Bush administration leaks

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The Bush administration is generally regarded as much more secretive than many previous administrations. Even so, there have been leaks. The following is a current (?) listing of Bush administration leaks:

Bush at War Leak?

The headline for the March 5, 2003, edition of the Hill News reads "Shays queries Woodward leaks". Jonathan E. Kaplan writes: "Rep. Chris Shays (R-Conn.), who chairs a subcommittee that oversees national security policy, has inquired whether Bush administration officials passed classified information to journalist Bob Woodward for Bush at War, his latest best-selling book."

"Morton H. Halperin, an advisor to several presidents on national security issues, said: 'Senior officials have always declassified information to advance a president's agenda or even doing it to advance their own agenda.'

"But, in two previous cases where it was alleged Congress leaked classified information, the Bush administration threatened to withhold information and launched an FBI probe in an attempt to find the leakers.

"In June 2002, the House and Senate intelligence committees investigating the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks allegedly disclosed information that the National Security Agency had intercepted communications a day earlier warning of a terrorist plot.

"The FBI investigated the source of the leaks, going so far as to asking senators to take lie-detector tests.

"Concerned about leaks in the aftermath of the attacks, Bush restricted classified and sensitive information to eight key lawmakers.

"Woodward wrote that the research for his book, 'includes contemporaneous notes taken during 50 National Security Council and other meetingsâ?¦[and I have] attributed thoughts, conclusions, and feelings to the participants. These come either from the person himself, a colleagueâ?¦or the written record--both classified and unclassified.'

"As Charles Tiefer, a law professor at the University of Baltimore and former counsel on the House side of the joint committee that investigated the Iran-Contra scandal, sees it, there are two categories of leaked information.

"If classified material is leaked with authorization from such administration principals as the president or Secretary of State, 'then the officials releasing the classified info will contend that their authorization from above prevents charging them with a breach of security,' Tiefer told The Hill.

"However, he added, that if classified documents, 'marked top-secret, secret, and so forth, were leaked without [such top-level] authorization, then they must answer for an improper release of classified information and possibly for a breach of security that violates the rules.'"

Bush: "Stop the leaks"

And this headline is priceless:

On October 16, 2003, Joseph L. Galloway and James Kuhnhenn reported in the Philadelphia Inquirer that

"Bush orders officials to stop the leaks. He warned of action if anonymous sources were quoted, a senior aide said. Visiting senators also heard a stern line."
"Concerned about the appearance of disarray and feuding within his administration as well as growing resistance to his policies in Iraq, President Bush - living up to his recent declaration that he is in charge - told his top officials to "stop the leaks" to the media, or else.
"News of Bush's order leaked almost immediately."


  • "The ship of state is the only ship that leaks from the top." --Sir Humphrey Appleby.

Related SourceWatch Resources

External links


  • Dave Franklin, Langley Leaks, American Daily, September 21, 2001.


  • Peggy Noonan, Loose Lips, Pink Slips. How President Bush made the White House leak-proof, OpinionJournal/WallStreetJournal, January 18, 2002: "Someone once said the White House is the only sieve that leaks from the top, but the Bush White House is, so far, famously leak-proof. Or rather almost leak-free....The Bush White House doesn't leak because George W. actively and affirmatively does not want it to."
  • Anthony DiFilippo, Bush's Nuclear Weapons Policy: Where the Rule of Law Doesn't Matter, Foreign Policy In Focus, June 26, 2002: "President Bush's announcement in December 2001 that the U.S. would unilaterally withdraw from the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty, that it had signed with the former Soviet Union, has been viewed with much skepticism by some countries. In January, the administration dropped a second shoe. Leaks from the administration's Nuclear Posture Review revealed that the U.S. plan to 'cut' the number of its nuclear weapons relied on storing rather than destroying many of them, that underground nuclear testing in the future cannot be ruled out, and that the preparation time to perform nuclear testing needed to be reduced, perhaps to just months. ... Leaks from the Nuclear Posture Review also revealed that the Bush administration had still another shoe that it was willing to drop. The review contained language that indicated that the Bush administration has authorized the Defense Department to develop plans for using nuclear weapons on seven countries--five of which are nonnuclear nations. Significantly, these five nations--Iran, Iraq, Syria, Libya, and North Korea--are parties to the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) that took effect in 1970."
  • FBI Investigates Congressional Security Leaks, NewsMax, July 26, 2002: "The FBI has quietly begun an investigation of national security leaks from Capitol Hill, specifically leaks from the House and Senate Select Intelligence committees, United Press International has learned. ... The investigation was requested publicly by congressional leaders after blistering criticism from the White House, but the Justice Department is not acknowledging the operation. ... The investigation was spurred in part by anger in the Bush administration over media reports last month that the National Security Agency had intercepted two messages between suspected terrorists in Afghanistan on Sept. 10: 'tomorrow is zero day' and 'the match begins tomorrow.' ... However, the messages were not translated until Sept. 12, the day after the terror attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon that claimed nearly 3,000 lives."


