Elliott Abrams

Pressure Points

Abrams gives his take on U.S. foreign policy, with special focus on the Middle East and democracy and human rights issues.

Print Print Cite Cite
Style: MLA APA Chicago Close


Who Will Investigate the Leaks?

by Elliott Abrams
June 1, 2012


Today’s New York Times carries a story revealing that “From his first months in office, President Obama secretly ordered increasingly sophisticated attacks on the computer systems that run Iran’s main nuclear enrichment facilities, significantly expanding America’s first sustained use of cyberweapons, according to participants in the program.”

The story is based, the author claims, “on interviews over the past 18 months with current and former American, European and Israeli officials involved in the program, as well as a range of outside experts. None would allow their names to be used because the effort remains highly classified, and parts of it continue to this day.”

If the effort is highly classified, and if parts of it continue to this day, revealing the information contained in the article is a criminal act. What was the justification for these revelations to a reporter? Self-aggrandizement? The political interests of the president? The story contains details about events at the White House that European and Israeli officials would not have had–nor would officials at middle levels at CIA. Such information came from high-ranking officials at the White House, leading again to the suspicion about political motives. Just days ago it was revealed that meetings on counter-terrorism policy, at which the next names for the drone kill list were selected, were attended by the president’s political adviser David Axelrod.

All of this would have been viewed as a scandal had it occurred in the Bush Administration. Ask yourself what the New York Times would have said about Karl Rove attending any such meetings–which by the way he never did. You need not ask yourself what the Times and other liberal outlets would have said about leaks, for they mounted a gigantic campaign against one minor leak–that of the name of Valerie Plame, a CIA official. Where are the calls for a special prosecutor to investigate the leak after leak coming from this White House on the most sensitive intelligence operations, leaks whose only thread is that they make the president look tough? Until a serious investigation is launched, these leaks will continue and the damage they do to American intelligence operations will continue to mount.

Post a Comment 4 Comments

  • Posted by JeffC

    Actually I think this will hurt Obama with the IPhone/IPad demographic … computer virus spying is not really cool …

  • Posted by Dan

    The NYT will go to whatever lengths possible to gild Obama’s lily – the truth and nationaly security be damned.

  • Posted by Jay T.

    “On May 28, 2012 Kaspersky Lab announced the discovery of a highly sophisticated malicious program, known as Flame, which was actively being used as a cyber weapon targeting entities in several countries”, with code written in Israel Standard Time but not on Shabbat. The Obama Administration swooped in to take credit. (Note that in the NYT article, when something goes wrong, “the Israelis went too far,” per Biden).

  • Posted by Jay T.

    The above comment ignores Sanger’s book.
    Obama’s press conference indicates the leak “didn’t come from this White House” per the writers involved, but his telling “or after they leave government” points to two people. Axelrod shouldn’t have been there and denies it. Rahmbo?

Post a Comment

CFR seeks to foster civil and informed discussion of foreign policy issues. Opinions expressed on CFR blogs are solely those of the author or commenter, not of CFR, which takes no institutional positions. All comments must abide by CFR's guidelines and will be moderated prior to posting.

* Required