Best Defense

Thomas E. Ricks' daily take on national security.

The Tom Donilon watch: How long before the national security advisor goes?

If he’s lucky, I think the national security advisor lasts until January. If he is not, he blows up on the launchpad in the middle of the presidential election campaign. His fate, it seems to me, rests in the hands of David Sanger, who broke the news that the American and Israeli governments were jointly ...

Wikimedia
Wikimedia
Wikimedia

If he's lucky, I think the national security advisor lasts until January. If he is not, he blows up on the launchpad in the middle of the presidential election campaign. His fate, it seems to me, rests in the hands of David Sanger, who broke the news that the American and Israeli governments were jointly conducting a cybercampaign against  the Iranian nuclear program, and had successfully inserted a virus that wrecked Iranian centrifuges. If Sanger cooperates with the special counsels looking into the leaks about this highly classified program, things are going to get interesting very quickly.

It wouldn't matter if Sanger, a fine reporter, first got wind of highly classified info from an underling. What matters is what Donilon said when asked by him. The moment of truth likely will be when a government lawyer says, "Mr. Donilon, when Mr. Sanger asked you about 'Olympic Games,' how did you reply?" If Donilon discussed the program with Sanger, he's got a legal problem, I would think.

Hmmm -- anyone remember who Scooter Libby's lawyer was?

If he’s lucky, I think the national security advisor lasts until January. If he is not, he blows up on the launchpad in the middle of the presidential election campaign. His fate, it seems to me, rests in the hands of David Sanger, who broke the news that the American and Israeli governments were jointly conducting a cybercampaign against  the Iranian nuclear program, and had successfully inserted a virus that wrecked Iranian centrifuges. If Sanger cooperates with the special counsels looking into the leaks about this highly classified program, things are going to get interesting very quickly.

It wouldn’t matter if Sanger, a fine reporter, first got wind of highly classified info from an underling. What matters is what Donilon said when asked by him. The moment of truth likely will be when a government lawyer says, "Mr. Donilon, when Mr. Sanger asked you about ‘Olympic Games,’ how did you reply?" If Donilon discussed the program with Sanger, he’s got a legal problem, I would think.

Hmmm — anyone remember who Scooter Libby’s lawyer was?

Thomas E. Ricks covered the U.S. military from 1991 to 2008 for the Wall Street Journal and then the Washington Post. He can be reached at ricksblogcomment@gmail.com. Twitter: @tomricks1

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