The Mix

Ha, watch them squirm

There's no way out of this Bush leak story, try as the Bush pundits might.
Greg Sargent at the Prospect has a sweet rundown of one example of the right-wing push back we can expect to see on this Bush leak story (Joe Conason has the best, easiest, shortest explanation of why Bush is busted for it):
"The emerging right-wing spin about the leak revelations was perfectly captured in John Podhoretz's column today in the New York Post. Since these arguments are certain to be aired again and again in coming days, they need to be debunked, and quickly.
And it's remarkably easy to do.
The Pod makes three points, all of which are soon to be chanted in unison by countless winger commentators. He says:
1) The leak wasn't really a leak because it was authorized by the president, and a "leak" is the "unauthorized release of government information."
This one's easy to knock down. First, information doesn't have to be classified to qualify for being leaked. Plenty of unclassified info is leaked all the time, and we all agree to call that "leaking." So the fact that the president's authorization declassified the info has no bearing on whether this should be seen as a leak. What's more, this info certainly was leaked, in the sense that it was passed on confidentially by Libby to a reporter who wasn't supposed to reveal the source of it. By contrast, if the info had been "released,” to use Pod's preferred word, the administration would publicly own up to being the source for it. So yes, it was a leak.
As for Pod's argument that the president "can't leak" -- another pushback rapidly gaining currency -- keep in mind that the president isn't the one who is accused of doing the leaking. Rather, Bush is accused of authorizing the leak. Libby carried it out.
2) Pod also argues essentially that Bush was pushing back against Joe Wilson's slander, so it was OK.
Pod appears to be saying that this isn't a leak because the motive behind it was defensible. This is just silly -- and indeed, it undermines his own case. Even if you agree that the administration's rebuttal of Wilson was correct, that doesn't change the simple fact that Bush's authorization of the leak was political in nature. Indeed, if the argument is that Bush had to protect himself against a political attack with some sort of pushback, that reinforces, rather than undercuts, the idea that the leak was political. So Libby revealed that Bush authorized the leaking of classified info to achieve a political goal -- and that's a no-no.
Jan Frel is an AlterNet staff writer.
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