Bob Woodward’s Monday-morning exclusive on a 66-page report from Gen. Stanley McChrystal to President Barack Obama about Afghanistan policy was a rite of passage for the new administration: the first major national security leak and a sure sign that the celebrated Washington Post reporter has penetrated yet another administration.
White House officials greeted the leak with a grimace, but none suggested they’d begin a witch hunt for the leaker. Woodward is famous for his access to the principals themselves — he recently traveled to Afghanistan with National Security Adviser James Jones — and leak hunters couldn’t expect with confidence that they’d find themselves disciplining just an undisciplined junior staffer.
But inside the White House and out, the leak touched off another familiar Washington ritual: speculation about the leaker’s identity and motives.
This is a capital parlor game that, for the Obama administration, has some dire implications. Unless the West Wing somehow orchestrated an elaborate head fake — authorizing what looks at first blush like an intolerable breach of Obama’s internal deliberations — the Woodward story suggests deeper problems for a new president than a bad news cycle. (CONTINUES HERE AT POLITICO)