White House Treatment of Leaks Debated


Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Arlen Specter (R-Pa.) said this week that he would consider holding a hearing on the White House's alleged disparate treatment of leaks.

That came in response to a request from Senator Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) in a Justice Department Oversight Hearing with Attorney General Alberto Gonzales. During extensive questioning of the Attorney General on a range of subjects, Schumer, sometimes heatedly, suggested that the zeal with which the White House pursues leaks varies depending on the outlet that exposed it, with The New York Times getting hammered, say, while a leak in the Washington Times seems less threatening to the administration.

Gonzales said the differences in the treatment of leaks depends on the seriousness of the threat to national security. He declined to say how many leaks the government is currently investigating.

Citing an NPR story on the sometimes contentious relationship between the Justice Department and Specter, who has backed a federal shield law that would protect reporters from having to reveal information about their confidential sources, the chairman suggested that NPR run the entire 4-hour hearing, too.

Specter said that he thought maybe the White House would like to reverse the order of Articles 1 and 2 (which invests powers in the legislative and executive branches respectively), but Gonzales said the Constitution was fine as it was.