At a speech today before the Veterans of Foreign Wars, Republican Presidential candidate Mitt Romney will attack the President for intelligence leaks designed to bolster the Administration’s foreign policy record. But instead of focusing on the leaks that show a clear double standard, or the leaks actually being investigated by the Justice Department, Romney will confine himself to leaks around the killing of Osama bin Laden in Pakistan in 2011.
“It is not enough to say the matter is being looked into, and leave it at that,” Romney will say at a speech at the Veterans of Foreign Wars convention Tuesday, according to excerpts released by the campaign.
“When the issue is the political use of highly sensitive national security information, it is unacceptable to say, ‘We’ll report our findings after Election Day.’ ” [...]
Romney, meanwhile, will say, “If the president believes — as he said last week — that the buck stops with him, then he owes all Americans a full and prompt accounting of the facts. And let me be clear: These events make the decision we face in November all the more important. What kind of White House would reveal classified material for political gain? I’ll tell you right now: Mine won’t.”
The White House has leaked classified information on a number of occasions, particularly around executing the Predator drone program (which, despite dozens of on the record quotes, the Administration has not officially acknowledged exists), unleashing the Stuxnet worm virus in Iran, and a host of other national security issues. But focusing on the bin Laden raid, one of the more popular foreign policy initiatives from the President, seems like a terrible strategy.
I understand the urge to disqualify that raid by muddying it up with classified information leaks. But most swing voters aren’t going to be terribly perturbed by getting additional information on how the man responsible for the death of 3,000 Americans was killed. The leaks on the other information, by contrast, play right into Romney’s statement of revealing classified material for political gain.
He’s wrong in saying that his administration won’t: every White House does this. But this White House has engaged in a war on leaks and whistleblowers unlike any in recent memory, while also doling out information that makes them look good. This leads to an impression of the Administration’s foreign policy that is completely one-sided. Indeed, the Administration continues to deny the existence of the drone program in court, so the only data we get out of that comes from official sources.
I recognize that Romney is just trying to throw a bunch of mud against the wall here, but as someone who abhors the advance of official secrecy, I would welcome some accountability on that score, and going about it by trying to disparage the bin Laden raid just smacks of bad strategy.