Patrick Leahy - "Leaky Leahy"

Last Updated : May 05, 2010


Throughout his career, Senator Leahy has been caught leaking sensitive information to the press when doing so benefitted him or hampered his political opponents.  Senator Leahy leaked information about a plan to topple Ghadafi, about an intercept related to the Achille Lauro, and about an investigation into the Iran-Contra deals.  These leaks eventually caused him to resign his vice-chairmanship of the Senate Intelligence Committee and earned him the nickname "Leaky Leahy".


Achille Lauro leak

In a 1985 television interview, Mr. Leahy, then vice chairman of the Senate Intelligence committee, disclosed a top-secret communications intercept of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak's telephone conversations. The intercept had facilitated the capture of the Arab terrorists who had hijacked the cruise ship Achille Lauro and murdered American citizens. The leak cost the life of at least one Egyptian operative involved in the operation.


Moammar Gadhafi leak

In July 1987, The Washington Times reported that Senator Leahy had disclosed secret information about a 1986 covert operation planned by the Reagan administration to topple Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi. Federal intelligence officials told the paper that Senator Leahy had communicated a written threat to expose the operation directly to CIA Director William Casey. A few weeks later, news of the secret plan turned up in The Washington Post, causing it to be aborted.


Iran-Contra leak

In January of 1987, the NBC Nightly News ran a story about a report on the Iran-Contra affair. The report was drafted by the Senate Intelligence Committee. White House officials believed at the time that the report would exonerate President Reagan of involvement in the diversion of profits from the secret Iran arms sales to the Nicaraguan rebels. They hoped that it could limit the damage that the Iran-contra affair was inflicting on the Administration and they were pressing for its release. Democrats on the panel argued that the document was incomplete and not ready for public release. Although the report was not classified, it contained many new details about the Iran-Contra affair and the committee had voted against making it public.

A 6 month investigation followed to determine the source of the leak. On July 28, 1987, Senator Leahy released a statement that he was responsible to the leaked document. Senator Leahy claimed that he had shown the report to John Dancy, an NBC reporter, and allowed him to read sections of the document was to prove that it actually was full of gaps and not ready for release.  He also left Mr Dancy alone in his office with the document on his desk.


Resignation from Committee

Senator Leahy resigned from the Senate Intelligence Committee, of which he was Vice-Chair, in January of 1987 after seeing the news story. Senator Leahy claimed that as soon as he saw the story, he called the Committee chairperson and confessed. Senator Leahy expressed anger at himself for allowing a reporter to see the document and noted that his resignation from the committee was already scheduled for July of that year, and he simply accelerated the process due to anger at himself.



[1] Website: Washington Times Article: SPAKOVSKY: 'Leaky Leahy' seeks sensitive info - again Author: Hans A. von Spakovsky Accessed on: 05/05/2010


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