MADELEINE BRAND, host:
This weeks parlor game in Washington is a version of an old favorite, who leaked the confidential report to a newspaper and why. NPR's senior news analyst Dan Schorr has been thinking about the answer to the latest version of that question.
DANIEL SCHORR: The latter-day Deep Throat who furnished The Washington Post's Bob Woodward with a copy of General Stanley McChrystal's devastating report on the growing threat in Afghanistan clearly wanted to force President Obama's hand. Because of security concerns, Woodward agreed to delay publication for a day and then to excise sensitive passages. It was clearly a cooperative venture — the bearers of security secrets and those with interest in spilling them.
I was reminded of a famous episode in 1975 when CIA Director William Colby called at my CBS office to request that I delay airing a story about an effort to raise a Soviet nuclear submarine from the ocean floor. I was released from my commitment when somebody else broke the story. Whoever leaked the McChrystal report was clearly hoping to create pressure for reinforcements. The 66-page document, with its many warnings that the Afghan war was headed towards failure had been drifting upward through channels for three weeks.
On television, the president made a virtue of the delay, saying that he would make no decision until he had absolute clarity about the course to pursue. But the McChrystal report puts heavy emphasis on the time factor. Its conclusion is that without reinforcements, within a year, defeating the Taliban insurgency would no longer be possible. The president has support from civilian leaders like Carl Levin, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee for rethinking the Afghan strategy before committing for the troops.
But indications are that General McChrystal has substantial support from the ranks of the uniformed military. And President Obama, feeling the heat, would undoubtedly love to know who leaked that sensitive report.
This is Daniel Schorr.
NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. 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.