If an extraterrestrial had tuned into Good Morning America today and watched ABC News's report on national security leaks, he would have come away thinking the Obama administration was valiantly, aggressively pursuing the leakers. ET wouldn't have learned that there is good reason to suspect that the source of the leaks . . . is the Obama administration itself.
An attentive viewer might have noticed that the screen graphic referred to the White House and Congress being investigated. But the report by ABC's Pierre Thomas never hinted that the Obama administration was itself being accused of being the source of the leaks. To the contrary, Thomas framed the issue this way: "freedom of the press and the public's right to know is now on collision course with the government's desire to protect national security secrets." Translation: the Obama admin is, even at the risk of impinging on other values, leading the fight to protect national security. Gag us with a background briefing! View the video after the jump.
Watch Thomas twist what could be a devastating scandal for President Obama into a story about the prez bravely standing up for national security.
RON CLAIBORNE: The Justice Department is stepping up its crackdown on a series of national security leaks to the media. Attorney General Eric Holder is assigning two US Attorneys to lead criminal investigations into the recent leaks, and ABC's Pierre Thomas joins us now, live from Washington, with the latest. Good morning, Pierre.
PIERRE THOMAS: Hi, Ron. The freedom of the press and the public's right to know is now on collision course with the government's desire to protect national security secrets. The Attorney General's order to two top prosecutors in Washington, DC and [inaudible] to go after the source of those leaks is serious business. Republicans and Democrats in Congress are livid about the leaks concerning US efforts to stop Iran's nuclear program and efforts against al Qaeda. These prosecutors will have tens of FBI agents at their disposal, the ability to conduct grand jury investigations, and the authority to pursue subpoenas against journalists and members of government. Make no mistake: this could get quite ugly.
CLAIBORNE: Pierre, when you say that, what does this potentially mean for the journalists . . . and for the leakers?
THOMAS: Well, it means the journalists could be called to court and ordered to reveal who their sources are if the government can't find out who is leaking these secrets any other way. And if the journalists do not comply, that could mean jail time and fines. And obviously, if they find out who leaked the information, they're probably going to jail, Ron.