GOP leadership: Leaks must be investigated -- at least some of them

Bill Frist and Dennnis Hastert want to know who told the Washington Post about the government's network of secret prisons.

Published November 8, 2005 7:12PM (EST)

The Republican leadership in the House and Senate just got serious about a leak investigation, but it's not the one you're thinking about.

According to the Associated Press, Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist and House Speaker Dennis Hastert are circulating a draft of a letter calling for an investigation into who leaked information to the Washington Post about a network of secret prisons being operated by the United States. In a report last week, the Post said that the United States is currently hiding and interrogating some of its most important al-Qaida captives in a "covert prison system set up by the CIA" in the wake of 9/11. The paper said that specific information about these so-called "black sites" is known by only a "handful" of officials in the United States and in the host countries, and that the CIA has dissuaded Congress from asking questions about them.

Are Frist and Hastert outraged that the United States might be holding people without charges in secret captivity in other countries? Apparently not. Their anger seems directed only at the person or persons who leaked the story to the Post. "If accurate," the draft letter says, "such an egregious disclosure could have long-term and far-reaching damaging and dangerous consequences, and will imperil our efforts to protect the American people and our homeland from terrorist attacks."

Hastert and Frist say in their letter that leaks of classified information appear to have increased in recent years, "establishing a dangerous trend that, if not addressed swiftly and firmly, likely will worsen."

Tell it to Valerie Plame.

Update: Maybe there's a reason that Hastert-Frist letter was just a draft: Appearing on CNN this afternoon, Sen. Trent Lott said he thinks the leak came from a Republican senator.

By Tim Grieve

Tim Grieve is a senior writer and the author of Salon's War Room blog.

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