A NEW LEAK PROBE….Two weeks ago, at his year-end press conference, Bush responded to a question about whether the Justice Department would investigate the leak that exposed his warrantless-search program.

“There is a process that goes on inside the Justice Department about leaks, and I presume that process is moving forward. My personal opinion is it was a shameful act for someone to disclose this very important program in a time of war.”

Today, we learned that an investigation has already begun.

The Justice Department has opened an investigation into the leak of classified information about President Bush’s secret domestic spying program, Justice officials said Friday.

The officials, who requested anonymity because of the sensitivity of the probe, said the inquiry will focus on disclosures to The New York Times about warrantless surveillance conducted by the National Security Agency since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

In other words, Bush circumvented the law with warrantless searches, but it’s the whistleblower who’s facing a criminal investigation.

Inevitably, the right’s talking points will tell us that the administration’s critics are hypocrites. We wanted the Justice Department to probe the Plame leak, they’ll say, but not the “snoopgate” leak. But if Bush’s political allies can’t see the difference between exposing official wrongdoing and exposing a CIA agent to help cover up bogus pre-war claims, there’s just no hope for them.

Steve Benen

Follow Steve on Twitter @stevebenen. Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.