The NY Times responds to last week's controversial WaPo editorial titled "A Good Leak" with their own "A Bad Leak". [And we see that the WaPo ombudsman tackles this as well.] The topic is the news that Bush chose to declassify a portion of the NIE so that Libby could discuss it with Bob Woodward in late June and Judy Miller in early July. Highlights of the NIE were then declassified on July 18, 2003.
Some silly bits from the Times editors:
Since Mr. Bush regularly denounces leakers, the White House has made much of the notion that he did not leak classified information, he declassified it. This explanation strains credulity. Even a president cannot wave a wand and announce that an intelligence report is declassified.
To declassify an intelligence document, officials have to decide whether disclosing the information would jeopardize the sources that provided it or the methods used to gather it. To answer that question, they closely study the origins of the intelligence to be disclosed.
One might think the Times editors could hold on to the not-subtle distinction between what a President can do within his Executive power, and what he ought to do if exercising his power responsibly.
This messy episode leaves more questions than answers, so it is imperative that two things happen soon. First, the federal prosecutor in the Libby case should release the transcripts of what Mr. Bush and Mr. Cheney said when he questioned them.
The federal prosecutor should release the transcripts? If disclosure and transparency are the new norm then perhaps, in clearing up their own role in this messy story, the Times could:
(a) report on their own subpoena fight with Libby's legal team;
(b) tell us what surprises might be found in Nick Kristof's notes, or Judy Miller's. Both are subject to subpoena (we think), both might become evidence at trial - why the wait? [We are especially curious because Nick Kristif may himself have known about Ms. Plame's CIA connection, and Judy Miller may have learned about Ms. Plame from someone at the State Dept. (and the Net Widens as to who at State may have known).]
(c) clear up a few mysteries for us - when the Times ran the famous Joe Wilson op-ed on July 6, 2003 did they know that he was an unpaid adviser to the Kerry campaign? Did they know that his wife was in the CIA group that was battling the White House over pre-war intelligence?
The Times presented Joe Wilson thusly for his op-ed:
Joseph C. Wilson 4th, United States ambassador to Gabon from 1992 to 1995, is an international business consultant.
Did the Times consider more forthright descriptions, such as "Kerry adviser bashes Bush", or "On intel dispute with White House, CIA spouse backs CIA"? Just wondering.