Republicans demand the president plug leaks that jeopardize national security.
When he does, Republicans condemn Obama’s “attack” on the First Amendment.
Just last year, Sen. John McCain was outraged over series of news stories that divulged classified information.
“A really disturbing aspect of this is that one could draw the conclusion from reading these articles that it is an attempt to further the president’s political ambitions for the sake of his re-election at the expense of our national security,” an indignant McCain declared.
An equally incensed Obama denied the senator’s politically-motivated charges when he said the leaks didn’t come from the White House. He then ordered the Justice Department to appoint a special prosecutor.
Fast forward to May, 2013. The Justice Department seized telephone records from the Associated Press with the goal of plugging the leaks McCain and other Republicans want plugged.
But what about the First Amendment?
We’re at war, remember? There are terrorists who want to kill Americans. The Homeland is threatened. Classified information that appears in the media aids terrorists. At least that’s what Republicans wanted us to believe in 2012.
“We’ve seen more leaks, absolutely,” House Intelligence Committee Chairman Rep. Mike Rogers told Fox News last year. “This is an opportunity for the president to be bold, to take a stand...It is very clear that somebody who had access to...very senior covert action classified material was responsible for some of these leaks.”
So the administration took bold action. Whether it has the chilling effect many fear remains to be seen. But if it plugs leaks that protect even one American life, then the First Amendment must take a back seat to America’s wartime security as it did in World War II when government censorship of the media was common.
Evidently McCain and other GOP senators agree.
“I want to see the details -- what was their rationale, why did they do it -- before offering an opinion," said McCain of the seizure. "For me, to rush to a judgment without knowing all the facts is just not appropriate."