The Obama Administration’s Leak Investigations Threaten Press Freedom

The Obama Administration’s aggressive pursuit of leaks is threatening freedom of the press.

American Soldiers Kill Unarmed Reuters Reporters in Iraq (Video)

A disturbing video which seems to show American soldiers shooting unarmed civilians just for fun is making the rounds. CSM’s Dan Murphy has the backstory: A video released on the Internet Monday by WikiLeaks, a small nonprofit dedicated to publishing classified information from the US and other governments, appears to show the killing of two […]

TSA Bullies Bloggers Who Published Leaked Procedures

There’s quite a bit of chatter this morning about the fact that two travel bloggers of whom I’d never previously heard have  had their computers confiscated pursuant to subpoenas after publishing unclassified but sensitive TSA screening procedures.  AP’s Eileen Sullivan has the rundown: As the government reviews how an alleged terrorist was able to bring […]

A Secret the NYT Kept vs. Those It Did Not

Scott Johnson contrasts the NYT’s silence on the David Rohde kidnapping to protect the safety of their reporter with “the Times’s illegal exposure of the NSA terrorist eavesdropping program in December 2005, as well as its exposure of the Treasury Department’s terrorist-finance tracking program in June 2006. Whereas the reporting of Rohde’s apprehension may have […]

FBI Building Not Secure

The FBI headquarters complex has a wee problem: “The Hoover Building does not meet the Interagency Security Committee’s criteria for a secure Federal facility capable of handling intelligence and other sensitive information,” the Senate Appropriations Committee observed in a new report on the 2009 Commerce, Justice and State Appropriations bill. “The Committee finds these conditions […]

Controlled Unclassified Information

Steven Aftergood has an interesting look at a proposal from Jane Harmon to formalize the concept of “controlled unclassified information” (CUI) that the White House rolled out on a trial balloon basis last month. Aftergood is dubious of the so-called “The Improving Public Access to Documents Act” and I mostly defer to him on this […]

U.S. Intelligence Agencies Rethink Classification Policy

The United States government is thinking about coming up with a coherent system for dealing with classified information. Steven Aftergood has details. U.S. intelligence agencies have embarked upon a process to develop a uniform classification policy and a single classification guide that could be used by the entire U.S. intelligence community, according to a newly […]

Hillary Clinton’s Foreign Policy ‘Experience’ Unscheduled

Recently released schedules of Hillary Clinton’s eight years as First Lady document that she was mostly engaged in frivolous, unrelated activities during foreign policy events for which she has claimed “experience.” Or do they? The NYT lede: When the World Trade Center was attacked for the first time on Feb. 26, 1993, President Bill Clinton […]

D.C. Madam Cites National Security

D.C. Madam Deborah Jeane Palfrey is claiming a state secrets privilege because she provided services to Muslims, Carol Leonnig reports. The woman accused of being the D.C. Madam now argues that the fact that Muslim men used her elite, Washington-based escort service before the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks might have played a role in […]

Valerie Plame Can’t Publish Dates of CIA Service

A federal judge has backed the CIA’s bid to keep Valerie Plame Wilson from disclosing the length of her CIA service, despite it being publicly available information. Valerie Wilson may be the best known former intelligence operative in recent history, but a federal judge in New York ruled Wednesday that she was not allowed to […]

Pentagon Rebukes Clinton Withdrawal Plan Request [UPDATE: Not So Much]

Senator Hillary Clinton, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, has been asking the Pentagon for months to brief her on the status of planning for a withdrawal of forces from Iraq. Her requests had been ignored until now but they were met by a stern rebuke yesterday from Undersecretary of Defense for Policy […]

White House Says Classification Order Doesn’t Apply to Bush or Cheney Staff

The White House says that the president’s and vice president’s staff was always intended to be exempt from a presidential order describing the handling of classified documents, Josh Meyer reports. The White House said Friday that, like Vice President Dick Cheney’s office, President Bush’s office is not allowing an independent federal watchdog to oversee its […]

Cheney Claims He’s Not Part of Executive Branch

Yesterday afternoon, Justin Rood broke the strange story of Dick Cheney’s claim of Vice Presidential immunity from executive orders. Vice President Dick Cheney has asserted his office is not a part of the executive branch of the U.S. government, and therefore not bound by a presidential order governing the protection of classified information by government […]

Libby Prosecution: Craig Schmall Testimony (Pt. 2)

Day three of testimony began with the resumption of cross-examination of Craig Schmall, the CIA manager who briefed Scooter Libby and Dick Cheney during the period in question. Live blogging below the fold with any breaking news also in separate posts.

