Some of you may be saying.."Watergate??" If so, your high school (and college) education has been sadly neglected.
Watergate-40 years ago-was an attempt by a profane, meglamonical president to use all the powers he had, and others he assumed he had ("When the President does it, it's right" was the excuse Nixon used to tv interviewer David Frost, placing the office--but especially himself--above the law) to pursue an ever explanding list of "enemies" by means fair, but most often very, very foul. And for that, and 2 young reporters, backed by a great paper, our country escaped serious danger to our democratic institutions, in a scandal which began with a White house led burglary of the Democratic National Committee offices in a building called Watergate.
Now Washington, which seldom learns from either history or experience, is trying again to probe leaks from "the government." This time it's said those leaks, reported in the media, are said to harm national security. But, as the 2 Watergate reporters, Woodward and Bernstein, said Sunday on CBS's "Face the Nation", reporters have a much better track record at protecting national security than many federal agencies.
"Leaks" are an American institution. "Leaks" are a way of life in DC. "Leaks" are not new, and have been used by many administrations over the years to seek public approval (or disapproval when sending up a trial balloon.)
My favorite story about government leaks involves a famous Kentuckian... the late Ed Prichard, a brilliant man who in the 30s was a member of the White House inner circle.
He was in a small group, so the story goes, meeting with FDR to discuss a major new program the President wanted Congress to pass. After some discussion, Mr. Roosevelt decided to send up just such a trial balloon to see how the program might be received.
"Prich", he said, "you leak this to the Post."
"I can't do that, Mr. Preisdent," the young Brain Truster replied.
I can just see FDR, looking incredulously through his pince-nez: "Why not?"
"Because, Mr. President, I already have."