We are not big fans of government secrecy, nor are we big fans of the neo-con foreign policy favored by Senators John McCain, Lindsay Graham and Joe Liebermann, so if we were to say McCain, Graham and Liebermann are right it would be a big deal.
McCain, Graham and Liebermann are right – but only about the national security leaks coming from the White House.
It has been clear for quite some time that the White House has been leaking sensitive national security information, especially to The New York Times, in an effort to make Barack Obama look like a tough guy in the war on Islamic terrorists.
If this were not putting our national security methods of operation in serious jeopardy, it would be comical considering that this is a 180-degree change in image and direction from what we heard from Obama four years ago when he was running for President the first time.
Back before the 2008 election, Obama said he was prepared to meet with Middle Eastern despots and terror supporters like Iran’s Mahmoud Ahmadinejad with no preconditions.
And his first major foreign trip as President was his infamous “apologize for America” tour of the Middle East.
That was then, this is now an election year, and Obama’s purely political calculation is that, when it comes to dealing with terrorists, American voters like to hear the word “fire” a whole lot better than “Kumbaya.”
But there’s a problem; not only is what we do to deal with terrorists a military secret, disclosing such matters without proper authorization is against the law -- and declassifying such matters might put the President on the record in a most awkward way.
When Republicans were in the White House, Democrats seemed to take these laws seriously, as the scalp hunting party that resulted in the appointment of Special Prosecutor Peter Fitzgerald to investigate the disclosure of Valerie Plame as a CIA employee revealed.
Indeed then-Senator Obama argued for measures far beyond the appointment of a special prosecutor, saying in a letter, "[t]he United States Congress has a constitutional responsibility to provide oversight of the executive branch, whether a law has been broken or not.” In other words, Congress is entitled to know who did the leaking even if it is not a crime.
McCain, Graham and Liebermann have now gotten enough evidence to at least convince themselves that the recent leaks about the covert war on terrorists rises to the same level of culpability that merited a special prosecutor in the Plame case.
They have even floated the name of one of the likely leakers – White House National Security Advisor Tom Donilon. Donilon was also named by Democratic pollster and commentator Pat Caddell as a “political hack” who is “known in Washington as the leaker in chief” and the likely source of the damaging disclosures.
Now Senator Graham has circulated a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder outlining the case for a special prosecutor.
The letter states in part that, “Press reports indicate that there could be many sources to the leaks within the Administration. In fact, in Jo Becker and Scott Shane's New York Times story, ‘Secret ‘Kill List' Proves a Test of Obama's Principles and Will’ the reporters state they interviewed, ‘three dozen of [Obama's] current and former advisers.’ Tom Ricks' recent New York Times review of David Sanger's Confront and Conceal mentions that ‘Mr. Sanger clearly has enjoyed great access to senior White House officials, most notably to Thomas Donilon, the national security adviser. Mr. Donilon, in effect, is the hero of the book, as well as the commenter of record on events.’”
Short version; Donilon already admitted to being one of the leakers by acting like a big shot and allowing himself to be quoted by Sanger, Ricks, Becker and Shane.
Liebermann has not signed yet, but to-date the Graham letter has been signed by Senators Lamar Alexander (TN), Kelly Ayotte (NH), John Barrasso (WY), Roy Blunt (MO), John Boozman (AR), Richard Burr (NC), Saxby Chambliss (GA), Susan Collins (ME), John Cornyn (TX), Mike Crapo (ID), Jim DeMint (SC), Mike Enzi (WY), Charles Grassley (IA), John Hoeven (ND), Mike Johanns (NE), Mark Kirk (IL), Mitch McConnell (KY), John McCain (AZ), Jerry Moran (KS), Lisa Murkowski (AK), Rand Paul (KY), Rob Portman (OH), James Risch (ID), Pat Roberts (KS), Marco Rubio (FL), Jeff Sessions (AL), John Thune (SD), Pat Toomey (PA), David Vitter (LA), and Roger Wicker (MS).
The most compelling reason for a special prosecutor in this case is not the precedent of the Valerie Plame case.
Government by tit-for-tat is unconstructive, so the mere fact that Democrats managed to get Scooter Libby indicted and convicted in the Plame affair is the weakest argument in favor of a special prosecutor in this case.
The best reason to seek a special prosecutor in the leak case is that, in matters large and small, Attorney General Eric Holder, on behalf of the Obama administration, has shown a complete disregard for the obligation to tell Congress the truth and to enforce the laws passed by Congress. That's why Holder is about to be held in contempt of Congress in the Fast and Furious affair.
In light of this abysmal record of deception and failure to enforce the law, only an outside, independent prosecutor who will follow the facts wherever they lead, can be trusted to get to the bottom of the White House national security leaks.