Congress calls for ‘complete, impartial, and fair investigation’ into White House leaks
The Obama administration is leaking sensitive information to bolster the president’s national security credentials and portray him as a hands-on commander in chief in preparation for the November presidential election. These leaks damage our security, the culprits ought to go to jail, and Congress must quickly stop the hemorrhaging.
Leaders on Capitol Hill are rightly alarmed. “The recent disclosures of sensitive information constitute damaging breaches of U.S. national security,” said Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Mich.), Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee. “We must demand assurances from the attorney general that the Department of Justice prosecutors are empowered to conduct a complete, impartial, and fair investigation.”
Friday, Attorney General Eric Holder Jr. announced the appointment of two top prosecutors to lead investigations into recent disclosures. But the vast majority of past leak-related investigations delivered nothing conclusive and this investigation is already crippled because the DOJ’s National Security Division recused itself and the Central Intelligence Agency plans to withhold information, according to Rep. Rogers.
But “there is no doubt in my mind much of it [recent leaks] flows from the White House,” said Rep. Buck McKeon (R-Calif.), Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee. “The president has a leak problem, and I think it will take action from Congress to fix it.
Consider evidence of the administration’s “leak problem” and the impact.
First, Obama officials leaked to the New York Times details of our successful cyber attack against Iran’s nuclear program. The June 1 article sourced a “member of the president’s national security team” and “officials who attended White House situation room meetings.”
The attack was an act of war against a sovereign state. The article states the National Security Agency (NSA) and Israel’s secret Unit 8200 jointly developed and planted the “Stuxnet” virus in Iran’s Natanz uranium enrichment computer. “Olympic Games,” the code name for the highly-classified cyber operation, crippled Iran’s uranium enrichment centrifuges which may have prevented Israel from carrying out a military operation, according to White House officials.
Those same sources leaked the existence of a sophisticated cyber mapping technology. NSA created a computer code called a “beacon” which was inserted into a Siemens computer used by Iran at the Natanz facility. The “beacon” electronically mapped the facility’s structure and rhythms which were transmitted to NSA and used to refine the “Stuxnet” virus.
An Israeli spy with connections inside the Iranian facility planted the virus, according to White House officials, using a thumb drive.
Administration officials said Obama expressed concern that acknowledging responsibility for the attack might encourage other countries to justify their own attacks. But the administration officials went ahead with the leak and further, the sources said, the administration even discussed using similar technologies against North Korea, China, Syria, and al Qaeda.
No wonder Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta testified last Thursday that America faces a “Pearl Harbor” style cyber attack. Perhaps the “Stuxnet” attack and knowledge the administration is considering more attacks will provoke our enemies to similarly attack America.
Second, Obama officials compromised sensitive information about the killing of al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden. The compromise started last summer.
Last August the History Channel ran a documentary Targeting bin Laden that celebrates “the greatest victory in the war on terror.” It features a puff interview with Obama and is chock-full of sensitive national security information that reflects the administration’s full cooperation.
That documentary evidently tapped the same administration sources used by Nicholas Schmidle in his August 2011 New Yorker article. That article exposed the identities of national security personnel and our special operating forces’ techniques, tactics, procedures, and technologies used in the May 2, 2011 raid.
Similar administration carelessness exposed the Pakistani doctor who helped the CIA with information that led to the bin Laden raid. Shakil Afridi ran a vaccination program in 2011 as a cover for the CIA to establish that bin Laden was living in Abbottabad. For his help, Pakistan sentenced the doctor to 33 years in prison.
Recently Judicial Watch, a legal watchdog organization, obtained Pentagon papers indicating Obama officials granted movie director Kathryn Bigelow access to a “planner, operator and commander of Seal Team Six,” the special forces unit that killed bin Laden.
Bigelow, an Obama supporter, is working on a film about the raid called “Zero Dark Thirty” which is scheduled to be released before the fall presidential election. What secrets did the White House give Bigelow to make Obama look good?
Third, two weeks ago Newsweek and the New York Times published articles profiling Obama’s “kill list” meetings. Those regular gatherings are chaired by Obama who is portrayed as a decisive leader handpicking the next al Qaeda leader to kill.
Thomas Donilon, Obama’s national security adviser, and other administration officials leaked details about the sensitive process. But Dennis Blair, former Director of National Intelligence, said Obama is fixated on a Vietnam-like body count at the expense of developing a much needed long-term anti-terrorism strategy.
Sensitive details of the CIA’s terrorist targeting program are cited such as how the agency selects targets and thinks about al Qaeda’s organizational behavior. The articles also expose the Pentagon’s secret Terrorist Attack Disruption Strike program.
Obama is portrayed as unflinching when ordering an al Qaeda leader killed knowing the attack will also take the lives of the man’s family. Further, White House sources indicate Obama justified killing Anwar al-Awlaki, an American citizen terrorist in Yemen, asserting the man’s 5th Amendment due process is satisfied by his administration’s analysis.
Finally, two other sensitive operations recently hit the front pages that make Obama appear pro-active — but compromise our security.
In May the Associated Press broke a story about the CIA foiling another al Qaeda underwear bomb plot to bring down a U.S. airliner. The article exposed sensitive operational details such as it was a joint Saudi-U.S. operation that used a double agent posing as a suicide bomber. The account identified a new al Qaeda bomb factory which was likely immediately relocated and indicated the U.S. has no idea how many other underwear bombs might be at the ready.
Thursday’s Washington Post ran a story about military spying in Africa. It identified secret airfields from which U.S. intelligence operations use Swiss-made Pilatus PC-12 aircraft and profiled our classified spy hub in Burkina Faso known as “Creek Sand” and the 65-man U.S. “fusion cell” there code-named “Aztec Archer.”
“Each time classified information shows up in the media, the intelligence community’s ability to do these dangerous assignments becomes that much more difficult,” said U.S. Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.). These leaks “tell our enemies how we do our jobs” and make “our friends… wonder how much they can really trust us.”
While the administration’s intent for leaking the intelligence information is to make Obama look like a national security leader, the truth is they are compromising our national security, increasing the chances for serious retaliation, and make Obama look like his administration is out of control. The leakers should be tossed in jail and Congress must quickly put in place mechanisms that stop gratuitous leaks and block the media’s pavlovian anti-America complicity.