When Politics Trumps National Security
A book-length account will surely emerge, perhaps by Bob Woodward, regarding President Obama’s actions relating to national security and terror—dealing with the tragic Benghazi incident, of course, in which the United States Ambassador to Libya and other Americans were killed by a terrorist raid on Sept., 11, 2012, but also dealing with his handling of the killing of Osama Bin Laden and his actions in the immediate aftermath of that event.
Within the Bin Laden compound in Abbottobad, Pakistan, Navy Seals gathered trash bags full of valuable intelligence. This trove of information would include documents and computer hard drives that amounted to a virtual treasure map of al-Quaeda personnel, locations, connections and operations across the region, and perhaps the globe. The national security potential of these materials to the United State might be characterized as having rivaled the entire quantity of al-Quaeda-related intelligence gathered since 9/11, even giving U.S. clandestine services a capability to perhaps neutralize al-Quaeda as a viable threat. That capability though, while not entirely negated by Barack Obama, was sabotaged by his actions.
Immediately after the raid on the Bin Laden compound, President Obama went before a television camera and announced to the world that Osama Bin Laden had been killed, conspicuously using the word “I” repeatedly in his announcement so as to claim credit for the operation conducted by Seal Team 6 (the identity of which none of us should know).
Those familiar or involved with national security matters were stunned. The president, in order to make himself look good politically, had tipped off al-Quaeda cells around the world that they should flee, hide, cover their tracks—that the Americans would soon be coming to capture or kill them (unfortunately, though, due to the president’s policies, we no longer detain and interrogate terror suspects, only kill them by remote control with aerial drones). Had the president not selfishly and foolishly rushed before a television camera, and instead waited, giving the U.S. national security apparatus time to act on the intelligence collected by the Navy Seals, time to take out numerous al-Quaeda operatives, or even better, extract even more intelligence after having discovered their identities and whereabouts, a significant corner would have been turned in the War on Terror, one that would actually lend validity to his claim that al-Quaeda is on the run, even as it gains strength remarkably in places like North Africa and Syria.
Furthermore, in regard to the Bin Laden raid, information was released that gave adversaries an advantage regarding operational tactics (the use of helicopters fitted with stealth technology, for example), operational methods (the ways in which special forces carry out clandestine raids), and the identity of the unit that carried out the attack.
“We are very concerned about the security of our families—of your families and our troops, and also [of] these elite units…,” President Obama’s own Secretary of Defense, Robert Gates, said after the president had narcissistically spilled the beans. “…I met with the team [that killed Bin Laden]… they expressed a concern about that [releasing of sensitive information], and particularly with respect to their families,” Gates said, according to CNN.
This betrayal of national security by President Obama though, and of U.S. personnel, in order to score political points, is not unique to the Bin Laden raid (the question of his actions pertaining to Libya are under investigation, and unfortunately point in the same troubling direction), and informs us regarding the president’s hand in the other instances of his administration’s exploitation of national security secrets for political purposes, acts that must be considered extremely serious, and as contributing to the likelihood that innocent people may be killed in future terrorist attacks, or nations held hostage to a nuclear threat, given the Obama administration’s unfathomable irresponsibility in handling national security secrets that pertain to Iran’s nuclear weapons program.
In the New York Times “kill list” story, in which the president was described as having personally presided over decisions to target terrorists, the leaked details of which were designed to make the president look tough on terror, the Times’ David Sanger reported that Obama advisers were interviewed for the story, in other words, that people close to the president leaked secret information vital to sabotaging the Iranian nuclear threat.
The publication of that story with the help of the Obama administration told the world about the highly classified Stuxnet virus operation, alerting the Iranians that a courageous operative working undercover had insinuated himself into their nuclear enrichment facility and introduced a destructive software virus. That virus set back the Iranian’s progress in enriching uranium, buying the world time, particularly Israel and the United States (as well as Iran’s Arab neighbors), by making their centrifuges malfunction. The moment the story was published, the Iranian’s knew why their centrifuges had been going haywire, were most likely able to discover the operative’s identity then torture and kill him, and they could take measures to prevent further sabotage that would have rendered the world a much safer place. In other words, the Obama administration undercut a secret clandestine operation to keep America and its allies safe from nuclear weapons and in the process sold out a covert agent, all to score political points.
Imagine that operative’s courage, working undercover in Iran, his painstaking efforts and those of other operatives as they positioned themselves to secretly disable the centrifuges- and then the operative’s terror when detained, and probably tortured, thanks to an American administration that puts its political fortunes ahead of everything else. For such leaks do not happen by accident—the president’s National Security Advisor having been appointed, not for his national security experience (he didn’t have any), but as a political operative. And the political motive was clear—make the president look good, as if fully engaged, even though official records reveal he does not attend half of his own intelligence briefings (he does, though, receive written reports), even as he refuses to recognize terrorism when it takes place, the assassination of the U.S. Ambassador to Libya being the most recent example.
The agent operating undercover in Iran, what’s more, was not the first covert agent outed on Obama’s watch due to national security leaks. Two others come to mind—the Pakistani doctor who cooperated with the CIA, in order to confirm it was indeed Bin Laden in the compound in Abbottobad (now serving 30 years in a Pakistani prison) and the double agent working with Anwar al-Alawki in Yemen, who delivered an underwear bomb to the United States and with it valuable intelligence, a man whose mission was indirectly revealed by another Obama national security advisor, John Brennan, and then specifically by some as-yet unknown person (the case is under investigation).
Even a top member of Obama’s own party, Sen. Diane Feinstein, expressed ourtrage at the leaks, indicating the egregious nature of the administration’s actions.
So much lost, and so needlessly, including the lives of future terror victims, all for one politician’s vanity, shortsightedness, and apparent ignorance of matters vital to the security of his own country.