But it’s perfectly OK if anti-Bush officials leak to the press.

Cited by Howard Kurtz (via Classical Values and Instapundit):

“The testimony, cited in a court filing by the government late Wednesday, provides the first indication that Mr. Bush, who has long assailed leaks of classified information as a national security threat, played a direct role in the disclosure of the intelligence report on Iraq at a moment that the White House was trying to defend itself against charges that it had inflated the case against Saddam Hussein,” says the New York Times .

“If Mr. Libby’s account is accurate, it also involves Mr. Bush directly in the swirl of events surrounding the disclosure of the identity of an undercover C.I.A. officer.”

Los Angeles Times : “Experts in national security law say a decision by President Bush to authorize the leak of classified information to a reporter probably would not be illegal. “But if Bush did so — as a former top White House aide has testified he did — there could be significant damage to the credibility of a president who has repeatedly and publicly expressed his abhorrence of leaks. . . .

“But the experts also said that if the testimony of I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby was true, Bush’s actions violated a traditional unwritten understanding that any declassification decision would be made in close consultation with intelligence officials.”

Boston Globe : “The possibility that Bush authorized a selective leak to a single correspondent suggests a desire to shape the news to the administration’s ends — a possible misuse of the president’s national security powers. . . .

“Such tactics are hardly unusual in politics, but would seem to damage the credibility of a president who has built a reputation for forthrightness, and who has gone further than previous presidents both in keeping information secret and in launching Justice Department investigations of alleged leakers.”

Chicago Tribune : “It was Bush himself, answering a reporter’s question in Chicago after speaking with business leaders at the University of Chicago, on Sept. 30, 2003, who said: ‘Listen, I know of nobody — I don’t know of anybody in my administration who leaked classified information. If somebody did leak classified information, I’d like to know it, and we’ll take the appropriate action. And this investigation is a good thing.

” ‘Leaks of classified information are a bad thing,’ Bush said then. ‘And we’ve had them — there’s too much leaking in Washington. That’s just the way it is. And we’ve had leaks out of the administrative branch, had leaks out of the legislative branch, and out of the executive branch and the legislative branch, and I’ve spoken out consistently against them and I want to know who the leakers are.’ ”

12 thoughts on “But it’s perfectly OK if <i>anti</i>-Bush officials leak to the press.”

  1. Why is it that some stories focus on who leaked and when, while others focus on what was leaked, as if the who and when are reliable narrators speaking from the heights of disinterest? I suspect all leaks are slanted to some degree by the interests of the person doing the leaking, are timed by a variety of factors, and are of information that in some way is interesting enough to be worth the time of the leaker and leakee. I’m sure this is true of both the excreable Mr. Wilson and the estimable Mr. Bush. Both had dogs in that fight. But the dog that Wilson had was made up of a tissue of lies and only when Bush’s dog was given the substance of truth was the nature of the fight clear. (This may be a metaphor too far – but it’s late & it’ll have to do)

  2. I’m not sure the concept “leak” is appropriate here. Suppose we have an auto company that has kept the details of its new model secret. The CEO of the company finally decides that the time has come to divulge the plans to the media.

    Would anyone call this a “leak”? Of course not. The CEO has the legal authority to decide what information should be kept confidential and what information divulged. (Absent contracts and laws to the contrary)

    Doesn’t the same principle apply here?

  3. David,

    “Doesn’t the same principle apply here?” The answer is yes. Plus the President can delegate that authority to the Vice-President or to anyone down the chain that he wants to. IIRC, President Bush has done so via executive orders.

    Nothing to see here, move along, move along :).

  4. Yes. A Better title for this post might have been: Why does the press oppose discrete-but-legal revelations by the President in furtherence of his policies but support illegal leaking by unelected bureaucrats who are attempting to subvert the President’s policies?

