Eric Edelman, Leaker Extraordinaire

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.  Acivil and constitutionally correct response to her question would nothave required a public and unclassified answer.  So far as I know, shedoes not have a record of unauthorized disclosure of classifiedinformation.  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."  In fact, a prudent program of withdrawal wouldrequire many months.  Such contingency plans would rightly be keptsecret for the reasons that Edelman mentions.  Secrets can be kept. Edelman knows that.  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.

  1. Anonymous says:

    I’ve yet to see anything that implies contingency planning for any strategy in Iraq has been prepared. But if memory serves, Tommy Franks was blabbing about contingency planning BEFORE the first military strikes in Iraq. Why was that different?

    Oh, right, that was propaganda — and HRC isn’t inside the fenceline, so she wouldn’t be using it for propaganda to promote this administration’s efforts. More specifically, promotion of Cheney’s efforts.

    What exactly is Cheney’s portfolio now, 6-plus years into this administration? Cheney ordered USSTRATCOM in 2005 to develop contingency planning for responses to future terrorist attacks like that of 9/11; if this is in his purview, what else is? Contingency planning for any military effort? Was Edelman charged with guarding this part of Cheney’s portfolio, even at the risk of stepping on Gates’ turf?

  2. Anonymous says:

    Grudingly it’s fair to admit that Hillary’s request did indeed represent that of a forward thinking leader. She has stated repeatedly that if we’re not out of Iraq by the time she becomes Pres, then she will get the job done and since estimates roll in that it would take 2 yrs to accomplish, her question not only has standing but it is timely.

  3. masaccio says:

    Wow. Link is right, text should read: Clinton’s letter requests that a briefing be provided to the relevant Congressional committees, where secrecy regimes are in place. Read it here.

  4. radiofreewill says:

    All of sudden Hillary is showing some skillz!

    The Momma is folding her arms – Junior’s time playing Johnny Space Commander is almost over.

    By the end of September, only future losers will be standing with Bush on Iraq.

    Smirky is way overdue for a humbling.

    Hillary is saying she’ll give it to him.

  5. sighing says:

    I am not a Hillary fan. I cannot understand how anyone, given her vote to go into Iraq and her subsequent denials, very thin denials, can ever consider her now a strong woman supporting the dissolution of the so called â€war†in Iraq. I am sorry, I just cannot understand how anyh person is willing to gloss over that vote, and promote her for president of the US. As time goes on, I expect that I will no longer be posting on the threads and blogs that seem to promote Hillary Clinton. I have made up my mind, and it ain’t her.

  6. Anonymous says:

    Are you saying that this site promotes HRC. Where did you get that idea? This site does not endorse any candidate, as far as I know. I am not a poster at TNH, just a reader, but I have never seen any endorsements, just individuals expressing their own personal preferences.

  7. Sue says:

    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.

    I read the letter Edelman wrote to Hillary! and it didn’t seem nasty to me. Certainly not nasty in the sense that Hillary! has made it out to be. And didn’t Hillary! release the letter to the press? I think I read somewhere she was responsible for it being made public. Sounds to me like she is using it for the reasons being discussed here.

  8. radiofreewill says:

    Jftr, I’m not endorsing Hillary, either.

    I’m saying she’s showing admirable political skill by pointing out that Bush hasn’t even begun to order the Pentagon to prepare withdrawal contingency plans.

    It’s a calling-out to ’do the right thing’ and show good judgment.

    Will Bush continue to be obstinately, recklessly attached to his ’mission’ and delusionally disconnected from the reality on the ground?

    It’s time Bush faced reality. The Occupation is not ’winnable’ through military means alone. The political and social means neccessary to stabilize a functioning goverment infrastructure that can reliably deliver basic community services like security, electricity and medical treatment are sorely lacking, if existent, at all.

    They’ve asked us to leave.

    It’s not getting better.

    It’s good political judgment by her is all I’m saying.

  9. Anonymous says:

    I loathe HRC and most of the foreign policy and economic types that will re-enter the executive branch with her. But she’s absolutely right to press this issue.

    Surely lots of people here have had the experience of reading a blog post discussing DoD contingency plans to attack Iran, or something similarly calamitous, and the almost-immediate appearance of commenters downplaying the significance of such plans by saying â€Those are just contingency plans. The Pentagon has contingency plans for everything, and it would be irresponsible of them not to.â€

    Well, either those commenters are correct, in which case there are contingency plans but no one will admit to their existence, or they’re wrong, and contingency plans are not developed in cases where the political leadership simply doesn’t want to hear about it.

    I believe those commenters are correct. The failure to draw up contingency plans for withdrawal in a situation where almost two hundred thousand troops are deployed (and another fifty thousand or so mercenaries paid with U.S. contracts) is very difficult to credit.

    So the relevant committees of Congress have a right to see them, if they exist, or to demand that they be developed, if they don’t.

    The administration was allowed by a supine Republican Congress to invade Iraq with no more postwar plans in place than â€protect the oil fields and cobble together a puppet governmentâ€. Even someone like me, convinced that the occupation could never have succeeded in achieving any worthwhile U.S. objectives no matter how â€competently executedâ€, is willing to grant that there could have been orders of magnitude less suffering and devastation if there had been serious planning (or implementation of what serious planning there was, the State Dept’s project).

    It would be wildly irresponsible for this Congress, elected on the basis that they would conduct serious oversight, to allow this regime to proceed one more day without either producing the contingency withdrawal plans that exist or (worst case) beginning the production of such plans.