I continue to be fascinated by the leaks that are coming out of the Pentagon during the Obama administration. On Wednesday, the New York Times published an article that, in the electronic edition, was headlined “Russian Subs Patrolling Off East Coast of U.S.” Pretty ominous. Even more so in the print edition, on page A5, where the headline read “2 Russian Submarines Off East Coast of U.S. Evoke Echoes of Cold War.” Immediately I wanted to know not only why the subs were there—the newspaper was not sure—but also why we were being told about this, and who was telling us.
A pair of nuclear-powered Russian attack submarines has been patrolling off the eastern seaboard of the United States in recent days, a rare mission that has raised concerns inside the Pentagon and intelligence agencies about a more assertive stance by the Russian military. . . . The Pentagon and intelligence officials spoke anonymously to describe the effort to track the Russian submarines, which has not been publicly announced.
One wonders whether this most recent in a series of leaks of what is clearly highly sensitive information was authorized by the White House. If not, it seems a rather egregious violation of secrecy laws, without much public benefit. To be sure, it gives added fodder to Obama’s critics, to those who wish to paint him as weak and to pile on at a time when he is under tremendous pressure over health insurance and the economy, and with his poll numbers slipping. Pair the right-wing talk show hosts and their drumbeat about “socialistic” health care reform with the notion of an emboldened Russia buzzing our shores and you have the makings of panic.