Continued from page 2

A few weeks back, Gov. Mitt Romney was criticized in the press for bringing up Mr. Obama’s national security record — that was shortly after he was being criticized for slighting foreign policy issues during the campaign. Pundits said it was an inopportune time to criticize the president in the wake of the assassination of the U.S. ambassador to Libya. Utter nonsense. Where was the president after the three Americans and our ambassador were killed in Libya? He flew off to Las Vegas for still another fundraiser, with barely a word of criticism heard.

In every election I have witnessed over the past many decades, foreign policy has played a role. And it should. Indeed, it must. In fact, this campaign has focused too little on national security policy. We live in a dangerous world.

Mr. Romney is right to point out the differences in his view of America’s role in the world from the president’s views. The differences are notable.

We should welcome a critique of the national security policies of the past four years. Someone has to do it. Too often, the press is spoon-fed leaks designed to make the president look decisive. The nation’s secrets are plastered across newspapers, served up as scoops to reporters friendly to the administration.

Within hours of our special operation forces taking bin Laden’s body from that compound in Pakistan, operational details of the raid were in the press. As a result, a Pakistani doctor reportedly involved in the operation was arrested and sentenced to prison, where he remains. What has to be one of the most classified programs — cyberwarfare tools used against Iran — were confirmed as an American effort by “members of the president’s national security team.”

This kind of airbrushing and distortion of the actual record can be effective — for a while — but I have faith in the American people. They know right from wrong. They have sound inner compasses that, over time, help them sift through scraps of information and make sound judgments. And come November, they will use their inner compasses to make the right choice for the next president of the United States.

Donald H. Rumsfeld was secretary of defense under President George W. Bush and President Gerald Ford. This article was adapted from a speech delivered at The Washington Times’ 30th anniversary celebration on Oct. 2.