President George W. Bush's 2003 decision to declassify an intelligence report to rebut an Iraq war critic stirred unease even in the White House, an administration official said on Thursday in the perjury trial of a vice presidential aide.
White House communications official Cathie Martin said she was "not comfortable" in July of that year when her boss, Vice President Dick Cheney, told her to use the information to counter charges that the administration had manipulated intelligence to build a case for invading Iraq.
"I wasn't sure if I could use that point because it was related to the NIE," Martin said, referring to a classified National Intelligence Estimate report that said Saddam Hussein had sought to buy uranium from Niger.
Martin was not aware that Bush had already declassified the report by that time.
Bush admitted he'd declassified the report and okayed leaking it to the media to use in defense of criticism by Ambassador Joseph Wilson. Back then, leaking declassifying intel was alright -- mostly because the White House thought it would help them politically. When the intel won't help them, the NIE isn't cleared.
Ken Silverstein, Harper's:
On Monday, I reported that intelligence czar John Negroponte still had not sent Congress a new National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) on Iraq, even though lawmakers demanded it almost six months ago. Last week, as I disclosed, a senior intelligence official was expected to brief a closed-door session of the Senate Armed Services Committee on the new NIE; instead, he trotted out a number of lame excuses in explaining why the NIE was still not ready.
I was told that this “dog ate my homework” performance angered Congress, and evidence of that anger was made public yesterday, when four top Democrats—Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Senate Select Committee on Intelligence Chairman John D. Rockefeller IV, and Rockefeller's House counterpart, Silvestre Reyes—wrote Negroponte to demand that the NIE be swiftly completed.
When they need the NIE to try to shoot down a critic, it's loaded and ready. When, on the other hand, it probably shows that a 'troop surge' won't accomplish much in a nation obviously too far gone down the civil war road, the NIE's not done cooking. Why else would the NIE be withheld while the congress is deliberating Bush's new strategy (such as it is)?
"It's scandalous that the intelligence community hasn't updated its National Intelligence Estimate on Iraq in more than two years," said Sen. Ted Kennedy, "It's appalling that the President didn't request it before he announced his latest escalation of the war." Congressional dems issued a press release, publicly scolding Negroponte and the president for dragging their feet on this.
Sorry for the late (and short) update, I had to attend an uncle's funeral. I may write about it later.
See ya Ray...
Technorati tags: politics; war; Iraq; Scooter Libby; John Negroponte; the National Intelligence Estimate is on tap when Bush needs it to be -- he doesn't need it to be right now...