White House endangers national security with leaks to bolster Obama

June 12, 2012 05:07

Democrat Pat Cadell says Obama’s national security adviser is a “political hack” and is the leaker in chief. “It’s Tom Donilon.”

U.S. Senator John McCain (R-AZ) delivered the following remarks on the Obama Administration’s national security leaks on the floor of the United States Senate:

“Over the past few months, a disturbing stream of articles have come out. Common among them is that they cite leaked classified or highly-sensitive information in what appears to be a broader Administration effort to paint a portrait of President Obama as a strong leader on national security issues — information for which there is no legitimate reason whatsoever to believe should be out in the public domain. Indeed, its release only harms our national security and the men and women sworn to protect it.

“What price did the Administration apparently pay to proliferate such a presidential persona — highly-valued in an election-year? Access — access to senior administration officials who appear to have served as anonymous sources divulging extremely sensitive military and intelligence information and operations.

“With the leaks that these articles were based on, our enemies now know much more than they even did the day before they came out about important aspects of the Nation’s unconventional offensive capability and how we use them. 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. The fact that this Administration would aggressively pursue leaks perpetrated by a 22-year old Army private in the ‘Wikileaks’ matter and former CIA employees in other leaks cases but apparently sanction leaks made by senior Administration officials for political purposes is simply unacceptable. It also calls for the need for a special counsel to investigate what happened here.”


“In the latest of the recently published articles, published on June 1, 2012, The New York Timesdocumented in rich detail the President’s secret decision to accelerate cyber-attacks on Iran’s nuclear enrichment facilities with the computer virus that came to be known as Stuxnet. The author of the article, David Sanger, clearly states that former and current American officials spoke to him, but refused to do so on the record because the program is both highly classified and parts of it are ongoing. This is the first time that the U.S. government’s involvement in this classified operation has ever been revealed – an operation that was clearly one of the most tightly-held national security secrets in our country … until now.

“Other recent articles divulged critical and classified information regarding U.S. plans to expand the secret drone campaign against terrorists in Yemen and the Horn of Africa. One of these pieces was a sorry excuse for journalism that The New York Times published on May 29, 2012, which Charles Krauthammer rightly observed should have been entitled, ‘Barack Obama – Drone Warrior.’

“Finally, there was the recent article about the so-called ‘kill list’ – the highly classified or sensitive list of counterterrorism targets against whom the President had authorized lethal action. It was even reported in that article – on May 29, 2012 in the New York Times – that David Axelrod, the President’s chief political advisor, began attending the meetings in which this list was discussed. I find that interesting considering that the only conceivable motive for such damaging and compromising leaks of classified information is that it makes the President look good.

“These are not the only times I have been frustrated about national security-related leaks coming from this Administration. The Administration similarly helped journalists publish some of the highly sensitive tactics, techniques and procedures that enabled our special operations forces, including the classified name of the unit involved, to carry out the operation to kill Osama bin Laden last year. It is entirely possible that this flurry of anonymous boasting was responsible for divulging the identity of Dr. Shakil Afridi, the Pakistani doctor who assisted us in our search for Osama bin Laden and whose public exposure led to his detention and 33-year prison sentence in Pakistan. Our friends are not the only ones who read The New York Times.

“Let me be clear: I am fully in favor of transparency in government – I have spent my entire career in Congress furthering that principle. But, what separates these sorts of leaks from, say, the whistle-blowing that fosters open government or a free press is that these leaks expose no violations of law, abuses of authority, or threats to public health or safety. They are merely gratuitous and utterly self-serving.

“Indeed, these leaks may inhibit the Nation’s ability to employ the same or similar measures in its own defense in the future. How effectively the United States can conduct unmanned drone strikes against belligerents, cyber-attacks against Iran’s nuclear program, or military operations against terrorists in the future depends on the secrecy with which these programs are conducted. Such activities are classified or enormously sensitive for good reason – in many cases for reasons related to operational security or diplomacy. Their public disclosure should have no place in how this, or any other Administration, conducts itself.

“These are the kinds of operations and intelligence matters that no one should discuss publicly – not even the President.”

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