I’ve been waiting to see if Pat Lang weighed in on the Hillary letter controversy because he’s the blogosphere’s expert (indeed, an expert in any venue) on the hazards of supply lines and withdrawal. And his response is as good as I expected, starting with his citation of the constitutional basis for Hillary’s inquiry. But I wanted to make explicit one of the criticisms that Lang makes only implicitly. He says:
Senator Clinton had every right to ask if there were seriouscontingency plans being made about HOW we would withdraw from Iraq.Â Acivil and constitutionally correct response to her question would nothave required a public and unclassified answer.Â So far as I know, shedoes not have a record of unauthorized disclosure of classifiedinformation.Â Others do, (and not all of them in the Congress), but shedoes not.
As Senator Clinton has observed, "You don’t snap your fingers, andbegin to withdraw."Â In fact, a prudent program of withdrawal wouldrequire many months.Â Such contingency plans would rightly be keptsecret for the reasons that Edelman mentions.Â Secrets can be kept. Edelman knows that.Â It is not true that everything "leaks" to themedia. [my emphasis]
Lang is talking about the suggestion in Edelman’s letter …
As you know, it is long-standing departmental policy that operational plans, including contingency plans, are not released outside of the Department.
… that Hillary can’t know about DOD’s imaginary contingency plans because they’re secret.
Lang is suggesting–though he doesn’t say it–that it’s not Hillary you have to worry about leaking stuff to the press. And he’s right. As I pointed out the other day, Eric Edelman was the guy who first came up with the brilliant idea of leaking information to the press to rebut Joe Wilson. His immediate supervisor from that era, Scooter Libby, did end up leaking to the press–including Valerie Wilson’s identity. And by all appearances, the guy Edelman is currently stooging for by writing such nasty letters to Hillary–Dick Cheney–is the guy who ordered that leak.
So to be fair to Edelman, maybe he really doesn’t know that Hillary can keep a secret. But that’s only because leaking classified information to the press is such a common habit for his cabal that he can’t imagine people who respect our national security sufficiently to keep secrets, secret.