Isikoff: Secrets, Evasions And Classified Reports

Oct. 19, 2005 - The lengthy account by New York Times reporter Judy Miller about her grand jury testimony in the CIA leak case inadvertently provides a revealing window into how the Bush administration manipulated journalists about intelligence on Iraq’s nonexistent weapons of mass destruction.

Whatever the implications for special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald’s probe, Miller describes a conversation with Vice President Dick Cheney’s chief of staff, Lewis (Scooter) Libby, on July 8, 2003, where he appears to significantly misrepresent the contents of still-classified material from a crucial prewar intelligence-community document about Iraq.

Libby’s comments about the NIE may seem at this point a sideshow to the pressing question that is currently consuming much of Washington: whether he or any other White House official will be charged with any crimes stemming from the outing of CIA agent Plame, the wife of former ambassador and administration critic Joseph Wilson.

But Libby’s comments do touch on what many believe is a larger issue raised by the case: whether the administration accurately represented the nature of what the U.S. intelligence community knew, and didn’t know, about Saddam Hussein’s weapons programs before the nation went to war.