Libby Trial: Opening Arguments – Defense (Live Blog)

“My name is Ted Wells and I speak for Scooter Libby.” He is “totally innocent.” “He is an innocent man and he has been wrongly and unjustly and unfairly accused.” No witness, no document, no scientific evidence will be produced saying that Scooter Libby lied, told them he was about to lie, or that he […]

Libby Trial: Voir Dire Resumes

Judge Walton got things going at precisely 9:30. I’ll live blog the morning’s voir dire below, posting anything particularly newsworthy separately.

Libby Trial: Politics Central, Facts Secondary

I’m live in the media room at the Prettyman Federal Courthouse awaiting the resumption of voir dire in the Scooter Libby trial. AP’s Michael Sniffen reports that the jury selection should end today, although the problems that have plagued it remain. Libby’s lawyers, Theodore Wells and William Jeffress, have labored to keep opponents of the […]

CIA Won’t Let Plame Write Book

The CIA Publications Review Board is denying Valerie Plame permission to write about her work for the Agency, or even mention that she did so, Michael Isikoff reports in the latest Newsweek. The panel refused Plame permission to even mention that she worked for the CIA because she served as a “nonofficial cover” officer (or […]

Intelligence Failure on Korean Nukes

Bill Gertz reports that the intelligence community badly botched its forecasts on the North Korean nuclear weapons program. Recent U.S. intelligence analyses of North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs were flawed and the lack of clarity on the issue hampered U.S. diplomatic efforts to avert the underground blast detected Sunday, according to Bush administration officials. […]

China Continues Espionage Against the USA, Pt II

Last November came the reports of the arrest of a Chinese spy ring in California. Today comes a follow-up from Bill Gertz of the Washington Times entitled Fumbled China spy probe an intelligence failure and the details aren’t very good on either side. This is the first of 3 articles. It sounds like a Mad […]

Joe Wilson Most to Blame for Ending Valerie Plame’s Career

The Washington Post editorial board has reached surprising conclusion after digesting the news that Richard Armitage was the initial source of the “leak” of Valerie Plame’s identity to Bob Novak. Mr. Armitage was one of the Bush administration officials who supported the invasion of Iraq only reluctantly. He was a political rival of the White […]

Private Citizens Can be Prosecuted for Revealing State Secrets

Jonathan Adler passes on word that, The federal government may prosecute private citizens who illegally receive and retransmit classified information, held federal district court Judge T.S. Ellis III yesterday [Aug. 9] in United States v. Rosen. Judge Ellis denied a motion to dismiss filed by Steven Rosen and Keith Weissman, two former employees of the […]

Loose Lips Sink Ships

Milipundit, a former enlisted sailor who now works for Representative Jack Kingston, laments that the NYT and other media outlets continually divulge secret operation, snarking, “Who needs a security clearance when you’ve got the Times?” Michelle Malkin continues sounding that tune as well, with a lengthy roundup this morning of people lambasting NYT editor Bill […]

State Secrets Privilege

Henry Lanman has a disturbing look at the “state secrets” privilege in Slate today. Never heard of the “state secrets” privilege? You’re not alone. But the Bush administration sure has. Before Sept. 11, this obscure privilege was invoked only rarely. Since then, the administration has dramatically increased its use. According to the Washington Post, the […]

Prosecution of Journalists Possible in NSA Leaks

Attorney General Alberto Gonzales would not discount the possibility of the government prosecuting the New York Times for publishing classified information. NYT: The government has the legal authority to prosecute journalists for publishing classified information, Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales said yesterday. “There are some statutes on the book which, if you read the language […]

Feds Tracking Journalists’ Phone Conversations?

