Andy McCarthy has an interesting post on the just-opened leak investigations. He garners more reasons than I did to think that many of the recent high-profile leaks – not just on drones, but also on the Iranian cyber-operation – originated in the White House. And he argues against a DOJ criminal investigation on the ground that such an investigation will take forever, will not likely succeed, and will actually diminish public accountability for the leaks:
[O]nce a criminal investigation is officially opened, all the public flow of information stops. The Justice Department will now have a legitimate basis to tell Congress and the media that criminal investigations are secret — particularly once a grand jury is impaneled, subpoenas start being issued, and investigators start conducting interviews. Congress will also be stonewalled by other potential sources of information, who will tell staffers that, on the advice of counsel, they can neither comment on matters under investigation nor share any relevant documentary information. We, the public, will hear nothing more about the case until Holder’s handpicked team is good and ready to tell us. . . .
From a public interest standpoint, prosecuting the leakers is of minimal importance. We already know, in general, where the leaks came from . . . The salient matter at the moment is political accountability, not legal retribution. This transgression needs to be subjected to intense public scrutiny, as only Congress can do. What this situation needs right now is congressional hearings and political pressure to draw out the officials who gave information to the Times and to demonstrate the extent to which national security has been subordinated to the Obama reelection effort.
I doubt that the Olympics Games leak (as opposed, perhaps, to the drone and Bin Laden leaks and related packaging) was political in this sense, but McCarthy makes very good points about the effects of leak investigations on timely public accountability.