McClellan: Bush ‘secrectly declassified’ 2002 NIE on Iraq to selectively leak to reporters.

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"McClellan: Bush ‘secrectly declassified’ 2002 NIE on Iraq to selectively leak to reporters."

During his “Today” show appearance this morning with host Meredith Viera, former press secretary Scott McClellan confirmed that President Bush himself had authorized the leak of the 2002 National Intelligence Estimate on Iraq:

MCCLELLAN: But the other defining moment was in early April 2006, when I learned that the President had secretly declassified the National Intelligence Estimate on Iraq for the Vice President and Scooter Libby to anonymously disclose to reporters. And we had been out there talking about how seriously the President took the selective leaking of classified information. And here we were, learning that the President had authorized the very same thing we had criticized.

VIERA: Did you talk to the President and say why are you doing this?

MCCLELLAN: Actually, I did. I talk about the conversation we had. … And I told the President that that’s what the reporter was asking. He was saying that you, yourself, was the one that authorized the leaking of this information. And he said “yeah, I did.” And I was kinda taken aback.

Watch it:

[flv http://video.thinkprogress.org/2008/05/mccabk.320.240.flv]

Marcy Wheeler writes, “Thus far, though, we only had Dick Cheney’s word that he had actually asked Bush to declassify this information. We didn’t have Bush’s confirmation that he had actually declassified the information. … But now we’ve got George Bush, confirming that he, the President of the United States, authorized the leaks of ‘this information.'”

Transcript

McCLELLAN: But the other defining moment was in early April 2006, when I learned that the President had secretly declassified the National Intelligence Estimate on Iraq for the Vice President and Scooter Libby to anonymously disclose to reporters. And we had been out there talking about how seriously the President took the selective leaking of classified information. And here we were, learning that the President had authorized the very same thing we had criticized.

VIERA: Did you talk to the President and say why are you doing this?

McCLELLAN: Actually, I did. I talked about the conversation we had. I walked onto Air Force One, it was right after an event we had, it was down in the south, I believe it was North Carolina. And I walk onto Air Force One and a reporter had yelled a question to the President trying to ask him a question about this revelation that had come out during the legal proceedings. The revelation was that it was the President who had authorized, or, enable Scooter Libby to go out there and talk about this information. And I told the President that that’s what the reporter was asking. He was saying that you, yourself, was the one that authorized the leaking of this information. And he said “yeah, I did.” And I was kinda taken aback.

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