Yesterday, in an effort to defend his war strategy, President Bush declassified intelligence about a 2005 order from Osama bin Laden instructing aides “to form a terrorist cell that would conduct attacks outside Iraq — and that the United States should be the top target.” The newly released information was featured in Bush’s commencement speech at the Coast Guard Academy today, where he stoked fears of terrorism, saying “All around us, dangerous winds are swirling and these winds could reach our shores at any moment.”
Appearing on Fox News, Senate Minority Whip Trent Lott (R-MI) defended Bush’s selective declassification of the intelligence, saying that he is “glad the president made the decision to make it available” and that the administration would never declassify intel “just for political purposes.” Watch it:
Lott appears to be forgetting the administration’s long history of selectively declassifying intelligence that supports their political goals. A few examples:
- In 2003, President Bush personally authorized then-chief of staff to the Vice President, I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby, to “publicly disclose” sections of the classified National Intelligence Estimate about Iraq in order to push back against Amb. Joe Wilson’s public debunking of pre-war intelligence.
- In 2004, the White House authorized the release of “an off-the-record background briefing” given by former White House terrorism czar Richard Clarke, in order to discredit Clarke after he published a book that was critical of Bush’s pre-9/11 national security priorities.
- In 2006, Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) wrote to then-Director of Intelligence John Negroponte complaining that in response to the revelation of the NSA warrantless spying program, “the President chose to selectively declassify aspects of the program that would allow for a public relations campaign to score political points.”
The administration does not appear to leak intelligence except for politically advantageous purposes.
Transcript: Read more