Release: Cheney leaked classified information, too, group says

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The following was released by the progressive Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington Tuesday morning. The group drafted the complaint against Tom DeLay, filed by former Congressman Chris Bell, for which DeLay was admonished last year.

Washington, DC, — Long before the Karl Rove scandal grew into today’s political maelstrom, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington sent a letter to President Bush on January 28, 2004 asking that he call upon the White House Counsel to investigate Vice President Cheney's confirmation of leaked classified information in an interview with the Rocky Mountain News on January 9, 2004. As of today, no such investigation has taken place.

Federal law prohibits leaking classified information. In addition, every government employee must also sign a nondisclosure form which prohibits confirming information that has already been leaked. A briefing booklet explaining the form warns that “further dissemination of the [classified] information or confirmation of its accuracy is also an unauthorized disclosure.”

In a Jan. 9, 2004 interview, Mr. Cheney referred to a story that appeared in The Weekly Standard's November 24, 2003 issue that discussed a Defense Department memo which included a list of CIA, NSA and Defense Intelligence Agency raw reports regarding possible links between Al Queda and Iraq.

Mr. Cheney, responding to a question regarding the relationship between Iraq and Al Queda, called the Standard's story "the best information out there." Mr. Cheney’s comments conflicted with the Pentagon's November 15, 2003 press release stating that news reports that characterized the contents of the memo were "inaccurate" and excoriated the leak as "deplorable and maybe illegal." The Pentagon also stated that leaking such information does "serious harm to national security."

"Mr. Cheney's reference to classified information and Mr. Rove’s confirmation of Ms. Plame’s identity, accompanied by the ensuing silence from the White House, shows a distinct pattern: leaking classified information that the administration deems beneficial, without any consequences for those who disclose, is standard operating procedure," Melanie Sloan, Executive Director of CREW said today. “White House officials are simply not abiding by federal law.”