If You're Going To Leak Classified Info About The White House, It Better Make Them Look Good
from the vindictive-administration dept
We’ve noted the unfortunate trend of the Obama administration vindictively going after any whistleblowers (despite one of Obama’s first moves in office being to encourage whistleblowing). To date, the Obama administration has been involved in six prosecutions of whistleblowers using the Espionage Act… twice as many such uses of all other Presidents combined. But, here’s the thing. We just wrote about the NYTimes reporting that the US was behind Stuxnet, and that President Obama himself was deeply engaged in the project.
As people have noted, that level of “leak” seems to go way beyond what many of those charged under the Espionage Act did (including other leaks to the NY Times). And yet, as Gawker discovered, unlike with some of those other stories, the White House did not try to prevent the publication of this info, and almost certainly gave its tacit approval to the publication.
So, what’s the difference? Well, the prosecutions against whistleblowers, and the attempts to stifle the reports based on them, all seem to focus on cases where the White House looks bad — domestic spying, torture, etc. The Stuxnet story was a success story. Even though the malware eventually leaked out into the world and was exposed, the “damage” was already done. This leak actually lets the White House claim credit and look good.
A year and a half ago, we wrote about Daniel Ellsberg (the guy who leaked The Pentagon Papers to the NY Times a few decades back) talking about his personal theory as to why Obama was so vindictive against leaks, despite an outward persona (and specific statements) that totally contradicted the position. His belief was that Obama was so vindictive about whistleblowing, because all of those whistleblowing cases revealed things that were embarrassing to the President. The fact that the White House doesn’t seem to have a problem with this particular leak of classified info — one that more or less makes them look good — certainly adds significant weight to that theory.