More on that other leak …

News & Politics

Let me add a few quick points to Evan’s post, below, about that other intelligence leak.

According to the good folks at MediaMatters, the Washington Post left out former Senate Republican Leader Trent Lott’s “bombshell that Republicans may have leaked info on secret prisons� in its front page article yesterday.

That created much conspiratorial buzz on them there internets. Was the WaPo covering up for Trent Lott? Or someone else (John McCain)?

Perhaps the Post’s editors didn’t include Lott’s charge because he was desperately backpedaling. The Hillreported that �Lott told reporters [Tuesday] that he had been talking about another Post article. He said he was not talking about the article about the detention and interrogation facilities.�

You know, because the Post breaks big, hot, front-page stories about secret, Eastern European CIA gulags (eat your heart out Dick Durbin) -- every darn day.

I took from the reversal that Trent, as is so often the case, regretted opening his mouth.

Not so, says Peggy Noonan, the insider’s insider:

He's playing an interesting game. Just under three years ago he lost his Senate leadership post, but he's no longer acting as if he's concussed. He seems like someone who's thought it all through. He appears to have little respect for his colleagues in the Senate GOP Conference, or at the White House for that matter. […]
When Lott stepped forward this week to say he thought the latest national security leak probably came not from Democrats but from his Republican colleagues I thought: Hmmm. This guy has set himself as the man from Mississippi who works for Mississippi. He no longer has to carry the party on his shoulders; he no longer has to be the leadership, or to be protective of his colleagues. What he has is freedom; what he's taking is an opportunity to enhance his national standing with unfettered truth-telling.
I guess she missed his ham-fisted and anything-but-truthful denial.
Speaking of ham-fists, you’ve probably heard that it’s unlikely that Congress will investigate this “other leak� after all, at least for the time being. According to the Washington Post, the DOJ is launching an investigation and Senate Intelligence chair Pat Roberts (R-Kansas) said he will "respectfully" request that “Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) back off a strongly worded request that a bicameral investigation into the disclosure be convened immediately.�
But there’s more to it than that. We learn from, again, The Hill, that Frist’s letter calling for a leak investigation was itself leaked.
On Tuesday at 11:36 a.m., the Drudge Report reported that Frist and Hastert would “announce a bicameral investigation into the leak of classified information to The Washington Post regarding the ‘black sites’ where high-value al Qaeda terrorists are being held,� catching Senate and House Republicans off-guard.
The short news report immediately created a clamor among the Capitol Hill press corps for more information about the probe. The media demand prompted the Speaker’s office to release copies of the letter … before Hastert had a chance to read and approve the demand…
Then, when Lott said the intelligence leaker might have been a Repub, Frist pulled back, putting Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert (R-Illinois) in a jam.
The leak appeared to pressure Hastert to sign the letter before he or Frist intended to.
Frist told a gaggle of reporters at around 5 p.m. that he had not signed the letter. He did not sign it until 5:45 p.m. But even after then, it was not certain whether Frist had signed the letter. Frist’s office compounded the confusion by informing some reporters that he had signed the letter but also decided not to release it.
What it all amounted to was that the media's focus remained squarely on leaks and the GOP.

What's striking is that the Repubs have always been disciplined in the message game, always played the politics well, even if they can’t govern to save their lives. But that hasn’t been the case since Katrina.

It really is starting to feel like the wheels are coming off, no?

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