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'Another Leak of Sensitive Intelligence Information'

1:31 PM, Aug 2, 2012 • By DANIEL HALPER
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A memo released from the Republican Policy Committee in the U.S. Senate is suggesting that Barack Obama's White House is responsible for "yet another leak of sensitive intelligence information directed at bolstering the national security bona fides of the Obama Administration, as both Reuters and CNN are up with articles under the title 'Obama authorizes secret/covert support for Syrian rebels.'"

"The articles both go on to describe a 'finding' authorizing the CIA and other agencies to provide certain support to Syrian opposition forces, while further saying the extent of US assistance at this time is unclear," the memo reads. 

A finding is generally associated with covert actions, as Section 503 of the National Security Act, 50 USC 413b, provides that the President may not authorize a covert action without a written finding. A covert action is defined as an activity of the US government meant to influence conditions abroad “where it is intended that the role of the United States Government will not be apparent or acknowledged publicly.”

As one writer has said, “this definition turns on the government’s ability to maintain plausible deniability. . . .  The attribute of ‘deniability,’ however, does not mean that the activities that underlie a covert action will be invisible to the public. Rather, ‘covert actions may involve activities which are visible or public, but the role of the United States in carrying out such activities is itself not apparent or acknowledged.’”  John Radsan, An Overt Turn on Covert Action, 53 St. Louis. U. L.J. 485, 534 (2009) (quoting from the Senate report accompanying the legislation providing this statutory definition of covert action).

It would seem pretty much impossible to say any US role in support of Syrian opposition forces is meant to not be acknowledged publicly when “US officials” are being cited as sources for media articles describing the United States as the source of said assistance.   

If indeed another White House leak is responsible for these news reports, it would give more urgency to the problem Mitt Romney outlined in recent remarks to the VFW in Nevada

"This conduct is contemptible," Romney said last week. "It betrays our national interest. It compromises our men and women in the field. And it demands a full and prompt investigation, with explanation and consequence. Whoever provided classified information to the media, seeking political advantage for the administration, must be exposed, dismissed, and punished. The time for stonewalling is over."

It is not enough to say the matter is being looked into, and leave it at that.  When the issue is the political use of highly sensitive national security information, it is unacceptable to say, “We’ll report our findings after Election Day.”  

Exactly who in the White House betrayed these secrets?  Did a superior authorize it?  These are things that Americans are entitled to know – and they are entitled to know right now.  If the President believes – as he said last week – that the buck stops with him, then he owes all Americans a full and prompt accounting of the facts.

And let me be clear:  These events make the decision we face in November all the more important.  What kind of White House would reveal classified material for political gain?  I’ll tell you right now:  Mine won’t. 

The Republican memo circulating the Senate concludes, "A Senate Republican Policy Committee compilation of the numerous previous leaks from the Obama Administration directed at bolstering its national security credentials is available here, and the differing Democratic reactions dependent upon the occupant of the White House is available here."

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