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Good leaks and bad leaks

So when is a leak good and when is it bad? Just when I thought I finally had it figured out, someone comes along and muddies the waters again.

I used to think the New York Times and other major newspapers not only loved government leaks, but lived by them. Then when they got so apoplectic over Valerie Plame's "outing," I realized it must be considerably more nuanced than that. After much study, I determined that "good" leaks were ones which were damaging to the administration, and that "bad" leaks are the ones that could be viewed as beneficial.

Duly noted, and so far so good, but now we've got CIA officer Mary McCarthy being fired for leaking classified information, and things get complicated again. John Kerry, on ABC's "This Week," had this to say about it.

"Classification in Washington is a tool that is used to hide the truth from the American people.... I'm glad she told the truth."

So maybe that's the new standard -- whether the leak is true or not. True leaks are good, but bogus leaks are pernicious. But is a false leak really a leak? Isn't that actually "disinformation?" When does one become the other? And when does a "leaker" become a "whistleblower?"

See, it starts to get confusing again, and John Kerry, in typical Kerry fashion, does little to help clarify the issue. It seems he was against McCarthy's leak before he was for it.

"A CIA agent has an obligation to uphold the law, and clearly leaking is against the law. And nobody should leak."

Then he added even more nuance.

"If you're leaking to tell the truth, Americans are going to look at that, at least mitigate or think about what are the consequences that you . . . put on that person."

According to Kerry, this might be the first ever case of an illegal leak of classified information that's both good and bad. Not especially illuminating, but pretty much keeping in character, I guess.


Barry, the explanation is simple:

Whistleblowing, aka 'good leaks' are those which embarrass a sitting GOP president.

'Bad leaks' are those which serve to punish critics of a sitting GOP president.

When we allow people who have a disagreement with the administration which they serve to attempt to change policy by leaking it, we are headed towards anarchy.

The woman deserves a jail sentence and loss of her pension if found guilty. If she also is found to be the leak in the Times case, she deserves to be tried for treason and executed.

Enough is enough.

Let's see, when the President of the United States cherry picks intelligence to insta-declassify and leak to damage his perceived political opponents ... yeah, that's kind of bad.

When a whistleblower leaks information about illegal and immoral behavior, such as secret torture chambers sponsered by our allegedly elected President ... well, that does seem kind of good.

I would be willing to see both executed however, just to be fair.

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