Saturday, June 02, 2012

Is there nothing that the Obama administration won't leak?

There is a story today in the New York Times that clearly comes from leaks in the Obama administration. The story reveals that Obama bravely decided to continue the program set in place by Bush to use cyberwarfare against the Iranian nuclear program. This program led to Stuxnet and now the new program, Flame, that we learned about this week. It's obvious from the story that it mostly came from members of the Obama administration since there are quotes and references to what Obama said in classified briefings on the program.

There have been lots of guesses that either or both the U.S. and Israel were behind Stuxnet and Flame. The better part of valor would have been to have left this question out there instead of leaking the story and validating the role of the United States. And when parts of the computer virus program went wrong, the leakers are quite happy to place the blame on the Israelis.
An error in the code, they said, had led it to spread to an engineer’s computer when it was hooked up to the centrifuges. When the engineer left Natanz and connected the computer to the Internet, the American- and Israeli-made bug failed to recognize that its environment had changed. It began replicating itself all around the world. Suddenly, the code was exposed, though its intent would not be clear, at least to ordinary computer users.

“We think there was a modification done by the Israelis,” one of the briefers told the president, “and we don’t know if we were part of that activity.”

Mr. Obama, according to officials in the room, asked a series of questions, fearful that the code could do damage outside the plant. The answers came back in hedged terms. Mr. Biden fumed. “It’s got to be the Israelis,” he said. “They went too far.”
Classy, aren't they? Nice of them to leak details of their blaming Israel.

Don't get me wrong. I think it's stupendous that we were working on this secret program. But there are reasons that such programs are done in the shadows without governments acknowledging their roles. But that's not the Obama way. They were happy to leak details of the raid on Osama bin Laden in order to make Obama look good. They were happy to leak details about Obama making choices of whom to kill abroad. And now they happily leak details about the most secret of our plans for cyberwarfare. This is truly shameful. As Elliot Abrams writes,
If the effort is highly classified, and if parts of it continue to this day, revealing the information contained in the article is a criminal act. What was the justification for these revelations to a reporter? Self-aggrandizement? The political interests of the president? The story contains details about events at the White House that European and Israeli officials would not have had–nor would officials at middle levels at CIA. Such information came from high-ranking officials at the White House, leading again to the suspicion about political motives. Just days ago it was revealed that meetings on counter-terrorism policy, at which the next names for the drone kill list were selected, were attended by the president’s political adviser David Axelrod.

All of this would have been viewed as a scandal had it occurred in the Bush Administration. Ask yourself what the New York Times would have said about Karl Rove attending any such meetings–which by the way he never did. You need not ask yourself what the Times and other liberal outlets would have said about leaks, for they mounted a gigantic campaign against one minor leak–that of the name of Valerie Plame, a CIA official. Where are the calls for a special prosecutor to investigate the leak after leak coming from this White House on the most sensitive intelligence operations, leaks whose only thread is that they make the president look tough? Until a serious investigation is launched, these leaks will continue and the damage they do to American intelligence operations will continue to mount.
Anything to help the election effort. That's what they're clearly more concerned about. Keeping a top secret program developed with one of our best allies secret - not of so much interest if they can make Obama look like a gutsy and tough leader.