Feb 11 2006

Grand Jury On NSA Leak?

Published by at 3:50 pm under All General Discussions,FISA-NSA


Check out Clarice Feldman’s take on this topic here.


Apparently there is a good chance a Grand Jury will be impaneled to investigate the leaks emanating from the NSA leak in the NY Times – according to the NY Times (Hat Tip Ace of Spades).

Federal agents have interviewed officials at several of the country’s law enforcement and national security agencies in a rapidly expanding criminal investigation into the circumstances surrounding a New York Times article published in December that disclosed the existence of a highly classified domestic eavesdropping program, according to government officials.

The investigation, which appears to cover the case from 2004, when the newspaper began reporting the story, is being closely coordinated with criminal prosecutors at the Justice Department, the officials said. People who have been interviewed and others in the government who have been briefed on the interviews said the investigation seems to lay the groundwork for a grand jury inquiry that could lead to criminal charges.

Based on what we have seen, one person who is probably sweating bullets is Judge James Robertson. Mac Ranger no doubt has his eyes on Senator Rockefeller. Recent news reporting implies former Florida Senator Bob Graham my be someone of interest as well. And let’s not forget how former NSA-DIA employee Russell Tice basically asked to be investigated.

For news organizations, the inquiry threatens its ability to protect sources and report on controversial national security issues free of government interference.

Bill Keller, executive editor of The Times, said that no one at the paper had been contacted in connection with the investigation and defended the paper’s reporting.

Well, I am sure some will be. The pool of journalists exposed on the NSA leak is much smaller than those dealing with Plame and the CIA leaks at the Washington Post. What is interesting is the unclear relationship between the NY Times and James Risen

That, at least, is a point of accord between Mr. Risen and his newspaper. But his use of the book as a release valve for unpublished Times material has left his relations with the paper strained. Inside The Times, newsroom sources said, there is mounting speculation that Mr. Risen may be in negotiations to return to his former employer, the Los Angeles Times.

But any exit by Mr. Risen would carry legal considerations for The Times. Mr. Risen is among the journalists currently held in contempt in the civil case brought by former Los Alamos atomic scientist Wen Ho Lee, who is suing the government for leaking his private information to the press. The Times faces fines of $500 a day—currently stayed on appeal—for Mr. Risen’s refusal to identify the confidential sources of his Lee stories.

I would also expect the reporters/writers for the Washington Post on this story and this story to also be on the list of candidates for investigation. The Washington Post seems to have learned not to put reporters names on the stories with illegal leaks now.

But this is a very broad investigation

The Justice Department took the unusual step of announcing the opening of the investigation on Dec. 30, and since then, government officials said, investigators and prosecutors have worked quickly to assemble an investigative team and obtain a preliminary grasp of whether the leaking of the information violated the law. Among the statues being reviewed by the investigators are espionage laws that prohibit the disclosure, dissemination or publication of national security information.

An F.B.I. team operating under the direction of the bureau’s counterintelligence division at F.B.I. headquarters, has questioned employees at the F.B.I., National Security Agency, Justice Department, Central Intelligence Agency and the office of the Director of National Intelligence, the officials said. In addition, prosecutors have taken steps to activate a grand jury in the case.

My guess is once they found sufficient evidence and collaboration the investigators decided they could go to the grand jury. Unlike Fitzgerald’s bumbling fishing expedition over Plame, this one will be focused and surgical. I think Bush and company let some people play a little rope out before they started to tighten the noose.

And maybe the NY Times is finally waking up to seriousness of the situation they now find themselves in, thanks to their severe case of Bush Derangement Syndrome:

How aggressively prosecutors pursue the new case involving the N.S.A. may depend on their assessment of the damage caused by the disclosure, Mr. Terwilliger said. “If the program is as sensitive and critical as it has been described, and leaking its existence could put the lives of innocent American people in jeopardy, that surely would have an effect on the exercise of prosecutorial discretion.”

The leftwing media is about to learn that no one, including them, is above the law.

6 responses so far

6 Responses to “Grand Jury On NSA Leak?”

  1. tgharris says:

    Notice how the NYT still refers to the “domestic eavesdropping program”….that ANYONE who has been paying attention KNOWS is limited to calls with one end OUT OF the country?

    Is this stupidity, bias, or wishful thinking?

  2. MerryJ1 says:

    I have nothing but contempt for the reporters and publications that run with these stories, and have no qualms about seeing them sit in the slammer under Contempt for refusing to name their sources on classified info leaks.

    That said, I would not support criminal charges (other than Obstruction, a given situation warranting same) against the media types for doing what they do, no matter how repugnant their individual priorities and ethics.

    The criminals I want to see buried under federal penitentiaries for leaking classified information are those entrusted with access to it, especially as part of their professional or job responsibilities.

    And in instances such as the NSA/FISA and “secret CIA prisons” leaks, where the apparent motive for leaking is to affect domestic political and election circumstances, I’d opt for sentences of Life Without Parole, or even a death penalty (and I oppose capital punishment for run-of-the-mill murder and mayhem).

    One word, though, about those journalists who may think they can become First Amendment heroes by sitting out a “life of the Grand Jury” stint of a few weeks or months:

    A 1986 federal charge and conviction of Criminal Contempt for Obstructing Justice, was based on the Defendant’s Fifth Amendment plea before a Grand Jury and (in spite of) ‘Life of the Grand Jury’ incarceration for 4 months, was confirmed by an appeals court (prior jeopardy ruled not applicable), appealed to the Supreme Court with cert denied, and the Defendant was sentenced to and served four years in a Minnesota federal pen.

    Notice that the First Amendment merely prohibits “abridging freedom … of the press,” it doesn’t address “protecting anonymity of sources,” while the Fifth Amendment’s “… nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself…” is seemingly an absolute.

  3. Observer says:

    After Cheney, Rumsfield, Libby the head of the CIA and DeLay all go to jail for violating the Laws of the United States as passed by Congress. Then someone points out that President Bush ROUTINELY declassifies stories so he can use them politically. Then, and only then will I suggest the Press should also be jailed. That includes ALL of Fox since they also, ROUTINELY, lie through their teeth, then claim they were “defending America.”

  4. ordi says:

    Ahh, yes the drive-by Observer packed so many facts into his/her post, it makes me change my mind. NOT!

    Wishful post Observer. (I’d say wishful thinking but thinking is something Observer is are not doing. )

  5. Observer says:

    “is are”? Actually, I’m one of those few independents that still try to point out facts to people of both sides who aren’t listening to anything except their own propaganda. The American Journal of Psychology just published a study which indicated that ALL people, not just Dem/Reps tend to ignore any evidence they don’t agree with while citing lots and lots of half-truths and lies which shore up their own position.
    I do notice that more Democrats in Congress have military experience that Republicans. Quite a change from 20 years ago.

  6. ordi says:


    There were NO facts in your post. And I quote your post:

    After Cheney, Rumsfield, Libby the head of the CIA and DeLay all go to jail for violating the Laws of the United States as passed by Congress. Then someone points out that President Bush ROUTINELY declassifies stories so he can use them politically. Then, and only then will I suggest the Press should also be jailed. That includes ALL of Fox since they also, ROUTINELY, lie through their teeth, then claim they were ‘defending America.’

    There are NO Facts there!

    In this case, legality comes from the Constitution not from Congress or the Judiciary. If Congress passes a law outside it’s authority, that law itself is illegal.

    You might think the Executive Power does not extend to eavesdropping on calls made by our enemies to our residents. Calling the President’s actions illegal because they went against one Congressional statute is ignoring the biggest issue.