Thursday, April 6, 2006

Could Bush or Cheney Have Obstructed Justice?

While perusing a new article on the classified intel story, I had a happy thought: if Fitzgerald interviewed Bush and Cheney and one or both of them did not disclose that they had authorized leaks of the National Intelligence Estimate, would they be guilty of obstruction of justice? (And a predicate: if Bush or Cheney did obstruct the investigation, given the fact that the President can't be prosecuted while still in office but only impeached, would Fitzgerald -- who, quite professionally, has been adamant that he will not make public any misconduct by people he's not going to actually indict -- let us know that fact?

And it's interesting that Libby's testimony makes a direct connection between the leaks and the Wilson Niger uranium story, which is just half a bedsheet away from the disclosure of Valerie Plame's identity. As I said below, I don't think this news is going to sink Bush politically -- but I'm heartened by the possibility that Fitzmas may come early and give us gifts that the cowards in the Democratic Caucus are too nervous to deliver.

Here's what I was reading:

Fitzgerald said Libby's disclosure took place as the result of "a strong desire by many, including multiple people in the White House, to repudiate" claims made in a July 2003 newspaper article by former ambassador Joseph C. Wilson IV, who was hired by the CIA to evaluate whether Iraq sought nuclear material in Niger. Wilson wrote that "some of the intelligence related to Iraq's nuclear weapons program was twisted to exaggerate the Iraqi threat."

The White House did not challenge the prosecutor's account of Bush's and Cheney's role in orchestrating the effort to discredit Wilson yesterday. Both Bush and Cheney have been interviewed by Fitzgerald, but the details of what they told him are unknown. ***

Bush has been a major critic of leaks of classified information, and his aides have repeatedly said they want to "get to the bottom" of who leaked the name of Wilson's wife, covert CIA operative Valerie Plame, to the media, which touched off Fitzgerald's investigation . But in the past 33 months the White House has never disclosed Bush's apparent involvement in the deliberate disclosure of information meant to undermine Wilson.

Additional informational links on this story here.

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