During his press conference on Monday, President Bush said
the leaking of the classified eavesdropping program was a serious matter and
that the Justice Department has protocols for leaks and should be investigating
it. For those of us who follow politics this sounds very familiar. When asked
about investigation of the leak, President Bush responded with
My personal opinion is it was a shameful act for someone to
disclose this very important program in a time of war. The fact that we’re
discussing this program is helping the enemy.
True Bush also made the same assertions when it came to the
leaking of Valerie PlameÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s identity. He wanted to know who leaked it and said if
anyone in his administration was involved in the leak they would not be in his
administration anymore. True that changed overtime considering that Karl Rove
is still in his administration.
Now I am wondering if the leaker is found out will they be
given the same courtesies that Karl Rove has been given. Will this person be
allowed to continue in their job even during a grand jury investigation? Will
they not have to resign until such time that they are indicted? President Bush
has set a precedence with Rove so the same should niceties should be extended to
other criminals. After all, we are talking about an issue of civil liberties and
Both of these cases involve the leaking of classified
information. In both cases the leaking of the information is a federal crime.
There is one key difference however.
The leaking of Valerie PlameÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s identity was not to expose
an illegal activity. It was done so in the worse sense ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â‚¬Å“ to discredit a critic
of the President. This was a big difference from Watergate. The actual leak was
not to expose something illegal; instead it was to do something illegal. That is
what made this crime so bad.
The leaking of the eavesdropping program was also a crime but it was a crime
committed to do something that is illegal. Spying on citizens of this country
requires a warrant. When the FISA law was passed it was done so with that in
consideration and even decided to setup a secret court to get the warrants
without the information becoming public and giving priority access to the NSA
and the President. Further more, provisions were added that the tapping could
start without the warrant. The only stipulation was that the warrant had to be
obtained within 72 hours of starting the tap.
What makes the leaking of this program not as severe as the
Valerie Plame case is that it is much like Watergate. This leak was done so to
expose an illegal program. It was not done so to protect the President from
critics but rather to protect citizens from their government.
Another issue I find important in this leak is the timing.
It has been reported that President Bush summoned the editor of the New York
Times to the oval office last year and had him hold the story. The New York
Times has known about this for over a year and kept it from the American people.
Considering that, Bush knew that someone had leaked
classified information to the Press and did not act on that crime. Instead he
had it covered up for over year.
One of Scooter LibbyÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s defenses was remembering what was
said two years ago. Remember the grand jury started 6 months after the crime was
committed. There is no grand jury for this leak yet and we are already more than
a year after the fact.
Perhaps the investigators should question the President
about why he decided to conceal this crime. He gave the suspects and witnesses
more time to get their stories straight and forget facts.
If this leak investigation becomes as involved as the
Valerie Plame investigation then we wonÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢t see indictments the spring/summer of
2008. That is pushing close to four years after the crime was committed.
Basically a lack of prosecution on this could be in part
fault of the President because he knew of a federal crime and failed to report
it. That is something for the legal professionals to consider when it comes to
investigating this leak.