Thursday, February 09, 2006

I Have a Secret to Tell (From My Electrical Well)

It's a simple message and I’m leaving out the whistles and bells...

This is what happens when one member of a team blog is forced to converse with himself: insanity in the form of song lyrics from his youth. Of course, here the secret in question is not so simple. During Scooter Libby's testimony to a federal jury today, he revealed that Dick Cheney and other White House "superiors" told him to leak classified information. In 2003, he was asked to tell journalists federal secrets to defend the administration's case to go to war.

"Libby specifically claimed that in one instance he had been authorized to divulge portions of a then-still highly classified National Intelligence Estimate regarding Saddam Hussein's purported efforts to develop nuclear weapons, according to correspondence recently filed in federal court by special prosecutor Patrick J. Fitzgerald.

Beyond what was stated in the court paper, say people with firsthand knowledge of the matter, 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."

Uh, to begin with, aren't there classification laws in play here? Those can't just be recommendations. Who prosecutes these? What legal body oversees this? But clearly the more heinous problem here is a systematic politicization of Top Secret intelligence. This bit of news, for me at least, completely turns the tide back against the Bush administration's efforts to play down this thing.

It's also alternately shocking and saddening when we occassionally realize just how brazenly our leaders in the Oval Office lie to us: After all, the President said in 2003: "I want to tell you something -- leaks of classified information are a bad thing. And we've had them -- there's too much leaking in Washington. That's just the way it is. And we've had leaks out of the administrative branch, had leaks out of the legislative branch, and out of the executive branch and the legislative branch, and I've spoken out consistently against them and I want to know who the leakers are."

And now this? I hate to sound like Joe Buck, but it's just sickening. And I don't think it's going to get better. One would assume that the White House will have to calculate a fairly substantial likelihood that Scooter is going to turn some kind of state's evidence if Fitzgerald broadens his investigation beyond the Plame leak and moves to establish a conspiracy. Disclosing top-top-level information purely to further a political cause is lousy enough, but if Fizgerald can make this stick it might end up being worse than Watergate.


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