Dems Jump On Libby Intel Leak

Lewis Libby, Vice President Cheney's chief of staff, testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington in this March 1, 2001 file photo.
Congressional Democrats have moved quickly to capitalize on Scooter Libby's claim that President Bush authorized him to leak sensitive intelligence about Iraq to the New York Times.

Vice President Dick Cheney's former top aide made the claim in grand jury testimony, according to court papers filed by prosecutors in the CIA leak case. The filing by Special Counsel Patrick Fitzgerald also describes Cheney involvement in I. Lewis Libby's communications with the press.

"In light of today's shocking revelation, President Bush must
fully disclose his participation in the selective leaking of
classified information," said Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid of Nevada.

"If the disclosure is true, it's breathtaking. The president is the leaker-in-chief," added Rep. Jane Harman of California, the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee.

There was no indication in the filing that either Bush or Cheney authorized Libby to disclose Valerie Plame's CIA identity. But it points to Cheney as one of the originators of the idea that Plame could be used to discredit her husband, Bush administration critic Joseph Wilson.

Read the official court documents.
The disclosure also put the president and the vice president in the awkward position of authorizing leaks. Both men have long said they abhor such practices, so much so that the administration has put in motion criminal investigations at their behest to hunt down leakers.

In September 2003 during a speech in Chicago, Mr. Bush said of the Libby investigation, "Let me just say something about leaks in Washington. There are too many leaks of classified information in Washington. There's leaks at the executive branch; there's leaks in the legislative branch. There's just too many leaks.

"And if there is a leak out of my administration," Mr. Bush said, "I want to know who it is. And if the person has violated law, the person will be taken care of."