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June 6th, 2012
06:36 PM ET

Letters to the President #1234: 'Plugging the leaks'

Reporter's Note: I write to the president every day, but I don’t divulge secrets. Not that I have any he’d be interested in, but still.

Dear Mr. President,

So your White House is being investigated over possible leaks of classified information about a secret program to slow down the Iranian nuclear program. As best I can make out, some reports appeared in the newspapers about such a program and now the FBI is looking into whether the info came from your team. The implication is that you wanted a boost in the polls, so your team slipped out some classified information to show all you are doing to keep the country safe.

Whether this is true, or a witch hunt, or something else entirely, I have no clue.

What I do know is that the culture of leaks has been way out of hand for years, and it only appears to be getting worse. Information seems to be leaked all the time for all sorts of reasons. Frankly, there are times when I’m shocked that anything can remain a secret in this town anymore.

Reports are routinely leaked ahead of time. Secret committee’s have all the integrity of a sieve. Investigators seem to like nothing better than to sit with a reporter, pour the coffee, and spill the beans. It’s ridiculous. And considering that I make my living by getting people to tell me things, you can just imagine how bad it must be.

Fundamentally, I think the issue is a lack of character among a lot of our fair city’s political denizens. I say that because I have often considered the reasons behind these leaks, and rarely is it because the public deserves or needs the information. No, in may experience, leakers usually head that way because they either want to hurt some opponent with embarrassing info, or help a friend with a positive headline. Sometimes they leak specifically to derail something they don’t like, as in: “I’m on a closed door committee considering, oh say, a secret military matter and I’m about to lose a vote; so I think I’ll just get it onto the front page of the New York Times one day before the vote to see if I can spur some public outrage to help my side.” That’s another problem of leaks. Because the leakers almost always have an agenda, they are rarely interested in leaking both sides of an issue…just the side they want out there.

So good luck with the investigation. Like I said, I have no idea what your team has or hasn’t been up to on this one, but if the investigation itself casts a little chill on D.C.’s serial leakers…whomever they may be…so much the better.

Regards,
Tom

soundoff (One Response)
  1. Wm. Brown

    The lawmakers are asking for jail time for "leakers"! As our country is at war, I am quite sure leaking information that endangers the lives of our troops or the safety of our nation is still considered treason and is punishable by firing squad. Why ask for a lesser punishment because the person or persons involved may be a politician or high ranking official?

    June 8, 2012 at 10:45 am |