It is appalling that General McChrystal’s confidential report on conditions in Afghanistan for President Obama was immediately leaked to the Washington Post. Who was the leaker? Someone in the White House who thinks the war in Afghanistan is wrong and wants to exert pressure on the President to stop the fighting? Someone in the military who wants the public to know that the military is recommending more soldiers on the ground, so that there will be pressure on the President to follow that recommendation? Or is it just someone who got a copy of the report and wants to curry favor with the Post in hopes of getting some fawning Style article at some point in the future?
Does no one in government put the best interests of the country over their own self-interest or their personal political views? Don’t the few people who got copies of this report feel sufficient loyalty to President Obama to allow him to review and carefully consider a confidential report about a military matter? The people who leak these important reports to the press seem to think it is all some kind of Washington insider political game. It isn’t. The decision on how to proceed in Afghanistan — which unquestionably was an important base for terrorists before 9/11 and still serves as a significant refuge and threat — is an important one that the President should be permitted to make after quiet reflection and consultation, without being rushed or prodded by unseemly leaks.
As a former journalist, I am all in favor of open government and vigorous press coverage of important decisions. A government has to be able to keep some secrets, however — particularly when it comes to military and intelligence matters. Right now, our government seems incapable of performing that essential activity. At some point, it will cost us.