Lewis "Scooter" Libby testified that leak was authorized

Saturday, February 11, 2006

According to federal prosecutors, Lewis "Scooter" Libby Jr., the former chief of staff to Vice President Dick Cheney, told a grand jury that his superiors authorized him to disclose to reporters information from the U.S. National Intelligence Estimate. Portions of the report included still-classified information on Iraqi weapons capability leaked in June and July 2003.

Libby's claim of authorization was revealed in a letter by special prosecutor Patrick J. Fitzgerald, written January 23 and included in papers filed in court by Libby's defense team on Monday. Although this letter did not say which "superiors" Libby referred to, the National Journal reported on Thursday that their sources said this included his immediate boss, V.P. Cheney. If this is confirmed, it could broaden the scandal.

Mr. Libby was obliged to step down after he was indicted on charges that he lied about his role in exposing the identity of Valerie Plame Wilson, a C.I.A. operative, to the journalist Robert Novak in July 2003.

Federal prosecutors plan to use the confession to establish that Mr. Libby was part of the Bush administration's public relations campaign to rebut Mr. Wilson's op-ed column in The New York Times. The column stated that there was little evidence to support the administration's claims that Saddam Hussein was pursuing weapons of mass destruction.