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Putting tolerance for leaks to the test

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When President Obama's critics on the right accuse him of constitutional excesses they consider "outrageous," I tend to ask a simple question: did these same critics express any concerns at all when Dick Cheney said the Office of the Vice President isn't part of the executive branch? If not, I'm inclined to take their cries less seriously.

Similarly, when conservatives say they're incensed about leaks related to national security, I tend to ask another simple question: were they at all bothered by the Valarie Plame scandal?

Yesterday, Mitt Romney based a large portion of his VFW speech, ostensibly about his foreign policy vision, to complaining about leaks. The Republican candidate called the leaks "contemptible," adding, "It betrays our national interest. It compromises our men and women in the field. And it demands a full and prompt investigation by a special counsel, with explanation and consequence."

And yet, five years ago, Romney defended Scooter Libby, and condemned the investigation into the Plame leak as a "political vendetta." And this year, the connection is even more dramatic.

Shortly after the candidate's speech in Reno, Nevada, the Romney campaign sent out a press release citing former Under Secretary of Defense for Policy Eric Edelman, who is listed as a Romney campaign advisor.... Edelman, however, was implicated in the country's last major national security leak investigation -- the outing of CIA agent Valeria Plame -- during his time in the Bush administration.

Edelman served under former Vice President Dick Cheney in the 1990s. From February 2001 to June 2003, he worked as Principal Deputy Assistant to the Vice President for National Security Affairs, where he served directly under former Cheney aide Scooter Libby. According to the Justice Department, Edelman, identified as "Principal Deputy" in Scooter Libby's indictment, originally suggested the idea to Libby to start leaking information about Joe Wilson's trip to Niger.

Making matters slightly worse, Richard Hohlt, a lobbyist bundler for Romney, was described as a "go-between" in the outing of Plame.

What was that Romney was saying about "contemptible" betrayals that compromise our security?