Friday, April 07, 2006

Libby and the Senate

So the news has it that President Bush and VP Cheney authorized Scooter Libby to disclose certain parts of a National Intelligence Estimate to reporters, as a matter of rebutting false reports in the press. This news (contained in a government motion opposing Scooter Libby's Motion for Production of Documents relating to Plame's status and who may have leaked Plame's CIA employment, etc.) is old news - having been covered at the end of January. But now it is HOT!

See the Senate Summary for April 6 for Durbin's whack at the issue, and just now we were treated to Senator Reid's version of demanding the President personally explain what Reid casts as hypocricy. Senator Reid said that President Bush should have a plaque on his desk, "The Leaks Start Here."

I think Senator Reid is cruising for a bruising, but I suspect that sound bite will be making the rounds.

Mr. REID. Mr. President, yesterday the American people received the shocking news that the Vice President's former chief of staff, Scooter Libby, may have acted on direct orders from President Bush when he leaked classified intelligence information to reporters. It is an understatement to say that this is a serious allegation with national security consequences. It directly contradicts previous statements made by the President. It continues a pattern of misleading America by this Bush White House. It raises somber and troubling questions about the Bush administration's candor with Congress and the American people.

Today, I come to the floor to request answers on behalf of our troops, their families, and the American people. For years President Bush has denied knowing about conversations between his top aides and Washington reporters, conversations where his aides, like Scooter Libby, sought to justify the war in Iraq and discredit the White House's critics by leaking national security secrets. In fact, President Bush is on record clearly, in September of 2003, as saying:

I don't know of anybody in my administration who leaked classified information. If somebody did leak classified information, I'd like to know it, and we'll take appropriate action.

Yesterday, we found there is much more to the story. According to court records, President Bush may have personally authorized the very leaks he denied knowing anything about. In light of this disturbing news, we need to hear from President Bush which of these is true: His comments in 2003 or the statements made by the Vice President's chief of staff. Only the President can put this matter to rest.

Harry Truman had on his desk in the Oval Office a plaque. It said: ``The buck stops here.'' In George Bush's White House, perhaps he should put one that says: The leaks start here.

He, the President of the United States, must tell the American people whether President Bush's Oval Office is a place where the buck stops or the leaks start. This is a question he alone must answer, not a spokesman, not a statement, only the President of the United States.

I yield the floor.


Blogger cboldt said...

for Reid's official statement, basically asserting that President Bush's claim of wanting to run a "tight," leak-free administration is, in light of Libby's assertion that he was told to leak, a false impression.

4/07/2006 1:18 PM  
Blogger cboldt said...

Now Senator Lautenberg is piling on. "The President said, 'If there are any leaks, I want to know whodunnit' but now he is the one leaking! He was trying to undo damage caused by the intelligence community challenging the WMD rationale for going to war in Iraq."

"And here we are, still bogged down in Iraq," says Lautenberg. The old Senator brings up the exchange between Kerry and Allard, of yesterday.

4/07/2006 2:06 PM  
Blogger cboldt said...

The "administration is hypocritical" meme is being reinforced on the Sunday morning talk shows, as well as most of the media.

Here is Senator Specter, piling on.

Fox News Transcript - April 9

HUME: Let me turn you to another subject, if I can, Senator. As you know, there was considerable excitement in Washington at the end of the week about a report or a statement by the special prosecutor in the Valerie Plame leak case, a filing he made that indicated that the president had authorized the disclosure of what had been classified information to bolster the case for going into Iraq.

Is it your view that what the president and the vice president, as well, did in that matter constituted a leak?

SPECTER: I don't know, because all of the facts aren't out, and I think that it is necessary for the president and the vice president to tell the American people exactly what happened.

Brit, I think too often we jump to conclusions before we know what all of the facts are, and I'm not about to condemn or criticize anybody, but I do say that there's been enough of a showing here with what's been filed of record in court that the president of the United States owes a specific explanation to the American people.

HUME: About the release of this information or what?

SPECTER: Well, about exactly what he did. The president has the authority to declassify information. So in a technical sense, if he looked at it, he could say this is declassified, and make a disclosure of it.

There have been a number of reports, most recently -- I heard just this morning -- that the president didn't tell the vice president specifically what to do but just said get it out. And we don't know precisely what the vice president did.

And as usual, Brit, the devil is in the details. And I think that there has to be a detailed explanation precisely as to what Vice President Cheney did, what the president said to him, and an explanation from the president as to what he said so that it can be evaluated.

The president may be entirely in the clear, and it may turn out that he had the authority to make the disclosures which were made, but that it was not the right way to go about it, because we ought not to have leaks in government. We ought not to have them.

And the president has justifiably criticized the Congress for leaking and, of course, the White House has leaked. But we ought to get to the bottom of it so it can be evaluated, again, by the American people.


Other news outlets are picking this up and amplifying it. See for example:

4/09/2006 3:10 PM  
Blogger cboldt said...

CNN - White House needs to explain leak

4/09/2006 3:16 PM  

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