Drezner gets results from George W. Bush!!
Yesterday I wrote: 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. Earlier today I wrote: [W]hat I would like to see is a strong denunciation by President Bush about what ...
Yesterday I wrote:
Yesterday I wrote:
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.
Earlier today I wrote:
[W]hat I would like to see is a strong denunciation by President Bush about what took place… there’s a big difference between assertions by intermediaries and a video feed of the President himself. The latter commands a lot more attention
From Fox News:
President Bush said Tuesday that he wanted to know who leaked a CIA employee’s name to reporters, if in fact someone in his administration wrongly passed out the information. “Leaks of classified information are bad things. We’ve got too much leaking in Washington,“ Bush said during a stop in Chicago. “I want to know who the leakers are.” If a Justice Department investigation of the matter reveals that the leak was a violation of the law, the “person will be taken care of.”
ABC News runs the quote as follows:
He said in Chicago that he had instructed his staff to cooperate with the investigation, and he also called for anyone outside the administration who had information about the matter to bring it forward. “Leaks of classified information are bad things, and we’ve had too many lately in Washington,” Bush said. “We’ve had leaks from the executive branch and leaks from the legislative branch. I want to know who the leakers are.”
See, was that so hard? I would have phrased it a bit differently — it still sounds a bit too clever to me. However, that statement — plus a thorough Justice/FBI investigation — are good if belated first steps for the administration to address this problem. [UPDATE: Josh Marshall appears not to be sated.] Also check out Jack Shafer’s Slate essay on the Plame game. Some highlights:
Novak’s White House sources aren’t the only potentially prosecutable leakers. The identity of an undercover operative such as Plame would not automatically be something in circulation at the White House. Somebody at the CIA would have had to tell the White House that Plame was Wilson’s wife and that she was undercover. Any aggressive Justice dragnet is as likely to collect CIA employees as it is White House officials. Besides, most Justice Department investigations of leakers go nowhere, even when Justice knows their identities. At his May 6, 1997, confirmation hearing, Director of Central Intelligence George Tenet complained that the CIA files “crimes reports with the attorney general every week about leaks, and we’re never successful in litigating one. And I think, you know, if we could just find one, I don’t want to prosecute anybody; I want to fire somebody. That will send the right signal to people.”…. Given that the White House knows who the leakers are, I would surmise that the administration will staunch the damage—and still the scandal—by strongly encouraging the leakers to offer themselves up for sacrifice out of duty to President Bush. If I were Bush, I’d avoid anything that could be construed as a coverup and start rehearsing my address to the nation about how a tiny precancerous lesion has been removed from the face of the presidency.
With his statement today, Bush is starting make the proper noises. Definitely still developing…. UPDATE: Shafer has another Slate piece up that seems to take a harder line than the previously linked one. The highlights:
The Novak-Wilson-Plame story is so huge because 1) the leak appears (to some) to be a dirty trick designed to punish Wilson for going public on the July 6 New York Times op-ed page with his version of the Niger yellowcake uranium story; 2) it’s against federal law ($50,000 in fines and 10 years in prison) for a government official who has access to classified information to disclose a covert agent’s identity; 3) it indicates the extent to which the Bush administration will dissemble to sear its version of the war on terror on the public consciousness; and 4) we haven’t had a good scandal joy ride in Washington since Monicagate…. [N]one of the reporters who talked to the White House sources filed the more newsworthy story: namely, that the normally leak-free administration was attempting to put Ambassador Wilson in an unflattering light by connecting his Niger mission in some nepotistic fashion to his wife’s position as a CIA employee, and damage her cover in the process. Any of the reporters could have published a story about how an administration source was talking trash about Wilson without naming Valerie Plame or violating their confidentiality agreements. So, why didn’t they? I can only assume that the reporters calculated that with confidential administration sources being so rare these days, they shouldn’t do anything that would deter a future leak. So, they ignored the tip and declined to expose the leakers’ skulduggery in hopes of getting a different—and perhaps less dicey—story leaked to them later. The Novak-Wilson-Plame story illustrates in creepy fashion what happens when reporters, especially Washington reporters, become too beholden to their sources. They forget that they’re supposed to answer to their readers, not their sources. And when they’re obsessed with keeping their confidential sources happy, they end up missing the story.
Daniel W. Drezner is a professor of international politics at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University and co-host of the Space the Nation podcast. Twitter: @dandrezner
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