Cheat-Seeking Missles

Monday, December 04, 2006

What's Bush Doing To Stop Leaks?

We're losing the information war. Granted, it's just one battlefield in the war on terror, but it's an important one and one the Bush administration has been particularly unadept at fighting.

While al Qaeda, Hezbollah and the various Iraqi insurgents demonstrate considerable skill and next to no ethics in their handling of the media, we are overly defensive and constantly embarassed by leaked articles -- yet the leaks go on, and not one leaker has had to face justice.

So I don't much care what NY Sun reporter Josh Gerstein's angle is; I'm just glad he's pushing for info into what the Bush administration is doing about leakers. Reports the Sun:

A New York Sun reporter won an unusual victory in federal court in San Francisco last week, when a federal judge ordered the Department of Justice and other government agencies to respond to the reporter's request for a variety of documents that could show what efforts the Bush administration has made to investigate leaks to the press.

The decision, by Judge Maxine Chesney of U.S. District Court in San Francisco, came after the federal government was slow to comply with a request from more than eight months ago by reporter Josh Gerstein made under the federal Freedom of Information Act.

The documents Mr. Gerstein requested relate to investigations the government has conducted into leaks of classified information to reporters. The documents requested included any that would indicate what disciplinary actions were taken against government officials believed to have leaked classified information.

In court, the government had resisted Mr. Gerstein's request for documents. Mr. Gerstein had argued that issues involving press leaks were of "acute and significant national interest," according to the decision.

Judge Chesney ruled that the standard 20-day response time afforded the government applied to Mr. Gerstein's request as well. The judge ordered the government to give Mr. Gerstein a response to his document request within a month of the court order, which came down last week.

There is no room for whistleblowers when national security is at stake, and the dangerous leaks that have persisted throughout the war in Iraq have placed our trooops and our security at greater risk. I hope Gerstein's request yields information about active efforts to punish leakers and stop future leaks ... but I'm afraid it will be more evidence of President Bush's inability or unwillingness to turn around the information war.

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