May 17 2006

ABC Might Be Target of Leak Investigation

Published by at 10:18 am under All General Discussions,Leak Investigations

Mac Ranger’s summer of fun with the fourth estate may be perculating a bitter stronger now. Mac has been hearing behind the scenes that the investigations started when the NSA Terrorist Surveillance Program will bear fruit this summer.

Is it possible the NSA phone database story was a red herring, put out to leakers and reporters in order to make them break cover? The story, if true, definitely provided some important information on how to evade detection. It seems one target may be Brian Ross from ABC News. Ross has a record of exposing national security information to our enemies at left wing sites. His bio is impressive, but he seems to be a Woodward and Bernstein wannabe. He has high level sources inside the government:

Through his investigative reports, Ross has exposed corruption at all levels of government, changed domestic laws and prompted reforms abroad. Among his recent work is a three-part series on the existence of secret CIA prisons in Eastern Europe where top al Qaeda figures were held.


Among several exclusive reports, Ross was the first reporter to name Mohammed Atta and describe him as the ringleader of the World Trade Center and Pentagon attacks. He was also the first to report on Zacarias Moussaoui’s alleged role in the attacks and his questioning by the FBI prior to September 11.


Ross solidified his reputation for investigative reporting by breaking stories such as the 1980 ABSCAM story, for which he was honored with a National Headliner Award. His exclusive report in March 1990 about Iraq trying to buy trigger mechanisms for nuclear weapons just months before the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait made headlines worldwide.

Those are impressive scoops he is being fed. Ross has a website called The Blotter where Mac Ranger has been detecting some indications that Ross is getting tipped off about the investigation. One thing is for sure, his sources aren’t drying up just yet.

The funny thing is how Ross is dealing with the phone records investigation. When he was alerted by what appears to be a source in the FBI, he went all paraniod thinkg it was part of the NSA wiretapping hysteria. I could not help chuckling as I wrote this post about how Ross must never have seen a phone bill to see the calls records you can get. The government can get the records for their own phones, as Ross later reported on his blog:

Statement by the FBI:

The impression left by the ABC News report is misleading. In specific cases, after receiving a referral from the Department of Justice, the FBI will take logical investigative steps to determine if a criminal act was committed by a government employee by the unauthorized release of classified information. In such cases, investigators may examine the telephone records of government agencies. In any case where the records of a private person are sought, they may only be obtained through established legal process.

That must have been a big mouthful of humble pie for Ross to swallow. But Ross appears to be reporting on the investigation into ABC and posibbly himself:

The FBI acknowledged late Monday that it is increasingly seeking reporters’ phone records in leak investigations.

“It used to be very hard and complicated to do this, but it no longer is in the Bush administration,” said a senior federal official.

The acknowledgement followed our blotter item that ABC News reporters had been warned by a federal source that the government knew who we were calling.

The official said our blotter item was wrong to suggest that ABC News phone calls were being “tracked.”

“Think of it more as backtracking,” said a senior federal official.

If Ross and reporters were calling government office phones, those calls are tracked like all the calls to anyone’s house are. It is a little late now to complain that phone records might be the bread crumbs the FBI and others use to find the leakers. What disturbs me are Ross’s sources on the inside giving him the heads up and possibly telling him how to avoid detection. That is obstruction of justice and not a trivial crime.

Another FBI related Ross story here regarding FBI failures leading to 9-11.  Not sure what to make of all this?

8 responses so far

8 Responses to “ABC Might Be Target of Leak Investigation”

  1. az redneck says:

    I note that, once again, Bush/Rove were able to halt terrorist investigations long before the 2000 election!
    And now, the guvmint wants to track the calls of their own investigators again. Shocking, but typical of Rovian pre-election plots. Will the outrages never cease??
    (I hope that the Rocky shadow gov’t shows up prominantly in their results. Ditto VIPS/Wilson/Kerry connections)

  2. pull says:

    We have a serious problem inside the intelligence agencies. We are a divided country. If we were 60/40 we would be less divided. If we were 70/30 even less. We are just about exactly 50/50 divided. It is almost as if there are two different countries here. Which country should those on the left be loyal to?

    Our intelligence agencies claim to push non-partisanship. But, if you are against Communists, Islamists, and other extremist radical groups — you are taking a core conservative stance… and opposing a core leftist stance.

    Frankly, I think we should be agreed that Islamism, Communism, Nazism, and the like… are patently anti-American ideaologies which surpass any partisan stance.

    But this is not the reality, and so we have some very serious problems.

    Historically, I think, in recent history… for me the brightest example of a strong military with an intense cohesion was the Rwandan Patriotic Front. These guys were refugees with a strong central focus, they routinely kept themselves indoctrinated in their core purpose, they were entirely in agreement on these matters… and they took down a far superior force.

    One might argue they were facing a very clear and present evil. But, if Islamism and modern radical Communism (and its’ variants) are not very clear and present evils… what is?

    I do not see anyway to fix this problem.

