Leaks

LeaksIt seems to us that the national security leaks coming from DC could easily be cured with two words to ALL OF THE #DCPoliburo  Obama moles within the Trump administration: YOUR FIRED!  The #LEAKS that endanger our National security should be countered with jail time starting with Hillary Clinton.  #DrainTheSwamp and put an end to this disloyalty that has invaded DC.

The political brawl over Russia, the Trump campaign and U.S. intelligence has reached the point where basic questions about U.S. institutions and trust in government are at stake. Democrats are trying to capitalize on anonymous leaks based on U.S. intelligence collection to destroy the Trump Presidency, and the President is responding with a fusillade of unproven accusations. To adapt Benjamin Franklin’s comment about the Constitution, you have a banana republic, if you can keep it.

Pardon the gallows humor, but what a spectacle. Democratic leaders and the media wildly overreacted to last week’s news, based on a leak, that Attorney General Jeff Sessions met with Russia’s ambassador to the U.S. in the not-so-secret lair of his Senate office. Resign. Special prosecutor. Watergate.

Then the President, with his familiar self-restraint, replied with a Saturday morning Twitter barrage alleging that former President “Obama had my ‘wires tapped’ in Trump Tower just before the victory. Nothing found. This is McCarthyism!” Mr. Trump offered no evidence for his claims, which may have been based on a report by a radio talk-show host.

The political upshot is that, in this supposedly mature democracy, the current President is accusing his predecessor of trying to subvert his victory, while the former President’s party accuses Mr. Trump of colluding with the enemy in the Kremlin. Forget “Wag the Dog” or “The Manchurian Candidate.” Hollywood couldn’t make this up.

What the country desperately needs are some grown-ups to intervene, discover the facts, and then lay them out to the American people. This should include contacts between the Russians and the Trump campaign as well as any efforts during the Obama Administration to monitor Trump advisers.

The latter is important no matter the provenance of Mr. Trump’s Twitter rampage. We’ve been writing for weeks that the circumstances of the leaks against former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn suggested that U.S. intelligence was listening to his conversations with the Russian ambassador. Was there an order to do so from the U.S. Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, and what was the justification?

That question has become more urgent as we’ve learned the extent of the Obama Administration’s efforts to share raw intelligence about the Trump campaign far and wide. In January the White House changed its rules to let the National Security Agency share this intelligence with other agencies without privacy protections. The timing is suspicious to say the least.

The worst option for investigating all this is to appoint a special counsel in the Justice Department. The country doesn’t need another Inspector Javert spending months in secret looking for someone to indict. The country needs to know what happened.

The second worst idea is a joint House-Senate special committee. That would have to start from scratch and you can bet it would be filled with partisans. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer—who may eventually call for everyone in the Trump Administration to resign—would use it as a political weapon.

A last resort option would be a commission of nonelected graybeards like the Robb-Silberman effort that in 2004-2005 investigated the intelligence errors over weapons of mass destruction before the Iraq war. But that would also have to start de novo and take months or years.

Before going to that extreme, the better immediate options are the House and Senate intelligence committees that have been investigating Russia’s election meddling for months. These may be the last two committees in Congress that operate in bipartisan fashion, at least most of the time.

The two Republican Chairmen, Rep. Devin Nunes and Sen. Richard Burr, have said from the outset that they take Russian meddling seriously. The ranking Senate Democrat, Mark Warner, said Sunday on CBS’s “Face the Nation” that “I have confidence that we are going to get to the bottom of this” and “Richard Burr and I are going to get this done.” Mr. Warner and his House colleague, Adam Schiff, will be under pressure from the left to portray the probes as a whitewash, but we don’t want to prejudge their motives or behavior.

Political collusion with a foreign power and the abuse of intelligence collection to smear an opponent threaten the integrity of democratic institutions.

Let’s hope the intelligence committees rise above their putative party leaders and tell America what really happened.