Undoing the double standard on leaks

As the CIA fires an analyst, John Edwards asks: What about Bush?

By Tim Grieve
April 24, 2006 5:44PM (UTC)
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The CIA fired a senior analyst last week for allegedly leaking classified information to the press, and the weekend papers were full of stories about how director Porter Goss has made leak-proofing the agency a central goal -- maybe the central goal -- of his tenure there. As the New York Times reports this morning, Goss has even gone so far as to require the CIA's supposedly independent inspector general to submit to a polygraph test.

There is, as more than a few Democrats have noted, something of a double standard at work here. Scott McClellan once vowed that the president would fire anyone in his administration who leaked classified information. But Karl Rove and Scooter Libby leaked Valerie Plame's name with no repercussions, or at least none that came from the White House. While Libby was indicted -- and Rove still might be -- in the Plame case, Libby's indictment (and subsequent resignation) came on charges of lying, not leaking. As John Kerry put it over the weekend: In the case of fired CIA analyst Mary McCarthy, "you have somebody being fired from the CIA for allegedly telling the truth." In the case of Libby and Rove and who knows who else, "you have no one fired from the White House for revealing a CIA agent in order to support a lie."


As Raw Story notes, Kerry's 2004 running mate has proposed a logical if unlikely fix: Give Patrick Fitzgerald the power to investigate it all. In a petition posted on his One America Web site, Edwards says that the special prosecutor should be empowered to investigate whether the president himself ordered "selective leaking of classified intelligence" from the 2002 National Intelligence Estimate on Iraq in order to bolster his case for war.

"President Bush initially told the American people that he did not know of anyone in his administration who leaked CIA secrets to the media in an attempt to justify the invasion of Iraq and discredit those who raised legitimate questions," Edwards writes. "Now, confronted with new court evidence, the White House has admitted that it was President Bush himself who authorized the disclosures. Clearly, the president has no intention of coming clean and telling us the truth about the use of classified intelligence for political gain."

Tim Grieve

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

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John Edwards John F. Kerry D-mass. Karl Rove