by Victor Davis Hanson
NRO’s The Corner
They Shall Not Pass
Securitygate has Nixonian trademarks all over it and is far more injurious to the republic than all the previous Obama administration-era scandals combined. Attorney General Holder simply cannot select an attorney to investigate key players in the administration who was both a recent appointee of Obama and a campaign contributor to and political supporter of him. That too will not stand, and whether now or later, Holder is going to have to wise up, and understand that someone completely outside the administration’s and his own sphere is going to have to adjudicate whether key officials deliberately fed classified information to favored court reporters in expectation that they would massage their resulting narratives to emphasize Obama as a decisive, near-heroic leader during his reelection bid in a tight race.
That the result was lives endangered and national policy imperiled makes an outside investigator essential. Even more chilling is that unlike prior leaking during past administrations when the media was at odds with the executive branch, in this case the administration apparently welcomed the leaks. The reporters involved were assumed to operate, not as self-proclaimed auditors trying to enhance their careers purportedly by keeping government honest, but rather more as court toadies determined to make their sources look good as payback for “exclusives.” I can’t remember a leaking case quite like this one, either in the magnitude of its effects, or the hand-in-glove relationship between leakers and their recipients, or the brazen cynicism of both.
At some point, watch the journalistic community: Typically they rally around the leaky reporter and law breaker as some sort of wounded fawn punished for trying to speak truth to power, but now what? Are they to close ranks with Ministry of Truth careerists who may well have been used as stooges of a government that serially broke the law for partisan advantage?
Far Worse Than Watergate, More Damaging Than Iran Contra
There were no leaks in these recent scandals over American covert operations, in that the information was not leaked by outsiders, but rather freely given by insiders. And so what is clear about Securitygate is that it is unlike any other past scandal over publicized classified documents or accounts of covert operations. The usual modus operandi has been for liberal reporters to develop unnamed and would-be whistle-blower sources, who question an administration’s stealthy national-security efforts. Then the administration goes ballistic that its most private protocols and operations have gone public, while the reporters in question see themselves as speaking truth to power, as they bask in praise, good book sales, promotions, or prizes for their courage. On occasion the leaker is found out and canonized as he jostles with the legal system.
That did not happen in the case of the released information about the bin Laden mission, missions in Pakistan, the Yemeni double agent, the Predator-drone protocols, and the cyberwar against Iraq, or our covert war in Africa. Instead, the theme of the work of a Sanger or Ignatius or others is that we should all be “surprised” at just how muscular is the Obama version of the war on terror — an appreciation that is especially timely in mid-2012, rather than, say, 2009 or 2010. In turn, despite the president’s mock outrage, the leakers are not seen as rogues threatening US national security, but as zealous patriots who simply want the American people to see another side of Barack Obama before they vote in November — a decision far more important to our long-term national security than any short-term damage that accrues.
The subtitle of David Sanger’s book says it all, does it not? The “Surprising Use of American Power” — “surprising” is a rather mild adjective that one might not expect from a New York Times “investigative” reporter hell-bent on rushing into print leaked material about controversial, questionable, and covert US operations. But then that was not the intent of Sanger, nor any of the other “reporters” who have been given exclusive access to either Obama administration insiders or to once sort of, now kind of classified materials.
Once all this is digested, I don’t see how a Sanger et al. or their suppliers ever regain much credibility.
Read and Weep
David Sanger tweeted the other day, “Hmmm…not sure this is good news: Sen. Feinstein: ‘You learn more from the book than I did as chair of intel cmte.’’”
Not sure, Mr. Sanger? Hmmm — what did David Sanger think was going to happen when he published the most intimate details of America’s covert war on terror, with the apparent wink and nod from the Obama administration, which gave such a court reporter the information and was itself eager for praise for its covert achievements. The book’s release, of course, was accidentally timed for the middle of the 2012 campaign. Lots of people are going to die in a variety of contexts because of the leaks and revelations documented in this book and elsewhere.
Today, CNN is reporting that the Taliban is going after polio-vaccination programs. There is a sick logic to that, given that we read in recent news sources that the Obama administration used a Pakistani doctor to glean intelligence from hepatitis vaccinations. Expect such terrorists to scapegoat the US as they leverage humanitarian programs in their propaganda war, energized by the Obama administration leaks.
In addition, there are going to be lots of people put at risk — foreign sources, perhaps our own military and intelligence personnel, and diplomats — who do everything from providing injections to selling video equipment abroad. They will now be under suspicion of being US operatives or stooges. Thousands of children may not receive inoculations. No matter, the New York Times people got their “exclusive” story and Beltway praise, and Barack Obama got the word out to the yokels that he was a “paradox” and led a “surprising” tough anti-terrorism war. The strategic and humanitarian fallout from all this insanity is only beginning.
A final question, how in fact did Bradley Manning’s disclosures differ from those of Thomas Donilon’s? Or rather is this not what you would expect when the Obama administration replaced a four-star general as national security adviser with a former lobbyist and Fannie Mae grandee?
©2012 Victor Davis Hanson