January 4, 2006
A Leak Is a Leak Is a Leak
The New York Times kicked off the new year by refusing
to answer its own ombudsman's questions about the timing of the
newspaper's anonymous illegal leak-dependent National Security Agency
monitoring story. Long live transparency and accountability.
Times reporter James Risen launched his anonymous illegal
leak-dependent book, "State of War," with a self-congratulatory
appearance on NBC's "Today" show. Risen's leakers, he
told Couric, were the opposite of the Valerie Plame case leakers
because his people came forward "for the best reasons."
How do we know that's true? Because Risen says it is. So there.
patted himself and his bosses on the back for their "great
public service" in publishing the story (never too soon to
go Pulitzer Prize-begging) and heaped more praise on his anonymous
sources as "truly American patriots." Risen also told
Couric that many of his law-breaking sources "came to us
because they thought you have to follow the rules and you have
to follow the law." Uh-huh.
the timing of the original story (held a year, then published
in the midst of Senate debate over the Patriot Act and a few weeks
before the release of his book), Risen said "it wasn't my
decision" and refused to "discuss the internal deliberations."
words: Keeping secrets to protect counterterrorism operations
is an impeachable offense, but keeping secrets to protect the
Gray Lady's fanny is an elite media prerogative.
In his book,
Risen finds evidence of sinister motives everywhere. This passage
on p. 53 is typical:
The existence of the [NSA surveillance] Program has been
kept so secret that senior Bush administration officials have
gone to great lengths to hide the origins of the intelligence
it gathers. When the NSA finds potentially useful intelligence
in the U.S.-based telecommunications switches, it is "laundered"
before it is widely distributed to case officers at the CIA
or special agents of the FBI, officials said. Reports are said
not to identify that the intelligence came from intercepts of
that such practice, dating back to at least World War II, is routine
when sources are classified.
to the need to keep classified programs secret, Risen goes on
to castigate the Bush administration for not asking Congress to
publicly debate the NSA program.
the book with a Cindy Sheehan-esque sermon attacking neoconservatives
and the right-wing pundits who supported them, and pays tribute
to the heroic "disaffected moderates," including, we
presume, his law-breaking sources.
good leak/bad leak spin sounds familiar, that's because Sen. Chuck
Schumer, D-N.Y., was plying it this weekend on Fox News Sunday.
Asked about the Justice Department criminal investigation into
the NYT/NSA leaks, Schumer sputtered: "There are
differences between felons and whistleblowers, and we ought to
wait until the investigation occurs to decide what happened."
as I've noted previously, has some nerve pontificating about secrets
and disclosures. Guess he puts his former Democratic Senatorial
Campaign Committee staffers, Katie Barge and Lauren Weiner, in
the noble "whistleblower" category. (I checked with
the U.S. Attorney's Office in Washington, D.C., last week, by
the way, and the investigation into Barge and Weiner's involvement
in illegally obtaining a credit report on Maryland's Lieutenant
Governor Michael S. Steele is still ongoing.)
to the one-armed Democrat plumbers' wishes, you can't just selectively
plug the leaks you don't like and let the other half flood freely.
The law regarding disclosures of classified information does not
grant an exception based on leakers' motives. See U.S. Code Title
18, Part I, Chapter 37, Section 798. Nope, no Bush Derangement
Syndrome exemptions there.
In any case,
we'll soon see if and how long Risen is willing to stay in jail
to protect his pure and patriotic illegal leakers.
2005 Creators Syndicate