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When the President asks someone to divulge the contents of a "formally classified" document to someone else.
Also, when the L.A. Times puts the story about what "Scooter Libby" testified to (according to court papers) on page A-20 ... that's all anyone really needs to know!
Excerpts from the New York Post -
DUBYA CAN'T LEAK
April 7, 2006 -- AND INFO WAS ALREADY PUBLIC
By John Podhoretz - Opinion
IT'S amazing how the common topics and subjects of discussion three years ago should vanish so quickly from memory.
Yesterday, breathless news reports suggested that President Bush had directed the "leak" of classified information in July 2003. Yet the "leak" in question was from a document called the National Intelligence Estimate, or NIE - and by the time this "leak" occurred, the contents of the NIE as they related to Iraq were almost entirely public.
On Oct. 7, 2002, nine months before Bush's supposed "leak," the administration released an unclassified version of the very same NIE at the urging of Senate Democrats. And in early 2003, reporters hostile to the administration (primarily John Judis and Spencer Ackerman of The New Republic) were being told all sorts of things about the still-classified portions of the NIE.
And this "leak" wasn't a leak in any case. A "leak" is the unauthorized release of government information. The leak of classified information is a crime. But according to Scooter Libby, the former chief of staff to the vice president who gave the information from the NIE to a reporter, he only released it because he was authorized to do so by the president himself.
Constitutionally, the authority to declare documents "classified" resides with the president. So, under the terms of an executive order first drafted in 1982, he can declassify a document merely by declaring it unclassified.
Also lost in the mists of recent memory is the reason we're talking about this in the first place. Fitzgerald is involved in this story because he was asked to investigate whether the public exposure of Mrs. Wilson's CIA employment was a crime. For it to be a crime, she had to be a covert CIA operative who had served in that capacity at some point in the five years prior to her exposure - and the person exposing her had to be doing it consciously and with knowledge that she was covert.
Wilson's appalling lies were revealed in 2004. And yet, here we are, in 2006, fighting the same old battles. Guess this is what happens when you don't win a war quickly enough.
Of course, that is the whole point. There is the world war against terrorism due to 9/11 ... and then there is the war for power inside the U.S. (which is also never won quickly enough) by people who will try to win at ANY COST.
The Democrats in congress first complain that the Bush administration is to secretive about what it is doing and "we" need more information. The Bush administration releases information so then the Democrats in congress complain that the information is a "leak". What is a President to do?
"Classified" information communicated to the press is NOT a leak when the President says it is NOT a leak. To the members of the fourth estate and the Democrats in congress ... get elected President, then you can do the same! Oh yes, you tried that in the last election (with Kerry) and FAILED.
Let's move on.