Oliver North

We all know why. The Obama administration's purveyors of classified information cited almost daily in our media don't really care about our interests. Their goal is to show us how brave, bold, daring and smart they are -- and how careful, competent, engaged and tough our president is. Regrettably, the leaks aren't just coming from political appointees -- the ones Obama was talking to Jan. 21, 2009. Now the leakers are in our military and intelligence services, as well. A Washington Post column this week titled "U.S. expands secret intelligence operations in Africa" cites "a senior U.S. military official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss intelligence matters."

All this proves that leadership really does matter. The example set at the top is reflected in the behavior of others all the way down the chain of command. It is OK to disclose legitimate secrets that threaten our national security, put the lives of others in jeopardy, compromise sensitive operational capabilities and wreck relations with allies -- as long as the O-Team looks good in the leak.

Notably, the word "transparent" no longer appears in the president's prepared speeches. That's probably because there was no transparency in drafting his Obamacare legislation, new Environmental Protection Agency regulations on drilling for oil, federal loans to green energy companies such as Solyndra or the Department of Homeland Security's warning about "disgruntled war veterans" being a threat. The public never has been told how the Obama administration decided that the massacre at Fort Hood was "workplace violence" instead of a radical Islamic terror attack. Nor does the O-Team want to respond to legitimate congressional inquiries about the Justice Department's infamous "Fast and Furious" gunrunning operation.

It's only in the president's unscripted remarks that we now find examples of inadvertent transparency. There's his sotto voce plea to Russian President Dmitry Medvedev on ballistic missile defense: "This is my last election. After my election, I have more flexibility." Last week, it was his comment that "the private sector is doing fine." This week, he claimed that "Europe is our No. 1 trading partner" in an attempt to explain America's economic woes. Let's hope that he has since learned Europe is fourth, behind Canada, China and Mexico.

O-Team sycophants and fawning members of the Fourth Estate excuse these slip-ups as "minor gaffes." They're not. Coupled with the hemorrhage of self-serving leaks, the Obama administration is shown to be worse than feckless.

In less than 144 days, Americans go to the polls. We are being told by the so-called mainstream media and competing campaign operatives that this year's presidential election is about which candidate has the best "vision" for "fixing" or "restoring" or "repairing" the U.S. economy. That's important. But so is our ability to defend ourselves against our adversaries.

Those urging us to hire a new commander in chief in November must address how he could do better at protecting our national security and our people. If they fail to do so, they will show themselves to be as incompetent as the supporters of the one they seek to replace.

Oliver North

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.