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Bush said to authorize leak of Iraq intelligence

Written by: Staff

WASHINGTON, Apr 6 (Reuters) President George W Bush authorized the leak to the media of classified material about Iraq, a former aide to Vice President Dick Cheney said according to court papers filed by prosecutors and made public today.

The aide, Lewis ''Scooter'' Libby, also testified that he was specifically directed by Cheney to speak to the media about the intelligence information and about Joseph Wilson, a former ambassador who had criticized Bush's Iraq policy, according to the papers.

Libby has been charged with perjury and obstruction of justice after an investigation into the leaking to the media of the fact that Wilson's wife, Valerie Plame, was a CIA agent, which Wilson says was done to pay him back for his criticisms.

The court documents made public today emerged from that investigation.

The reported authorization by Bush of disclosure of secret material in 2003 came at a time when the March 2003 Iraq invasion was being challenged after US forces failed to find weapons of mass destruction, cited by Bush as as the main reason for the action.

Bush had the authority to declassify and allow publication of the material. But the court papers said Libby noted ''it was unique in his recollection'' to get approval from the president, via the vice president, to discuss material with a reporter that would be classified if it were not for this approval.

The documents showed that Libby, testifying before a federal grand jury before his indictment, said that he got approval from Bush through Cheney to discuss the classified Iraq material with then-New York Times reporter Judith Miller.


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