GOP senator: Investigate Cheney's role in leak

The vice president has had better weekends.

Published February 13, 2006 2:36PM (EST)

No less of an authority than Mary Matalin says that Vice President Dick Cheney was in the right when he unloaded his shotgun on a 78-year-old hunting companion Saturday. "He felt badly, obviously," Matalin tells the Washington Post. "On the other hand, he was not careless or incautious ... He didn't do anything he wasn't supposed to do."

Would that she could say that about the vice president more generally.

As we noted last week, Scooter Libby has reportedly told Patrick Fitzgerald's grand jury that his "superiors" directed him to leak classified information to reporters in order to bolster support for the war in Iraq. According to journalist Murray Waas, at least one of those "superiors" was Libby's boss, the vice president himself.

Democrats have pounced on the story, but they're not alone. In an interview with Fox's Chris Wallace Sunday, Republican Sen. George Allen said he expected Fitzgerald to follow the facts "wherever they lead" and then to "prosecute as appropriate." Wallace tried to dismiss the alleged leak of classified information as a "political issue" rather than a "legal" one, but Allen was having none of it. "I don't think anybody should be releasing classified information, period, whether in the Congress, executive branch or some underling in some bureaucracy," he said.

You don't find too many Republicans who are willing to challenge Cheney so directly, but Allen has more incentive than most: Allen will probably make a run for the White House in 2008, but he's got to defend his Senate seat first, and James Webb -- a Republican turned Democrat who served as Ronald Reagan's Navy secretary -- has just entered the race against him.

By Tim Grieve

Tim Grieve is a senior writer and the author of Salon's War Room blog.

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