Tuesday, May 17, 2005

What Did He Know and When Did He Leak It?

In the wake of "Korangate," suffice it to say that Newsweek's journalistic credibility is, well, in the toilet. As usual, Michelle Malkin has an excellent take on the scandal, and links to superb posts by veteran journalist Mark Tapscott, who examines the abject failure of Newsweek's "journalistic standards and practices" and Ben Johnson at Front Page Magazine, who tallies the human cost of Newsweek's lies.

But there's another issue that needs further inquiry and investigation. According to Newsweek, the original source for the Koran item (identified as a "senior government official") had provided reliable information for the magazine in the past. Based on that comment, we can assume that this same official was a long-time leaker, willing to discuss sensitive or classified information with his good friend, ace Newsweek reporter Michael Isikoff.

Unless the U.S. Federal Code has changed in the last 24 hours, the unauthorized disclosure of that type of information is a crime. Here's hoping that the Department of Justice will launch a full-blown investigation, to find the leaker and determine how long he (or she) has been chatting with Newsweek and other media outlets. First Ammendment purists will have their knickers in a wad, but (as illustrated by the Newsweek debacle), the disclosure of sensitive information--even when it is proven false--has serious consequences. Anyone willing to traffic in that sort of information has no business serving in a senior DOD post. We need to find Isikoff's source, and arrange for his next government post at a broom factory--in the federal prison at Ft Leavenworth.

One final thought: remember the media furor over the supposed "outing" of Valerie Plame, the CIA official married to former Ambassador Joe Wilson? When the focus of the inquiry shifted from the Bush Administration to the reporters who "broke" that story, the press suddenly lost interest. I predict a similar pattern in the Newsweek affair. The MSM seems to fear any investigation that exposes its usual operating procedures--loosely sourced, "anonmyous" officials, composite sources, etc. Newsweek's apology is not enough. We need a full-scale inquiry to see (a) how the magazine got its story, and (b) find and punish the official that provided the erroneous information.

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