Court documents indicate that a former White House official testified that President George W. Bush authorized the leaking of classified intelligence to justify the invasion of Iraq, USA Today reported today (see GSN, Feb. 10).
Lewis Libby, the indicted former chief of staff to Vice President Dick Cheney, last month told a grand jury he received “approval from the president through the vice president to discuss (the classified) material,” which he described as the National Intelligence Estimate. The estimate states, “We judge that Iraq has continued its weapons of mass destruction (WMD) programs in defiance of U.N. resolutions and restrictions.” The document also cites reports from “a foreign government service” that Iraq tried to buy uranium from Niger.
Libby passed on the intelligence to a New York Times reporter in July 2003, according to USA Today.
This is the first time the president has been named in direct connection with the leaking of prewar intelligence.
Investigators in postwar Iraq have not found evidence of ongoing WMD programs there. Reports of Iraq’s interest in Nigerien uranium for possible use in a nuclear weapons program have also been largely discredited (see GSN, Jan. 18; David Jackson, USA Today, April 7).
Bush, speaking in Charlotte, N.C., said he was “just as disappointed as everybody else” that no weapons of mass destruction were found in Iraq, the Washington Times reported.
“I fully understand that the intelligence was wrong, and I'm just as disappointed as everybody else is,” he said. “But what wasn't wrong was Saddam Hussein had invaded a country, he had used weapons of mass destruction, he had the capability of making weapons of mass destruction, he was firing at our pilots.
“He was a state sponsor of terror. Removing Saddam Hussein was the right thing for world peace and the security of our country,” Bush added (Joseph Curl, Washington Times, April 7).