THE PRESIDENT: Listen, I know of nobody -- I don't know of anybody in my administration who leaked classified information. If somebody did leak classified information, I'd like to know it, and we'll take the appropriate action. And this investigation is a good thing.(September 30, 2003, at a meeting with business leaders in Chicago.)
This is now:
As to the meeting on July 8, 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. Defendant further testified that he first advised the Vice President that he could not have this conversation with reporter Miller because of the classified nature of the NIE. Defendant testified that the Vice President later advised him that the President had authorized defendant to disclose the relevant portions of the NIE.(From pleadings filed by Patrick J. Fitzgerald, in United States of America vs. I. Lewis Libby, April 5, 2006.)
Here's how David Swanson explained it:
Bush authorized the leaking of selected portions of classified documents, selected in such a way as to constitute a lie. He painted a picture of a nuclear threat that he knew did not exist, and used it to scare people into supporting an illegal war, resulting in the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people.Read his entire article on After Downing Street.
Of course, the leaking itself was illegal. Of course, Bush's past promises to fire leakers were lies, and his eagerness to investigate other leaks that he didn't authorize is hypocrisy. Of course, it is quite likely he also authorized the leak of Plame's undercover identity. Of course, this was retribution against a whistleblower. Of course, he may have lied to Fitzgerald and be guilty of obstruction of justice.
But all of that rather misses the point that Bush and his gang of thugs were spoon-feeding immensely destructive lies to the New York Times and other media outlets, which were passing them on to us unquestioningly, obediently. Had Bush legally declassified the NIE, reporters and editors would have seen the whole thing, not the misleading bits that Bush illegally leaked.
“… and tell ’em Big Mitch sent ya!”