April 06, 2006

No smoking gun yet, but it sure smells like gunpowder around here.

New papers filed in the Plamegate investigation place Dubya more directly into the 2003 White House decision to leak secret information about Iraq to the press. Those leaks attempted to influence press coverage of the Iraq war — especially that of the growing controversy over whether the administration had falsely claimed that Iraq had WMDs. While this new info doesn't show that Dubya ordered the leak of CIA operative Valerie Plame's identity to the press, it does show that the prez was aware of the leaks that were coming from the White House — if not actually an instigator of those leaks.

Scooter goes to courtThe new information comes from documents filed in federal court yesterday by special counsel Patrick Fitzgerald, who is leading the probe into the Plamegate affair. Part of those documents concern the testimony of Lewis Libby to the Plamegate grand jury. [Photo of Libby shows him heading in to testify last November. He has been indicted for perjury, obstruction of justice, and making false statements in connection with the Plamegate investigation.] According to Libby, VP Dick Cheney told him to pass on secret information about Iraq to the press, and that Dubya had authorized that disclosure. According to the court papers, that authorization led to Libby's July 8, 2003, conversation with NY Times reporter Judith Miller, during which Valerie Plame's name was mentioned.

The documents also report Libby's testimony that Cheney specifically directed him to speak to other reporters about classified information regarding Iraq's alleged WMD programs and a cable authored by Plame's husband, Joseph Wilson. This leak was apparently done to counter public claims made by Wilson that the White House's justification for invading Iraq was riddled with holes.

Of course, other players in the leak story may have disputed Libby's testimony when they went before the Plamegate grand jury. But on the face of it, Libby's story clearly makes Cheney a prime mover in the leaks that led to Valerie Plame's outing as a CIA operative. Even more importantly, they indicate that Dubya was not the innnocent bystander that his public statements have made him out to be.

It's going to be very interesting to see how things develop from here.

The AP story on Libby's testimony is here. The Smoking gun also has a story and an excerpt from the court documents here. You can read a PDF of yesterday's full court filing by Plamegate special counsel Patrick Fitzgerald if you go here.

More: If you're having trouble figuring out exactly how this new information fits into the ongoing Plamegate story, this Murray Waas article over at the National Journal should make things less confusing.

Posted by Magpie at April 6, 2006 02:06 PM | US News | Technorati links |

I would be very surprised if Mr. Bush were not behind this leak. It is outrageous that we have in our highest office someone who might have done this. I hope above all for all due haste in discovery -- and that Cheney, as well, is outa there.


Posted by: Noemie Maxwell at April 6, 2006 03:07 PM