Published June 11, 2012
Soon after Navy SEALs nailed Usama bin Laden, secret operational details appeared in the media. According to a new book, then-Defense Secretary Robert Gates was so alarmed by the breach that he approached the national security director, Tom Donilin, and suggested a change in communications.
What is it, asked Donilin.
Said Gates: “Shut the f--k up!”
Too bad Team Obama didn’t listen. Instead, they have been blabbing ever since, spilling national security secrets to the point where even Democrats are outraged.
“Loose lips sink ships” was the mantra during World War II, and Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California is among those echoing that warning now. Head of the Senate panel on intelligence, she blasted the “avalanche of leaks” on the drone program and the Stuxnet computer virus, saying, “It puts our nation’s security in jeopardy.”
President Obama, after more than a week of silence, finally conceded the problem. He said Friday that the information is “classified for a reason” and that “these are criminal acts when they release information like this.” Then he insisted accusations that his team was guilty are “offensive.”
Right, and Bill Clinton never had sex with that woman. All that was missing from Obama’s unconvincing denial was the angry finger-wagging.
Attorney General Eric Holder later named two prosecutors to lead investigations, but did not make them independent from his oversight. That smells like a fix. With Obama already declaring the White House innocent, whom will the gumshoes investigate? George W. Bush? Martians?
Besides, as Pete King, the GOP chairman of the House homeland security panel, notes, the leaks fit a pattern. Always, they serve one purpose: to make Obama look tough on terror.
“You have chapter and verse of these programs,” King told me. “It has to come from the top.”
The case is not an open-ended whodunit. The motives are obvious and the potential suspects well known.
Consider how The New York Times described its sources for an article on drones that includes quotations from Obama and Donilin about how Obama examines pictures of suspected terrorists before deciding which will die. One passage describes a meeting on Jan. 19, 2010, and attributes the details to “two officials present.” The entire program is a classified secret.
White House logs should reflect who attended that meeting. Real prosecutors would put everybody under oath, before a grand jury, and ask away.
A second Times account revealed that Israel and the US produced the Stuxnet virus and launched a cyberwar against Iran’s nuclear computers. The article described a 2010 meeting on the classified program, using quotations from Obama and Vice President Joe Biden attributed to “members of the president’s national security team who were in the room.”
Again, the logs should show who was there.
The two articles contained more than 10,000 words, yet the White House did not dispute a single claim or quotation. The Times said in a statement that the administration asked it to remove some technical details, but has not said it was asked to stop publication.
The only dispute about content came from campaign guru David Axelrod, who denied a Times claim that he attended the drone meetings. Again, let’s go to the attendance lists.
Most important, nobody in the White House expressed an iota of outrage that so much classified material had been disclosed. It was only after public criticism that Obama felt compelled to say something.
Holder’s action followed, but the notion that the Department of Justice can be trusted to investigate the White House is a farce. It is thoroughly politicized and wouldn’t dare go against the president.
That’s the whole reason for the special counsel authority. It permits a probe independent of the executive branch that is free to find the truth. Clinton and Bush both went that route under pressure, and Obama must follow them.
Will he? Color me skeptical. In this case, Obama can’t handle the truth.
To read more from Michael Goodwin on additional topics including New York's Mayor Michael Bloomberg, click here.