The Corner

(No) Secret-Ary of State Biden

The man who John Kerry says he would appoint as America’s top diplomat has a propensity for loose lips. This from a September 11, 1987 NR editorial (titled “Purposeful Leaks”) which cites Dem Sen. Joe Biden’s threat to reveal secret Reagan Administration’s plans for dealing with Libya:

The conventional thing to say is that leaks are the political coin of the realm inside the Beltway. Politicians feed leaks to newsmen in order to curry favor, to advance their own goals, and to score points against political opponents. And no doubt they sometimes leak just for the thrill of it, as a demonstration of power and inside knowledge.

That is the conventional thing to say, and it is true as far as it goes, but something qualitatively different is in the air these days.

ABC’s Capitol Hill correspondent Brit Hume has charged that Senator Joseph Biden twice threatened to “go public” about Reagan Administration plans for covert action against Libya. The senator has denied this but—distinction with a difference—says that what he would have done was reveal the plans to a closed session of the full Senate. These days, that would be “going public.”