After highly classified details of a U.S. cyberattack on Iran’s nuclear program were made public, President Obama went to the White House press room to denounce those who suggested the leaks were coming from his top national security aides. “The notion that my White House would purposely release classified national security information is offensive [and] it is wrong,” the president declared.
Well, the Federal Bureau of Investigation may disagree. The Post broke the news Sunday that the FBI has launched an “aggressive” investigation into “current and former senior officials suspected of involvement” in the leak that Obama personally ordered cyberattacks on the Iranian nuclear program using a computer virus called Stuxnet. The New York Times story which first revealed the details of the cyberattack on Iran’s nuclear program cited as sources “members of the president’s national security team who were in the [Situation Room]” and even quoted the president asking during a top secret meeting: “Should we shut this thing down?” Only Obama’s most trusted national security advisers would have been present when he uttered those words.
Now several members of that inner circle are receiving promotions. Deputy National Security Adviser Denis McDonough has just been named the new White House chief of staff. And John Brennan, the White House counterterrorism adviser, has been nominated to be next director of the CIA. With the investigation reaching the top echelons of the administration, it is time for the White House to come clean and tell the American people which of Obama’s senior advisers is under investigation. There are no confirmation hearings for the chief of staff post, but Brennan will soon appear before the Senate on Feb. 7 for his confirmation hearings. If confirmed, he will be responsible for protecting our nation’s secrets. Congress has a right to know what he knows — and if he is being questioned by the FBI in the leak probe.
And the Stuxnet inquiry is only the beginning. The Justice Department is also investigating the disclosure of the role played by a double agent, recruited in London by British intelligence, in breaking up a new underwear bomb plot in Yemen. How far up the chain of command has that investigation gone? And how about the disclosure of classified details of the CIA drone campaign, including the fact that Obama personally selects the names on a terrorist “kill list”? Or leak to the New York Times of classified details of yet another covert operation in which “C.I.A. 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”? Or the revelation last summer that the U.S. was considering launching secret joint U.S.-Afghan commando raids into Pakistan against the Haqqani network? Or the disclosure 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”?
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