Thursday, February 09, 2006

Just Following Orders

Well, this is an interesting development in the Plame investigation:
Vice President Dick Cheney's former chief of staff, I. Lewis (Scooter) Libby, testified to a federal grand jury that he had been "authorized" by Cheney and other White House "superiors" in the summer of 2003 to disclose classified information to journalists to defend the Bush administration's use of prewar intelligence in making the case to go to war with Iraq, according to attorneys familiar with the matter, and to court records.

... Libby also indicated what he will offer as a broad defense during his upcoming criminal trial: that Vice President Cheney and other senior Bush administration officials had earlier encouraged and authorized him to share classified information with journalists to build public support for going to war. Later, after the war began in 2003, Cheney authorized Libby to release additional classified information, including details of the NIE, to defend the administration's use of prewar intelligence in making the case for war.
I'm sure in the minds of White House officials, this statement that Libby had secured approval from his masters in the executive branch -- which, as they like to remind us, is the most equal of the three branches of government -- means that he has a bulletproof defense. As long as his Dark Lord Cheney stamped the wax with his royal signet, what more authority could he need?

Now, I'm not a lawyer and, worse, I don't even play one on TV. But I have a hunch that the Vice President of the United States does not have the authority to declassify National Intelligence Estimates on his own, or leak government secrets to selected reporters, just because he thinks it might help out with the public relations campaign. If Libby is going to insist that Cheney told him to break the law, that seems to be less an exoneration of Libby and more an implication of Cheney.

Kos has called this the Oliver North Defense. Me, I'm reminded of the argument made in defense of another patriot.


S.W. Anderson said...

Quite a development for this super secretive gang: "Scooter, why don't you leak this and this, and this here stuff while you're at it?"

I suspect Cheney enjoys Bush's full confidence and protection about such questionable practices as leaking like a sieve for political purposes. Which means, effectively, if Cheney decides something is leak material, it become instantly and with Bush's blessing, declassified.

If this outfit was in entertainment instead of politics and running the government, they'd be "The Gong Show" reincarnated.

Otto Man said...

Actually, they act like they're from some bad high school melodrama. Only all the big tough men would be played by insecure teenage girls.

"Oh. My. God. That jerk Joey Wilson is totally pissing on our plans for the big Homecoming Game against Baghdad High. Let's tell the school paper about his nosy girlfriend Val. What a total bitch."