Why 'leaker in chief' charge harms the president
President Bush has long railed against leaks of classified information as a threat to national security; his administration is vigorously investigating unauthorized revelations of classified material to the press about secret overseas prisons and warrantless wiretapping. Now, a revelation of grand jury testimony establishes Bush himself as a player in White House efforts to discredit an Iraq war critic through the use of classified information.
Wow. Sounds bad for President Bush.
The president is not accused of illegality. And no one questions his legal right to declassify information.
When the President rails against others from leaking information, it's because those people do not have the legal right to declassify classified information. Thus, they are breaking the law, and generally breaking it for political reasons. In this case, however, we have:
(1) The President releasing information to the public that had been misrepresented to the press by selective leaking,
(2) The President attempting to set the record straight by releasing the complete assessment, but releasing what had been judged as not putting anyone in the executive branch or the military in danger,
and (most importantly):
(3) The President has the legal right to release the information.
The hypocracy of the press, accusing the president of "leaking" in order to respond to other leaking, designed to discredit current executive branch policy, by releasing a national assessment--I'm astounded that the press, after hitting rock bottom, has began to dig.
Update At least the Washington Post gets it right: A Good Leak (h/t Captains Quarters.)