Hypocrisy in action:
For months, Mr. Bush and his top aides have campaigned against leaks of classified information as a danger to the nation and as criminal acts. A Washington Post report on secret overseas jails run by the C.I.A. and a New York Times report on domestic eavesdropping by the National Security Agency have led to criminal investigations, and scores of intelligence officers have been ordered to take polygraph tests.
In that context, the report that the president was himself approving a leak may do serious political damage, said Mr. Shenkman, who has a blog on presidential politics. “It does give the public such a powerful example of hypocrisy that I think it might linger for a while,” he said.
Scott McClellan, the president’s spokesman, disputed the charge of a double standard on leaks. “There is a difference between declassifying information in the national interest and the unauthorized disclosure” of national security information, Mr. McClellan said Friday. Of the National Intelligence Estimate on Iraq, part of which Mr. Libby shared with Judith Miller, then a Times reporter, Mr. McClellan said, “There was nothing in there that would compromise national security.”
Mr. McClellan’s tone contrasted sharply with that of administration officials after the N.S.A. story broke in December. Mr. Bush told a news conference at the time: “My personal opinion is it was a shameful act for someone to disclose this very important program in a time of war. The fact that we’re discussing this program is helping the enemy.”