Foreign and Defense Policy

The top 10 ObamaLeaks John Brennan needs to explain

Photo Credit: The White House/Pete Souza

Photo Credit: The White House/Pete Souza

When John Brennan appears for his confirmation hearing as the next CIA director tomorrow, he needs to explain to the Senate these ten major leaks of classified national security information from the Obama administration — including the strange timing of most of these disclosures.

  1. EXPOSURE OF US-ISRAELI ROLE IN “STUXNET” ATTACK ON IRAN. On June 1, 2012, the New York Times reported that “President Obama secretly ordered increasingly sophisticated attacks on the computer systems that run Iran’s main nuclear enrichment facilities.” The story exposed the top secret codename for the program (“Olympic Games”) and the involvement of Israel, a US ally. At one point in the story, the Times directly quotes one of the president’s briefers telling him, “We think there was a modification done by the Israelis,” adding, “Mr. Obama, according to officials in the room, asked a series of questions, fearful that the code could do damage outside the plant. The answers came back in hedged terms. Mr. Biden fumed, ‘It’s got to be the Israelis,’ he said. ‘They went too far’” (emphasis added). In other words, it was leaked by someone “in the room” when the president was briefed on this cover action program.
  2. EXPOSURE OF US-ISRAELI ROLE IN DEVELOPING “FLAME” VIRUS TO SPY ON IRAN NUCLEAR PROGRAM. In addition to the leak to the Times about the Stuxnet virus, a second leak to the Washington Post revealed on June 19, 2012 that the “United States and Israel jointly developed a sophisticated computer virus nicknamed Flame that collected intelligence in preparation for cyber-sabotage aimed at slowing Iran’s ability to develop a nuclear weapon, according to Western officials with knowledge of the effort.”
  3. EXPOSURE OF SAUDI DOUBLE AGENT IN YEMEN. On May 8, 2012, a leak to the Associated Press revealed the role played by a double agent, recruited in London by British intelligence, in breaking up a new underwear bomb plot in Yemen. As a result of this disclosure, the double agent had to be extracted. The leak is being investigated by the Justice Department.
  4. EXPOSURE OF SPECIAL OPERATIONS ACTIVITIES AGAINST AL-QAEDA IN AFRICA. On June 13, 2012, the Washington Post reported: “The U.S. military is expanding its secret intelligence operations across Africa, establishing a network of small air bases to spy on terrorist hideouts from the fringes of the Sahara to jungle terrain along the equator, according to documents and people involved in the project.” The article exposed that “Under a classified surveillance program code-named Creek Sand, dozens of U.S. personnel and contractors have come to [Burkina Faso] in recent years to establish a small air base on the military side of the international airport.” The Burkina Faso foreign minister, caught by surprise by the leak, is quoted as pleading “This cooperation should be very, very discreet. We should not show to al-Qaeda that we are now working with the Americans.” Too late.
  5. EXPOSURE OF SECRET ISRAELI BASING AGREEMENT WITH AZERBAIJAN. On March 28, 2012, a leak to Foreign Policy magazine described how “four senior diplomats and military intelligence officers say that the United States has concluded that Israel has recently been granted access to airbases on Iran’s northern border” which could be used in a raid on Iran’s nuclear program. ABC News reported that Israelis believed the Obama administration was “leaking information to pressure Israel not to bomb Iran.”
  6. EXPOSURE OF CIA TEAMS IN TURKEY HELPING TO DIRECT AID TO ANTI-ASSAD RESISTANCE. On June 21, 2012, a leak to the New York Times exposed the fact that “A small number of CIA officers are operating secretly in southern Turkey, helping allies decide which Syrian opposition fighters across the border will receive arms to fight the Syrian government.”
  7. EXPOSURE OF COVERT ACTION “FINDING” TO ASSIST THE SYRIAN REBELS. A separate leak to Reuters on August 1, 2012 exposed the fact that “President Barack Obama has signed a secret order authorizing U.S. support for rebels seeking to depose Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and his government.” The same information was provided to CNN, which reported, “President Barack Obama has signed a covert directive authorizing U.S. support for Syrian rebels battling President Bashar al-Assad’s forces, U.S. officials told CNN on Wednesday.” (Both stories refer to a Top Secret written “finding” required by law for the president to authorize a covert action “where it is intended that the role of the United States Government will not be apparent or acknowledged publicly.”)
  8. EXPOSURE THAT THE US WAS CONSIDERING JOINT US-AFGHAN SPECIAL OPERATIONS RAIDS INTO PAKISTAN. On June 22, 2012, a leak to the Associated Press exposed the fact that the US was considering launching secret joint US-Afghan commando raids into Pakistan against the Haqqani network.
  9. EXPOSURE OF OBAMA DRONE “KILL LIST.” On May 29, 2012, “three dozen” Obama advisers described for the New York Times intelligence methods and President Obama’s direct participation in the development of a “secret kill list” of terrorists targeted as part of the covert drone campaign against al-Qaeda.
  10. EXPOSURE OF SECRET OPERATIONAL DETAILS OF THE BIN LADEN RAID. And, of course, there were the serial disclosures of classified operational details of the raid that killed Osama bin Laden — which prompted then-Secretary of Defense Robert Gates to visit Obama National Security Adviser Tom Donilon in the West Wing and advise the White House to “shut the [expletive] up.”

See a pattern here? Look at the dates of these leaks:

  • March 28, 2012
  • May 8, 2012
  • May 29, 2012
  • June 1, 2012
  • June 13, 2012
  • June 19, 2012
  • June 21, 2012
  • June 22, 2012
  • August 1, 2012

With the exception of the bin Laden leaks (which began in May 2011) and the exposure of the Israeli basing agreement with Azerbaijan (March 2012), every one of these leaks occurred over a three-month period between May and August of 2012. Six of the most egregious ones took place in just a 25-day period in May/June 2012. All came in the midst of President Obama’s re-election campaign, when he was aggressively making the case for his national security leadership in the war on terror.

Coincidence? Not likely.

Brennan should be asked explain this strange confluence of events. He should be asked whether he has been questioned in the investigations into any of these leaks. He should be asked to provide the intelligence committee with a list of everyone who was “in the room” when the presidential briefing on Stuxnet, which was quoted by the Times, took place. He should be asked who else has been questioned, and whether any senior Obama aides have been told they are the targets of an investigation. He should be asked why so many of these leaks took place in a brief period in the midst of a presidential campaign.

UPDATE: Better make that the top 11 ObamaLeaks Brennan needs to answer for.

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