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Eli Lake

Petraeus Caught in Obama's War on Leaks

While Barack Obama campaigned in 2008 to bring more transparency to government, his administration has been a fierce defender of official secrecy.
Something came between them.

Something came between them.

Photographer: Mark Wilson/Getty Images

With the news that U.S. prosecutors and FBI officers are seeking to charge former CIA Director David Petraeus with felony violations for mishandling classified information, it’s a good moment to reflect on the lengths to which the Obama administration has gone to protect state secrets.

While Barack Obama campaigned in 2008 to bring more transparency to government, his administration has been a fierce defender of official secrecy. In 2012, his Justice Department secretly seized the phone records of Associated Press reporters for disclosing details of an al-Qaeda terrorist plot originating in Yemen. More U.S. officials have been charged with leaking secret information under Obama’s presidency than any other modern president. Obama’s Justice Department has also invoked the state secrets privilege in a string of civil lawsuits brought on behalf of detainees who have been sent to third-world jails.