The Bush-hating side of the blogosphere is buzzing about the latest Plame-related news — that Scooter Libby is said to have told the grand jury that he was authorized by President Bush, via Vice President Cheney, to leak “certain information” that was contained in the National Intelligence Estimate. That information was not about Valerie Plame. Nonetheless, Andrew Sullivan thinks that President Bush is “nailed.” Tom Maguire thinks that Sullivan “can’t read.”
Andy McCarthy points out that there’s no reason to believe that the “certain information” in question was even classified. According to McCarthy, “Almost certainly, what Libby was permitted to do was preview for certain reporters some of the highlights of what was shortly going to be made public in the NIE. That is, NOT disclose the classified information, but talk about what was going to be in the public domain.”
JOHN adds; I’ll repeat what I wrote this morning, for the sake of those lame liberals who keep emailing us to ask why we aren’t talking about this “blockbuster” story.
This is the same “scandal” the press tried to sell a few months ago. I wrote about it here. The Sun article (unlike some other press accounts) explains clearly what was going on. Intelligence insiders like Joe Wilson were leaking a combination of falsehoods and minority views to the press in order to challenge the administration’s decision to go to war with Iraq. This was deeply unfair. In October 2002, the intelligence agencies presented to the administration their “consensus estimate” with regard to Iraq’s WMD programs. The consensus of all of the agencies (CIA, DIA, etc.) was, with a “high level of confidence”:
Iraq is continuing, and in some areas expanding its chemical, biological, nuclear and missile programs contrary to UN resolutions.
We are not detecting portions of these weapons programs.
Iraq possesses proscribed chemical and biological weapons and missiles.
Iraq could make a nuclear weapon in months to a year once it acquires sufficient weapons grade fissile material.
The Bush administration naturally relied on the consensus of the intelligence agencies in making decisions about Iraq and in describing the dangers of Saddam’s regime to the American people. This is why the “Bush lied” theme is so foolish.
In the summer of 2003, as noted above, the administration was besieged with leaks from liberals in the CIA and elsewhere, as well as op-eds by the likes of Joe Wilson, that misrepresented the state of the intelligence prior to the Iraq war. In order to deal with these false claims, the administration declassified the 2002 intelligence estimate. (It didn’t help; the estimate remains a closely guarded secret among most MSM types.) The “leak” that you’re reading about in headlines today was simply the permission given to Scooter Libby to describe the contents of the consensus intelligence estimate a few days before it was officially declassified [I think it would be more accurate to say, before it was made public]. So in the MSM, the liberals’ false leaks are noble, while the administration’s declassification of the report that shows them to be false, in response, is a scandal!