For those outside the Beltway it is essential to recognize there are two kinds of leaks--officially sanctioned and whistle blowers. The ones described in the previous paragraphs are the "officially sanctioned" variety. These are not unique to the Bush Administration or Republicans. Politicians through the years have shared classified information with journalists as part of a public relations effort to build support for a policy or attack critics.
Otherwise known as the ship of state leaks from the top.
Then there is the whistle blower variant. This is more important and, in my opinion, the most valuable. It exists to keep politicians honest and alert the public to serious policy disputes. The two most recent examples are the revelations that the United States was holding possible terrorists in secret prisons around the world and that George Bush was circumventing the law and approving illegal electronic surveillance inside the United States. While the Bush White House is certain that those responsible for these leaks are political partisans hell bent on damaging the President, it is really a sign that folks on the inside with a conscience finally decided to speak out.
... What is truly shocking is that many in the media, both print and electronic, seem ignorant of the difference between official and whistle blower leaks. In fact, some seem eager to carry water for the White House and feed the myth that the whistle blower leaks are putting us in jeopardy. Not surprisingly these are the same "journalists" who sought to excuse the leak of Valerie Plame's name as no big deal.
High level government leaks occur when there are policy/power struggles and anonymice wish to manipulate opinion without being held directly responsible. In general, worker bees do not leak to the news media. In general, they do not have the contacts and would not even know where to begin. When you see leaks pouring from the lower ranks of government, that is a signal that something is very much amiss.
Leaking puts you on a very slipperly slope. When is it whisle blowing and when is it ax grinding? It is not always so clear. And how can you trust your fellow workers if you know someone is leaking to the press?
How can the voters determine policy if the worker bees of the civil service undermine the polticians the voters elected? On the other hand, how can the civil service be expected to carry out directives they know are not merely illegal, but downright unconstitutional? I will repeat what I said before; it would have been better had these civil servants all have gone on the record and invoked the whistle blower protection act.
My resolution for 2006 is to do what I can to persuade people to speak on the record and protect whistle blowers.