Don't Blame The Whistleblowers

Weekly commentary by CBS Evening News anchor and Face the Nation host Bob Schieffer.

At my age, nothing much surprises me, but my jaw dropped when I read the FBI has been trying to go through the files of dead columnist Jack Anderson to see if he had any classified documents.

Mind you, Anderson was 83 when he died and did virtually no work for 15 years because of Parkinson's, but the FBI has been pressing his family to get at those files. The family said no.

Dare I state the obvious: that with Osama Bin Laden still on the loose, maybe there are more important things for the FBI to do.

And it happened the same week the CIA fired an agent for hanging out with Washington Post reporter Dana Priest, who just won a Pulitzer Prize for revealing the CIA is operating a secret prison system. The Justice Department will decide whether to bring charges.

Almost every day now brings news of another leak investigation, but it's not the leakers, it's what they're leaking that scares me.

After all, why should a democracy be operating secret prisons anyway? If the government hadn't told us they exist, can we ever be sure who might wind up inside them?

Isn't finding out stuff like that what reporters are supposed to do?

As for rifling through Jack Anderson's files, surely that will founder in its own silliness now that it's been exposed.

But you do have to wonder what some government zealot will try next, maybe reopening the hunt for the killer rabbit that once attacked Jimmy Carter's canoe? No one has seen the beast since Mr. Carter fought it off with an oar. Might still be out there and dangerous. If it still has teeth.


E-mail Face the Nation.

By Bob Schieffer