While the political world is pursuing everything ranging from the Supreme Court's decision on immigration to the president's campaign gift registry, and is waiting on the court's decision on Obamacare, the major scandal of national security leakers at the White House is second-tier news. But it is beginning to boil.
It's a tough call, but it appears that more big lies were told by more senior people in leaking national security information than is the case with the Fast and Furious disaster. The facts are compelling; there are many admissions by and motives for the participants, and much of the scandal takes place in very close proximity to the president. And the threshold question is clear: Will the president be able to stiff-arm an independent investigation of his White House for the remainder of the campaign season? Ultimately, that is what this is about.
Fast and Furious was a flawed idea, initiated without malice, but coupled with bad management and a subsequent cover-up. The leaks of national security secrets was a premeditated, self-serving scheme in which people knew they were breaking the law, there would be harm done and there would be political proceeds from the crime. The president's preemptive denials are insulting. On June 8, he said, "The notion that my White House [emphasis mine] would purposely release classified national security information is offensive. It's wrong." Obviously, the truth is something else — perhaps the president will eventually parse and declare he meant that buildings can't talk or release information but that he never said anything about the people who work at the White House.
From his campaign ads to outsourcing charges directed at Mitt Romney, the president's lies are becoming bolder and less hedged. I don't know if it is panic, delusion or off-the-charts arrogance that has gripped the White House. But it is too early in the campaign cycle to tell big lies that will be exposed. The big lie usually comes in October, before there is time for the truth to be revealed and the lying party to be held to account.
Fast and Furious is important, but all the attention it is receiving from Congress, the public and the media shouldn't be mutually exclusive from the national security leaks inquiry. Yesterday, several senators sent a letter to the attorney general demanding a special prosecutor be assigned to the case. At this point, Eric Holder is so damaged I don't know why the senators would bother. He has no problem taking on more baggage or constructing more roadblocks to benefit the administration. This matter should be directly on the Oval Office desk, not elsewhere in the Obama fog machine.
The politics of this scandal is potentially huge. For this White House to have betrayed national security interest in favor of flattering headlines for the president's summer campaign cycle would be unprecedented but also consistent with how President Obama is seen as treating the law. That is, as purely optional and situational when his own campaign self-interests are at stake. This won't just feed the rage of the anti-Obama partisans, it will deflate fair-minded voters in every state and across every demographic. Even the most obedient members of the Obama apologencia could not make excuses.
Sen. Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) asked yesterday at a press conference, "Where is the outrage?" More leaders need to ask that question and more people need to answer.
This all sounds harsh, but I can't see it any other way. It is just too important.