CIA Director Gen. David Petraeus and Defense Secretary Leon Panetta should be called before a joint closed hearing of both intelligence committees to explain their preliminary damage assessments.
Waiting for final assessments could take years that the White House shouldn't be allowed.
In those hearings, the committees can learn which sources and methods were compromised. They can learn -- to the extent our intelligence community knows -- how Iran is responding to the disclosures, and how the Pakistani and Afghan governments are changing their behavior toward us as a result of the leaks.
When they learn these things, the committees can disclose their own judgments of how severe the damage is. They can't disclose the details, but they can say that there was damage and characterize whether they believe it was significant.
But that is the limit of what Congress can do. It is up to Mitt Romney, as the leader of the Republican Party, to choose to make the Obama leaks a campaign issue.
So far, Romney has been silent on this and too many other issues. If he chooses to remain silent on the Obama leaks, he will surrender the issue leaving Obama to continue the leaking and gain whatever political advantage within reach. Instead, Romney could and should seize upon the issue. Romney should speak out quickly, joining in the bipartisan call for an investigation and asking the intelligence committees to hold the closed hearings to obtain the assessments of damage.
When -- and if -- the committees hold those hearings, Romney should use whatever they may disclose to make a major speech on the issue, calling the Obama administration to account for its actions against our nation's security.
One thing that occurred to me is that this issue cannot come at a worse time for Obama. He has presided over a horrible economy that his policies have made worse. He has given offense to Catholics and people of faith generally with his idiotic HHS mandate on contraception, a clear (and utterly unnecessary) affront to religious liberty. The one thing he had going for himself is that he "got" Osama bin Laden. But this leak scandal inevitably paints that singular foreign policy triumph as a thread in the pattern of Obama's self-aggrandizement and creepy passive-aggressiveness in foreign policy. Waterboarding, no; drone assassinations in bulk, sure. Guantanamo, no; but kill squads in Pakastan, sure. Iran at a crisis point; who cares... it's an election year, so let's reveal our most secret program of cyber-espionage.
The rationale for Obama's re-election is crumbling in real time. Rasmussen has Romney up 47-44 just since Friday's "doing fine" gaffee on the economy. If the leak scandal gets traction, that gap may grow.
Put it this way... Obama has been consistently hovering around 45% in the polls. Given his performance, who among the group of 55% who haven't decided to vote for Obama yet are going to decide that he deserves a second term? He's at his max now, and it's not enough.