Weeks after Congress opened a probe into national security leaks that mysteriously arose making Barack Obama look good, we seem to have gotten a little close to the source. Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) said publicly yesterday that at least some of these reputation-burnishing leaks came from the White House that benefited from them:
Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), chairwoman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said Monday that someone at the White House was responsible for the recent leaks of classified information.
“I think the White House has to understand that some of this is coming from their ranks,” Feinstein said in an address at the World Affairs Council, the Associated Press first reported.
Feinstein rushed to defend President Barack Obama, however:
Feinstein said she was certain that President Obama had not disclosed any of the classified intelligence, but believed others in the administration were responsible.
“I don’t believe for a moment that he goes out and talks about it,” she said of the president.
Of course not. That’s why a President hires staff and appoints political players — to do that kind of work for him.
Meanwhile, some of Obama’s other appointees outside the White House insisted that the leaked material didn’t come from them:
Last Thursday, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, testified in closed session before the House Armed Services Committee on the leaks. The committee’s chairman, Rep. Howard “Buck” McKeon, R-Calif., told reporters afterward that he did not believe the Pentagon was responsible for recent national security leaks.
“I feel pretty secure they were not” from the Pentagon, McKeon said after the three-hour hearing.
Leaks usually occur for two reasons: to make someone look good, and to make someone look bad. Whistleblowing falls into the latter category, but it’s not the only impulse found with those kinds of leaks, either. With leaks of the first type, the best question to ask is: Cui bono? Who benefits? While that’s not an evidentiary process, it’s usually a pretty reliable way for investigators and non-investigators to narrow the evidentiary search rationally and effectively. Apparently, Feinstein agrees.
In a speech to the VFW today, Mitt Romney will demand an investigation into the leaks, and called on the White House to stop “stonewalling”:
Mitt Romney will be addressing the VFW Convention in Nevada this afternoon and, based on a prepared excerpt of his speech distributed by his campaign, he plans to demand President Obama conduct a “full and prompt investigation” of leaks of classified information that may have come from the White House.
“This conduct is contemptible. It betrays our national interest. It compromises our men and women in the field. And it demands a full and prompt investigation, with explanation and consequence,” Mr. Romney’s speech says. “Whoever provided classified information to the media, seeking political advantage for the administration, must be exposed, dismissed, and punished. The time for stonewalling is over.” …
“It is not enough to say the matter is being looked into, and leave it at that. When the issue is the political use of highly sensitive national security information, it is unacceptable to say, ‘We’ll report our findings after Election Day,’” Mr. Romney says in the speech. “Exactly who in the White House betrayed these secrets? Did a superior authorize it? These are things that Americans are entitled to know – and they are entitled to know right now. If the President believes – as he said last week – that the buck stops with him, then he owes all Americans a full and prompt accounting of the facts.”
Don’t expect to see the White House immediately agreeing to an independent investigation, to say the least.