In the past I’ve praised Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) for her sensible and nonpartisan approach to national security. She comes through again on the issue of national security leaking. The Associated Press reports:
The Democratic leader of the Senate Intelligence Committee said Monday that the White House appears to be responsible for some leaks of classified information.
“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.
This doesn’t mean Obama personally spoke to The Post or the New York Times, or even that highest level White House aides did (although it is possible). If those high-level aides who were among the select group of people aware of some of these incidents blabbed to lower level aides in the Pentagon, at embassies and elsewhere they are still responsible. (No doubt that is why Obama denied only “purposefully” leaking).
Moreover, the president is also responsible in the sense he did not create a environment in which leaking was clearly understood to be grounds for getting prosecuted or canned or both. We also know, from the New York Times no less, that national security has been politicized to an extraordinary degree in this White House. Anyone in the White House could figure out what the priorities are. If the president is willing to alter the troop deadline in Afghanistan or remain inert on Syria or try to hold Israel at bay on Iran to further his reelection chances, that sends a message. You don’t have to be a genius, or even a cabinet member, to understand that in this White House politics ranks much higher than national security. In such an environment, insiders are all too willing to spin up the media, casting Obama in the most favorable light possible.