Tuesday, June 12, 2012 at 9:32 AM
No doubt you’ve seen Republicans and their right-wing hit men (most notably pundit Charles Krauthammer) all over the media accusing the White House of compromising nationality security just to make President Obama look good.
Their accusations pertain to disclosures (aka leaks) that enabled the New York Times and other publications to report on how the United States (and Israel) launched cyber-attacks to undermine Iran’s nuclear and military capability. Curiously enough, the code name for this operation was “The Stuxnet Olympic Games.”
By all accounts the attacks, which actually began during the Bush Administration, were very successful … until Iran realized in 2010 that its systems were infected by the Stuxnet worm. But, apropos of leaks, reports are that a mother virus called “The Flame” is capable of giving birth to another infection to take up where Stuxnet left off – worming its way through those nuclear and military systems.
At any rate, the accuser-in-chief is Senator John McCain (R-AZ); notwithstanding that everything he says seems suffused with pathological resentment over losing the White House and title of commander-in-chief to Obama in 2008:
Such disclosures can only undermine similar ongoing or future operations and, in this sense, compromise national security. For this reason, regardless of how politically useful these leaks may be to the president, they have to stop.
They’re intentionally leaking information to enhance President Obama’s image as a tough guy for the elections. That is unconscionable.
(The New York Times, June 5, 2012)
Alas, these accusations are resonating. Mind you, it’s not as if this White House is the first to leak information to make the president look good. In fact, accusing a White House of leaking is rather like accusing a dog of barking.
The problem is that this White House has leaked so ostentatiously it has offended the national-security sensibilities even of Democrats like Senator Diane Feinstein of California. Most notable in this respect is the way it disclosed classified information about the way Obama personally selects terrorists from a “kill list” to be taken out by drone strikes.
But even my sensibilities were offended when the White House began leaking operational details about the killing of Osama bin Laden as if it were providing post-game analysis after winning the Super Bowl.
I feel constrained to admonish the Obama Administration and American media alike to appreciate that the transparency in government that applies to civilian activities does not, indeed should not, apply to military operations. Specifically, disclosing blow-by-blow details about this covert operation was not only unnecessary, it was manifestly foolhardy. A general overview would have sufficed.
Frankly, I fear that in this age of Facebook, Twitter, and WikiLeaks – when people seem obsessed with knowing everything about everything, there’s far too little regard for the critical role secrecy plays in “covert” military operations (i.e., before, during, and after they are executed).
(“Osama bin Laden Is Dead,” The iPINIONS Journal, May 3, 2011)
The irony, however, is that it’s being widely reported that the Obama White House has conducted twice as many internal investigations to plug unauthorized leaks (six) as all White Houses from George Washington to George W. Bush combined (three).
Which is why there can be no denying the specter of payback among Republicans for the way the Bush White House was pilloried and prosecuted for leaking the name of CIA operative Valerie Plame. And just as VP Cheney’s chief of staff Scooter Libby was convicted for attempting to cover up that leak, Republicans are clearly hoping they can ensnare a top official in this White House for attempting to cover up these leaks.
Accordingly, McCain and others are calling for an independent counsel to investigate (or go on a witch hunt as would be more the case). In fact, they are salivating for their pound of flesh. This was made abundantly clear when Obama’s attempt to shame them – by reacting to their accusations with righteous indignation during a press conference on Friday – had no effect at all:
The notion that my White House would purposely release classified national security information is offensive. It’s wrong.
(CBS News, June 11, 2012)
Hell, even his attempt to pacify them – by having Attorney General Eric Holder appoint two prosecutors from the Justice Department to investigate these leaks – had no effect. For instead of being pacified they greeted this gesture by accusing him of using the Justice Department to cover up the leaks.
Clearly the only thing that will satisfy McCain and his cohorts is the appointment of an independent counsel to do to Obama what independent counsel Ken Starr did to Bill Clinton: find some reason to impeach him. But we’ve been there, done that. It ain’t gonna happen.
Still, it behooves all White House officials to remember that, when it comes to political witch-hunts, it’s never the alleged crime (the leaking) but always the cover up (lying to federal authorities about it) that gets you….
Osama bin Laden is dead