When Obama Said He Would Run the Most Transparent Administration Ever, Who Knew He Was Talking About Intel?
Administrations are always schizo about leaks, fulminating against those that make officials look bad, but strategically leaking information that officials believe casts them in a good light. Then there is the Obama administration, which takes this to a politicized extreme.
Consider stories from just the last month:
- The administration gives the makers of a film about the mission that killed Osama bin Laden unprecedented access to intelligence and Special Operations Command personnel.
- Details about the mission that uncovered a new “underwear bomber” plot are released. It was revealed that a UK passport holding Saudi-born Yemeni had infiltrated Al Qaeda in the Arab Peninsula, and had been accepted as a suicide bomber. This revelation has British and Saudi intelligence hopping mad.
- Most recently, on Friday, the NYT ran an excerpt from an upcoming David Sanger book revealing that (a) the US was behind the Stuxnet worm that disabled Iranian centrifuges, and (b) the Obama administration had increased the intensity of the program. The administration made no effort to prevent publication of this material, and indeed, it is plainly obvious that it eagerly cooperated with it.
Note that all of these leaks are intended to make the administration look stalwart on national security. Note further that they all are extraordinarily damaging to national security, especially the last two. These leaks are incredibly short-sighted: they compromise the United States’ ability to undertake similar operations in the future and make foreign intelligence services less likely to cooperate in highly sensitive and dangerous operations. The provide details that will make future human- and cyber-intelligence operations far harder to conduct.
And for what? Need you ask why an administration would take such a short sighted view? Right now Obama’s time horizon is five months and counting. Economic news is a litany of dreary stories. Obamacare will likely be struck down by the Supreme Court. Romney is proving to be a more formidable opponent than expected. National security has always been an Achilles Heel for Democratic candidates. Need a map?
And if you are still skeptical that leaking of the most sensitive defense and intelligence operations is political, consider that David Axelrod, the Creature From the Black Lagoon (i.e., Chicago politics) and Red Diaper Baby, regularly attended “kill list” meetings at which Obama decided at whom he would hurl his thunderbolts.
I know that defense, security, and intelligence have always been politicized, and that leaks have been used as a political weapon. But it should be no surprise that this hyper-partisan, hyper-politicized administration has taken damaging leaking to such an egregious extreme.