What goes around comes around
Days after the Sandy Berger issue failed to derail the Democratic momentum heading into the convention, another prominent Washington figure is being implicated in an investigation about sensitive national security documents. But you probably won't hear as much about this one, because he's a Republican:
By Pete Williams and Robert Windrem, NBC News
WASHINGTON - Information about a criminal investigation of possible intelligence leaks by Sen. Richard Shelby was referred to the Senate Ethics Committee on Thursday, senior law enforcement and intelligence officials have told NBC News. The information is related to a leak of intercepted al-Qaida communications just prior to the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.
The investigation centers on the leak of highly classified intelligence related to al-Qaida communications in June 2002, primarily to CNN.
CNN reported on June 20 that in one communication intercepted by the National Security Agency on Sept. 10, 2001, an individual was overheard saying, "The match begins tomorrow" while in another that same day, a second person said, "Tomorrow is zero hour." In both, the speakers were in Afghanistan and were speaking to individuals in Saudi Arabia. The intercept was not found until Sept. 12, 2001.
“Leaking the exact language would presumably tell the two ends of the conversation not to use that channel again since it had been compromised,” one senior U.S. intelligence official told NBC News.
I see far more wrong with this as I do with Berger inadvertently taking copies of documents from the National Archives. In this case, Shelby is outing a source of our intelligence; in the other, Berger's cramming for a hearing and wants to give good answers, compromising nothing. But that's not the point. The point is that it's the GOP that has tried to make an issue out of the Berger situation, screaming about a cover-up, and criminal negligence and the like. Funny, though, Shelby's alibi sounds strangely familiar:
"Of course, I have no knowledge as to the progress of the investigation and have had no contact with investigation officials for well over a year," Shelby said in that statement. " ... At no time during my career as a United States Senator and, more particularly, at no time during my service as Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence have I ever knowingly compromised classified information. To my knowledge, the same can be said about my staff. We have provided the investigation with our full cooperation in the past, and we will continue to do so."
That reads almost exactly like Berger's statement, which of course was derided by the right, and met with cries of "Sandy Berger must own up to the American people." Well, then Richard Shelby must as well. Once again, we see the GOP unable to deal with in their own backyard what they so knowingly criticize in others.