Skip to comments.Experts: Alleged Bush leak legal, unusual
Posted on 04/07/2006 1:28:44 AM PDT by West Coast Conservative
Legal experts said President Bush had the unquestionable authority to approve the disclosure of secret CIA information to reporters but added the leak was highly unusual and amounted to using sensitive intelligence data for political gain.
"It is a question of whether the classified National Intelligence Estimate was used for domestic political purposes," said Jeffrey Smith, a Washington lawyer who formerly served as general counsel for the CIA.
In court papers filed late Wednesday, Special Counsel Patrick Fitzgerald said Vice President Dick Cheney's former chief of staff, I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, has testified Cheney told him Bush had authorized the leak of secret information from the National Intelligence Estimate on Iraq in summer 2003.
Experts said the power to classify and declassify documents in the federal government flows from the president and is often delegated down the chain of command. In March 2003, Bush signed an executive order delegating declassification authority to Cheney.
There are about 4,000 people in the federal government with authority to classify information, according to the National Archives.
The president's authority to keep and reveal secrets also is inherent in his constitutional powers, says J. William Leonard, director of the National Archives' Information Security Oversight Office, and the president does not have to follow any particular procedure in declassifying information.
"It's his authority in the first place," Leonard said.
While Bush's use of classified information may create a political problem for him, it's not a legal issue, said Mark Zaid, a Washington lawyer who frequently represents CIA employees and others involved in national-security issues.
As the author of the executive order governing how information is classified, Bush can declassify something simply by declaring so, Zaid said.
"Since the president is the one who issues the order, ergo he obviously has the authority to classify and declassify information," Zaid said Thursday.
Bush had exercised his authority in cooperating with journalist and author Bob Woodward in writing "Bush at War," an account of the response to the attacks of Sept. 11. "That book is replete with classified information" that Bush declassified by discussing it with Woodward, Zaid says.
Still Crying Over The Lost Fitzmas
I understand how disappointing it was to the BDS
sufferers that Fitzmas turned into Fizzlemas, but this report is just another
non-story in a controversy full of them.
The New York Sun reported today that I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby has testified
that he released information from a
National Intelligence Estimate in 2003 to a reporter prior to its publication.
Predictably, the media and the blogosphere has overreacted, proving once again
that most people do not understand classified materials, unclassified materials,
and the process used to classify documents...Austin Bay: "So whats the story
here? That someone who worked in the White House selectively passed properly
declassified material to the press? Thats not a scandal; thats Beltway
business as usual...Power
Line: "This is the same "scandal" the press tried to sell a few months ago.
I wrote about it
president decides to declassify information, he has that legal right. So, it's
not about a law being broken here, and it's not about Valerie Plame-Wilson's
Vanity Fair/Wilson outer her,,,so Bush was late, late, late,,,Pissonya MSM!
I my, Bush has alledgedly done something 'unusual'????? This is series.
I'm OUTRAGED. The only people that can leak classified information are Ted Kennedy or the MSM. Who does Bush think he is!!!!!
The old 'if it isn't legal, it's unusual' trick.
If Fitz is no longer using that misleading reference, it just shows us his previous misdirections have been outed.
I'm sorry, but after reading the article just who are the so-called experts who declared the "Bush leak" to be "unusual"?
And didn't he also say that the same information came out in the official report a couple of weeks later?
This story is such a utter CROCK as to defy description. If the President (even GW Bush) can not release information to the American citizens, then just who the hell can?
On July 18, 2003, the administration, facing criticism for the intelligence used to justify the war, declassified an eight-page part of the NIE dubbed "key judgments" and conducted a lengthy background briefing with reporters to discuss it.Key judgments" is the operative word here, the key judgements documents were not declassified in July of 2003, they were declassified in October of 2002, six days after the NIE was complete per the following information:
On October 7, 2002 DCI Tenet sent a letter to the Senate Intelligence Committee declassifying portions of its new National Intelligence Estimate on Iraq.
A 25-page version of the National Intelligence Estimate on Iraq's weapons of mass destruction was released in October 2002. It made clear-cut statements about Iraq's nuclear, biological and chemical weapons capabilities in two pages of "Key Judgments."A copy of the Key Judgments document can be found here. Warning: .pdf file.
As usual, the MSM gets it wrong.
It makes you long for the old days, when newspapers would proudly name themselves things like "The New Plains Democrat." At least they were more honest about it.
Is Special Counsel Patrick Fitzgerald (or the court he applied to ?) allowed to make grand jury testimony public ?
"....I'm OUTRAGED. The only people that can leak classified information are Ted Kennedy or the MSM. Who does Bush think he is!!!!! ......."
You left out the NY Times. Bu then again--i lost COUNT on the number of National/Military Secrets they have leaked just in the past YEAR!! Hahahahahha!! TRAITORS!!!
p.s.--what ever DID happen to that information that Sandy Berger SAID that he " Distroyed by accident " ??--does anyone think that President Bush and Carl Rove ( who are the only ones who were told WHAT it was that Sandy distryed!!) already KNOW that Berger had ALREADY " Leaked " that stuff??--and maybe it is that stuff that IS being leaked now??
Like maybe a Document about how Presdient Bush was WIRE TAPPING Foreign / Incoming calls form suspected Terrorists??? ( NSA Leak )
Would explain alot!! and WHY Bush and Company really ISN'T taking ANY REAL steps to pursue Legal steps against all involved in the NSA Leak!!
Pat Leahy?? :-)
Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.