David Frum – The Man That Knows Too Much?

Posted on 06. Oct, 2009 by in Uncategorized

The man in question - - caught in mid-salvo.

The man in question - - caught in mid-salvo.

David Frum – – some people praise him, others want to run him out of politics completely.  Some even think that he’s so politically confused, that he might just have a Jekyll and Hyde complex.

But, what many people can agree on is that he loves drawing attention to himself.

In his his most recent op-ed, Frum makes some interesting accusations in regards to President Obama’s handling of Afghanistan:

There is very little that Barack Obama knows about Afghanistan today that he did not know in the summer of 2008. Obama paid a visit to Afghanistan in July of the election year. In-country, he received briefings on both the deteriorating security situation and the corruption and incompetence of the Karzai government.

Wow.  This is pretty juicy – – he’s suggesting that Obama is playing dumb now in light of General McChrystal’s recent request for more troops, that he is fully aware of every aspect of Afghanistan now because he knew everything there is to know back on the campaign trail.

But what’s really intriguing about Frum’s blog post comes from in the following paragraph:

I know this because I visited Afghanistan just a few months later, and talked to many of the military and civilian figures who had briefed the candidate. They presented my group with an unrelievedly bleak assessment—capped by a call for tens of thousands of additional American troops. When asked, “Did you deliver this same message to candidate Obama,” they responded discreetly, but clearly: Yes they had.

Now, I could be wrong here, but, according to Executive Order 12968, a law signed in 1995 by President Bill Clinton, Frum didn’t have a right to the same information as then United States Senator and presidential candidate Obama.  Yet, here he is saying that he and Barack Obama are the only two people who received this special briefing, albeit on separate occasions, on the intricate ins and outs of Afghanistan.

Is this a case of a blogger/politico who knows too much or doesn’t know when to shut up?  I think it’s the latter.

To put this into perspective, take a look at this excerpt taken from Executive Order 12968:

Employees shall not be granted access to classified information unless they:

(1) have been determined to be eligible for access under section 3.1 of this order by agency heads or designated officials based upon a favorable adjudication of an appropriate investigation of the employee’s background;

(2) have a demonstrated need-to-know; and

(3) have signed an approved nondisclosure agreement.

Did Obama need to know information dealing with stability of the Afghani government?   Well, he was, after all, a member of the Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs, a division of Congress that had a vested interest in the government’s evolution.  So it makes sense that he was briefed. Or does it? The jury is still out on this one.

But, Did Frum receive a similar level of clearance?  This uncertainty, along with what the law says, makes me question the validity of his assertion.

So then, what really happened during Frum’s trip to Afghanistan?  Honestly, I don’t know. But, being the skilled writer that I am, I think I can conjure up a few possibilities as to what actually occurred.

1) Frum caught the tail end of a conversation between the soldiers that escorted him around town, which makes what he knows either hearsay or gossip, and most likely not what Obama learned on his trip. (Ever play the game of telephone? I rest my case.)

2) Frum was told sensitive information without proper clearance, using his former position as Bush Administration speech writer as leverage or for influence. By attacking Obama in this manner he just blabbered to the world that there are serious breaches in our national security.

3) Even worse: Frum did receive the information, whether it was on need to know basis or through signing a non-disclosure agreement. Now, he broke rank and told the internet trade secrets only a select few should know.

Or perhaps it was option number 4: Frum wasn’t told anything at all.  He just pieced together snip-its from news items about Obama’s visit and inserted himself into the situation after his own trip.

Why would he do that? Perhaps it was in order to prop himself up as self-important and ground-breaking. Or maybe something else was at play – – maybe this was another attempt at declaring himself as the true shining star and savior of the GOP – – a strategy he’s used in the past against the likes of Rush Limbaugh and other contenders for the title of Republican Heavyweight Champion of the World.

Nevertheless, this article does bring to light an interesting fact about its author: it shows the reading public that Frum’s assertions are so convoluted, that he even tricks himself into believing these delusions of grandeur.  But, don’t just take my word for it:

UPDATE: Noticed a few formatting errors. All fixed now.

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One Response to “David Frum – The Man That Knows Too Much?”

  1. Valentino Buono

    31. Mar, 2010

    Hey, Nick interesting stuff. How’s things going?