WaPo reported President Bush was right to approve the declassification of parts of a National Intelligence Estimate about Iraq three years ago in order to make clear why he had believed that Saddam Hussein was seeking nuclear weapons. Presidents are authorized to declassify sensitive material, and the public benefits when they do.
And when they do, it is NOT A LEAK.But the administration handled the release clumsily, exposing Mr. Bush to the hyperbolic charges of misconduct and hypocrisy that Democrats are leveling.
At least you admit that their charges are hyperbolic and hypocrisy.Rather than follow the usual declassification procedures and then invite reporters to a briefing -- as the White House eventually did -- Vice President Cheney initially chose to be secretive, ordering his chief of staff at the time, I. Lewis Libby, to leak the information to a favorite New York Times reporter.
He wanted the information to get out. Papers are always looking for leaks, so they can scoop their competition, while material handed out at a called briefing to a lot of reporters is often ignored.The full public disclosure followed 10 days later. There was nothing illegal or even particularly unusual about that; nor is this presidentially authorized leak necessarily comparable to other, unauthorized disclosures that the president believes, rightly or wrongly, compromise national security.
It is not. An authorized disclosure discloses what the President feels should get out; an unauthorized disclosure, or leak, gets out material that the leaker thinks will make him more popular with the reporter.Nevertheless, Mr. Cheney's tactics make Mr. Bush look foolish for having subsequently denounced a different leak in the same controversy and vowing to "get to the bottom" of it.
Why? They were two completely separate things.