On Oct. 6, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney announced an exhaustive list of foreign policy advisers. One adviser told Foreign Policy that Romney’s campaign set up the team so that it “mimics the National Security Council.” But one campaign adviser who specializes in foreign policy was left off the list or and omitted from any other campaign release — an adviser whose recent work, in an ironic twist, has focused on preserving the government’s ability to keep secrets from the public.
Gabriel Schoenfeld’s exact role with the Romney campaign remains unclear. He does not appear in campaign literature, and a search of Romney’s campaign website for Schoenfeld’s last name turns up nothing. Reached by phone at home in New York and asked by ThinkProgress what he did with Romney’s campaign, Schoenfeld replied: “I don’t think I want to speak with you. Thank you very much for your call.” The line then went dead. The Romney campaign did not return requests for information before press time.
Schoenfeld, who contributes to the Weekly Standard and the Wall Street Journal opinion page, was a senior editor at the neoconservative flagship magazine Commentary before moving to the Hudson Institute, a think tank associated with the movement. (Schoenfeld also held a fellowship with the conservative Witherspoon Institute.) At Hudson’s website, Schoenfeld is listed as a “Senior Fellow on Leave.” In response to an inquiry, the communications department at Hudson confirmed that Schoenfeld took leave on July 15 and “left to work full time for the Romney for President Campaign.”
A website formerly associated with George Washington University that tracks campaign information lists Schoenfeld as a “senior adviser” with the Romney campaign since July. A Federal Election Commission (FEC) October 2011 quarterly report lists Schoenfeld as having been paid $29,745.99 by Romney for President.
The full-time gig is not Schoenfeld’s first for Romney: FEC filings also show that Schoenfeld was paid a total of $27,625 over six disbursements by Romney’s Free and Strong America PAC during January, February and March of 2011 (about the same rate he is being paid per quarter now, as a full-time staffer who has left the non-partisan Hudson Institute). The FEC forms list Schoenfeld’s work as being for “communications consulting for PAC.”
His Hudson Institute biography records his areas of specialty as intelligence, national security, homeland security, terrorism and news media. Schoenfeld’s latest book, “Necessary Secrets: National Security, the Media, and the Rule of Law,” exemplifies a running theme in his work: that government secrecy is sacrosanct and all whistle-blowers and journalists who reveal them should be prosecuted. His frequent calls rest on the principle of “uphold(ing) the rule of law,” as when he called for a New York Times journalist to be jailed for revealing C.I.A. programs. But that notion of “rule of law” can be sacrificed when it comes to, say, launching covert wars against Iran. Schoenfeld wrote in 2009:
Such covert action is indeed illegal. But legality is beside the point. Espionage is by definition illegal and yet all countries engage in it….
Yet how much better off both Iran and the world would be if the CIA, operating covertly through local friendly forces, could have helped…
In another column, Schoenfeld accused scholars Steve Walt and John Mearsheimer and former President Jimmy Carter of being “yes-men” for the late terrorist mastermind Osama Bin Laden, labeling their advocacy for ending the Afghanistan war as “alarming overlap of some voices here at home and those of the very forces we’re fighting.”