A Bad Leak
President Bush says he declassified portions of the prewar intelligence assessment on Iraq because he “wanted people to see the truth” about Iraq’s weapons programs and to understand why he kept accusing Saddam Hussein of stockpiling weapons that turned out not to exist. This would be a noble sentiment if it actually bore any relationship to Mr. Bush’s actions in this case, or his overall record.
Since Mr. Bush regularly denounces leakers, the White House has made much of the notion that he did not leak classified information, he declassified it. This explanation strains credulity. Even a president cannot wave a wand and announce that an intelligence report is declassified.
To declassify an intelligence document, officials have to decide whether disclosing the information would jeopardize the sources that provided it or the methods used to gather it. To answer that question, they closely study the origins of the intelligence to be disclosed. Had Mr. Bush done that, he should have seen that the most credible information made it clear that the Niger story was wrong. (In any case, Iraq’s supposed attempt to buy uranium from Niger happened four years before the invasion, and failed. The idea that this amounted to a current, aggressive and continuing campaign to build nuclear weapons in 2002 — as Mr. Bush and Mr. Cheney called it — is laughable.)
This messy episode leaves more questions than answers, so it is imperative that two things happen soon. First, the federal prosecutor in the Libby case should release the transcripts of what Mr. Bush and Mr. Cheney said when he questioned them. And the Senate Intelligence Committee must report publicly on how Mr. Bush and his team used the flawed intelligence on Iraq. Senator Pat Roberts, the committee chairman, says the panel will meet this month to discuss three of the report’s five sections. That’s a step. And it has taken only two years to get this far.
This is a smack-down of the Washington Post for their editorial A Good Leak. So there.
And Tarzan comes to Broadway.
Not exactly Ron Ely… but it should be interesting to see how this latest Disneyfication goes over.
The puzzle awaits.