When Rep. Jan Schakowsky saw the first news reports that named an administration official who may have leaked national security secrets, her response was swift, decisive, and unequivocal. She immediately issued a statement saying, “If the President cares more about national security and the safety of our covert agents than he does about politics and protecting his friends, his only choice is to uphold his Administration’s promise to fire any person involved in leaking. . .”
Of course, that was in 2005 when the President involved was George W. Bush and the news report was a Newsweek article that erroneously suggested that Bush advisor Karl Rove was the person who leaked the identity of CIA operative Valerie Plame to the media. Schakowsky, a Chicago-area Democrat who has been an early and consistent booster of President Obama, seems to have no such qualms about the current leak scandal now enveloping the current administration.
To date, she has issued no statement, taken no public position, and demanded no resignations. Despite repeated attempts to elicit a response from her office, Rep. Schakowsky’s Communications Director declined to provide information clarifying the Congresswoman’s current position for this article.
This seeming inconsistency has not escaped the notice of the Republican challenging her for the seat in the Illinois 9th District. When asked for a comment, Republican nominee Tim Wolfe said, “As a member of the Intelligence Oversight Committee Congresswoman Schakowsky should be calling for immediate hearings to get to the bottom of this issue. Other Democrats in Congress, like Sen. Dianne Feinstein, have done so because they see the threat to national security. This clearly underscores Representative Schakowsky’s partisan bias, otherwise she would now be calling for resignations here as well of John Brennan and Tom Donilon.” Brennan and Donilon are the Obama administration officials most frequently named in press accounts as the potential sources of the leaks.
Wolfe fell short of calling for any resignations himself, saying, “I am very concerned that there have been leaks that appear to be coming from the Executive Branch. However, I don’t like the idea of convicting anyone just from what the media has told us. I don’t like the “rush to judgment” attitude. There needs to be a full and timely investigation that must be concluded, including punishment, well before the election.”
While the Plame controversy had no meaningful ramifications for U.S. policy, the current torrent of leaks flooding out of the administration has already revealed “sources and methods” that could have an impact on future operations. For instance, leaking background information on the operation that killed Osama bin Laden may have helped Pakistani officials in determining the identity of the doctor who assisted the U.S. in locating the leader of al Qaeda. Doctor Shakil Afridi has been sentenced to more than 30 years in a Pakistani prison for his efforts.
Another leak revealed U.S. involvement in the Stuxnet virus that crippled the Iranian nuclear program for a time. Aside from implicating America in the effort, this story also revealed the participation of Israel in the operation, further complicating relations with that nation and potentially chilling the willingness of other countries to share sensitive intelligence information with American agencies.
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