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Leaker-in-Chief?

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By Howard Kurtz
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, April 7, 2006; 11:03 AM

So I thought George W. Bush was against leaks.

And that he was especially against leaks of classified information.

"If there's a leak out of my administration, I want to know who it is," the president said a couple of years ago.

Bush took that stance again and again in the Valerie Plame case, and said he would fire anyone who was found to have committed a crime by leaking classified stuff.

On that score, Bush is probably safe from having to fire himself, despite Scooter Libby's accusation yesterday that the president, through Dick Cheney, had authorized him to feed classified CIA data to Judy Miller. The reason: It's legal for the president to declassify something that otherwise would remain super-secret.

Politically, it's a mess.

The president finds it acceptable to authorize the sharing of government secrets with a New York Times reporter when it's advantageous to the administration? And have the vice president's chief of staff carry it out? What else don't we know about this case?

From the moment this was broken yesterday morning by National Journal's Murray Waas and the New York Sun's Josh Gerstein , television has been all over it, the Democrats have been all over it, and the White House is going to have to figure out a way to respond.

I'll be watching to see how much of the pushback comes from anonymous aides.

Some MSM coverage:

"The testimony, cited in a court filing by the government late Wednesday, provides the first indication that Mr. Bush, who has long assailed leaks of classified information as a national security threat, played a direct role in the disclosure of the intelligence report on Iraq at a moment that the White House was trying to defend itself against charges that it had inflated the case against Saddam Hussein," says the New York Times .

"If Mr. Libby's account is accurate, it also involves Mr. Bush directly in the swirl of events surrounding the disclosure of the identity of an undercover C.I.A. officer."


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