“The testimony, cited in a court filing by the government late Wednesday, provides the first indication that Mr. Bush, who has long assailed leaks of classified information as a national security threat, played a direct role in the disclosure of the intelligence report on Iraq at a moment that the White House was trying to defend itself against charges that it had inflated the case against Saddam Hussein,” says the New York Times .
“If Mr. Libby’s account is accurate, it also involves Mr. Bush directly in the swirl of events surrounding the disclosure of the identity of an undercover C.I.A. officer.”
Los Angeles Times : “Experts in national security law say a decision by President Bush to authorize the leak of classified information to a reporter probably would not be illegal. “But if Bush did so — as a former top White House aide has testified he did — there could be significant damage to the credibility of a president who has repeatedly and publicly expressed his abhorrence of leaks. . . .
“But the experts also said that if the testimony of I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby was true, Bush’s actions violated a traditional unwritten understanding that any declassification decision would be made in close consultation with intelligence officials.”
Boston Globe : “The possibility that Bush authorized a selective leak to a single correspondent suggests a desire to shape the news to the administration’s ends — a possible misuse of the president’s national security powers. . . .
“Such tactics are hardly unusual in politics, but would seem to damage the credibility of a president who has built a reputation for forthrightness, and who has gone further than previous presidents both in keeping information secret and in launching Justice Department investigations of alleged leakers.”
Chicago Tribune : “It was Bush himself, answering a reporter’s question in Chicago after speaking with business leaders at the University of Chicago, on Sept. 30, 2003, who said: ‘Listen, I know of nobody — I don’t know of anybody in my administration who leaked classified information. If somebody did leak classified information, I’d like to know it, and we’ll take the appropriate action. And this investigation is a good thing.
” ‘Leaks of classified information are a bad thing,’ Bush said then. ‘And we’ve had them — there’s too much leaking in Washington. That’s just the way it is. And we’ve had leaks out of the administrative branch, had leaks out of the legislative branch, and out of the executive branch and the legislative branch, and I’ve spoken out consistently against them and I want to know who the leakers are.’ ”