President Obama in Oval Office with National Security
advisor Tom Donilon and counter terrorism advisor
John Brennan. Photo, Pete Souza/The White House
There's a developing political story with some intrigue involving the Obama White House that's not exactly flying below the radar, but has caught the attention of both Republicans and Democrats in Congress focusing on stories leaked or authorized by administration "officials" to New York Times reporters and subsequently published in the paper.
The Times articles, one on the "Stuxnet" cyber warfare computer worm that reportedly was authorized by the Obama administration to counter Iran's nuclear program by disrupting Iranian centrifuges from enriching uranium to suspected bomb grade levels while the other story revealed secret "kill lists" drawn up by Obama and his advisors authorizing drone strikes and missile attacks to assassinate suspected terrorists in Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia.
The Republicans, particularly Senator John McCain wants a special prosecutor investigation, accusing the Obama administration of authorizing the "leaks" for partisan political reasons to make the president look "tough" on defense.
Democrat Senators Dianne Feinstein and Carl Levin "worry" these stories, and the release of this information, undermine national security. Levin's office announced his Armed Services Committee would hold hearings "pertaining to the recent public reports of classified information".
Meanwhile Attorney General Eric Holder announced on Friday the appointment of two federal prosecutors to investigate the "leak" allegations while the president has vehemently denied his administration sanctioned the leaking reported in the Times stories.
So what is really going on here?
Did the Obama crowd miscalculate that the Times stories, intending to make the president look "tough", didn't "play well in Peoria" and now appear indignant they didn't intentionally plant the stories after all? The Times reporter on the "Stuxnet" story, David Sanger defended his reporting saying on CNN he got the information "from the ground up. Did I talk to a lot of people in the administration? Of course."
From here, other than the public becoming informed about some of the Machiavellian inner machinations of the Obama White House and his assuming powers not granted in the Constitution or authorized by the Congress, the rest is all so much soap opera, obfuscation, dissembling and grandstanding.
Obama's whole "macho" campaign is intended to offset Republican attacks on him being "soft on defense" was bound to backfire. Why? The Republicans will always attack any Democrat that way regardless of the reality of what the latter do or don't do, so attempting to out macho the former is always a fools game.
Then of course, Obama chose to essentially follow the Bush/Cheney playbook, adopt the absurd war on terrorism as his own, expanding and embellishing it, rather than refuting and ending it.
It all goes back to Bush framing the 9/11 attacks as an act of war rather than a criminal act by some co-conspirators acting in coordination thus initiating the endless, phony "war on terror" justifying all the misguided and misdirected policy decisions since that time i.e. sweeping up any suspected "terrorists", continuing the extra ordinary rendition, indefinite detention, torture, suspension of habeas corpus, drone strikes and missile attacks, expanding the growth of corporate mercenary armies along with the pre-emptive wars and occupations while broadening the scope of the national security state domestically, (all continued under Obama).
In America today, a president starting a war, even the absurd and unnecessary "war on terrorism" is relatively easy (since Congress long ago abdicated its Constitutional mandated roll as the only branch responsible for declaring war). Ending that war will not be that easy considering there is no leader currently on the horizon, (who has a chance of being elected), that would have the fortitude to be the transformational leader to extricate us from the abyss that is our endless war on terror.