Second verse, same as the first

9 November 2005 07:16 EST Posted by Highlander

From Katherine Schrader of the Associated Press:

WASHINGTON -- At the CIA's request, the Justice Department is weighing whether to open a criminal investigation into the leak of possibly classified information on secret prisons to The Washington Post.

A story the newspaper published on Nov. 2 touched on a number of sensitive national security issues, including the existence of secret CIA detention centers for suspected terrorists in Eastern European democracies. A U.S. official, speaking on condition of anonymity because the issue deals with classified information, said the CIA's general counsel made the referral to the Justice Department shortly after the story appeared last week. The department will decide whether to initiate a criminal investigation.

The leak investigation into the disclosure of covert CIA officer Valerie Plame's identity came about through the same referral procedure and led to a five-count indictment against the vice president's now former chief of staff, I. Lewis Libby.

Post spokesman Eric Grant said Tuesday the newspaper had no comment.

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice sidestepped questions about possible secret prisons, saying the United States was in a "different kind of war" and had an obligation to defend itself.

"We, our allies, others who have experienced attacks, have to find a way to protect our people," said Rice, who would not confirm the existence of secret prisons.

Who leaked this stuff? Well, given that it badly hurts Republicans in general, and Bush, Rice, and probably Cheney in specific, I'm going to say... I don't know. But my initial instinct -- that this is orchestrated by the Repubs themselves, as a way to slap down the press -- doesn't make sense.

If anything, this will simply mount pressure to pass that Federal shield law every newspaper and tv station has been crying about since Judith Miller went to jail...something the Republicans may or may not want (it will, effectively, let them leak any scurrilous nonsense they want to their media toadies without fear of reprisal, but on the other hand, it does strengthen a free and independent press, and Republicans aren't about giving power over themselves to anyone else, ever).

It also, as noted, makes Dubya, Condi, and The Old Gray Mule look terrible. (It also makes America look terrible to everyone else in the world, but never mind that.)

With Frist and Hastert pushing it, though, you know this is something with a lit fuse sticking out of it, however much it may look like a box of bon bons for the left. I just can't figure out how it benefits them to look into yet another national security leak from the Bush Administration.

One of the first rules of trial lawyering is that you never ask a witness a question you don't already know the answer to. One has to assume, then, that with the Repubs being the ones who are tossing this bomb, the leak came from the Dems... probably someone on some House Intelligence Oversight Committee. If so, it will make a lovely counterweight to Plamegate... "see, the Democrats don't care about the war on terror, either!"

It will, at least, provide more red meat for the currently somewhat muddled conservative base, and give the conservative talking heads a reason to go on the attack again, which is the only place they're comfortable.

There could be more to it, though. This could be the first overt volley being fired by Republican Congressional leadership directly at the Collander In Chief, whose plummeting approval ratings are doing more damage to the growing consolidation of conservative political power in America than Sherman did to Georgia on his march to the sea.

This could, in fact, be a legislative coup d'etat in the making, as Hastert and Frist literally shoot the moon... or at least try to, taking their best shots at the Prez, Vice Prez, and Secretary of State. Hastert himself is in direct line of succession, right behind Cheney, and maybe Frist feels like he's got enough of a handle on the scandal to get the Shrub to appoint him as interim VP after Cheney resigns, and right before the Shrub himself does.

I don't know, myself. I just know that when certain people are clamoring for an investigation into a leaked news story that touches on national security, there's a smear of some sort coming.

Geez, I wish Fitzgerald would indict Rove and Cheney...

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