It was the leak that shook the world -- and worse still, the New York Times.

The first time it showed up was when Robert Novak, known as "Hurricane Darkness," printed the name of a CIA agent who was the wife of former U.S. ambassador Joseph Wilson, who had written an op-ed piece in the Times asserting that Saddam Hussein was not buying uranium from Niger to make an atomic bomb and did not have weapons of mass destruction, which had been the president's excuse for going into Iraq, and which was supposed to be a piece of cake, which turned into a quagmire, causing the death and wounding of thousands of American soldiers and Marines, not to mention Iraqi citizens, and created an army of insurgents who are still there killing Iraqi soldiers because they are not ready to defend themselves without coalition forces.

Once the leak was sprung, it became a broken levee. The public demanded to know who leaked it, and the Justice Department, under pressure, appointed a special prosecutor to investigate whether any laws were broken and how far up in government the leaker went.

It turns out the name was mentioned to six reporters, but only Novak used it, and so far, no one knows what he revealed to the special prosecutor, except that he is not in contempt, as was Judy Miller of the New York Times, who refused to reveal her sources and chose to go to jail instead, a noble act, which recently became questionable, in part, because her confidential source agreed to give her a waiver so she could get out of jail.

But she refused, and stayed for 85 days.

The Times originally described her as "Joan of Arc," but after she was released they started having some misgivings because her version of what happened conflicted in many ways with those of the Times reporters who were covering the story.

By this time the leakers' names were bandied about, and lo and behold, the leak came from the White House and the names I. Lewis Libby, Karl Rove and Vice President Cheney kept popping up, and try as much as they could, they couldn't find a plumber before all the damage was done.

This is not the first time the White House has leaked, but it is the first time they got caught at it, and possibly lied to the grand jury about facts.

The whole purpose of the leak was to discredit Wilson's reputation and destroy his story because it contradicted the White House story about weapons of mass destruction as an excuse for invading Iraq, which the administration believed would bring democracy to the Middle East, in spite of anti-Bush people, who would love to see Republicans lose the next election because most of the American people have recently decided that going into Baghdad was a bad idea and made us villains all over the world.

It is not for us to decide whether a leak to a reporter can bring down the White House, at least not until the special prosecutor hands in his report.

(c)2005 Tribune Media Services