It was predictable.
A year ago when Republicans in Congress demanded an investigation into leaks of sensitive information to the press, allegedly from inside Obama’s administration, the President could have responded with the use of his two middle fingers, both of them standing straight up.
Instead, he took the bellowing of Republicans seriously, and he went all in to discover the source of the leaks that were causing so much concern.
“Since I’ve been in office, my attitude has been zero tolerance for these kinds of leaks and speculation,” Mr. Obama said at a news conference. “Now we have mechanisms in place where, if we can root out folks who have leaked, they will suffer consequences. In some case, it’s criminal. These are criminal acts when they release information like this. And we will conduct thorough investigations, as we have in the past.”There was a reason why the President needed to demonstrate his serious intent. These weren't just any leaks. The Republicans were accusing the President of instigating the leaks to get favorable press coverage in return.
Today, Reince Priebus called for Attorney General Eric Holder’s resignation because the President kept the promise he made about a serious investigation.
"Because Attorney General Holder has so egregiously violated the public trust, the president should ask for his immediate resignation. If President Obama does not, the message will be unmistakable: The President of the United States believes his administration is above the Constitution and does not respect the role of a free press."
For the sake of sanity, it's never a good idea to pay attention to everything that gives Republicans a bellyache. Last year, when they were howling about security leaks designed to make the President look good, it sounded something like dogs barking at the moon. Bin Laden was dead. What did they mean about making the President look good?
One after the next they rose to speak in Congress, and not one of them ever expressed the slightest concern about freedom of the press or the Constitution. Here's an example:
Senator John McCainWhen every Republican in Congress had taken his shot at the President and they all agreed that they had never seen anything so egregious as these security leaks, they called for an investigation by a special prosecutor.
Over the past few months there has been a disturbing stream of articles in the media and common among them, they cite elite, classified, or highly sensitive information in what appears to be a broader effort by the administration to paint a portrait of the President of the United States as a strong leader on national security issues—information for which there is no legitimate reason whatsoever to believe should be in the public domain.
Indeed, the release of this information in these articles harms our national security and puts in danger the lives of the men and women who are sworn to protect it. What price did the administration apparently pay to proliferate such a Presidential persona—highly valued in an election year? Access. Access to senior administration officials who appear to have served as anonymous sources divulging extremely sensitive military and intelligence information and operations. With the leaks that these articles were based on, our enemies now know much more than they did the day before they came out about important aspects of our Nation’s unconventional offensive capabilities and how we use them.
Such disclosures can only undermine similar ongoing or future operations and, in this sense, compromise our national security. For this reason, regardless of how politically useful these leaks may have been to the President, they have to stop. These leaks have to stop. With this in mind, I call on the President to take immediate and decisive action, including the appointment of a special counsel, to aggressively investigate the leak of any classified information on which the recent stories were based and, where appropriate, to prosecute those responsible.
Attorney General Holder appointed Ronald C. Machen, the United States attorney for the District of Columbia, and Rod J. Rosenstein, his counterpart in Maryland, instead, to take over direction of existing investigations by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
"This investigation involves some of the most serious breaches of national security in recent memory and any investigation must be done in a manner free and clear of political considerations. The recent decision of the Attorney General falls far short of what is needed and is not an adequate substitute for an outside special counsel."Now we learn that the investigation has been taken too far with the collection of phone records with two months of calls made by Associated Press reporters. Unless the source of the leaks is identified, the President can still be accused of encouraging them himself.
Would it have been more noble for the President to take the heat for the sake of the First Amendment? That's a tough call. It isn't just the President taking the heat. It's the 66 million people who voted for him, too. Their choice is being disrespected by the Republicans as much as anything.