THE BLOG
04/06/2006 04:10 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Poof! Presidential Magic Turns National Secrets Into Judy Miller "Exclusive"

Sure, it's based on his version of events, but reading through the latest Libby case court filing, Scooter comes across (at least compared to his cohorts) as a veritable White House Diogenes, searching the Bush administration for an honest man -- or at least one who still cared about ethics, morality, rules, integrity, and those crazy little things called laws. (Remember, I did say this was his version of events!)

According to Libby's grand jury testimony (as reported by Patrick Fitzgerald), when Dick Cheney suggested that his former chief of staff leak parts of a highly classified National Intelligence Estimate, Scooter initially refused -- reminding his boss of the classified nature of the NIE.

So Cheney whipped out his trump card, telling Libby that President Bush had authorized the leak. But Libby -- according to Libby -- apparently still felt a little funny about revealing national secrets, so he had a quick lawyer-to-lawyer chat with David Addington, then vice presidential counsel, whom Libby "considered to be an expert in national security law."

Expert Addington told Libby not to worry, explaining that Bush's "authorization to publicly disclose a document amounted to a declassification of the document." Call it Addington's Theory of Presidential Magic: Take a classified document. Wave the president's wand over it. Say the secret word ("WHIG-y, WHIG-y"). And, presto-chango, the super secret info is now a Judy Miller exclusive!

Of course, this kind of powerful presidential magic can only be used very sparingly -- declassifying information the White House wizards think will help cover the administration's collective ass while keeping classified information such as the one-page summary of the NIE that shows Bush played fast and loose with intel in making the case for war.

It's declassification as PR tool. Cherry-pick and leak. Repeat as necessary.

Scooter Libby, Ink-Stained Wretch

We know all about Scooter Libby's gifts as an X-rated novelist ("He asked if they should fuck the deer") and the writer of poetic letters ("Come back to work -- and life"), but it seems that the literary jack-of-all-trades also briefly tried his hand as speechwriter for White House press secretary Scottie McClellan.

Reading the tea leaves in Pat Fitzgerald's new court filing, it seems that Libby felt that, compared to Karl Rove, he was getting the short end of the public-exoneration stick.

At a September 29, 2003 press briefing, McClellan had strongly defended Rove, calling suggestions that Bush's Brain was a Plamegate leaker "ridiculous." "There is simply no truth to that suggestion," he said.

Libby felt he deserved the same kind of ringing -- and utterly bogus -- endorsement (Picture a White House Tommy Smothers: "POTUS always liked you best!"). So he picked up a pen and crafted a handwritten draft of what he wanted Scottie to say about him. As the New York Sun points out, Libby's note, as presented by Fitzgerald, "reads like a stanza of verse":

"People have made too much of the difference in
How I described Karl and Libby
I've talked to Libby.
I said it was ridiculous about Karl
And it is ridiculous about Libby.
Libby was not the source of the Novak story.
And he did not leak classified information."

Okay, let's put aside for a second the utter shamelessness of the lies ("he did not leak classified information"???), and just concentrate on the quality of the writing. It's not even bottom-shelf Dr. Seuss ("Karl and Libby did not leak. They did not leak on a plane. They did not leak on a train. They did not leak on the Hill. At the St. Regis they did not let it spill. No, no, no -- they are not Novak's Senior Administration Official Thing One and Senior Administration Official Thing Two.").

And what psychological significance are we to attach to the author repeatedly referring to himself by using his last name while using the more familiar first name of his fellow leaker Rove? "Rove and Libby" makes sense. "Karl and Scooter" does too. But "Karl and Libby"? Why?

In any case, Libby's suggested statement clearly lacks the special flavor of his other work. It's missing "The aspens will already be turning." It's missing "You went to jail in the summer. It is fall now."

No wonder Scottie rejected Libby's pallid prose, instead going with a more conversational falsehood, telling reporters that he had spoken to Libby, Rove (uh, Karl), and Elliot Abrams and "those individuals assured me they were not involved in this."

Note to Scooter: stick to the deer-fucking.