The leaks start here

On July 14, 2003, the identity of Valerie Plame, a CIA operative was leaked to the public via a column written by Bob Novak of The Chicago Sun-Times. At the time, the leak led to a fairly major scandal that had the result of the administration vowing to find whoever leaked the information to the press and terminate their employment in the White House.

According to statements made by L. Scooter Libby, former vice presidential chief of staff, all the president would have to do to find the leaker was look in the mirror. Libby claimed during his grand jury testimony regarding the Plame affair that the decision to leak her identity to the media was made by Vice President Cheney and initiated by President Bush himself.

Of course, assuming that Libby is telling the truth still doesn’t mean the president did anything treasonous or even illegal as some on the left have been claiming. The simple truth of the matter is that the president can declassify any classified material at any time if he sees fit without needing to clear the decision with Congress.

But that doesn’t change the fact that he appears to have leaked the identity of an CIA agent, perhaps putting the lives of countless informants in danger, simply in an attempt to receive a political boost by discrediting Joe Wilson, an administration critic and former ambassador to Iraq, who just happened to be Plame’s husband.

To top things off, the White House conducted all this subterfuge while claiming to do everything in their power to find the leaker when they had created the leak in the first place. Even Nixon didn’t have this much chutzpah.

And how are the administration and their supporters responding to the new revelations in Libby’s testimony? By crying witch-hunt and moaning that the special prosecutor is biased and trying to attack them for partisan reasons. Such an accusation is laughable when one discovers that the federal attorney assigned to investigate the leak, Patrick Fitzgerald, is a lifelong Republican and was appointed to his current position in the U.S. Attorney’s office by none other than Bush himself.

When all is said and done, the administration probably did nothing actually illegal, especially if Bush actually declassified the information before Libby leaked it to Novak and New York Times reporter Judith Miller. But that doesn’t change the fact that if the president wished to attack Joe Wilson he simply should have done so openly, instead of resorting to blatantly putting politics ahead of national security.

Now instead of doing the honorable thing and admitting their error, the administration seems to be hoping that nobody notices what happened, or if all else fails blame the whole problem on the old “liberal media” conspiracy. While such a move isn’t particularly surprising as the president has spent the last five plus years giving off the impression that he’s infallible, he’s probably also not coming clean for political reasons as to do so would give the floundering Republican Party yet another hit while going into a hostile midterm election.

The sad thing is, judging by the ho-hum public reaction to Libby’s testimony, one can only conclude that the White House’s strategy is working.

The above editorial is the consensus opinion of the Daily Kent Stater editorial board.