Press: Shifting the Attack on Leaks

The CIA director hints at prosecution of news organizations

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It is not clear how serious the CIA chief is about bringing the Post and other news organizations to court; not the least of Casey's difficulties, of course, is that many of the classified leaks he deplores come from the Government, including his own department. According to agency officials, Casey does not truly contemplate bringing suit against all five newspapers and magazines, but only cited them to Bradlee to underline his concern about publication of the Woodward piece. "It seems as if Bill Casey was shooting with an automatic weapon against the Washington Post and forgot to release the trigger," says an agency official. "It is not a CIA-vs.-the-press campaign."

Even if Casey persists, the final say on prosecution belongs to Attorney General Edwin Meese. At the moment, Justice Department lawyers are cool to the idea. "We're not hot to trot on this thing," says one Justice official. That lack of enthusiasm is mirrored on Capitol Hill by lawmakers who deal regularly with the CIA. Says Democratic Senator Patrick Leahy of Vermont, vice chairman of the Select Committee on Intelligence: "When you go after press organizations, you're treating the symptoms rather than the problem."

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