The Cable

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Drip, drip… Administration investigates leaks

The Obama administration has authorized a leak investigation following a string of stories mostly in the Washington Post, according to two administration sources. On the campaign trail, President Obama promised to run the most transparent U.S. administration in history, and his White House has been a leaky one so far compared with the more close-mouthed ...

The Obama administration has authorized a leak investigation following a string of stories mostly in the Washington Post, according to two administration sources.

On the campaign trail, President Obama promised to run the most transparent U.S. administration in history, and his White House has been a leaky one so far compared with the more close-mouthed Bush administration. But a recent string of unauthorized disclosures, most recently in a report previewing the administration's new Sudan policy ahead of today's announcement, has angered top officials and led to a bolstered effort to find the leakers.

Not all leaks seem to have drawn fire. Recent disclosures on the administration's missile-defense plans and the early release of a highly classified assessment by the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan are not part of the leak probe, the sources said.

The Obama administration has authorized a leak investigation following a string of stories mostly in the Washington Post, according to two administration sources.

On the campaign trail, President Obama promised to run the most transparent U.S. administration in history, and his White House has been a leaky one so far compared with the more close-mouthed Bush administration. But a recent string of unauthorized disclosures, most recently in a report previewing the administration’s new Sudan policy ahead of today’s announcement, has angered top officials and led to a bolstered effort to find the leakers.

Not all leaks seem to have drawn fire. Recent disclosures on the administration’s missile-defense plans and the early release of a highly classified assessment by the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan are not part of the leak probe, the sources said.

But the preemptive leak late Friday of the Sudan policy review to the Washington Post particularly angered White House officials, said the two sources. The administration appeared to quickly retaliate for that story, by confirming on the record to the New York Times, which had an interview with the official in charge of the policy review, retired Maj. Gen. Scott Gration, which the Post did not.

It may be tough to pursue the alleged leaker, given that the story did not appear to involve release of any classified information, as the sources conceded. However, they argue there’s a pattern of such incidents and claimed government lawyers are currently poring through e-mails and other communications with the intention of outing the leaker.

Stay tuned — there’s never been a White House yet that wasn’t driven crazy by leaks, and endless leak investigations designed to stop them.

Josh Rogin covers national security and foreign policy and writes the daily Web column The Cable. His column appears bi-weekly in the print edition of The Washington Post. He can be reached for comments or tips at josh.rogin@foreignpolicy.com.

Previously, Josh covered defense and foreign policy as a staff writer for Congressional Quarterly, writing extensively on Iraq, Afghanistan, Guantánamo Bay, U.S.-Asia relations, defense budgeting and appropriations, and the defense lobbying and contracting industries. Prior to that, he covered military modernization, cyber warfare, space, and missile defense for Federal Computer Week Magazine. He has also served as Pentagon Staff Reporter for the Asahi Shimbun, Japan's leading daily newspaper, in its Washington, D.C., bureau, where he reported on U.S.-Japan relations, Chinese military modernization, the North Korean nuclear crisis, and more.

A graduate of George Washington University's Elliott School of International Affairs, Josh lived in Yokohama, Japan, and studied at Tokyo's Sophia University. He speaks conversational Japanese and has reported from the region. He has also worked at the House International Relations Committee, the Embassy of Japan, and the Brookings Institution.

Josh's reporting has been featured on CNN, MSNBC, C-Span, CBS, ABC, NPR, WTOP, and several other outlets. He was a 2008-2009 National Press Foundation's Paul Miller Washington Reporting Fellow, 2009 military reporting fellow with the Knight Center for Specialized Journalism and the 2011 recipient of the InterAction Award for Excellence in International Reporting. He hails from Philadelphia and lives in Washington, D.C. Twitter: @joshrogin

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