Originally published 10/14/2003
...Every administration since Woodrow Wilson's has lambasted leakers. And every president since Wilson has made discreet but routine use of the practice themselves -- personally, or through their minions, giving the press information on the sly when circumstances merited some truth, or untruth, become known.But the sometimes noble, sometimes ignoble, history of leaks goes back much further.George Washington grew infuriated with Alexander Hamilton for leaking information to the British during the Jay Treaty negotiations in the summer and fall of 1794. James Madison was exasperated when his secretary of state leaked documents to his enemies in the Federalist Party.During James K. Polk's administration, in 1848, John Nugent, a journalist for the New York Herald, published, based on a leak, the secret treaty ending the war with Mexico. When he refused to disclose his sources to Senate investigators, he was arrested and held for a month in a Capitol committee room, continuing to write his column at double his normal salary and going home at night with the sergeant at arms, who fed and housed him.
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