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Leaker-in-Chief

Jun 18, 2012, Vol. 17, No. 38 • By LEE SMITH
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McCain, who has called for a special prosecutor, has been the administration’s most vocal critic. The White House, says McCain, “got mad when I said these leaks were all meant to make the president look good.” But that’s the simplest explanation for the leaks: The White House has run an information operation that has put us and our allies at risk with no obvious benefit except to the prospects of Obama’s reelection.

McCain says he is cheered by the “widespread bipartisan anger at the leaks,” but Feinstein and other Democrats, such as John Kerry, say that the leaks are just a function of lax discipline and the administration’s poor housekeeping. However, there is evidence that the White House knows quite well what it’s doing.

In an excerpt from his just published book, Confront and Conceal: Obama’s Secret Wars and Surprising Use of American Power, from which the cyber war story was adapted for the Times, Sanger recounts how Pentagon officials “fumed” when White House counterterrorism czar John Brennan apparently gave away “operational secrets never shared outside the tribe.” Defense Secretary Robert Gates confronted the senior administration official he perhaps believed in the best position to enact, or at least forward, his recommendation for a “new strategic communications approach.” And what was that strategic approach? asked White House national security adviser Thomas Donilon. “Shut the f— up,” said Gates.

In other words, Defense Secretary Robert Gates thought President Obama’s national security adviser was responsible, directly or indirectly, for the leaks. And if Donilon is responsible, the buck stops with President Obama. 

To paraphrase the president, that his White House would purposely release classified national security information is offensive. And it’s wrong.

—Lee Smith

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