David Obey Lies to Catch the Leakers

David Obey has resorted to a time-honored trick for discovering the source of leaks.

On Iraq, things have apparently gotten so tense between centrists and liberals in the House Democratic Caucus that Appropriations Committee Chairman David Obey, D-Wis., has resorted to disinformation tactics.

Speaking to reporters Wednesday on the topic of the Iraq spending bill, Obey said, “I purposely gave several members of our caucus wrong information so that when it appeared in print I could see who the hell was leaking and who wasn’t.”

When a reporter asked if he was serious, Obey replied, “Yes. And so today I know the names of two members who will not be invited to further meetings.”

Obey’s staff was, of course, mum on who those members are. On his overall strategy for the spending bill, the chairman made clear he intends to send a message that “there is an end to our patience on this turkey operation.”

Of course, this is a dual edged sword: 100% of the members of the committee now know they can’t trust David Obey.

Via emailed tip from John Burgess.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Edgardo says:

    What a great competition! What is it worst the Senate or the House? Living in a Banana Republic I wonder how you have been able to assemble two chambers full of less-than-average BR’s nationals.
    Not surprise that for a long time none senator has been able to win the Presidency. Some still want to be President (I’m now waiting for Chuck Hagel to announce he’ll run) but I’m sure that none of the current 100 senators will be the next President.

  2. Beldar says:

    Did he tell them, I wonder, that the fresh water supplies on Midway Island were running low?

  3. legion says:

    If it’s only two members, it shouldn’t take a lot of detective work to figure out who the naughty children are. But is Obey talking about strictly the Dem Caucus, or his committee? The article seems to say it’s the caucus.

  4. I suspect that he may need to run the experiment again. Not because he didn’t find the right leaker this time, but because he could find another set next time.

    I don’t remember if it was real life or a novel, but I vaguely recall the idea that language in a report would be subtly altered. Key adjectives would be changed that conveyed the same sense, but using different words. The change would be made in the “explosive” portion of the report, what would most likely be quoted on a news article. They could then know who leaked to the reporter based on what adjectives were used in the quote.

  5. DC Loser says:

    YAJ – that method you describe is classic counterintelligence tradecraft. At least now the leakers will have to be more paranoid about what they’re doing and getting caught.