Sen. Hank Brown, R-Colo., has proposed an investigation to )) find out who leaked Anita Hill's FBI interview and her confidential statement to the Senate Judiciary Committee. Sen. George Mitchell, D-Maine, the majority leader, says he also supports such an investigation. We trust he means it. He may be conflicted. The leaker is almost surely a senior Democratic senator or a member of such a senator's staff.
Some critics of the leaking of the statement and the interview blame the press for reporting what was in the documents. Some have suggested that Senate investigators or FBI agents should force the reporters who broke the story to identify their sources ,, or be charged with contempt. That is unnecessary. It should be easy enough to find the leaker in this particular situation, given the small number of persons with access to the documents.
Coercing journalists with legal process is also unwise. It is the hallmark of closed societies, for one thing. For another, a curious and unintimidated press is a requirement for effective government. Washington officials and journalists depend on leaks to keep the public and officialdom informed of what is happening. Bureaucrats at all levels leak. So do legislative staffers, members of Congress and even presidents. Often it is how they communicate with each other.