ABC News has, on their blog of all places, a story alleging that federal investigators are tracking the phone calls of journalists. A senior federal law enforcement official tells ABC News the government is tracking the phone numbers we call in an effort to root out confidential sources. “It’s time for you to get some […]

Tension Over Press Leaks

David Broder finds the recent investigations into those who leak classified information to the press troubling. This is a troubling case for those of us in journalism. Our view is that it’s the government’s responsibility to keep its secrets secret and that it’s our responsibility to ferret out information so the public is aware of […]

Prosecuting Retired Generals

Fred Kaplan argues, correctly, that the retired generals who have spoken out against the Secretary of Defense could be subject to courts martial. One of the assumptions surrounding the recent criticism of Rumsfeld is that the retired generals, unlike active-duty officers, are free to criticize the defense secretary without fear of reprisal. Surprisingly, this assumption […]

Fired Leaker Caught in Sting Operation?

Much more news has come out about yesterday’s firing of a CIA officer for leaking classified secrets to the press. The NYT reports her name, duty station, and the information leaked: The C.I.A. would not identify the officer, but several government officials said it was Mary O. McCarthy, a veteran intelligence analyst who until 2001 […]

CIA Fires Officer for Leak to Media

The CIA has fired an officer for unauthorized leaks of classified information to the media. A CIA spokeswoman says, “This is just the beginning.” The CIA has fired one of its officers for leaking classified information, an agency spokeswoman said Friday. The officer admitted to “unauthorized discussions with the media in which the officer knowingly […]

GAO: Terror Intel Still Stovepiped

A new GAO report concludes that the sharing of intelligence has not improved all that much since 9/11. Despite more than four years of legislation, executive orders and presidential directives, the Bush administration has yet to comprehensively improve sharing of counterterrorism information among dozens of federal agencies — and between them and thousands of nonfederal […]

When Words Have Multiple Meanings

Steven Taylor has two interesting posts today on the subject of what constitutes a “leak.” In the first, he argues that, while the president is legally entitled to authorize selective release of information, doing so constitutes a “leak” and, since the president has constantly decried “leaks,” he is a hypocrite. He bases this judgment on […]

Can Presidents Leak Classified Information?

With yesterday’s revelations that President Bush and/or Vice President Cheney authorized Lewis “Scooter” Libby to release certain classified information to the New York Times to help buttress their case for the Iraq War, critics are coming out of the woodwork claiming that President Bush is breaking the law or, at very least, being incredibly hypocritical. […]

Cheney to Resign after Midterm Elections?

Insight on the News reports that Vice President Dick Cheney will retire after the 2006 elections, clearing the way for President Bush to appoint a successor. Vice President Dick Cheney is expected to retire within a year. Senior GOP sources envision the retirement of Mr. Cheney in 2007, months after the congressional elections. The sources […]

Press Intimidated by Islamist Radicals

Bill Bennett and Alan Dershowitz join Christopher Hitchens and most of the blogosphere in condemning the refusal of most of the mainstream American press to publish the cartoons at the heart of the controversy embroiling much of the world. We two come from different political and philosophical perspectives, but on this we agree: Over the […]

Cheney Breaks Silence on Hunting Accident

Vice President Cheney finally spoke publically about his weekend shooting incident. Vice President Dick Cheney on Wednesday accepted full blame for shooting a fellow hunter and defended his decision to not publicly disclose the accident until the following day. He called it “one of the worst days of my life.” “I’m the guy who pulled […]

Cheney ‘Authorized’ Libby to Leak Classified Information

Scooter Libby claims Vice President Cheney authorized him to leak classified information to the press in order to defend Iraq War intelligence. Vice President Dick Cheney’s former chief of staff, I. Lewis (Scooter) Libby, testified to a federal grand jury that he had been “authorized” by Cheney and other White House “superiors” in the summer […]

FBI Missed Internal Signs of Espionage

The FBI has a spy in its midst. Again. By the government’s own account, FBI analyst Leandro Aragoncillo was spying in plain sight. He rummaged through FBI computers for intelligence reports unrelated to his work and then e-mailed the classified documents to opposition leaders in the Philippines. He had traveled more than a dozen times […]

Can NYT Be Prosecuted for Publishing Classified Info?

