Republicans Charge Administration With Partisan Security Leaks
While the main issue in the 2012 elections is the state of the US economy, there are voters who are influenced by foreign policy dexterity. So far, the 2012 elections have been a reversal of 2008. In 2008 both Hillary Clinton - during the primaries - and the Republicans, during the general campaign, pummeled Barack Obama on his lack of experience.
In 2012, Barack Obama gets generally favorable ratings on foreign policy. Most Americans support the policy of American military withdrawal from Afghanistan and despite the atrocities committed by the regime of Bashar al-Assad, Americans by an overwhelming majority prefer to stay out of what they see as another perilous and thankless attempt at nation-building.
The Obama administration has not been content with these favorable ratings and wants to capitalize on foreign policy further, by portraying the president as an out-of-the-box thinker who advances American security by employing novel approaches. Administration sources have given friendly news outlets briefings to reinforce this image.
The Republicans have struck back by contending that the administration is playing fast and loose with security secrets. The list includes the use of the computer virus Stuxnet to slow down the Iranian nuclear program.
Then there was a report that the US had planted a spy in the Yemen branch of Al Qaeda.
A Pakistani Doctor whose assistance had been invaluable in the liquidation of Osama bin Laden was outed in the press and is now facing treason charges in Pakistan.
Representative Peter King has accused the administration of leaking classified details to Hollywood studios working on a movie about the Osama bin Laden operation in Pakistan.
As a senator, Barack Obama had been highly critical about security leaks emanating from the Bush administration and this makes the charge of similar behavior by his administration more sensitive.
While predictably, the Republicans are leading the charge against the leaks with the point man being Obama's 2008 opponent Senator John McCain, they have been joined by colleagues on the other side of the aisle. Senator Carl Levin, the Democrat of Michigan, has agreed to hearings. Senator Dianne Feinstein, the senior Democratic senator from California, also expressed concern that the leaks harm US security interests.
In addition to making a case that the administration has been grandstanding at the expense of US security interests, the charges are also a shot across the bow at the media and their attempts to help Obama's reelection.
In an attempt to take some of the sting out of the attacks, Attorney General Eric Holder appointed two prosecutors to investigate the leaks Friday, but the congressional committees investigating them will get information about the course of the Justice Department investigations only "as appropriate".