No Groundswell of Bush Leak Columns

By: Dave Astor

It’s been about a week since the news that President Bush may have set in motion the leaking of intelligence in 2003. But, so far, few syndicated columnists have commented about Bush’s apparent declassification action.

That’s a little ironic considering that it was a columnist — Robert Novak of the Chicago Sun-Times and Creators Syndicate — who published CIA agent Valerie Plame’s name in 2003. Bush-administration officials allegedly leaked Plame’s identity after her husband, Joseph Wilson, criticized the White House’s Iraq War rationale in a New York Times Op-Ed piece.

One columnist who did address Bush’s leak involvement was E.J. Dionne Jr. of The Washington Post and the Washington Post Writers Group. He wrote yesterday: “What’s amazing about the defenses offered for President Bush in the Valerie Plame leak investigation is that they deal with absolutely everything except the central issue: Did Bush know a lot more about this case than he let on before the 2004 elections? … Could it be that Bush — heading into what he knew would be a difficult election — was creating the impression of wanting the full story out when he already knew what most of the story was?”

Jules Witcover, in writing about “bobbing and weaving” White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan, also mentioned the leak situation. The Tribune Media Services columnist said today: “The current subject has been the revelation by Patrick J. Fitzgerald, the special prosecutor in the CIA leak case, that the president declassified flawed intelligence that was then given to select reporters in rebuttal of a critic of his invasion of Iraq. Repeated inquiries in McClellan’s briefings have brought only variations of the same evasive response — that, as he put it Monday: ‘I think you heard the president say that there’s an ongoing legal proceeding and investigation; it’s a serious matter and we don’t want to do anything to jeopardize that, so we’re not commenting on it.'”

An online check of more than 50 other syndicated columnists revealed no further pieces about the issue during the past week. E&P might have missed some columns on the Bush leak, and that topic could come up in future columns.

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