CBSN

Libby: Bush Approved Iraq Intel Leak

GENERIC Lewis scooter Libby George Bush CIA logo seal white house Plame leak case
CBS/AP
Vice President Dick Cheney's former top aide told prosecutors that President Bush authorized a leak of sensitive intelligence information about Iraq, 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.

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.

Before his indictment, Libby testified to the grand jury investigating the CIA leak that Cheney told him to pass on prewar intelligence on Iraq and that it was President Bush who authorized the disclosure, the court papers say. According to the documents, the authorization led to the July 8, 2003, conversation between Libby and New York Times reporter Judith Miller. In that meeting, Libby made reference to the fact that Wilson's wife worked for the CIA.

According to Fitzgerald's court filing, Cheney, in conversation with Libby, raised the question of whether a CIA-sponsored trip by Wilson "was legitimate or whether it was in effect a junket set up by Mr. Wilson's wife."

The disclosure in documents filed Wednesday means that the president and the vice president put Libby in play as a secret provider of information to reporters about prewar intelligence on Iraq.


Read the official court documents.
Presidential spokesman Scott McClellan said Thursday the White House would have no comment on the ongoing investigation. At a congressional hearing, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales said the president has the "inherent authority to decide who should have classified information."

Libby is asking for voluminous amounts of classified information from the government in order to defend himself against five counts of perjury, obstruction and lying to the FBI in the Plame affair.

He is accused of making false statements about how he learned of Plame's CIA employment and what he told reporters about it.

Mr. Bush's political foes jumped on the revelation about Libby's testimony.

"The fact that the president was willing to reveal classified information for political gain and put the interests of his political party ahead of America's security shows that he can no longer be trusted to keep America safe," Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean said.

Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said, "The more we hear, the more it is clear this goes way beyond Scooter Libby. At the very least, President Bush and Vice President Cheney should fully inform the American people of any role in allowing classified information to be leaked."

Libby's testimony indicates both the president and the vice president authorized leaks, and CBS News correspondent Gloria Borger reports that for a president that has prided himself on keeping secrets, Thursday's news could hardly be more embarrassing. Mr. Bush and Cheney both have long said they abhor that practice, so much so that the administration has put in motion criminal investigations 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."