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President George W. Bush personally directed Vice President Dick Cheney to launch a campaign to discredit Ambassador Joseph Wilson after Wilson discredited administration claims that Saddam Hussein was trying to buy material to build nuclear weapons.
Reports investigative reporter Murray Waas in The National Journal:
President Bush told the special prosecutor in the CIA leak case that he directed Vice President Dick Cheney to personally lead an effort to counter allegations made by former Ambassador Joseph C. Wilson IV that his administration had misrepresented intelligence information to make the case to go to war with Iraq, according to people familiar with the president’s statement.
Bush also told federal prosecutors during his June 24, 2004, interview in the Oval Office that he had directed Cheney, as part of that broader effort, to disclose highly classified intelligence information that would not only defend his administration but also discredit Wilson, the sources said.
But Bush told investigators that he was unaware that Cheney had directed I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby, the vice president’s chief of staff, to covertly leak the classified information to the media instead of releasing it to the public after undergoing the formal governmental declassification processes.
These disclosures for the first time place Bush in the chain of events that led to the outing of covert CIA operative Valerie Plame although Bush claims he did not direct Cheney to do so and claimed he had no knowledge that either Cheney or Libby had leaked the name.