Pressure Grows on Team Obama After Helpful Security Leaks to the New York Times
As Times Watch reported Friday, the New York Times is getting heat from Congress for intelligence leaks that have shown up in long investigative stories on the front page of the newspaper. Many see the leaks as the White House trying to bolster Obama's image as a tough-on-terror leader, with the Times providing assistance.
A May 29 off-lead story showcased the president personally choosing targets (the "kill list") of drone strikes against Al Qaeda targets in Yemen and Pakistan. A June 1 piece based on a new book by foreign policy correspondent David Sanger, Confront and Conceal: Obama’s Secret Wars and Surprising Use of American Power, displayed Obama ordering the STUXNET cyber attack on Iran's nuclear program.
On June 7 the paper's managing editor Dean Baquet denied to Politico's Dylan Byers that the Obama White House was leaking to the Times.
But columnist Ann Coulter argued on Fox News Monday: "...when the New York Times is printing classified intelligence under a Republican administration it's to make the Republican administration look bad. When they’re doing it under a Democrat administration, they’re doing it to make the Democrat look good."
Attorney General Eric Holder appointed two U.S. attorneys to investigate the leaks, but that didn't assuage Republicans, reported Michael Schmidt in Wednesday's Times under the mild headline "Republican Senators Criticize Holder Over Response to Leaks." Sen. John Cornyn of Texas did a little more than that, calling on Attorney General Holder to resign.
Schmidt quoted Sen. Lindsey Graham:
“The concern we have is that you’ve got one program, Fast and Furious, that has been an embarrassment for the administration, and it’s been like pulling teeth to get information about Fast and Furious, who did what and when, ” he said, referring to Operation Fast and Furious, a bungled gun trafficking case.
“But when you have programs on the national security front that seem to show the president as a strong leader, you read about it in the paper. So my concern, I think, is that a lot of us believe if there was ever a need for an outside special counsel, it is now. What do you say?”
MRC's Rich Noyes has written a comprehensive piece on the leaks, including these striking findings about the Obama insiders that the Times used as sources:
As has been widely discussed for a week, both Times’ stories contain numerous references to “senior administration sources,” or “aides” to Obama for key details, including dialogue from classified meetings. A content analysis of both reports, however, shows in stark relief how the articles were told almost entirely from the perspective of Obama insiders, both past and present.
Combined, the two stories present a total of 52 different descriptions of the sources cited. This includes 12 individuals cited by name in the May 29 Becker/Shane piece -- nine current or former Obama officials talking about the administration’s “kill list” program, plus two Bush-era officials and GOP Senator Saxby Chambliss reacting to what Becker and Shane were reporting. That piece also included 24 additional references to unnamed officials, all with descriptions that point back to Obama’s national security team.
The June 1 piece by Sanger has 16 different source descriptions, only one of which is a named individual (Bush-era CIA Director Michael Haydon). The rest are unnamed individuals, most of which are obviously top Obama administration officials.
Added together, 92% of the source identifications in those two stories of past or present Obama officials. Looking at just the descriptions used by the three Times reporters, it is impossible to believe that these stories were not deeply facilitated by the top echelons of President Obama’s national security team.