Libby Leak: Much Ado about Nothing

As I was leaving my house to go to work today, I saw the reporters on CNN breathlessly reporting the breaking news about Scooter Libby. I didn’t have time to do anything but listen to a couple of minutes of the report and to read the banners at the bottom of the screen.

The gist of the report was this. Scooter Libby, who is under indictment and who is thought to have leaked the name of undercover CIA operative Valerie Plame, testified that President Bush authorized Libby to leak classified material to the press. This authorization came through Vice President Cheney. The report was clearly slanted to link Bush and Cheney to the indicted Libby.

The whole thing looked pretty damming to me, but I didn’t have time to investigate the facts until just now. It turns out that the facts do not support the media ballyhoo. Here is a summary of the facts according to The Washington Post:

A former top aide to Vice President Cheney told a federal grand jury investigating the leak of a CIA agent’s identity that President Bush authorized him to disclose classified intelligence information about Iraq as a way of rebutting criticism from the agent’s husband, according to court papers filed by prosecutors.

However, the former top aide, I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby, testified that although he gave a reporter sensitive information from a secret National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) in a July 2003 conversation with the president’s approval, he did not disclose the CIA employment of Valerie Plame (source).

Here’s what we know based on the facts as we have them today.

1. Libby testified that he did not leak Plame’s identity, nor was he authorized to do so by the President or Vice-President.

2. Libby testified that the President and Vice-President authorized him to disclose material from the National Intelligence Estimate, parts of which became public domain anyway.

Big whoop. Larry King’s interview with Yanni was more interesting than this.

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