Friday, February 10, 2006

Drip! Drip! Drip!

Via AP:

After weeks of insisting it would not reveal details of its eavesdropping without warrants, the White House reversed course Wednesday and provided a House committee with highly classified information about the operation.

The White House has been under heavy pressure from lawmakers who wanted more information about the National Security Agency's monitoring. Democrats and many Republicans rejected the administration's contention that they could not be trusted with national security secrets.

The shift came the same day Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Arlen Specter, R-Pa., announced he is drafting legislation that would require the secretive Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court to review the administration's monitoring program and determine if it is constitutional.

It also came after Rep. Heather Wilson, R-N.M., chairwoman of a House intelligence subcommittee that oversees the NSA, broke with the Bush administration and called for a full review of the NSA's program, along with legislative action to update the 1978 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.

She and others also wanted the full House Intelligence Committee to be briefed on the program's operational details. Although the White House initially promised only information about the legal rationale for surveillance, administration officials broadened the scope Wednesday to include more sensitive details about how the program works.

I sincerely hope the Administration merely threw out a bone and didn’t reveal any significant details of the program. If they did, there’s little doubt we’ll be reading all about it in the New York Times long before the ides of March.

However, I have a feeling this is nothing more than a baited trap. The White House knows the information will leak and they want to find out who the leakers will be. To find out, they release information that is classified, but not devastating to the program if made public.

The president knows he is bulletproof on this issue. Not only is he on solid constitutional ground, he also has the overwhelming support of the people. They will not look kindly on anyone who leaks classified information that directly affects their security. That it will be done for no other reason than to undermine the president will only add to the outrage. The president will then be able to demonstrate precisely why only certain members of congress were in the loop.

It would be the ultimate irony: In an attempt to destroy the president, the leakers will instead destroy themselves.

Will anyone bite? Past history would indicate it is an absolute certainty. They simply can’t help themselves.

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