A Brief History of Leaks in Washington, D.C. What would Washington be without a few leaks to keep it interesting? Senior news analyst Daniel Schorr puts the latest round of leaks from the Bush administration and Congress in perspective.

A Brief History of Leaks in Washington, D.C.

A Brief History of Leaks in Washington, D.C.

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/5204384/5204385" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

What would Washington be without a few leaks to keep it interesting? Senior news analyst Daniel Schorr puts the latest round of leaks from the Bush administration and Congress in perspective.

ROBERT SIEGEL, Host:

Washington loves a good news leak. Just turn on any of the Sunday morning public affairs programs these days. They're focused on the leak of Bush Administration domestic eavesdropping, or the Valerie Plame Wilson affair. NPR Senior News Analyst Daniel Schorr has been thinking about leaks and their history in the nation's capital.

DANIEL SCHORR: All leakdom could be said to be divided in two parts, the top-level leaks serving some administration purpose, and the unauthorized secretive whistle-blowing leak that tends to defeat the administration's purpose. President Reagan once complained of being up to my keister in leaks. Deeply resented because of the suggestion of some other loyalty than to him. The current prime example is a New York Times story about government eavesdropping without a warrant. The Times' only attribution for a story that has plunged the Administration into something of a crisis was "according to government officials." The president has ordered an investigation to discover the leaker. As far as known, no whistle-blower leak investigation has ever led to successful prosecution. Perhaps the unauthorized leaker of the century was the FBI's Mark Felt, also known as Deep Throat.

President Nixon, in time, came to suspect Felt, but fear to take action against him, he told his subordinates, lest Felt make revelations even more damaging to him. Deeply resentful of unauthorized and especially anonymous leaks the White House nevertheless likes leaks it can control.

One of these that went awry and is now the subject of a two-year special investigation was the unveiling of the covert CIA identity of Valerie Plame, whose husband had cast doubt on the existence of an Iraqi nuclear program. If a leak can be said to have boomeranged, this one did. Vice President Cheney's Chief of Staff, Lewis Libby, has been indicted for perjury and the investigation is still in progress. Libby has now testified that his superiors instructed him to leak information from a secret intelligence report about supposed Iraqi weapons of mass destruction. Leaks could be a dangerous game, but that is not likely to discourage them from the top, or from deep inside the government. This is Daniel Schorr.

Copyright © 2006 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at www.npr.org for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.