WASHINGTON - Vice President Dick Cheney, whose former chief of staff is reported to have testified to a grand jury that his superiors authorized him to disclose classified information, said on Wednesday that he had the power to declassify material.
"There is an executive order that specifies who has classification authority and obviously focuses first and foremost on the president but also includes the vice president," Mr. Cheney said in an interview on Fox News.
He said he had participated in decisions to declassify information, but he declined to say whether he had ever declassified information on his own.
Mr. Cheney said he could not comment on the case of his former chief of staff, I. Lewis Libby Jr., who was indicted on five counts of perjury and obstruction of justice in October after an investigation into the disclosure of the identity of an officer of the Central Intelligence Agency, Valerie Wilson. Mr. Cheney said he might be called as a witness.
A document filed by the federal prosecutor in the case, Patrick J. Fitzgerald, said Mr. Libby had testified before the grand jury that he had been authorized to disclose information to the reporters about a classified National Intelligence Estimate that discussed Iraq's nuclear weapons capability.
At the time of the disclosure, in July 2003, the Bush administration was trying to rebut complaints that there was little evidence that Iraq had possessed weapons of mass destruction.
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