It has long been Washington folklore that the American ship of state is the only ship in the world that leaks from the top. So when William Casey, the director of the Central Intelligence Agency, complained last week that the Senate Intelligence Committee was leaking like a sieve, members had a ready response.
Most leaks in this town, they said, come not from them but from the executive branch.
``We've read in the newspaper about intelligence matters which we've never heard of before, things that have never been given to our committee,'' Sen. Patrick Leahy (D) of Vermont, the committee's vice-chairman, said to reporters.
``And when we see them, we call up and say, `What about that.' And they say, `We've been meaning to tell you about that. We'll be right over.'
``And I give them credit, usually we can get to know about it within just a few days of the time all the follow-up stories have been done in the press -- and often with almost as much detail.
Leahy recalled that several years ago, an intelligence briefing before the committee was ``simply a recap, a restatement, almost verbatim, of an article that had been in the newspaper two days before.''