While news of Pres. Bush’s executive order allowing warrantless snooping (I read one wag yesterday who called it “Snoopgate”) on U.S. citizens has shocked many of us, one fact hasn’t been much remarked upon: the anonymous sources who blew the whistle in the New York Times article were Bush Administration officials and possibly currently serving NSA staff. Here’s how the Times describes its sources:
Nearly a dozen current and former officials, who were granted anonymity because of the classified nature of the program, discussed it with reporters for The New York Times because of their concerns about the operation’s legality and oversight.
Leaks are, of course, nothing new in Washington. Everybody does it. But spooks and national security wonks don’t usually snitch on their own agencies…unless they’re awfully riled (witness W. Mark Felt, Woodward and Bernstein’s Deep Throat).
The fact that government security officials betrayed one of their own programs means two important things:
1. those who revealed the program must’ve been deeply disconcerted by it.
2. this ‘spillage’ indicates that the Bush-Cheney mystique of invincibility and rock-solid stability no longer works to hold the tigers at bay.
I’m guessing that this will loosen the lips of other government officials who might be involved with programs of a less than savory nature. You can be sure with all the scandals currently rocking Republican Washington that the NSA executive order will not be the last dirty little secret to see the light of day.
And contrary to Bush’s vituperative anger in calling for a Congressional investigation of the leak; and his calling the Times’ publication of the story “a shameful act”…these official sources are heroes. They have nothing to apologize for. They weighed the damage they might do to their country in speaking with the damage their program was doing to the country. They decided that the program did more damage that it was worth. I respect and honor them for that. I would hope that some reasonable Republicans would see the truth in this.