From an editorial Wednesday in the Dallas Morning News:
President Barack Obamas news conference last week will resonate for one statement, and, arguably, not the right one.
Its one thing to assert, The private sector is doing fine. Its quite another to state categorically, The notion that my White House would purposely release classified national security information is offensive. Its wrong.
Despite Republican carping, Obamas role as source or orchestrator of national security leaks remains unproven. At issue are sensitive disclosures to New York Times reporters that create suspicion because they serve almost exclusively to toughen Obamas commander-in-chief image.
But simply reading The Times reveals where its reporters are learning about sophisticated virus attacks on Irans nuclear computers; Obamas personal management of a terrorist kill list; the drone strike program; the apparent infiltration of al-Qaida cells.
The Times cites current and former advisers, senior administration officials and members of the presidents national security team in the room for meetings with Obama.
To believe Obamas implausible denial, one also has to disbelieve The Times description of its sourcing.
Such classified leaks obviously make dangerous missions even more so for U.S. military and civilian diplomats. They also shake allies, who begin wondering if those Americans can keep anything secret.
As journalists, we understand the perpetual dance between source and reporter. One may have information, but often its not in the sources best interests to have his name attached.
The reporters pushback is identifying the sources level of authority while shielding his identity. A good reporter negotiates with the source to close the circle from administration official to senior administration official to member of the presidents national security team to maximize credibility.
A good reporter also understands that anonymous sources almost always have agendas. Leaks can make someone look good or make someone else look bad. Its neither offensive nor wrong to remember that, too.