Leaks aren't the problem -- we need more disclosure, not less

And administrations, Democratic and Republican, have used the attention to enhance presidential power over national security. They know they can’t ignore the 24-7 media beast. They feed it continually, not just to help the public understand what is happening, but with an eye to the next turf battle, to the next election — and to their place in history, the first draft of which is now written in real time. …

In recent weeks, a number of news stories and books have included insider accounts of deliberations in the Situation Room and the Oval Office. Members of the House and Senate Intelligence committees have expressed concern that the stories reveal sensitive and classified information. Some have suggested that the Obama administration is leaking information for political gain. Two federal prosecutors have been assigned to investigate, and Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. is facing congressional demands that he appoint a special counsel. …

Are leaks about politics? Absolutely. Administrations that effectively explain what they are doing tend to be reelected; those that struggle to create a successful media narrative don’t. That is why officials go to great lengths to reconstruct how a consequential decision was made. “Tick-tock” news stories reveal conflicting options and heated exchanges, who was in the know, and whose views carried the day with the president.