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FRIDAY, JULY 14, 2006
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EDITORIAL

Bush administration has good, bad leakers

Karl Rove didn't leak the name of CIA employee Valerie Plame, according to columnist Robert Novak. But he could have slowed Mr. Novak's printing of her name, which was classified information, by refusing to comment.

He didn't do that and thus aided in federal law being broken when Mr. Novak says he replied to him, "Oh, you know that, too."

Thus "leakers," as President Bush likes to call them, fall into two categories: Good leakers and bad leakers.

The good ones, like whoever revealed that Ms. Plame is the wife of Joseph Wilson, leak in favor of the administration.

Mr. Wilson, a critic of the Bush White House, undertook a secret CIA mission to Africa and came back with information the administration didn't like.

Revealing the marital status of Ms. Plame and Ambassador Wilson was to discredit his report that he found no substance to rumors that Iraq tried to buy uranium in Niger. That rumor was supposed to be a key point in going to war against Saddam Hussein.

It's probable that Mr. Novak could have gotten verification of her name elsewhere. But Mr. Rove, who operates at the highest levels of government, wanted the story out.

President Bush vowed to fire the leakers in this case but unfortunately a special prosecutor hasn't been able to do more than indict I. Lewis Libby, the vice president's former chief of staff, for perjury, obstruction of justice and lying.

The Plame case is an example of why leaks in government shouldn't upset people too much. They give balance that the people in office and bureaucrats don't provide for a variety of reasons, the chief of which is plain old politics and not, as we hear so often today, for national security reasons.

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