National security deserves better than politics
I was pleasantly surprised this week when Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) ‘boldly’ stated that the security leaks that led former Defense Secretary Robert Gates to walk into the office of Tom Donilon, a member of the president’s national security team in the White House, and emphatically state: “Shut the f--- up.”
Those are incredibly strong words coming from a defense secretary and those were surprisingly strong bi-partisan words from a Democratic senator, especially from a Democratic senator who seems to act entirely partisan in most instances. Of course, I wasn’t exactly surprised when the senator emerged from the figurative White House woodshed and sheepishly backed off on the statement. But, of course, the damage was already done, wasn’t it?
For those who haven’t heard much about this story, which probably includes the majority of those who rely on the ultra-biased liberal mainstream media, the story involves unparalleled access provided to filmmakers making a movie about the killing of Osama Bin Laden. It also relates to the level of information provided to the media at the time of Bin Laden’s death and a general tone that is inconsistent with appropriate security coming from somewhere in Washington, D.C.
It also includes leaks about apparent US efforts to stall Iranian acquisition of a nuclear weapon by sabotaging their computers. It includes news of the president’s hit list – terrorists, foreign or domestic, that he deems worthy of having killed.
Even before a US Navy admiral addressed the National Defense Industrial Association (NDIA) in Washington and pointed out that US lives are at risk from these leaks, a Pakistani surgeon who played a key role in finding Bin Laden, was arrested by his government and charged with treason. His reward for helping the CIA, the United States and the world to take down the worst criminal and terrorist of the century: we exposed him with security leaks and essentially turned our backs as he was sentenced to 33 years in prison.
Of course, there is a security backlash to what happened to a very brave Pakistani surgeon; when can we count on another Pakistani doctor, Afghan bus driver, Iraqi merchant or Somali fisherman to take a similar stand? The next time a terrorist is plotting an attack against the US, and that is almost assuredly occurring as you read this, we will be very lucky to find any nationals, anyone with the ability to blend in, willing to come forward.
Around the world, throughout the security community, they have to be laughing at us and scratching their heads: “Are the Americans really this inept and stupid?” No, not all of them. They only come off that way when their leadership puts political gain above national security. And that’s the accusation leveled by many at the White House.
If the leaks weren’t coming from the White House, why did a defense secretary use that strong language with someone in the White House? He didn’t go to the CIA or the Pentagon; he went to the White House.
The White House has vehemently denied the charges although, in the news today, David Axelrod is reported to have backed off on that denial. Axelrod, of course, is now the president’s top campaign strategist.
When Republicans have pushed for an investigation (incidentally, the push for an investigation was actually bi-partisan), the White House has cried “POLITICS.” And, of course, the White House is correct, to a point. But, that doesn’t make it wrong to investigate leaks with the potential to leave Americans dead in the future. In fact, it would be very, very wrong not to conduct such an investigation considering the potential harm to our national security.
And it seems that’s the gist of the problem here: the White House and the president stood to gain politically from expanded news coverage of the Bin Laden takedown; They doth protest their innocence a bit too much while demonstrating concern about the security nature of the leaks a bit too little.
Maybe they’re not worried about the leaks because they’ve underestimated the potential harm the leaks can cause. Maybe they don’t like Pakistani surgeons to begin with. Or, maybe they’re not worried about the leaks because they know where they came from and have had the power to shut off the leaks any time the leaks lacked the potential for political gain.