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.

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Comments on “If You're Going To Leak Classified Info About The White House, It Better Make Them Look Good”

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58 Comments
Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Man...

It’s a sad statement on the state of things in the US that the choice is between terribly poor and truly horrible.

And yet, you still think you have a choice?

That’s just what the Wealthy Anonymous Fascists who really run the US Police State want you to think.

The US political system is worse than corrupted. It’s totally pwn3d (and not by the people).

weneedhelp (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Man...

Yes it is although the AR15 is my choice. 1 or 10, 100, 1000 ppl armed to the teeth is not enough to make change. It needs to be a collective choice by millions of Americans to make a move on Washington PEACEFULLY.

In addition, if you are suggesting violent revolution you might as well put the last nail in the American coffin. Our GOV is well prepared for an uprising. See continuity of government, REX84, and probably a whole bunch of other shit we dont even know about.

Heed your own advice and stop being an arse on the Internet.

Chuck Norris' Enemy (deceased) (profile) says:

Re: Man...

And this wouldn’t have happened if it were McCain, either? Just as governors, presidents, congressmen try to claim they ‘created’ so many jobs, Obama is claiming ‘heavy’ involvement…which was basically a ‘Go ahead’. The intelligence agencies would have been working on and implementing the attack regardless of Obama’s (or whatever White House puppet) involvement. His claim must be an appeal to the conservatives that he is tough on ‘threats’ to America. Liberals will never vote for anybody else because they are too brainwashed to see how much worse Obama has been than Bush.

silverscarcat says:

Re: Re: Re: Man...

I’ve always said that…

People are too quick to blame the current administration for problems that are going around and too quick to give the administration credit when things are going right.

Bush inherited stuff from Clinton (though he could have fixed some of it), Clinton inherited from Reagan and Bush 1, Reagan got his problems from Carter and Ford, and we know that Ford lost because he gave Nixon a pardon…

Tho, to be honest, Nixon, his criminal activities aside, was one of the most successful Presidents ever…

Got us off the Gold Standard…
Abolished the Draft…
Got us out of Vietnam…
Opened relations with China…
Started the EPA…
Speed limits on highways…

And other stuff… And that was only in four years…

Not saying that Nixon wasn’t a massive screwup, but he did get a lot done.

KingofDarkness says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Man...

@silverscarcat

Did you really just list “got us off the gold standard” and “abolished the draft” as positive accomplishments? 0.o

I know many people strongly dislike the draft system, I was one of those people until I was recently educated on the true value of a draft system: EQUALITY.

With no draft in place the primary source of foot soldiers for our country is rural kids that view it as their only (or best) option. The upper class in our country does not have to sacrifice their youth at the same rate, so those in power are less inclined to avoid war (which is a source of income for many POWERFUL defense contractors in the U.S.).

The draft is the great equalizer. If people knew that their children could potentially be selected to fight in the next war, they would be much more careful about allowing our empirical government throw its weight around to further its own agendas.

Dark Helmet (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Man...

“The draft is the great equalizer.”

No it wasn’t. Not ever. What you’re saying would make worlds of sense if the draft system beginning in WWII wasn’t so completely gamed to make those with influence unafraid. College exemptions, preferred posts, etc. etc. etc. make the draft a complete non-threat.

KingofDarkness says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Man...

So the complete absence of a draft is better? If the system is broke, don’t throw it out, fix it…

The way our country goes to war so easily is disgusting.

Then we hear “if you don’t support the war than you’re not supporting our troops…” from every government lacky. When it is the government that is not respecting our troops by throwing them at any foe (real, imagined, or fabricated) that suits their interests. Interests that rarely refelct those of the American people.

How did the Iraq war defend my freedom, as is the common attribution to all wars…???

Dark Helmet (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:5 Man...

Are you somehow thinking I’m in support of the current system or the Iraq War? Do you have any reason for thinking such?

No, what I’m saying is that we had a draft system and it didn’t work. You should also not gloss over the benefits of military service in this country and how those benefits are massively geared towards those from less-affluent backgrounds. You can see this as a bad thing if you want, in that it will promelgate the tendency for the poor to become soldiers….but the military is also a fantastic avenue out of that situation, with the work/benefits/and educational tools that perhaps wouldn’t otherwise be available.

Do we go to war too often in this country? Absolutely. Is part of the reason for that the way those signing on to such wars are so far removed from the pawn pieces they use? Undeniably so.

But what’s your solution? You said have a draft, but that didn’t work. I’d submit that the only method to achieve the kind of equality you’re asking for (which I don’t agree is even necessary, btw) would be to institute a better, completely non-negotiable and non-gameable version of forced service like the Israelis have. If every man and woman in this country had to serve for a couple of years, with ZERO exceptions, you’d see things change. On the other hand….good luck getting that shit passed in Congress….

ricebowl says:

Re: Re: Re:6 Man...

I’d argue that there should always be some exemptions; for example you don’t want diabetics or epileptics (I’m one of those myself) with machine-guns in stressful situations.

But, broadly, I agree. Though of course I’m medically exempted from such, so my support on the matter is probably less than welcome.

