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Bush Shared Intel To 'See The Truth'

President Bush participates in a question and answer session after delivering remarks on the global war on terror at the John Hopkins University's Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies in Washington Monday, April 10, 2006.
AP
President Bush won't comment directly about allegations he authorized a top White House official to leak intelligence on Iraq in 2003.

But, the president told an audience in Washington today he declassified part of a prewar intelligence report so Americans could "see the truth." Mr. Bush says after the U.S. invasion, there were "questions in people's minds," so he decided to free up the information.

In court filings last week, prosecutors say Vice President Cheney's former chief of staff told a grand jury he was authorized by Mr. Bush, through Cheney, to leak part of a classified document. The National Intelligence Estimate detailed the government's conclusions about Iraqi weapons of mass destruction.

Lewis Libby faces trial on charges of perjury and obstruction of justice for alleged lies to a grand jury and officials investigating the leak of a CIA agent's identity.

Earlier, a leading Republican senator said Mr. Bush and Cheney should speak publicly about their involvement in the CIA leak case so people can understand what happened.

"We ought to get to the bottom of it so it can be evaluated, again, by the American people," Sen. Arlen Specter, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said Sunday.

In a federal court filing last week, the prosecutor in the case said Libby, testified before a grand jury that he was authorized by Mr. Bush, through Cheney, to leak information from a classified document that detailed intelligence agencies' conclusions about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.

A lawyer knowledgeable about the case said Saturday that Mr. Bush declassified sensitive intelligence in 2003 and authorized its public disclosure to rebut Iraq war critics, but he did not specifically direct that Libby be the one to disseminate the information.

"I think that it is necessary for the president and vice president to tell the American people exactly what happened," Specter told "Fox News Sunday."

Specter, R-Pa., did not dispute the White House claim that the president has the power to declassify secrets, reports CBS News correspondent Peter Maer.

"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 ... about exactly what he did," Specter said.

Libby faces trial, likely in January, on charges of perjury and obstruction of justice for allegedly lying to the grand jury and investigators about what he told reporters about CIA officer Valerie Plame.

Special Counsel Patrick Fitzgerald did not say in the filing that Cheney authorized Libby to leak Plame's identity, and Bush is not accused of doing anything illegal.

"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," Specter said.