Last night on Fox News, former Bush policy czar Karl Rove argued that the administration is justified in withholding information from Congress. “It is so dangerous to give Congress information” because they leak it, Rove argued.
ThinkProgress interviewed Rep. Adam Smith (D-WA) earlier today, and asked him to respond to that accusation by Rove:
First of all, leaks come far, far, far more often from the administration than they do from Congress. So if the issue is we can’t tell anyone because they might leak it, well then you better not do it at all, because you’re going to have to tell somebody and somebody’s going to leak it. Vastly more amounts of secret programs have come out of the administration than they have come out of Congress.
Smith added that the importance of informing Congress is because of the need for checks and balances. “We have oversight responsibility for the intelligence community,” he explained. Smith said that if the intelligence community pursues wrong or illegal activities, Congress is held responsible for it. “If we’re not briefed fully and in a timely manner,” he said, referencing the recent example of Speaker Nancy Pelosi, “then we’re being held responsible for things we didn’t know about.” Watch it:
Smith is of course correct that the Executive Branch leaks a great deal. After all, while working in the White House, Karl Rove himself leaked classified national security information, helping to damage the career of a covert CIA agent. Moreover, the secret program that has been reported in the press in recent days (purportedly a targeted assassination program) was leaked to the Wall Street Journal by “two former intelligence officials familiar with the matter” in its report — not Congress.