First there were the Bin Laden leaks. In the days after the al Qaida leader was killed by U.S. forces, a great deal of detailed information concerning that operation was released to the media. Then-Defense Secretary Robert Gates made clear in public how he felt. Unfortunately, the Bin Laden leaks have not turned out to be isolated incidents. In early May, after the disruption of a terrorist plot in Yemen, reports surfaced concerning the reported role of British intelligence in the operation. This leak was especially serious in that it risked the trust caveat that underpins America’s most important (but increasingly sensitive) intelligence relationship. Over the last couple of weeks, two new stories have appeared in the press that concern highly sensitive U.S. government activities. Taken together, a worrying trend is becoming apparent.
The first new “leak” story concerned the president’s strategy for dealing with terrorists. The narrative was clear — President Obama’s counter-terrorism policies are clinical, focused and aggressive. While I disagree with this narrative (for many of the same reasons as Charles Krauthammer), reporters have the right to opine what they want. My problem is the evidence that the story utilized. In outlining the CIA’s drone program, the reporters were able to rely upon extensive information provided by senior administration officials.