On Sunday, President Barack Obama traveled to Afghanistan to do a photo op with the troops amid fallout from the burgeoning Veterans Administration scandal. Announcing his visit, the White House promptly released a list of guests, including the name of the top CIA officer in Afghanistan. That officer is responsible for intelligence and drone warfare. The information was sent to over 6,000 email addresses.
This is not the first time the Obama administration has compromised national security with leaks, either purposeful or inadvertent.
SEAL Team Six. After the killing of Osama Bin Laden, the Obama administration steadfastly refused to say which element of the US military had participated in the assault. Until Vice President Joe Biden decided to talk about it on national television, that is. Speaking at Washington’s Ritz Carlton Hotel in the days after the Bin Laden kill, Biden stated, “Admiral James Stavridis is the real deal. He can tell you more about and understands the incredible, the phenomenal, the just almost unbelievable capacity of his Navy SEALs and what they did last Saturday… I was in absolute awe of the capacity and the dedication of the entire team, both the intelligence community, the CIA, the SEALs.”
This put a target on the backs of the SEALs. That target came with consequences, when a SEAL team helicopter was downed in Afghanistan, killing 17.
Al Qaeda Tapes. On August 3, 2013, the Obama administration closed 22 embassies around the world based on intelligence supposedly received about potential al Qaeda attacks. That drew blowback thanks to the juxtaposition of the closings with news of the National Security Agency surveillance of Americans. Then, on August 7, 2013, Eli Lake and Josh Rogin of the Daily Beast reported that the Obama administration had taped a conference call with al Qaeda and revealed details of that call – details that CNN had not released after a “request from an Obama administration official not to publish or broadcast additional details because of the sensitivity of the information.”
Al Qaeda Message Boards. The following week, on August 14, the Associated Press quoted “intelligence officials” to the effect that the government had been monitoring chat rooms and message boards – leaks that could undermine the future of US surveillance of al Qaeda. The AP report specifically noted that the surveillance used was linked to the NSA: “Exactly how U.S. spy systems picked up the latest threat is classified… Intelligence officials have suggested that the plot was detected, in part at least, through NSA surveillance programs that have been under harsh worldwide criticism for privacy intrusions in the name of national security.”
The Obama administration, which has a strong habit of prosecuting leakers, did nothing about these leaks. Why? Because they justified the closings of the embassies, as well as the NSA surveillance.
The Obama Kill List. In May 2012, the New York Times featured the inside scoop about President Obama’s kill list. In the midst of a re-election cycle in which Obama was being excoriated for weakness on terrorism, the Times quoted Obama and dozens of aides about the president’s tough guy decisions to take out terrorists. Those quoted included National Security Advisor Thomas Donilon, who stated, “He is determined that he will make these decisions about how far and wide these operations will go… His view is that he’s responsible for the position of the United States in the world.” Even Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) thought this leak was over the top: “It’s dismayed our allies. It puts American lives in jeopardy. It puts our nation’s security in jeopardy.”
Leaking crucial national security information is nothing new for this administration. But leaks have consequences.
Ben Shapiro is Senior Editor-At-Large of Breitbart News and author of the New York Times bestseller “Bullies: How the Left’s Culture of Fear and Intimidation Silences America” (Threshold Editions, January 8, 2013). He is also Editor-in-Chief of TruthRevolt.org. Follow Ben Shapiro on Twitter @benshapiro.