Dick Cheney- Corporate Criminal

Clark accuses Cheney of putting politics before security
January 25, 2004

Adding response from Weekly Standard

Former Gen. Wesley Clark on Sunday accused Vice President Dick Cheney of "playing politics with national security" for his recent comments on a leaked, classified intelligence report.

Clark, who is seeking the Democratic presidential nomination, has called for a White House investigation into statements Cheney made to Denver's Rocky Mountain News in which he called a magazine article based on leaked intelligence reports the "best source of information" on an alleged link between the former Iraqi regime and al Qaeda.

Last year the Pentagon questioned conclusions in the magazine article and said that leaks of classified intelligence reports were "deplorable and may be illegal."

In the interview earlier this month, Cheney cited various incidents that he said suggested a link between Iraqi intelligence services and al Qaeda.

Cheney cited in an article in the Weekly Standard that was based on classified documents forwarded to Congress, and said, "That's your best source of information."

That angers critics because nearly two months earlier the Defense Department responded to publication of the article with a terse press release. It said certain still-classified, raw intelligence reports had been forwarded to the Senate Intelligence Committee, but that it was "inaccurate" to report that officials had confirmed new information about ties between Iraq and al Qaeda.

The Defense Department's statement concluded, "Individuals who leak or purport to leak classified information are doing serious harm to national security: such activity is deplorable and may be illegal."

Clark, former supreme allied commander of NATO, said Sunday on NBC's "Meet the Press," that by endorsing the Weekly Standard article, Cheney was essentially confirming the contents of leaked classified documents.

"Now, the standard rule on anything like this is, never to confirm it because if you confirm something like this, you're giving away maybe sources and methods," Clark said.

"The vice president said that that was the best explanation for the connection between al Qaeda and Saddam Hussein. So he's essentially using a leaked memo to confirm his predisposition to believe that Saddam had something to do with 9/11. That's playing politics with national security. It risks our intelligence community, our sources and methods; it's wrong."

Clark's senior foreign policy adviser, James Rubin, a former assistant secretary of state in the Clinton administration, said Clark was calling for an investigation by the White House legal counsel into Cheney's statements to the Rocky Mountain News.

"The president should call the vice president on the carpet and ask him why he was confirming a highly classified document in public and ask his legal department to see if any damage was done and what the appropriate response for government should be," Rubin said.

Neither the White House nor Cheney's office returned calls seeking comment over the weekend.

The author of The Weekly Standard article, Stephen F. Hayes, defended his reporting in a November column, saying the Pentagon's charge of inaccuracy was "vague and unsubstantiated." The column pointed out several pieces of new analysis contained in the leaked documents, then concluded by quoting former CIA director James Woolsey, who served in the Clinton Administration.

"Anybody who says there is no working relationship between al Qaeda and Iraqi intelligence going back to the early '90s - they can only say that if they are illiterate. This is a slam dunk."

Administration critics have seized on a transcript of the Cheney interview published online at www.rockymountainnews.com.

Last week, David Sirota of the left-leaning policy group Center for American Progress, called it "obscene" that Cheney would cite "a discredited and condemned" report as the best source of information.

The controversy was first outlined Friday in The Washington Post. Last year, citing confidential sources, the newspaper reported that CIA officials and congressional leaders were considering an investigation into the source of the intelligence leak.

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