A lot of people, including Maria Bartiromo of Fox Business, think the person behind the leak of Justice Alito’s draft on Dobbs is going to be discovered or revealed very soon, apparently going on the assumption that the leak must have come from a clerk for one of the three liberal justices, and there are only 12 of them, so it shouldn’t be hard to figure out which one. I am not so sure.
The identity of the leaker is the certainly the most prized identification hunt since Deep Throat back in the Watergate era. Over the years there were numerous authors speculating with convincing chains of circumstantial evidence about the identity of Deep Throat, with top candidates including John Sears (Leonard Garment’s theory) or Al Haig (Len Colodny and Robert Gettlin). Yet the actual identity of FBI agent Mark Felt held for more than 30 years.
Like the Supreme Court leak last week, the number of people who could have been Deep Throat in 1972 and 1973 was fairly small, and yet Felt still wasn’t a primary candidate for a long time (though I think I recall that Nixon complained about “that SOB Felt” in one of the Watergate tapes). Given that the Politico story was routed through one of their national security reporters, one can speculate that the leaker was instructed in the high arts of tradecraft to cover up any documentary tracks.
On the other hand, one can equally imagine the leaker coming forward to become this generation’s Daniel Ellsberg, celebrated leaker of the Pentagon Papers. To be sure, the person’s formal professional legal career would be over, but the leaker will become an instant rock star on the left, and almost certainly offered a tenure-track faculty position at Yale Law School. All the more so if the final decision draws back from a full reversal of Roe—never mind whether the leak caused a shift or not.
One curious note is that NPR’s Nina Totenberg thinks the leak must have come from a conservative justice:
“The leading theory is a conservative clerk who was afraid that one of the conservatives might be persuaded by Chief Justice Roberts to join a much more moderate opinion,” Totenberg said during an appearance Sunday on ABC’s This Week.
“Leading theory”? I suppose it might be a “leading theory” at NPR, but certainly not among anyone with a normally functioning brain. This might be pure disinformation designed to throw up fog to help a leftist leaker cover their tracks. But my simple theory is that Totenberg can’t believe that a left-leaning law clerk would leak to anyone else but her, so it has to be from a conservative justice. In other words, she’s angry and jealous that she’s been scooped. I’ll bet she has been heavily trolling for leaks on this case for months now, without success. Hell hath no fury like a vain leftist journalist scorned.
SCOTT adds: In the classic 1974 Commentary article “Did the press uncover Watergate?,” Edward Jay Epstein noted: “The prosecutors at the Department of Justice now believe that [Woodward and Bernstein’s] mysterious source was probably Mark W. Felt, Jr., who was then a deputy associate director of the FBI, because one statement the reporters attribute to ‘Deep Throat’ could only have been made by Felt.” Ed also expressed the belief that Deep Throat was probably a composite character, but he had the source identified very early on. Ed’s answer to the question posed in the title of his article was “no.”