Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

Obama Plugging Leaks

During the Bush administration, those who leaked classified information were hailed as heroes "speaking truth to power" by a haughty left which dared Bush to attempt prosecution. The New York Times and others aided and abetted those who wished to publish America's secrets with the impunity guaranteed by certainty they would vilify Bush if he brought charges against those breaking the law (including the NY Times). Slate sums up a politico story on the radically different situation now that Obama is in charge.

The Obama administration's pursuit of federal officials who leak classified information has been so extensive that it has shocked legal experts and transparency advocates, who say these kinds of efforts end up quieting whistleblowers. The moves are particularly surprising considering that Obama promised to usher in a period of unparalleled openness in the White House. Instead,  prosecutors have "filed criminal charges in five separate cases involving unauthorized distribution of classified national security information to the media," reports Politico. Over the last 40 years, "the U.S. government brought such cases on three occasions." 

The article is revealing in a very "you shall know them by their works" sort of way. Obama defended his investigations by insisting they are "only pursuing individuals who act with reckless disregard for national security." George W. Bush wouldn't have said it any better.

Obama, of course, is correct to relentlessly pursue leaks and plug them by stuffing the leakers in prison. The left is offended that Obama is not governing with "transparency," which is to say, without the government discretion required to wage war and conduct diplomacy. But this insurrection can be laid at Obama's feet - he made these unrealistic promises during his anti-all-things-Bush campaign.

Obama's intensity in prosecuting leaks is a decision liable to interpretation. Either he believed the media would give their favored son a pass, or his Chicago-forged ego is so sensitive that he cannot abide the betrayal he praised when directed against others (consider his vendetta against Fox News).

In sum, Obama is doing the right thing - perhaps with slightly flawed motives - and is therefore causing the left to murmur in discontent. Perhaps the left can be forgiven, though - things haven't been going their way lately.

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