Andrew McCarthy of the National Review blasts media coverage of today’s news that President Bush authorized Scooter Libby to leak classified information:
[F]irst impressions it seems to me that the story the press is going gleefully ga-ga about today is pretty disingenuous. … It is crucial to note here, however, that there has been no accusation — none — that the President or anyone else was willing to reveal, much less actually revealed, classified information. It is irresponsible to say such a thing based on the current record.
Actually, it’s perfectly responsible. Scooter Libby said that President Bush authorized the disclosure of classified info. From page 23 of yesterday’s filing:
[Libby] further testified that he at first advised the Vice President that he could not have this conversation with reporter Miller because of the classified nature of the NIE. [Libby] testified that the Vice President later advised him that the President had authorized defendant to disclose the relevant portions of the NIE. [Libby] testified that he also spoke to David Addington, then Counsel to the Vice President, whom defendant considered to be an expert in national security law, and Mr. Addington opined that Presidential authorization to publicly disclose a document amounted to a declassification of the document.
The information was classified, that’s why Libby initially told Cheney that he could not talk to Miller about it. The distinction here is that, in the opinion Addington, when the President authorizes the disclosure of classified info it amounts to declassification. But the whole point of Addington’s analysis is that Bush authorized the disclosure of classified information. The National Review may not like that story but the press isn’t making it up.
UPDATE: The National Review’s Bryron York, appears to agree with my analysis: “As for leaking portions of the National Intelligence Estimate, yes, it was classified, although it would later be declassified. But it should be remembered that when the president decides to make something public, then it can be made public.” (York, however, is still “a little baffled by the excitement.”)