WASHINGTON -- In most administrations, "leaks" of classified information precipitate presidential ire. Nearly all such unauthorized disclosures are the consequence of disgruntled government employees deciding that a "leak" is the best way to stop some activity they have decided should not continue. To justify their unlawful actions, they call themselves "secret whistle-blowers." The so-called "mainstream media" love them. Most American presidents do not. That's what makes the current commander in chief's reactions to a whole series of "leaks" so unusual. President Barack Obama doesn't seem to be concerned at all.
President Ronald Reagan was infuriated by the publication and broadcast of highly classified plans for the rescue of medical students on the island of Grenada in 1983. He believed the leaks endangered both the students and U.S. troops.
President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney were, by all accounts, outraged when sensitive information on how the U.S. intercepted Osama bin Laden's communications and tracked terrorist finances made its way into the press. The revelation precipitated congressional and Justice Department investigations. And we all know what happened when the name Valerie Plame was published in connection with efforts to determine whether Saddam Hussein had acquired uranium from Niger.
The Obama administration has taken an entirely different tack. Last week, the mainstream media engaged in a feeding frenzy over a three-part series in The Washington Post revealing the locations of sensitive U.S. government sites and names and addresses of contractors performing classified intelligence work for the U.S. government. This week, POTUS brushed off the publication of more than 90,000 pages of classified U.S. military cables on WikiLeaks, a leftist, anti-military website. For the O-Team, this is no big deal.
In his Rose Garden remarks July 27, Obama observed he was "concerned about the disclosure" but went on to note the "documents don't reveal any issues that haven't already informed our public debate on Afghanistan." He then launched into a now-familiar discourse: "For seven years, we failed to implement a strategy adequate to the challenge in this region." In short: "Don't blame me; blame Bush."
Pointing to "failures" and "leaks" from his predecessor's administration has generally worked for Obama. The masters of the media and the potentates of the press have been very accommodating. But that support may prove to be harder to keep as opposition to his own faltering war policies accumulates here at home and in Afghanistan.
Oliver North is a nationally syndicated columnist, the host of War Stories on the Fox News Channel, the author of the new novel Heroes Proved and the co-founder of Freedom Alliance, an organization that provides college scholarships to the children of U.S. military personnel killed or permanently disabled in the line of duty. Join Oliver North in Israel by going to www.olivernorthisrael.com.