Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

A Bad Week for the Obama Presidency

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

A Bad Week for the Obama Presidency

Article excerpt

The New York Times ran a lengthy story June 1 about how the Stuxnet computer worm has crippled the Iranian nuclear weapons program. On May 29, the Times ran the third in a series of articles on how the U.S. is using drones to track and kill terrorists.

The stories make "the president look very decisive," but give short shrift to the "men and women who make these things happen," said Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz.

The articles were rich in detail -- too rich, said the chairmen and ranking members of the House and Senate Intelligence Committees last Thursday.

In an election year, it's difficult to get Democrats and Republicans in our highly polarized Congress to agree on anything more controversial than the time of day. So the unanimity of opinion among those on the Intelligence Committees is remarkable -- and alarming.

"We're seeing an avalanche of leaks," said Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee. "It is very, very disturbing. It's dismayed our allies. It puts American lives in jeopardy. It puts our nation's security in jeopardy."

The leaks are "one of the most serious of breaches" he's seen during 10 years of service on the House Intelligence Committee, said Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger, D-Md, the ranking Democrat.

The lawmakers also were upset by the disclosure last month that a plot by an al-Qaida cell in Yemen to blow up airliners had been foiled by a double agent who infiltrated the terror group, and the leak last year of the identity of the Pakistani physician who helped U.S. intelligence locate Osama bin Laden's hideout.

The leak about the al-Qaida plot blew an ongoing operation. After he was outed, Pakistani authorities arrested Shakil Afridi. He was sentenced to 33 years in prison.

Mr. McCain, ranking Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee, thinks the purpose of the leaks is to make the president look good. Democrats aren't willing to go there (yet). But they demand the leaks be stopped.

"The notion that my White House would purposely release classified national security information is offensive," President Obama said in his news conference last Friday.

The president's use of the word "purposely" to qualify his denial sounds like an escape hatch, wrote Josh Gerstein in Politico. …

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