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Monday, September 29, 2003
 
Bush Won't Ask

President Bush's aides promised yesterday to cooperate with a Justice Department inquiry into an administration leak that exposed the identity of a CIA operative, but Democrats charged that the administration cannot credibly investigate itself and called for an independent probe.

White House officials said they would turn over phone logs if the Justice Department asked them to. But the aides said Bush has no plans to ask his staff members whether they played a role in revealing the name of an undercover officer who is married to former ambassador Joseph C. Wilson IV, one of the most visible critics of Bush's handling of intelligence about Iraq.
(emphasis mine)

Uh...this isn't about finding out who dragged in all that mud from the T-ball field; those leaks were felonies. If a body were found in the White House, and the Washington Post wrote that "two senior Administration officials" were responsible, would it be acceptable for Bush not to ask his staff who was behind it?

I think Bush is hiding behind a very tenuous legal tactic. As Atrios points out, failing to notify law enforcement authorities of a known felony is a crime. I believe the tactic is as follows: Bush will claim to know nothing about the whole affair, but if it does come out that he was aware of Plame's outing, he can then claim that he didn't know who, specifically, did the deed. In this way, it could be said that he knew about a felony, but not these particular felonies, where Person A and Person B called those 6 reporters and gave them classified information.

I don't know the legalese, but it seems a pretty flimsy defense, at best. Besides, what rational administration is going to let something like this fester within its ranks until it blows up? If some overzealous staffers had decided on their own to leak Plame's status, every lawyer in the country would have told Bush to dump them immediately. I'm sure several of them did just that, which makes WH reticence since the appearance of Novak's article very curious indeed.

Given such a huge potential liability, one that threatened to directly affect the president himself, I'm sure the shrewd political operators in the WH found out in short order who had done the leaking. But they didn't follow up on it. It's as though they'd hit a brick wall. Many people in the administration knew that felonies had been committed, which knowledge, when combined with inaction, is criminal. Why would they just stand out there in the open and wait to get hit?

Because they're even more afraid of the consequences of going to the authorities, that's why. Who in the administration is badass enough to radiate that kind of menace?