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Friday, April 07, 2006

Selective declassification

Posted by: Hammer / 8:40 AM

Following up on Atrios and Joshua Micah Marshall, let me suggest another good question for reporters to ask. We know that the National Intelligence Estimate was full of certainty in the center of the page with all doubts and caveats relegated to the footnotes in the margins. What, specifically, did Bush authorize Libby to leak? The 'good news' (from Bush's perspective) in the middle of the page or everything?

This is purportedly the current official administration position:

The official said Bush authorized the release of the classified information to assure the public of his rationale for war as it was coming under increasing scrutiny.

I am overwhelmingly skeptical of that assertion, but I want to take it at face value for the moment. It's a tribute to a democracy and a service to our republic to provide the public with as much information as possible about a decision so important as to whether we should go to war. If Bush was willing to give the public all the information he had, then kudos to him.

On the other hand, if Bush authorized Libby to reveal only the information that supported the case for war and kept classified any contrary information, that it a deep betrayal of the public not to be lightly forgiven.

Forget what I'm talking about? Check out what's been released here. Here's one 'key judgment' of the assessment: "Reports indicate Iraq also has sought uranium ore from Somalia and possibly the Democratic Republic of the Congo." If you turn to "annex A", you get this statement from the INR: "Finally, the claims of Iraqi pursuit of natural uranium in Africa are, in INR's assessment, highly dubious."

According to the court filings, Libby was only instructed to talk about the 'key judgment':

Vice President Dick Cheney called it "very important" for "key judgments" of that intelligence to "come out," serving as a "pretty definitive" counterattack to Wilson's criticism. Libby "understood that he was to tell the reporter, among other things, that a key judgment of the NIE held that Iraq was `vigorously trying to procure' uranium," the filing says.


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