The backdrop of this sordid story is really quite simple. In the run-up to the Iraq War, the Bush Administration was desperate to convince America that Iraq was an imminent threat. They needed to do so to justify their war plans, which were hatched prior to 911. The small scare tactic was biological and chemical weapons, which Bush promised were in Iraq. Realizing however that would not be enough, the larger scare tactic was nuclear in nature. If Bush could convince America that Saddam Hussein was reconstituting nuclear weapons, war was inevitable.
Along came a phony story about forged documents from an African country called Niger. These forged documents were falsified to make it appear that Saddam had sought yellowcake, that is enriched uranium, from the Niger. Hoping this story would gain legs, the Vice President 's office asked the CIA to send someone to verify the story. Joseph Wilson went to Niger and discovered the story was a fabrication. Undeterred, the President stated in the ensuing State of the Union address that the yellowcake story was true. Wilson published an op-ed article a few months later entitled, "What I didn 't find in Africa ", specifically to rebut the administration 's party line about the uranium story. What occurred next was treasonous in nature and the subject of an ongoing investigation ever since.
In an effort to discredit Wilson, the administration leaked the identity of his wife, a covert CIA operative to the press, claiming it was she that sent Wilson to Niger. Valerie Plame was what was known as a "non-official cover " agent, or a NOC. Specifically, her job was to prevent the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, the very signature reason Bush used to go to war in the first place. When news broke of the leak George Bush eventually weighed in and looked America in the eye, and he lied. He said if someone had leaked classified information from his administration, he wanted to know and that he took it very seriously. Fast forward a few years and it turns out the leaker was Bush himself.
But wait, the new Bush defense is that the NIE was NOT classified at the time Bush gave to go ahead to leak. To buttress this defense, the Bushies are now saying that if the president discusses something classified, by definition, he is declassifying it. Never mind that Scooter Libby didn 't know. Never mind that the CIA wasn 't even informed. All that matters is that Bush decided to declassify the NIE. This of course is a preposterous defense and when asked about this week Bush actually said he did it, for the truth.
The latest version now is that Bush "declassified " the NIE, so that the people could hear the truth about the administration 's case for war. Except one little problem. What was leaked was not true. The NIE actually supported Wilson 's conclusions that the Niger story had no legs. Furthermore, there is no explanation of why it was leaked anonymously. In fact, Libby went as far as to tell his source he wanted to be identified as a former Hill staffer, essentially asking the reporter to lie about the source. No mention of how Plame 's name got into the mix; the actual treasonous act. No explanation of why the entire NIE was not released as opposed to the portions cherry picked by Bush, to muddy the issue.