  5. Jonathan: Because they don’t like him. ;^)
    To be a bit more substantive … back in the day, which at the moment means sometime in ’77-’78, one of the tidbits I carried out of “Self, Culture, and Society” at the U of C was the concept that, sociologically, “he talks like us” = “he is one of us.” A big part of W’s problem with the MSM is that he is frequently inarticulate and, in any case, has that Texas accent. He thereby becomes wide open to criticism by people who’d rather act like they’re in junior high than analyze the substance of what the Administration does.
    And if W were suddenly visited by the Enunciation Fairy or otherwise began to always be in top form whenever within range of a microphone, he would merely be tagged with a “Great Communicator”-type epithet, implying that, OK, so he’s talented, but there’s no real substance there.
    Not that we have to worry about that happening. Not only is W, in fact, deeply uninspiring to most of the electorate, but this Administration is predictably melting down, just as has every second-term Administration in my lifetime (with the possible exception of Eisenhower), probably due to game-theoretic factors. If it weren’t this (ridiculously overblown) “scandal,” there’d just be something else; there’s always plenty of raw material — it’s just a matter of how it gets perceived and used.

  6. Eisenhower second term meltdown? Depends on definitions, but he did preside over one of the worst post WWII recessions in 1958 and a big defeat for the Republican party that same year.

  7. This entire pseudo-scandel has been exhaustively reviewed over at Tacitus. It is a big scandel if you are adamantly opposed to the Bush administration, as the MSM clearly is, and is another in a long string of “gotcha” attempts by those longing for the glory days when they forced Johnson to step aside and Nixon to resign.

    The other significant point to remember is that this same MSM, the NYT esp., badly bungled this whole Plame deal, to the point where they are now facing some very intrusive subpeonas in the NSA inquiry which will set legal precedents about publishing illegally leaked material that will haunt the media for a long time to come.

    It is not surprising, then, that there is a concerted, and fundamentally dishonest, attempt to equate material released by the executive with material leaked by an “anonymous source”.

    The obvious difference to the media is, of course, that anything that damages the administration, and the war effort, with which they so fundamentally disagree politically, is good, but any attempt to defend those same policies is bad.

    If there is anyone, inside or outside, of the media community who still believes in or professes the objectivity of the press, they are either delusional or dishonest. There are no grounds for doubt left any longer.

  8. Yeah… the leftists are going through alot of mental and semantic acrobatics to convince themselves this is a big deal. It’s not. It’s a yawner…

  9. A “leak” is only good, if it is an EXCLUSIVE ANTI-BUSH leak.

    Lawful de-classification of information that proves the “leaks” wrong, isn’t at all newsworthy.

    so, basic, translation?

    Lies? good news.

    Truth, based on valid government vetting? NOT news.

    Not just hypocrites, they are propagandist liars.

  10. I think it would behoove anyone who wants to thoughtfully engage in this topic to read EXECUTIVE ORDER 13292, released on 3/25/03. http://www.fas.org/sgp/bush/eoamend.html

    Mr. Bush set forth a process that is to be adhered to, which includes:

    Sec. 1.6. Identification and Markings. (a) At the time of original classification, the following shall appear on the face of each classified document, or shall be applied to other classified media in an appropriate manner:

    (1) one of the three classification levels defined in section 1.2 of this order;
    (2) the identity, by name or personal identifier and position, of the original classification authority;

    (3) the agency and office of origin, if not otherwise evident;

    (4) declassification instructions, which shall indicate one of the following:

    (A) the date or event for declassification, as prescribed in section 1.5(a) or section 1.5(c);
    (B) the date that is 10 years from the date of original classification, as prescribed in section 1.5(b); or

    (C) the date that is up to 25 years from the date of original classification, as prescribed in section 1.5 (b); and

    (5) a concise reason for classification that, at a minimum, cites the applicable classification categories in section 1.4 of this order.

    In other words, there is a process for classification and a process for declassification. It’s not about leaking information regarding future car sales or the like. The question then arises: did Mr. Bush follow the Executive Order’s process? Where is the paper trail that is necessarily prescribed by the EO?

    We are still a government that is ruled by laws, not by the whim of elected political servants or opinions masquerading as facts.

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