The escalating questions regarding potential leaks of classified information by the White House could be snowballing. This has the potential to seriously wound the president's campaign. It looks as if someone may have broken the law by telling state secrets in order to portray President Obama in a flattering light and bolster the president's image on national security issues.
Words and phrases like "Stuxnet," "Olympic Games," "Yemeni double agents" and "kill list" are all about to become part of campaign 2012.
I tell people, only half in jest, that my experience has taught me that in Washington, being innocent is only an advantage, it is not determinative; likewise, being guilty is only a disadvantage, it is not determinative either. Well, in this case it appears that someone has the disadvantage of being guilty. It will be tempting for Obama operatives to stonewall and continue to say that no one would dare do such a thing, except it is clear someone did. And the closer that person is to President Obama, the more damaging it will be for the president's reelection prospects.
The scandal is fast approaching a tipping point. The FBI and Congress are now involved. If the FBI investigation were to end quickly, without finding any suspects, then that would be a major scandal itself. If it looks as if the matter is being slow-walked to get beyond the election, that would also be a scandal; and if a guilty party is offered up, that person may begin to defend himself or herself by implicating others. This will lead to the inevitable questions of, "What did the White House know, and when did it know it?"
The outrage over the leaks is already a bipartisan affair. Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), the chairwoman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, who is not a partisan bomb-thrower, is looking and sounding a little like former senator Howard Baker these days. See her chilling interview with CNN's Wolf Blitzer from yesterday.
Mitt Romney must handle this matter carefully. Anything he says will be used by some Democrats to dismiss the matter as an election-year ploy by Republicans, and Obama media allies will declare that there is nothing to see and everyone should move on. But the charge is too serious, the violations are too blatant, and the leaks appear to be so self-serving. This latest chapter is only getting started — a summer scandal may be settling in.
Updated: June 7, 2012, 10:42 a.m.