The other, far more damaging leak from the administration

Monday, April 10, 2006 at 03:06 PM

I'm sure you've already seen the recent news stories about Libby claiming that Bush authorized Cheney to authorize Libby to leak parts of the National Intelligence Estimate in 2003.  And I know you're aware that "somebody" leaked the fact that Valerie Plame was a CIA agent.

But did you know that Israel is reportedly extremely unhappy with the US for having leaked the text of the "al-Zawahiri letter" last October?

What the White Does Did...
The small item yesterday in the U.K.'s Times online says that Washington got the letter from Israel, which had a spy operation going inside Iraq (named "Operation Tiramisu").

According to the piece, Israel gave the US the letter with the expectation that it would stay secret, but soon after, the contents of the letter showed up in both English and its original Arabic on the web site of John Negroponte (US director of national intelligence).  Shortly after, the letter was then referenced by the President during his weekly radio address, as evidence that "cutting and running" would play into the hands of al Qaeda.

The Times piece then concludes with:

Israeli intelligence sources said officials who had worked on "Operation Tiramisu" inside Iraq took emergency steps to protect their sources, but it was not clear how successful they had been in averting the damage to their intelligence network. They said Bush's indiscretion had undone months of painstaking effort.

That's just a bit contrary to Bush's highly publicized outrage over the NSA leak, huh?  Talk about damaging!

If true, the report means that Israel had developed a way to obtain something that all American officials and military officers acknowledge to be in very short supply in Iraq: on the ground intelligence of al Qaeda and other terrorist groups.  Which we either blew or severely endangered so the administration could use the letter for PR to bolster public support for the war.

If true, the report means that we valued a little short term PR boost more highly than the lives of the agents gathering this information.

Or, probably more likley, w just didn't think about it too long, or too hard, or too insightfully.  After all, there's nothing in the "How to Act Presidential" manual used by this White House that says "before shooting off mouth, check to see which asses would be endangered."

Versus what the White House says:
In a December 19, 2005 press conference President Bush called the NSA leak "a shameful act" that was "helping the enemy."

And the White House is on the warpath over leaks generally, and the NSA leak in particular.  On the White House's current campaign to find and punish those who leak classified information, the Washington Post reported last month that:

Some media watchers, lawyers and editors say that, taken together, the incidents [of White House attempts to find and/or deter leaks] represent perhaps the most extensive and overt campaign against leaks in a generation, and that they have worsened the already-tense relationship between mainstream news organizations and the White House.

The same article quotes New York Times Executive Editor Bill Keller, in his response to questions from the Post, as saying:

There's a tone of gleeful relish in the way they talk about dragging reporters before grand juries, their appetite for withholding information, and the hints that reporters who look too hard into the public's business risk being branded traitors.  I don't know how far action will follow rhetoric, but some days it sounds like the administration is declaring war at home on the values it professes to be promoting abroad.

This is outrageous.  Revealing the fact that the NSA has a warrantless spying program that is quite likely unconstitutional is "helping the enemy," but revealing possession of a letter in a form that could enable the enemy to identify who gave it to you is just fine, no need for an investigation or any punishment there.

These people are so underhanded and hypocritical, offering up outrage after outrage, you have to take outrage supplements to have a suitable response to all of their actions.