Who moved the goalposts?

Leaking classified information isn’t always a crime, but it always requires administrative action. Bush said that if anyone leaked classified information he’d take appropriate action. So howsa bout, Dubya?

Tom Maguire and the rest of Right Blogistan keep complaining that the media has “moved the goalposts” by misinterpreting GWB’s “Yes” when asked whether, if it came out that Rove had leaked Valerie Plame’s identity, he would be fired.

But that wasn’t Bush’s only comment on the subject. He also said:

Listen, I know of nobody — I don’t know of anybody in my administration who leaked classified information. If somebody did leak classified information, I’d like to know it and we’ll take the appropriate action.

Note that Bush said nothing about “committing a crime.”

Now we know what “take the appropriate action” means in Bushese. It means “Sit around and wait to see if our friend can beat the rap on a technicality.”

We also have the English translation of the Bushese idiom “I’d like to know.” It means “I will take no action to find out, and if the press finds out for me I will refuse to pay attention.”

More Bushese here.

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact: Markarkleiman-at-gmail.com