Scott Johnson has an extensive analysis of the laws applicable in the NSA surveillance matter. He examines 18 U.S.C. § 798. It is entitled “Disclosure of classified information” and falls under Chapter 37 “ESPIONAGE AND CENSORSHIP.” That the leakers violated the law here is rather obvious and not worthy of much discussion. Of far more […]

Leaks, Whistleblowers, and Media Shield Laws

The New York Times has a rather self-serving editorial today arguing that

Justice Department Investigating NSA Leaks

The Justice Department is investigating the leaks to the New York Times over the NSA’s secret electronic surveillance program. Justice Department Probing Domestic Spying Leak (AP) The Justice Department has opened an investigation into the leak of classified information about President Bush’s secret domestic spying program, Justice officials said Friday. The officials, who requested anonymity […]

Bush Pleas with Media Not to Reveal Security Secrets

Howie Kurtz says that the White House has been lobbying newspaper editors to hold back coverage of stories that might damage counterterrorism efforts, with little success. President Bush has been summoning newspaper editors lately in an effort to prevent publication of stories he considers damaging to national security. The efforts have failed, but the rare […]

Bush Acknowledges Approving Eavesdropping

In his weekly radio address, President Bush acknowledged that he had ordered the NSA to conduct domestic eavesdropping against terrorist suspects. Bush Acknowledges Approving Eavesdropping President Bush said Saturday he has no intention of stopping his personal authorizations of a post-Sept. 11 secret eavesdropping program in the U.S., lashing out at those involved in revealing […]

Bush Allowed Warrantless Phone Surveillance After 9/11

The New York Times reports, over national security objections by the administration, illegally leaked information by officials of the National Security Agency that President Bush authorized warrantless domestic spying in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks. Bush Lets U.S. Spy on Callers Without Courts Months after the Sept. 11 attacks, President Bush secretly authorized the […]

Bush Defends Iraq War Against Lies Charge

President Bush used yesterday’s Veterans Day speech to defend the war, especially against the increasingly-held view that he lied to Congress and the public to in making the case for the war. Bush Spars With Critics Of the War (WaPo, A1) President Bush and leading congressional Democrats lobbed angry charges at each other Friday in […]

President Bush Orders Staff to Attend Ethics Briefings

President Bush has ordered his entire staff to attend remedial training in ethics and handling of sensitive information in light of the CIA leak investigation and charges against former vice presidential chief of staff Scooter Libby. Bush Orders Staff to Attend Ethics Briefings (WaPo, A2) President Bush has ordered White House staff to attend mandatory […]

Ask Professor Stotch

Below the fold is the transcript of an interview I did recently about my take on the investigation that led to the indictment of Lewis Libby.

Senate Closed Session Stunt: Aftermath

The longer term impact of yesterday’s invocation of Rule 21, sending the Senate into closed session over the issue of Iraq War intelligence, remains to be seen. In the short term, the GOP leadership’s inept handling of the matter appears to have handed the Democrats a victory. GOP Angered by Closed Senate Session — Meeting […]

Judith Miller’s Security Clearance

Somehow, I missed the news that New York Times reporter Judith Miller had a securty clearance. Ivo Daalder noted it on October 16: . . . Miller, by her own admission, was cleared to see secret information as part of her assignment as an “embedded” reporter in Iraq. I had no idea journalists could receive […]

Was Plame’s CIA Status A Secret?

Andrew McCarthy, one of the major authors who have been cited (including by me) arguing that Valerie Plame was not in fact a covert agent issues a retraction of sort: The indictment charges the mere fact that Plame worked at the CIA was classified information. (“At all relevant times … Valerie Wilson was employed by […]

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