We Have Reached Peak "Leak" Scandal Absurdity

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
July 24 2012 5:21 PM

We Have Reached Peak "Leak" Scandal Absurdity

The Romney campaign spent the afternoon issuing statements of pride and agreement with the candidate's VFW speech. The sure-thing applause lines: Romney's denunciation of national security leaks, something he effectively re-introduced into the campaign. Among the Romney advisers called on to endorse this: Eric Edelman.

The suggestion by Senator Dianne Feinstein, chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, that the White House was behind recent leaks of highly classified secrets, highlights the urgent need for change.
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I guess if you're going to get outraged about leaks, you summon experience. Eric Edelman worked for Scooter Libby during the period in which Libby and others shared info about Joe Wilson's trip to Niger. His role was complicated, but Marcy Wheeler gets to the important questions in this long post, which quotes a summary of grand jury findings.

According to Mr. Edelman, sometime before June 6, 2003 (when Mr. Edelman left the OVP), Mr. Schmall "identified the former envoy as Joseph Wilson" and "advised Edelman that the CIA’s Counterproliferation Division sent Wilson to Niger to conduct the inquiry, not the OVP." 6/23/04 Edelman FBI 302 at 2. Acording to Mr. Edelman, Mr. Schmall showed him internal CIA emails about the Wilson trip. 8/6/04 Edelman Grand Jury T. at 16. In addition, Mr. Schmall may have told Mr. Edelman during this period that Ambassador Wilson’s mission to Africa was suggested by his wife.

Etc. Point is: There are people who can pronounce shock and horror at official leaks, and then there is Eric Edelman. For a good take on how the whole narrative is overblown, go to Peter Bergen.

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter.