release directly from Mr. 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 prosecution filing said.
One of the facts Mr. Libby said he planned to disclose to Ms. Miller was that the estimate, produced in October 2002, concluded that Iraq was "vigorously trying to procure uranium." This contention was sharply at odds with Mr. Wilson's op-ed piece which argued there was no evidence of such a procurement effort, at least on a trip he took to Africa at the CIA's request.