  3. MerlinOS2 says:

    Classified agencies have various missions and tasks applied to them. Some have covert activities. Therefore by definition if we hear about something, obviously something went wrong to bring it to light or just someone for whatever reason decided to declassify something they probably did not have authority to do. Some things are smoke and mirror stuff, disinformation, or total red herrings. Successful covert ops are just that, they worked, achieved the objective and were never heard from again.

    In that context, my perception is that most of the leaks we have seen over the last few years seem to be related to areas where our track record has been less than stellar.

    For example if we have correct info that Ms. Plame was for a number of years supervisory related to WMD, then overall considering what happened on her watch, one could argue that should should have gotten less than satisfactory annual job evaluations. Similar logic could be applied to Mary McCarthy when she was in charge of Risk Assement of emerging threats during the Kobar Towers and Cole incidents.

  4. UPDATES On the NSA Program that May or May Not Exist…

    With a high hat-tip to Don’t Go Into the Light, AP reports on today’s briefing to Congressional Intel Committees, and it includes this gem:

    USA Today reported last week that three of the four major phone companies provided information on the …

  5. Beto Ochoa says:

    When the Bush administration came in, January 2001, there was tremendous disobedience and fifth column, diversionist resistance that crippled the President and and de facto, the country. On September 18th 2001 there were investigations launched on over a dozen congressional reps, several senators and a FISA judge. I’ve heard nothing about the investigations since. I do not believe these people have been sitting on their hands all this time. Are we witnessing the fruits of a counterespionage program?
    These NSA programs predate this President and are directly related to Able Danger style data mining.

  6. pull says:


    I think it is obvious that we are witnessing a lot of positives efforts from a counterintelligence program. And, do not get me wrong, in my opinion, we have the best intelligence agencies on the planet. Considering history, we might say in the history of the world. That said, we should always note that whatever heights we might achieve… it is generally just because the mountains are so low.

    Seriously. Look at the various spies caught in the past ten years. Common denominator? Vast excess of cash. They didn’t even hide it. They just told their co-worker’s lies.

    Simple forensic accounting, not lie detectors, would have caught these people.

    Today, though, as in the past – mostly pre-Stalinist era – we have disloyal people who are commited to causes which are directly opposed to the basic ideals of what America is founded on. They do not do it for money. They do it because they have swallowed anti-American ideals hook, line, and sinker.

    It is not even though that we might disagree on what those basic ideals are. These groups believe themselves to be in actual conflict with America as America is. Islamists want sharia and consider the US to be the great Satan. Leftists want totalitarian Communism – ultimately – and believe Democracy and the rights of man to be wicked lies of the wealthy useful for holding down the poor.

    Let’s face the facts… our colleges indoctrinate a lot of these naive kids. These kids often then complete college and find themselves in sensitive positions. They pass all of the tests… because we can’t even ask the right questions. But, all along they hate their own work, they hate the agency they work for, they hate the ideals of most of their co-workers, and they hate their own country.

    Other individuals find themselves in politics or other positions in power… and they use this leverage to exert control over these agencies.

    We can argue as another poster does that everything is “okay” because we know these are genuinely failed programs, or can say as much… the Plame incident, Mary McCarthy… maybe even the NSA phone tap program (some might say)… or the foreign jailing of terrorists and terrorist suspects in secret prisons (again, some might say)… but, we also know from said silence of the failures that are present in such agencies.

    Other failures… have been more widely exposed, such as the Lebanese attacks, which, really had a major impact on modern terrorism. As noted in a recent book made into a movie there was strong evidence Iran was behind these attacks. And, Iran, itself was a great failure.

    Obviously, the bigger picture means that our various administrations have performed poorly. Pulling out of Beirut after the barracks bombing was the absolute worst idea. It sent a strong message to guys like Bin Laden that “terrorism works”.

    Anyway… no offense. I can only hope some strong work is being done to prevent a major problem with Iran, and to a lesser degree, Venezula. Two nations whose leaders are ardently committed against us and who have the power to do something about this. Though, this said, this is really just the tip of the iceberg.

    We can continue to underestimate our enemies… we can call them incompetent savages… we can call them political blowhards, like Chavez may appear to be. But, that hate we see on the streets? That is real.

    Personally, for one, I would like to see more terrorists get killed. Maybe that is too radical of an idea. Two, I would like to see positive propaganda programs, such as in key areas like South America, especially Venezula. After the tsunami we gave a lot of aid – visible aid the people could see – to Indonesia. And we really saw public opinion there grow better of us.

    We give a great deal of foreign aid… and I am sure some of this gains us ground. However, we do not do a lot of visible, cheaper propagandist aid programs that could win the masses of these foreign nations.

  7. crosspatch says:

    Yet more leaks.

    A privacy-friendly system of monitoring communications was in place at the National Security Agency in the 1990s, but was shelved, the Baltimore Sun reports.

    Four intelligence officials agreed to discuss the program called ThinThread with the newspaper if granted anonymity. In testing in 1998, they said the project succeeded at each task with high marks and was able to rapidly separate and encrypt U.S.-related communications to ensure privacy.

  8. Beto Ochoa says:

    “tip of the iceberg”