By the time the week is out, Dick Cheney's chief of staff may be indicted on charges that he tried to cover up his role in the outing of Valerie Plame. If it happens, it won't be the first time that Scooter Libby and his boss have been accused of interfering with an investigation involving the vice president's office.
Journalist Murray Waas is now reporting that Cheney and Libby withheld "crucial documents" from the Senate Intelligence Committee as it investigated the use of intelligence in the run-up to the Iraq war. Waas says that Cheney and Libby, over the objections of some White House staffers and lawyers, withheld documents that included drafts of passages Libby wrote for inclusion in the deeply flawed speech Colin Powell would deliver before the United Nations in February 2003.
A Bush administration spokesman told Waas that the White House's refusal to turn over some documents to the committee reflected nothing other than its commitment to protect "deliberative discussions" among "executive branch principals." But Waas says that a former "senior administration official" who was familiar with the issue told him that there was also a "political element" at play. Waas explains: "This official said the White House did not want to turn over records during an election year that could be used by critics to argue that the administration used incomplete or faulty intelligence to go to war with Iraq."