Senate Democrats

REID: PRESIDENT BUSH MUST DISCLOSE ROLE IN LEAK OF INTELLIGENCE INFORMATION

Washington, DCToday, Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid sent the following letter urging the President to fully disclose his role in the selective leak of intelligence information to the American people.

The text of the letter follows below.

April 12, 2006

The Honorable George W. Bush

The White House

1600 Pennsylvania Avenue

Washington, D.C. 20500

Dear Mr. President:

I was deeply disturbed by your confirmation earlier this week that you and Vice President Cheney authorized the selective leaking of sensitive intelligence information in order to discredit those who raised legitimate questions about your Administration’s case for the war in Iraq. Just as troubling, when presented with opportunities to publicly explain your actions, you and other Administration officials have either issued more misleading statements or hidden behind legalistic defenses. I urge you to immediately heed bipartisan calls to publicly and fully explain to the American people your role in this selective leak of sensitive American intelligence for political purposes.

I regret that you and other Administration officials have had several opportunities over the past week to set the public record straight, but you have repeatedly chosen not to do so. You and your spokesperson have instead chosen to issue more misleading statements or to hide behind a legalistic defense that “ongoing legal proceedings” prevented you from talking about the matter. For example, at a recent press briefing, your spokesperson relied on the defense of “ongoing legal proceedings” sixteen times to avoid responding to reporters questions about this matter. Misleading statements and legalistic jargon are hardly appropriate responses for the Commander in Chief, especially when the questions involve whether the Administration manipulated intelligence information relied on by Congress and the American people to decide the proper course for Iraq.

As long as the defense of “ongoing legal proceedings” is used by the White House to deny critical facts to public, the American people will not “see the truth” you pledged to provide. In fact, the White House strategy only raises further questions. For example, in addition to Mr. Libby, have you directed anyone else in your Administration to disclose classified information to reporters? Was any other highly classified data, beyond that contained in the National Intelligence Estimate, selectively leaked to reporters or other persons outside of your Administration, and if so, why? And, why did you tell the American people on October 13, 2003, that you “don’t know of anybody in [your] administration who leaked classified information”?

These and other questions are best addressed by following the advice of the Republican Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, who said that “there has to be a detailed explanation precisely as to what Vice President Cheney did, what the President said to him, and an explanation from the President as to what he said so that it can be evaluated.” A good interim step, if you are unwilling to come forward now, would be for you and the Vice President to immediately release the transcripts of your interviews with investigators. Perhaps this would give the American people some insight into your motivations until you and the Vice President are prepared to speak openly to the American people.

Immediate and full disclosure of your involvement in the manipulation and leaking of sensitive intelligence is the best way to address growing questions about your Administration’s decision to go to war in Iraq as well as other critical national security decisions. For the sake of our troops and our security, I urge you to heed the bipartisan call to level with the American people.

Sincerely,

Harry Reid

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