Opinion

WikiLeaks must be oversight priority number one for Congress

On Monday, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder held a press conference in which he stated: “Over the past few days, the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, the Department of Homeland Security and nine U.S. Attorneys’ Offices from across the country obtained and executed seizure orders against 82 domain names of websites.”  Because of the recent media frenzy over the WikiLeaks debacle, Americans may have assumed that one of the websites Mr. Holder had seized was Wikileaks.org.  Sadly, this wasn’t the case.  As of this moment, WikiLeaks is still alive and well and wreaking havoc on U.S. national security and our credibility around the world.  The attorney general instead was focused on intellectual property crimes. The ongoing WikiLeaks disaster has not been a priority for the Obama administration.

In July, the Justice Department announced it was assisting the Defense Department in their WikiLeaks investigation.  At the same time, President Obama made his first comments about WikiLeaks and didn’t appear overly worried about the danger we were facing: “While I’m concerned about the disclosure of sensitive information from the battlefield that could potentially jeopardize individuals or operations, the fact is, these documents don’t reveal any issues that haven’t already informed our public debate on Afghanistan.  Indeed, they point to the same challenges that led me to conduct an extensive review of our policy last fall…”  Unfortunately, the president was missing the point.  Did he even consider the possibility of future and far more damaging document leaks?

The Department of Defense and the Department of Justice have allegedly been investigating this critical national security matter for months.  That being said, how in the world did President Obama and his administration get blindsided with the latest leak of an unprecedented 250,000 diplomatic cables (15,652 of which are classified as secret)?  Since the Obama administration has clearly forfeited its credibility on this issue, it’s imperative that the U.S. Congress immediately initiate an investigation into WikiLeaks and the Obama administration’s handling of its own investigation into WikiLeaks.

In August, Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA), the incoming-chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, wrote a letter to former National Security Advisor Jim Jones asking questions about WikiLeaks, such as: “What steps is the Administration undertaking to prevent the publication and dissemination of documents by WikiLeaks that would harm national security interests?”  Issa was asking the right questions.  Did Jones or one of his representatives at the White House respond to this most pressing interrogatory?  Did outgoing Democrat Chairman Edolphus Towns (D-NY), who was copied on the August 17th letter, demand any action by his powerful committee?  The American people deserve answers to these questions and many more.

One of the biggest problems with one-party rule in Washington is that meaningful Congressional oversight of the executive branch ceases to happen.  Over the past two years, President Obama and company were given a free pass by Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid’s investigative committees.  Surely, jokes of relief were made about this by the all-powerful Democrats running the federal government, but the reality is that the American people got a raw deal.  When the checks and balances stop, administration officials tend to get lazy, lose focus, make mistakes, and perhaps, take liberties.  Time is of the essence.  It’s not too late for the Democrats in Congress to do the right thing and start asking questions right now and not wait for the new Congress in January.  If not, incoming-Chairman Issa should step up and do the job.  He should use his subpoena and deposition authority to follow the internet trail to discover who is paying for and maintaining the website and financing the WikiLeaks leaders.  The WikiLeaks scandal is an urgent matter of national security that needs to be a top priority.  Hopefully, President Obama and Attorney General Holder finally understand this.

David N. Bossie is the president of Citizens United and Citizens United Productions, and the executive producer of “America at Risk.”