Secretary Gates to Leakers: “Shut Up”

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Starting with General Stanley McChrystal’s confidential strategy assessment, which wound up in the hands of Bob Woodward, the Obama administration’s typically tight ship has been leaking like a sieve when it comes to the ongoing strategy deliberations over Afghanistan. Surely it was no accident when news of Ambassador Karl Eikenberry’s cable, expressing concerns over sending additional troops to Afghanistan, ended up in the New York Times on the very day that President Obama and his war council were scheduled to convene to discuss a range of strategy options. It’s becoming pretty clear that when it comes to Obama’s war plan the administration’s competing factions are jockeying for influence via the press to advance their preferred policy options. 

Defense Secretary Robert Gates, for one, has had enough of it. Speaking to reporters  today, he put his agency’s personnel on notice that, if discovered, Pentagon leakers will need to find a new line of work.

Via the Armed Forces Press Service:

I am appalled by the amount of leaking that has been going on,” Gates told reporters traveling with him today in the wake of media reports following yesterday’s national security session on Afghanistan, President Barack Obama’s eighth in the past two months.

Gates said he has little doubt that some of those leaks have come from within the Defense Department. “If I found out who” was involved, he said, “it would probably be a career ender.”

Returning to the leaking issue, Gates condemned information made public about the alleged Fort Hood gunman that he said could jeopardize the investigation.

“Everybody out there with their own little piece of the action” doesn’t understand how it fits into the big picture, he said. “Everybody out there ought to just shut up.”

Follow Daniel Schulman on Twitter.

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THE BIG PICTURE

You expect the big picture, and it's our job at Mother Jones to give it to you. And right now, so many of the troubles we face are the making not of a virus, but of the quest for profit, political or economic (and not just from the man in the White House who could have offered leadership and comfort but instead gave us bleach).

In "News Is Just Like Waste Management," we unpack what the coronavirus crisis has meant for journalism, including Mother Jones’, and how we can rise to the challenge. If you're able to, this is a critical moment to support our nonprofit journalism with a donation: We've scoured our budget and made the cuts we can without impairing our mission, and we hope to raise $400,000 from our community of online readers to help keep our big reporting projects going because this extraordinary pandemic-plus-election year is no time to pull back.

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