Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Again: "Authorized Disclosure" Isn't "Declassification." Bush, Cheney, and Libby Broke the Law.

Franken keeps handing a win to the Republicans when they don't deserve one, admitting that because Bush can declassify docs, his authorization of Libby's leak of classified intelligence means what Bush and Cheney told Libby to do (sharing portions of the classified National Intelligence Estimate secretly with reporters to support the case for war, after we'd learned Iraq didn't really have WMDs) wasn't illegal. And everyone, left and right, keeps conflating "authorized leak" with "de facto declassification."

Authorizing a leak isn't the same as declassifying a document, and authorized leaks are only legal in limited circumstances. Executive Order 13292:

In an emergency, when necessary to respond to an imminent threat to life or in defense of the homeland, the agency head or any designee may authorize the disclosure of classified information to an individual or individuals who are otherwise not eligible for access. Such actions shall be taken only in accordance with the directives implementing this order and any procedures issued by agencies governing the classified information, which shall be designed to minimize the classified information that is disclosed under these circumstances and the number of individuals who receive it. Information disclosed under this provision or implementing directives and procedures shall not be deemed declassified as a result of such disclosure or subsequent use by a recipient.

Libby violated Executive Order 13292. Cheney, because he instructed Libby pursuant to Bush's order instead of his own declassification authority, violated Executive Order 13292 and committed an impeachable offense. Bush, in ordering the disclosure without actually declassifying the documents, violated his own Executive Order, which is illegal -- Executive Orders ARE LAW within their own scope, and while the President can suspend or retract an Executive Order he's not allowed to violate them without doing so -- and therefore committed an impeachable offense. And if Bush and Cheney weren't forthright about what they did and didn't do when they were interviewed by special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald, they committed the crime of obstruction of justice, which is an impeachable offense.

Bush's handlers know this full well, which is why they have him telling lies about whether and when he ACTUALLY declassified the NIE (not "de facto" declassified it). (If GMT's strong language puts you off, think about what Bush is doing to the Constitution, and move on to his excellent and detailed analysis.)

Bottom line: will everyone please stop saying "the President didn't break the law, because he's allowed to declassify things"? He didn't declassify the NIE until after he authorized Libby to leak it, and the circumstances of the leak violated the law. Say so.

Thank you.

Linktos: Executive Order on Declassification Was Violated. Executive Order on Declassification Was Violated. Executive Order on Declassification Was Violated.


Silly Monkey said...

Hey! Have you linked this to an AAR blogs? If not, do you mind if I link or repost this to AAR on Rachel's blog?

Anonymous said...

No, I haven't, but I'd be grateful if you would! I would love to get the analysis out there (and blogpimping tends to be received better than blogwhoring). Thank you!

Silly Monkey said...

No Problem!