Not exactly like father, like son
Leadership and conviction: “Even though I’m a tranquil guy now at this stage of my life, I have nothing but contempt and anger for those who betray the trust by exposing the name of our sources. They are, in my view, the most insidious, of traitors.” George H.W. Bush, remarks at the Dedication Ceremony for ...
Leadership and conviction:
Leadership and conviction:
“Even though I’m a tranquil guy now at this stage of my life, I have nothing but contempt and anger for those who betray the trust by exposing the name of our sources. They are, in my view, the most insidious, of traitors.” George H.W. Bush, remarks at the Dedication Ceremony for the George Bush Center for Intelligence, 26 April 1999.
“White House officials said they would turn over phone logs if the Justice Department asked them to. But the aides said Bush has no plans to ask his staff members whether they played a role in revealing the name of an undercover officer who is married to former ambassador Joseph C. Wilson IV, one of the most visible critics of Bush’s handling of intelligence about Iraq.” Mike Allen, “Bush Aides Say They’ll Cooperate With Probe Into Intelligence Leak,” Washington Post, 29 September 2003 (emphasis added)
Fair or unfair comparison? Too soon to tell. In the story, when asked about the possibility of an internal White House investigation, White House press spokesman Scott McClellan said:
I’m not aware of any information that has come to our attention beyond the anonymous media sources to suggest there’s anything to White House involvement.
That’s the best spin to put on the story, because it’s true — with the exception of Novak himself, all of the sources for this story have been anonymous. We’ll see how long this holds up. A final point — I really, really, want this story to be wrong. I find the prospect that there are people in the White House capable of such actions to be distasteful. If the entire story turns out to be bogus, great. If not, then this is going to be a long and bumpy ride. Developing… UPDATE: Josh Marshall links to an Esquire story highlighting how Bush Sr. and Bush Jr. differed in their approach to Karl Rove. ANOTHER UPDATE: Pejman Yousefzadeh argues that it would be wrong to expect President Bush to take a more active role in the investigation:
[L]eaks aren’t going to be stopped or be discovered merely by having the President call in suspected leakers, and interrogate them about whether or not they talked out of turn. If it was so easy to stop leaks, past Administrations would have tried that tactic a long time ago. But as Dan well knows, life is not a Perry Mason movie. The culpable do not break down and confess their sins merely as the result of close questioning. And the Administration likely knows this, which is why they aren’t going to waste time calling in the many aides who work at the White House in order to find out who has been leaking the story. So I’m not sure that Dan’s excerpted quote is evidence of a lack of leadership and conviction on the part of the Administration. Rather, it is likely evidence of the monumental task that is before the Administration in finding out who–if anyone–might have leaked Valerie Plame’s name to the media.
Pejman has a point about the futility of catching leakers (though Mark Kleiman disagrees). There is a difference, however, between your garden-variety leak and what took place in the Plame affair, which was a violation of federal law. I’m not saying George W. Bush should be whipping out the magnifying glass as part of an investigation. I am saying that the President could display a touch more of the outrage that his father hinted at four years ago. That, in itself, would send a powerful message to his staff.
Daniel W. Drezner is a professor of international politics at the Fletcher School at Tufts University and the author of The Ideas Industry. Twitter: @dandrezner
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