January 13, 2004

In Today's Lesson, We Learn That Leaking Classified Information Is OK If It Damages President Bush

So former Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill may have shown classified documents during his 60 Minutes interview, and the Treasury department is investigating (strangely, no mention of this story appears on CNN.com's front page at press time, or its U.S news page, or its Politics page, or its Law page, although you can see it here). This report in the London (Ontario) Free Press sure makes it look that way:

"They showed a document that had a classification term on it, so we referred this today to the Office of Inspector General," [Treasury representative Rob]Nichols said. "I'll be even more clear -- the document as shown on 60 Minutes that said 'secret.' "

O'Neill is described as a principal source for the new book, written by former Wall Street Journal reporter Ron Suskind. In addition to interviews with O'Neill, Suskind drew on 19,000 documents O'Neill provided. Suskind also interviewed other Bush insiders for the book.

On 60 Minutes, CBS journalist Lesley Stahl said O'Neill had briefing material involving Iraq. Suskind said: "There are memos. One of them, marked secret, says 'Plan for post-Saddam Iraq.' [emphasis added]" A 60 Minutes representative said a cover sheet of the briefing materials was shown.

"We don't have a secret document. We didn't show a secret document. We merely showed a cover sheet that alluded to such a document," Kevin Tedesco said.
Never mind whether a document marked 'Secret' was shown on TV; by the author's own admission, classified information was used by (presumably) an uncleared person in the preparation of an unclassified book. If I did that in my job, I'd be fired and prosecuted!

CNN had a side-by-side while I was working out this morning (as usual, there was no sound and I could only read some of the captions) between a Bush defender and somebody I think they labeled as a 'Democratic spokesperson' (I really need to be able to take notes on the stairclimber). The Democrat said the Treasury department was being petty by investigating this, and that it revealed President Bush's pettiness by letting them do that. Funny, weren't these the same folks who were calling for an Inquisition over Who Outed Valerie Palme?

Posted by Chris at January 13, 2004 11:15 AM

Category: Political Stupidity
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