A Washington Post editorial by three Republican senators highlights a persistent problem.
Espionage is a dangerous business often seen only through a Hollywood lens. Yet the real-world operations, and lives, that inspire such thrillers are highly perishable. They depend on hundreds of hours of painstaking work and the ability to get foreigners to trust our government.
Sitting in a prison cell in Pakistan is one of those foreigners who trusted us. Shakil Afridi served as a key informant to the United States in the raid that killed Osama bin Laden. This brave physician put his life on the line to assist U.S. efforts to track down the most-wanted terrorist in the world, yet our government left him vulnerable to the Pakistani tribal justice system, which sentenced him to 33 years for treason. The imprisonment and possible torture of this courageous man — for aiding the United States in one of the most important intelligence operations of our time — coincides with a deeply damaging leak in another case.
The world learned a few weeks ago that U.S. intelligence agencies and partners had disrupted an al-Qaeda plot to blow up a civilian aircraft using an explosive device designed by an affiliate in Yemen. This disclosure revealed sources and methods that could make future successes more difficult to achieve. The public release of information surrounding such operations also risks the lives of informants and makes it more difficult to maintain productive partnerships with other intelligence agencies. These incidents paint a disappointing picture of this administration’s judgment when it comes to national security.
[…]The problem stems in part from the media’s insatiable desire for real-world information that makes intelligence operations look like those of filmmakers’ imaginations. That is understandable, but this hunger is fed by inexcusable contributions from current and former U.S. officials.
For example, why did the Obama administration hold a conference call May 7 with a collection of former government officials, some of whom work as TV contributors and analysts, to discuss the foiled bomb threat? In doing so, the White House failed to safeguard sensitive intelligence information that gave us an advantage over an adversary. Broadcasting highly classified information notifies every enemy of our tactics and every current and future partner of our inability to provide them the secrecy that often is the difference between life and death.
[…]When they leave Capitol Hill, former members of Congress and their staff are, by law, prohibited from petitioning their former congressional colleagues for up to two years. Yet nothing restricts former security officials from using their government contacts and experience to provide live commentary on breaking news stories.
Furthermore, nothing limits current officials from using their media contacts to control a story — or to even promote a big-budget movie. We were shocked to learn that the White House has also leaked classified details of the bin Laden raid to Hollywood filmmakers, including the confidential identities of elite U.S. military personnel.
Dan Coats, Richard Burr and Marco Rubio, all Republicans, represent Indiana, North Carolina and Florida, respectively, in the U.S. Senate and are members of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence.
Here’s my take: Democrats want to equalize influence between our country and countries like Iran, China and North Korea. One way they can do this is by undermining our ability to defend our interests abroad. It’s all part of the leftist dream of making everyone “equal” so that there are no disagreements. In a very real sense, leftists are responsible for enabling the human rights abuses and purges that go on in countries like Iran, China and North Korea. They don’t really think that things like shooting pro-Democracy protestors (Iran), coerced abortion (China) and executing Christians for distributing Bibles (North Korea), etc. should be opposed with American influence.