“It’s pretty clear to me that I’m responsible for folks who are working in the federal government and you know, Harry Truman said the buck stops with you,” Obama said in an interview with TV station WJLA.We can argue about that back and forth and partisans will never be convinced of the others' arguments. But I suspect that we can all agree that the commander in chief is responsible for what his own staff continues to do even if he did not give the order for them to start doing it. If they keep on doing it and he has done nothing to stop it, then the buck stops with him.
And that is what we're looking at with these national security leaks about how awesome the President is as a leader. Even Democrat Dianne Feinstein has concluded that the leaks came from the White House.
The Democratic leader of the Senate Intelligence Committee said Monday that the White House appears to be responsible for some leaks of classified information.We've had leaks about the mission to kill Osama bin Laden, leaks that resulted in a the arrest of one Pakistani, Dr. Shakil Afridi, who helped us get DNA from Osama bin Laden. Afridi now faces 33 years in a Pakistani prison due to leaks that came from the U.S. There have been leaks about the President choosing targets for drone striks and about a CIA sting operation in Yemen. There have been details leaked about the US role in launching computer viruses against Iran's nuclear program.
"I think the White House has to understand that some of this is coming from their ranks," Sen. Dianne Feinstein told a World Affairs Council forum.
The California lawmaker said she was certain that President Barack Obama, who receives a daily intelligence briefing, isn't disclosing secret information, but she was uncertain about others at the White House. "I don't believe for a moment that he goes out and talks about it," she said.
It's been clear that at least some of these leaks came from people who were in the situation room. The leaks have come out about different national security details over a period of time. And it wasn't until the outrage after the Stuxnet story that we even heard anything from the Obama.
"The notion that my White House would purposely release classified national security information is offensive. It's wrong," he said.But those of us who remember the Clinton era remember how important it is to parse the langauge of a lawyer/president. And those words are not a denial; they're just a statement of how offensive or wrong it would be to think that his White House was leaking information on purpose. How come we didn't get any more forceful denial? And since we have had such leaks dating back a year to the raid on Osama Bin Laden's compound, how come no one has been prosecuted or even fired?
Obama only came out to denounce such leaks once there was bipartisan criticism. And now a Democrat is saying that the leaks had to come from the White House. Well, he is president and it is up to him to be the one to clean house and get rid of those who leaked such information. And if the leaks are coming from the Situation Room as is clear from some of these stories which report dialogue and reactions of people in that room, then the house-cleaning has to go pretty far up. And we can decided whether or not to believe Feinstein's assurances that the President isn't at all involved but some of his top officials decided to leak details for stories to make him look like a tough leader without his even being aware of it before or after the stories appeared.
Just where is that the buck stops, Mr. President?