Jun 07 2006

Press/Dems Concerned Over NSA Investigations

Published by at 6:26 am under All General Discussions,Leak Investigations

The news media has a knack for hyper-irony. One of Joe Wilson’s comrades in the media who wrote about his lies and slanders prior both prior to his self outing in the NY Times, and in concert with that outing, has written about the possibility of journalists being investigated for leaking national security details:

Senior Republican and Democratic members of the Senate Judiciary Committee sharply criticized a Justice Department official yesterday for refusing to say whether the Bush administration has ever considered prosecuting journalists for publishing leaked national security information.

The purpose of the hearing, Specter said in opening the session, was to examine Justice Department efforts to control leaks, explore suggestions that newspapers and their reporters can be prosecuted under the 1917 Espionage Act and take comment on legislation that would protect reporters through a shield law. The law would provide an exception if national security matters were involved.

Friedrich, in his opening statement, confirmed that the Justice Department was prepared to investigate and prosecute leaks, but referred to Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales’s recent statement that the “primary focus is on the leakers of classified information, as opposed to the press.”

The conflict of interest here is thick and multi-dimensional. The Washington Post is being investigated, I am sure, for their role in leaking the CIA prison stories (where only the national security details about CIA safe houses and flights in Europe was right, not the ‘prison’ angle). And Pincus is up to his neck in the Plame Game. What I wager is really irking the WaPo and Pincus is the fact their sources are drying up as they face real jail time for spinning BS conspiracy theories around very sensitive information that is only useful to terrorists trying to attack us undetected.

But there was news: the NSA leak is being investigated and reporters may be in the cross hairs:

When Friedrich confirmed that the department thought that journalists or “anyone” could be prosecuted under the Espionage Act for publishing classified information, Specter asked specifically about whether the law could be applied to reporter James Risen of the New York Times, the newspaper that published an article in December about the National Security Agency’s warrantless surveillance program.

“Obviously, Senator, I can’t comment as to any particular case or specific matter,” Friedrich said. He added that espionage laws “do not exempt . . . any class of professional, including reporters, from their reach.”

This is good news. It means the investigation is still ongoing. If Specter is upset, and he is, then I am happy.  What is upsetting is that Specter and Grassly seem to be running to the defense of those who leak national security information for political purposes. This is as politically suicidal as House leaders defending a colleague who is accepting cash bribes for $100,000.  What’s next?  Will Rep leaders run to defend Saddam Hussein at trial now?

4 responses so far

4 Responses to “Press/Dems Concerned Over NSA Investigations”

  1. carol johnson says:

    AJ –

    Now we get word (via Fox News this morning) that the Senate Armed Services Committee is opening hearings on the Haditha incident! This is beginning to look like payback for the Justice Department’s probes into Congress. At least in my humble opinion. They have made it abundantly clear that they do NOT trust our military to investigate this or indeed for the investigation to even be completed.

    I really hope that these hearings will be televised so that we can see for ourselves those in the Senate who are pushing for this and who (make no mistake) will use this to open a wider probe on the War, Abu Ghraib, CIA prisons, NSA surveillance and other political bones to chew with this President and Donald Rumsfeld!

    One of the most vocal about this “hearing” lately was Hillary. If this person does indeed want to be Commander-in-Chief of the military this may just blow her cover out of the water. If anybody has any doubts of her lack of respect for the military, let the games begin! Be careful what you wish for.


  2. Robin2 says:

    I’ve always found it ironic that the NY Times sat on the NSA story for a year at the administration’s request and then decided to run the story on the eve of Risen’s book publication. Were they concerned about getting scooped by their own reporter? Were they feeling an “idiots if we do, idiots if we don’t” moment, anticipating a backlash from readers who wondered why they “covered” for the administration for an entire year?

  3. Robin2 says:

    I don’t know if this is lost in WordPress land:

    I still find it ironic that the NY Times opted to publish the NSA story on the eve of publication of Risen’s book after sitting on the story for a year. How to explain?

  4. DubiousD says:

    Incidentally, Gabriel Schoenfeld has responded to naysayers critical of his March 2005 Commentary article, “Has the New York Times Violated the Espionage Act?”


    He notes in part (scroll down for his remarks):

    “As I pointed out in my article, intelligence officers who uncover illegal conduct have, under the Intelligence Community Whistleblowers Act of 1998, a set of procedures that allow them to report misdeeds through classified channels and that ensure their complaints will be duly and properly considered. These procedures emphatically do not encompass blowing vital secrets by disclosing them to al-Qaeda via the New York Times.

    “In this connection, it is worth reflecting on Bill Keller’s comment about the great “peril” to which public officials exposed themselves for revealing government secrets to the Times. Are these “whistleblowers” heroes, as the Times and other newspapers like to portray them, or something else entirely?

    “One way to answer this is to consider the oath that government employees must swear before being granted access to official secrets. The oath is contained in a standard document entitled “Classified Information Nondisclosure Agreement,” which includes the following words:

    I have been advised that the unauthorized disclosure, unauthorized retention, or negligent handling of classified information by me could cause damage or irreparable injury to the United States or could be used to advantage by a foreign nation.

    I hereby agree that I will never divulge classified information to anyone unless: (a) I have officially verified that the recipient has been properly authorized by the United States Government to receive it; or (b) I have been given prior written notice of authorization from the United States Government Department or Agency (hereinafter Department or Agency) responsible for the classification of the information or last granting me a security clearance that such disclosure is permitted. . . .

    I further understand that I am obligated to comply with laws and regulations that prohibit the unauthorized disclosure of classified information. . . .

    I have been advised that any unauthorized disclosure of classified information by me may constitute a violation, or violations, of United States criminal laws. . . .

    I understand that all conditions and obligations imposed upon me by this Agreement apply during the time I am granted access to classified information, and at all times thereafter. . . .

    I reaffirm that the provisions of the espionage laws [emphasis added], other federal criminal laws and executive orders applicable to the safeguarding of classified information have been made available to me; that I have returned all classified information in my custody; that I will not communicate or transmit classified information to any unauthorized person or organization; that I will promptly report to the Federal Bureau of Investigation any attempt by an unauthorized person to solicit classified information.

    “No one who appends his name to this non-disclosure agreement is compelled to do so; government officials sign it of their own free will. Is there anything about it that is in any way unclear? The U.S. government rightly does not think so. For passing relatively innocuous secrets (innocuous, that is, compared to what was contained in the New York Times article of December 16) to two officials of AIPAC, Lawrence Franklin, a Defense Department official, was recently sentenced to twelve years in prison.

    “The leakers of classified government documents are not heroes. Often acting from partisan motives or for personal gain, and almost always under the cover of anonymity, they are law-breakers willing to imperil the nation but not their careers. Journalists who publish sensitive intelligence secrets for the entire world to read, sometimes also from partisan motives (see James Risen’s Bush-bashing book, State of War) or for personal gain and sometimes out of a conviction, now widespread in their profession, that they are journalists first and citizens subject to U.S. law second (see all the various statements of Bill Keller), fall into the same suspect class. “