The Justice Department has launched an investigation into the White House’s handling of classified information. The spur seems to have been the June 1 New York Times article by David Sanger, sourced to current and former U.S. officials, revealing sensitive details about the Stuxnet and Flame computer worms and other parts of the Obama administration’s cyber campaign to disrupt and spy on Iran’s nuclear weapons program. By the way, none of the officials, according to Sanger, “would allow their names to be used because the effort remains highly classified, and parts of it continue to this day.”
Last week, legislators on both sides of the aisle deplored the administration’s inability, or unwillingness, to keep national security secrets. Leaders of the Senate and House intelligence committees—Senators Saxby Chambliss and Dianne Feinstein and Representatives Mike Rogers and C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger—released a statement noting, “We have become increasingly concerned at the continued leaks regarding sensitive intelligence programs and activities, including specific details of sources and methods.”
In his June 8 press conference Obama tried to push back against the gathering storm. “The notion that my White House would purposely release classified national security information is offensive,” he said. “It’s wrong.”
The president and the New York Times can’t both be right. If the president is correct, then the paper of record, which has so far seemed to be a willing receptacle for the administration’s leaks, must be printing fabrications. Last month the same newspaper detailed how the president directs U.S. drone attacks in Pakistan and Yemen based on a classified “kill list” of terror suspects, a story based on information from “three dozen” of the president’s “current and former advisers.” So the latest Times article on Iran, revealing what the administration has now tacitly acknowledged as a joint U.S.-Israeli program, looks to be merely the most recent installment in a campaign of intentional leaks damaging to our national security.
The administration, needless to say, sees things differently.