As anticipated, the media has wasted nary a moment clamoring for the identities of those responsible for the leak of the Bush administrationâ€™s policy of monitoring domestic communications with suspected international terrorists without warrants. No, it seems their concerns about leaks go only so far as to hurt the Bush administration and not to defend national security.
Luckily, there’ll be an investigation anyway.
The Justice Department said Friday that it had opened a criminal investigation into the disclosure of classified information about a secret National Security Agency program under which President George W. Bush authorized eavesdropping on people in the United States without a court warrant.
The investigation apparently began in recent days following a formal referral from the spy agency regarding the leak, officials said on condition of anonymity.
The program, whose existence was revealed in an article in The New York Times on Dec. 16, has provoked sharp criticism from civil liberties groups, some members of Congress and some former intelligence officials who believe it circumvents the law governing national security eavesdropping.
Bush and Attorney General Alberto Gonzales have vigorously defended the program as a legal, critical defense against terrorism that has helped prevent attacks in the United States. They say the president’s executive order authorizing the program is constitutional as part of his powers as commander in chief and under the resolution passed by Congress days after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks authorizing the use of force against terrorists.
Trent Duffy, a White House spokesman, told reporters in Crawford, Texas, where the president is on vacation, that Bush did not request the investigation.
“The leaking of classified information is a serious issue,” Duffy said. “The fact is that Al Qaeda’s playbook is not printed on Page 1, and when America’s is, it has serious ramifications.”
To be quite honest, we’re fighting this war with one hand tied behind our backs. It is no understatement to say I find it disgusting that we must struggle so mightily to keep our other hand free, as the media, war critics and political partisans seek to constrain all of our efforts.
Look for the Plamegate apologists to argue that the NSA leaks were “good” leaks, justified in the name of safeguarding civil liberties and the national interest, and should therefore be exempt from criminal prosecution.
By contrast, they argue that disclosures about Valerie Plame were “bad” leaks worthy of pulling out all prosecutorial stops–though no one has been charged with leaking classified info, and even if they did, the adverse effects on national security are infinitesimal compared to the damage done by the NYT/NSA leaks.
Actually, I expect a relative silence compared to the Plame leak cacophony. I would think rather that the apologists Malkin refers to will work instead to keep the focus on the Bush administration’s policy and ignore the leaking as much as possible.