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Graham says Libby didn't act alone in CIA leak case
Vice President Dick Cheney must explain what he knew about the activities of his top aide, who was indicted in the CIA leak case, former Sen. Bob Graham said.
BY FRANK DAVIES, Miami Herald, email@example.com
WASHINGTON - Former Sen. Bob Graham of Florida said Friday that he thinks Vice President Dick Cheney was a ''conspirator'' in a Bush administration campaign to discredit former ambassador Joe Wilson and expose Wilson's wife, CIA operative Valerie Plame.
''This was one of the most reprehensible and damaging breaches of American security in modern times,'' said Graham, who was chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee in the fall of 2002, when the administration made its case for war against Iraq.
Graham called on Cheney to ''defend and explain himself'' in the wake of the indictment of Cheney's top aide, Lewis Libby, on charges of perjury and obstruction of justice in the CIA leak case.
Libby discussed Wilson, a critic of the war, and Plame with reporters and then lied to the grand jury about it, Special Counsel Patrick Fitzgerald said.
NOT ON HIS OWN
''It's impossible to believe that Scooter Libby would have done this on his own, but rather this was part of a larger conspiracy to attempt to discredit Joseph Wilson,'' Graham said.
Bush and Cheney have said they will not discuss the CIA leak case because of Fitzgerald's ongoing investigation.
Asked directly if White House officials lied to the public about Iraq intelligence, Graham said ``yes.''
He said the administration suppressed ''all the nuance'' and internal disagreement among intelligence agencies over whether Iraq had weapons of mass destruction, then exaggerated the threat and covered up their activities.
Graham, who is teaching at Harvard after retiring from the Senate last year, spoke in a conference call with reporters arranged by Senate Democrats.
They are pushing for a ''thorough, credible'' Intelligence Committee investigation into how prewar intelligence was used to sell the war.
Graham said Friday he was ''suspicious'' about the intelligence reports on the Iraqi threat he saw during the fall of 2002.
He voted against the war resolution, saying Iraq would drain resources from the war on terrorism.
''The administration did not want the best judgment of the intelligence community,'' Graham said.
``This was an administration that wanted to be blind going into this war. They did not want to have the most credible assessment of what was the reality of the case for war and the consequences of war.''
Senate Democrats forced a closed session earlier in the week on the need for an investigation of prewar intelligence, and on Friday Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kan., the Intelligence chairman, said the committee staff was making progress on that probe.
Graham said the administration needs to quickly assess what it can realistically achieve in Iraq, but he did not advocate a timetable for withdrawal of U.S. forces as some Democrats have done.