Back in 2012, I suggested that the Senate use Leon Panetta's confirmation hearing for CIA director to clear up one of Washington's more interesting media mysteries—who leaked Daniel Patrick Moynihan's authorship of controversial memo that used the phrase "benign neglect" in reference to the black community. Moynihan was previously author of a controversial report, "The Black Family: Then and Now." In a nutshell, Moynihan was pilloried by the liberal intelligensia for a supposedly insensitive and misguided approach to racial issues, but decades later it turns out even liberals acknowledge he was quite prescient in many ways. Nonetheless, the leak was quite damaging to the late senator's reputation and the Nixon White House in 1970. Leon Panetta was fingered for the leak in The New Republic shortly afterward, though it's never been proven he was the source. (For more background, see my older post on this matter.)
Obviously, establishing whether or not Panetta can keep his mouth shut would be an important qualification for CIA director, but congress didn't bother asking him about his role in significant political flap four decades prior. When Leon Panetta exited the CIA post, he did so by thumbing his nose at classified information protocols to make sure his $3 million book deal went off without a hitch. Once again, Leon Panetta seems to have no compunction about sensitive leaks that further his career. In fact, in that same memoir he jokingly alludes to his leaky nature, saying that the New York Time's Elizabeth Bumiller called him "'another species entirely' from my more taciturn predecessor. Guilty. As I told the press, I'm Italian, and that's the way I am."
Again, leaky Leon's penchant for self-serving leaks is something to keep in mind if Hillary runs for president. Panetta will probably be a significant part of that effort and strategic press leaks seem to be something the Clintons have long embraced.
UPDATE: I wrongly conflated some details regarding Moynihan and the memo, and have clarified things.
Yesterday, the Washington Post had a lengthy report on how former CIA director Leon Panetta was sending out copies of his book nearly a month before it cleared the CIA's internal revue process to ensure that no sensitive national security information was being revealed. According to the Post, Panetta clashed with his former agency repeatedly throughout the process.
My review of former top CIA lawyer John Rizzo’s book Company Man appears in the current issue of this magazine. A friend in a high place who read the review pointed out to me that the book adds something significant to our understanding of the Valerie Plame, Scooter Libby, Richard Armitage, Judith Miller, Robert Novak imbroglio.
In response to a report that classified information had been leaked to the makers of the Hollywood movie Zero Dark Thirty, Kathryn Bigelow and Mark Boal, Congressman Peter King, chairman of the House Committee on Homeland Security, says he's concerned.
In a letter to the White House, four members of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence asked President Obama whether recent disclosures to the press of classified information on the Benghazi terrorist attacks were authorized by the Obama administration or illegal leaks subject to prosecution.
Rep. Mike Rogers, chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, has released a statment urging the Obama White House to cooperate with authorities on the national security leaks investigation.
President Obama's top political adviser, David Axelrod, came under heavy fire this morning on MSNBC this morning about high-level national security allegedly coming from the White House:
Axelrod at first dances around the issue, claiming that others do not believe that the leaks are coming from the White House (which is not the same as saying, with absolute certainty, that the leaks did not come from individuals in the White House).
Mitt Romney will hit President Obama for high-level national security leaks coming from the White House, according to excerpts of the speech the Republican presidential candidate will deliver later today at the VFW in Reno, Nevada. Romney will call the leaks "contemptible" and a betrayal of "our national interest."
Senator Dianne Feinstein, a top Democratic from California, accused the Obama White House of leaking national security information at a recent event in Washington, D.C. Here's video of Feinstein's accusation: