Libby says Bush authorized NIE leaks

Friday, April 7, 2006

Vice President Cheney.

According to papers filed in U.S. Federal Court by Patrick J. Fitzgerald on Wednesday, I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, Vice President Dick Cheney's former Chief of Staff, has told investigators that he was authorized by President Bush to divulge to reporters information from the National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) on Saddam Hussein's efforts to develop nuclear weapons.

Libby's testimony to the federal grand jury included the statement that he had received "approval from the President through the Vice President" to release portions of the NIE. According to court documents, he also stated that this type of authorization was "unique in his recollection".

It was Libby's understanding that Bush's allowing the information to be released in effect declassified the information. Although legal experts disagree on this authority, Libby stated that it was a White House lawyer who so counseled him.

This information has come to light due to Fitzgerald's efforts to collect information regarding the "outing" of former CIA operative Valerie Plame. Fitzgerald has broad authority to conduct investigations, as the special prosecutor in the case. Although Libby's statements released yesterday may seem inflammatory, it is unknown what effect they will have on either Vice President Cheney or President Bush.