CIA Leak Case Sheds Light on Political Protection
DANIEL SCHORR reporting:
This is about protection.
LIANE HANSEN, host:
NPR senior news analyst Daniel Schorr.
SCHORR: I don't mean as in the protection rackets of the prohibition years in the 1920s, nor am I talking here about protection of journalistic sources, which is a whole separate subject. What I mean is the kind of protection that manifests itself in keeping mum or lying to keep someone else out of hot water, usually a superior.
The CIA leak scandal is a case study in protection. Some prize for deadpan protection should go to White House spokesman Scott McClellan, who made the blanket statement that no one in the White House was involved in anyway with the CIA leak. But they, in turn, were striving to protect their bosses. Lewis Libby, until recently chief of staff for Vice President Dick Cheney, tried to protect his boss, whom he eventually had to name.
And then the almost wistful story of Judith Miller of The New York Times, who wen to jail for three months while trying to protect her good friend, Lewis Libby, until he finally persuaded her to testify. She may also have been protecting some special relationship. In a letter to Ms. Miller in jail, Libby wrote lyrically about Aspen trees and urged her to come back to work and life.
Ms. Miller enjoyed two years of protection from The Times, which supported her in and out of court as she tried to protect her source. But The Times may be having second thoughts now that it's known that she was willing to conspire with Libby to name him misleadingly as a former Capitol Hill staffer.
Another name for protection is loyalty. The ultimate protection is enjoyed by the president. White House aide Karl Rove, indicated as Official A in the Libby indictment, is still under investigation. A line that returns from Watergate: What did the president know and when did he know it?
This is Daniel Schorr.
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