Scooter: "Bush Said I Wouldn't Get In Trouble!"

So the New York Sun -- their equivalent to the Washington Times in terms of respectability, readership, and coziness to conservatives (though, in their defense, they have fewer white supremacists and more hard-line Likudniks) -- has a big 'ol scoop! But, alas, they have a sad little website that can't quite handle the Drudge traffic. It seems to be sort of half-working now, but in case it goes down again, here are three fun paragraphs:

A former White House aide under indictment for obstructing a leak probe, I. Lewis Libby, testified to a grand jury that he gave information from a closely-guarded "National Intelligence Estimate" on Iraq to a New York Times reporter in 2003 with the specific permission of President Bush, according to a new court filing from the special prosecutor in the case.
"Defendant testified that he was specifically authorized in advance of the meeting to disclose the key judgments of the classified NIE to Miller on that occasion because it was thought that the NIE was 'pretty definitive' against what Ambassador Wilson had said and that the vice president thought that it was 'very important' for the key judgments of the NIE to come out," Mr. Fitzgerald wrote.

Mr. Libby is said to have testified that "at first" he rebuffed Mr. Cheney's suggestion to release the information because the estimate was classified. However, according to the vice presidential aide, Mr. Cheney subsequently said he got permission for the release directly from Mr. Bush. "Defendant testified that the vice president later advised him that the president had authorized defendant to disclose the relevant portions of the NIE," the prosecution filing said.

So: If Bush did authorize it, it amounts to a slightly more legally sound "de facto declassification." Which puts everyone on sounder legal ground, but makes Bush look bad. Once again, this upwards buck-passing is beautiful to watch.

Anyway, there you go. Score one for Team Cheney.

And, because we know what you want, here's the funniest part of the article: Scooter Libby's handwritten talking-point suggestions to Scott McClellan:

People have made too much of the difference in

How I described Karl and Libby

I've talked to Libby.

I said it was ridiculous about Karl

And it is ridiculous about Libby.

Libby was not the source of the Novak story.

And he did not leak classified information.

Poor Scooter's star has fallen so far and so quickly that he couldn't even get Scott to use a single one of those lines.

On the bright side, though, now that this whole political thing hasn't worked out, Scooter can find work as a minimalist poet.

Update: Murray Waas, predictably, has the story as well, and The Smoking Gun has the documents themselves.

Bush Authorized Leak to Times, Libby Told Grand Jury [NYSun]


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