  • Roy Mark, White House Leaks New Cyber Security Plan, InternetNews, January 7, 2003: "The White House is leaking again. As has been its habit since announcing early last year it was drafting a National Strategy to Secure Cyberspace, the Bush Administration is again floating its proposals though the media before actually making a public announcement. ... In its latest trial balloon, the Associated Press is reporting an internal draft of the plan, due to be released later this month, calls for watering the down the proposals to secure the nation's computer networks even further by reducing the initiatives by nearly half and eliminates an earlier version that called for the White House to regularly consult with privacy experts from the private sector. ... According to the AP, the new draft calls for the new Homeland Security Department to develop plans for securing the country's networks. It also warns that the Administration reserves the right to engage in cyber warfare."
  • Jonathan E. Kaplan, Shays queries Woodward leaks, Hill News, March 5, 2003: "Rep. Christopher Shays (R-Conn.), who chairs a subcommittee that oversees national security policy, has inquired whether Bush administration officials passed classified information to journalist Bob Woodward for Bush at War, his latest best-selling book."
  • Mark Benjamin, Pentagon Papers Leaker Seeks Leaks on Iraq, UPI, March 11, 2003: "Daniel Ellsberg, who in 1971 leaked the Pentagon Papers, on Tuesday called on government officials to leak documents to Congress and the press showing the Bush administration is lying in building its case against Saddam Hussein."
  • Two Damning Leaks in the Last Two Days, theleftcoaster, June 24, 2003.
  • Jack Shafer, Making sense of the leaks and counter-leaks in Plamegate, Slate, October 2, 2003.
  • Evan Thomas and Michael Isikoff, Secrets and Leaks, MSNBC.MSN.com, October 13, 2003: "In Washington, so-called leak investigations--formal inquiries by the Justice Department into the publication of classified information--are like endless replays of the movie "Casablanca": the authorities round up the usual suspects, nothing much happens, and life goes on. ... It's not likely that anyone will go to jail for outing Valerie Plame Wilson as an undercover spy for the Central Intelligence Agency. But the leak--from unnamed "senior administration officials," allegedly in retribution for her husband's accusing the Bushies of "twisting" intelligence--has stirred a scandal that casts light on a dark side of the Bush administration. All presidents deplore leaks in the strongest terms, and then wink at (or, in some cases, personally authorize) leaks that serve their purposes. No one is accusing George W. Bush of reincarnating Richard M. Nixon. Still, this administration has been particularly secretive and manipulative, at once condemning and seeking to stop "unauthorized disclosures" while putting out its own selective version of the truth."
  • Jim Lobe, The truth leaks out, Asia Times, November 21, 2003: "This week's blockbuster leak of a secret memorandum from a senior Pentagon official to the US Senate Intelligence Committee has spurred speculation that neoconservative hawks in the Bush administration are on the defensive and growing more desperate. ... Both the committee and the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) have asked the Justice Department to launch an investigation of the leak, which took the form of an article published Monday by the influential neo-conservative journal, the Weekly Standard."