KingofDarkness says:

Re: Re: Re:8 Man...

I wasn’t making assumptions about your opinions on any war, just making a point.

Current system = fail

…and that equation applies to almost every area of our government from the IRS to the FDA to the FBI.

America is privately owned and operated …by corporate lobbiests.

I suppose that is enough ranting on the topics fringe for today.

John Doe says:

Re: Re: Re: Man...

Are you Obama’s press secretary because you sound just like Obama; it’s all Bush’s fault. You do realize Obama has been in office for 3 years now and had a super majority for 2 year and could and did anything he wanted to do. He could have “reformed” a lot of things and didn’t. So no, it isn’t all Bush’s fault now. Nice try though.

John Doe says:

Re: Re: Re: Man...

Are you Obama’s press secretary because you sound just like Obama; it’s all Bush’s fault. You do realize Obama has been in office for 3 years now and had a super majority for 2 year and could and did anything he wanted to do. He could have “reformed” a lot of things and didn’t. So no, it isn’t all Bush’s fault now. Nice try though.

FuzzyDuck says:

Re: Re:

I looking in from the outside, and I don’t really see that much difference between the Bush and Obama administrations in terms of overly aggressive foreign policy and the US trying to impose their will on others. There are differences in focus, sure, Obama focuses more on the murder drone program and pushes the interests of Hollywood with crap like ACTA. At least people were more aware of US imperialism when Bush was in power, we let down our guard with Obama.

DOlz says:

Re: Re:

I don’t support Romney either. As I keep telling people it is a shame that there isn’t a democrat running for President this year. I’ll be voting third party this year. Before anyone tells me I’m wasting my vote, I would wasting my vote if voted for either of those two traitors to the American idea. With a third party vote the message is I still vote and care.

weneedhelp (profile) says:

This leak actually lets the White House claim credit and look good.

Look good? Creating a malware/virus that if it was used against us would have been a jumping point to cry cyber-terrorism?

Being a cyber-terrorist makes us look good… how?

So terrorist actions from a combined effort with Israel and US is a good thing?

Lets ask the rest of the world how that looks. Because IMHO it makes us look, yet again, like hypocrites.

Just imagine:
NY Times reveal many of the details behind Stuxnet, including confirming that it was a program driven by the Iran, with a lot of help from Pakistan.

It was supposed to just sit in the computers at the power plant, confusing the hell out of the Americans.

Guess where the bombs would be flying tomorrow, and we would be told how we need to give up our privacy to keep us safe from the cyber-terrorists.

Josh in CharlotteNC (profile) says:

Re: This leak actually lets the White House claim credit and look good.

Being a cyber-terrorist makes us look good… how?

You’re missing the point of the article. It doesn’t make “us” (as in the USA as a whole) look good.

It makes Obama looks good (to potential voters in 2012).

Now, Stuxnet was a work of genius. I’ll say this as a computer security geek, and someone who thinks an unstable theocratic country having access to nuclear weapons is a bad idea. Given the possible choices, Obama probably made the right call in this. Disabling/destroying their centrifuges with a computer worm, as opposed to starting the 3rd “real” war in a dozen years, or sitting back and doing nothing, is a no-brainer. I won’t be voting for Obama in 2012, but I don’t think we can fault him for this particular choice.

DCX2 says:

Re: Re: This leak actually lets the White House claim credit and look good.

I’m always amazed that people think Iran would actually use a nuclear weapon. You do realize that Israel is holy land to them, too, right? And besides, only the US gets to use nukes, if anyone else uses nukes they will be wiped off the face.

I find it hard to believe Iran would ever use a nuke first. No, I think what scares the US and Israel is the idea that Iran could counter-attack with a nuke. They don’t like the idea that they wouldn’t be able to walk all over Iran.

weneedhelp (profile) says:

Re: Re: This leak actually lets the White House claim credit and look good.

“It makes Obama looks good (to potential voters in 2012).”
I am a potential voter and saw it for what it is as I suspect most of you did as well. Running around crying cyber this and that, and then carrying out cyber espionage does more to incite anger against us. Silly silly move on our part.

“Disabling/destroying their centrifuges with a computer worm”
Dont think it will take them that long to replace and now have confirmation, if a delivery system was available to to reach us, that they know where to direct their anger. We are not the world police. (Or shouldn’t be.)

“the 3rd “real” war in a dozen years”
You dont think what we did to them would justify war? Like I said if it was directed at us, the bombs would be flying.

“an unstable theocratic country having access to nuclear weapons is a bad idea.” As much as I may agree, we do not have the right to tell another country what they can and cant do.
Thats why they hate us. No one likes a bully.

Mike Masnick (profile) says:

Re: This leak actually lets the White House claim credit and look good.

Look good? Creating a malware/virus that if it was used against us would have been a jumping point to cry cyber-terrorism?

Being a cyber-terrorist makes us look good… how?

It makes the administration look tough on terrorism. From a PR perspective, it’s great for them, especially in election season.

From a reality perspective, yes, it’s very questionable. But, totally makes them “look good” in the PR sense.

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