Obama’s New 2nd in Command at DOD Ashton Carter – CFR, Aspen Group, Goldman Sacks…Connects to 911 False Flag
(DEADLINE LIVE) It can be said that the # 2 in any office is the REAL controller of things… Think Big-time Dick ‘tater’ Cheney, or Webb Hubble (for Janet Reno) or death squad pimp, Iran Contra crook John Dimitry Negroponte under Condi Rice, Paul Wolfowitz under Colin Powell… Even more recently, (newly appointed Chicago Mob Boss), once Obama’s C of S / Rothschild handler, Rhambo Emanuel under cousin Barry… Or the King of second fiddles, George H.W. Bush under Ronald Reagan! (GHWB has continued to handle every president since! He has called Bill Clinton his “son”, and have recently been spotted going through the back door of the Obama White House with his son Jebby in tow).
(JOHN PERRY) Barack Obama could not be more wrong about his claim that he needs no approval from Congress to engage our military in Libya (or anywhere else for that matter), and he knows it. In response to a question regarding war powers during the 2008 campaign, this president himself said the following: “The President does not have power under the Constitution to unilaterally authorize a military attack in a situation that does not involve stopping an actual or imminent threat to the nation.”
I haven’t heard anyone even attempt to claim that Libya presented an actual or imminent threat to our nation, and I’m pretty sure the Constitution hasn’t been amended to change the reality of the above comment since Obama made it. In fact, not even Congress has the power under the Constitution to “authorize” the president to use military force at his discretion with a simple up or down vote. As our founding document makes clear, Congress declares war and the president is Commander in Chief of the military “when called into the actual service of the United States.” This means that unless it’s an actual war, actually declared by Congress against another country (which of course would require sufficient cause), it’s an illegal attack. The only way for Congress to legally transfer their war making power to the president would be via a constitutional amendment, which not only must be passed by the House and Senate, but also ratified by a three-fourths majority of state legislatures.
The claim that no congressional approval is required because the attack on Libya doesn’t amount to “hostilities” is an embarrassingly amateurish attempt to avoid accountability. Every day millions of grade school kids have better excuses for not doing their homework.
Obama is unquestionably impeachable. In fact, this has been the case since day 3 of his presidency, when he ordered a drone attack on Pakistan (a country with which we are not at war) that killed 28 people, several of which were reportedly children. But instead of being removed from office he was awarded the 2009 Nobel Prize for Peace. Is there a better example of how completely upside down things have become in this perpetual warfare world?
Impeachment is most likely the only thing that will keep Obama from committing United States troops to the insanity of a ground invasion of Libya and a greater expansion of the completely bogus “War on Terror.” Phil Restino, Co-Chair of the Central Florida chapter of Veterans for Peace, illustrates the urgency here.
It’s highly unlikely that Obama would be both impeached (indicted for “high crimes and misdemeanors” in the House of Representatives) and removed from office (convicted at trial by the Senate), since the senate is controlled by democrats. But impeachment itself could halt the planned ground invasion of Libya. Of course, the republican House would only impeach to score political points and not out of any real concern for our Constitution, the rule of law, or the people of Libya. But sometimes politicians can be made to do the right thing in spite of themselves. If we want to keep yet another needless illegal war from expanding and killing untold additional numbers of innocent civilians and American soldiers, we need to be calling for Obama’s impeachment.
Don’t give me any partisan apologist garbage about how Obama inherited Bush’s mess, is doing what he can, has a tough job, needs more time, etc, etc. By failing to bring an end to two illegal wars of aggression immediately upon taking office, refusing to hold the Bush administration accountable in any way whatsoever and actually expanding on Bush’s mess, Barack Obama has clearly accepted full ownership. And just over half way through his first term, he is already well down the road to making the previous president look tame by comparison.
Impeach Obama now.
(James Glanz and John Markoff) The Obama administration is leading a global effort to deploy “shadow” Internet and mobile phone systems that dissidents can use to undermine repressive governments that seek to silence them by censoring or shutting down telecommunications networks.
The effort includes secretive projects to create independent cellphone networks inside foreign countries, as well as one operation out of a spy novel in a fifth-floor shop on L Street in Washington, where a group of young entrepreneurs who look as if they could be in a garage band are fitting deceptively innocent-looking hardware into a prototype “Internet in a suitcase.”
Financed with a $2 million State Department grant, the suitcase could be secreted across a border and quickly set up to allow wireless communication over a wide area with a link to the global Internet.
The American effort, revealed in dozens of interviews, planning documents and classified diplomatic cables obtained by The New York Times, ranges in scale, cost and sophistication.
Some projects involve technology that the United States is developing; others pull together tools that have already been created by hackers in a so-called liberation-technology movement sweeping the globe.
The State Department, for example, is financing the creation of stealth wireless networks that would enable activists to communicate outside the reach of governments in countries like Iran, Syria and Libya, according to participants in the projects.
In one of the most ambitious efforts, United States officials say, the State Department and Pentagon have spent at least $50 million to create an independent cellphone network in Afghanistan using towers on protected military bases inside the country. It is intended to offset the Taliban’s ability to shut down the official Afghan services, seemingly at will.
The effort has picked up momentum since the government of President Hosni Mubarak shut down the Egyptian Internet in the last days of his rule. In recent days, the Syrian government also temporarily disabled much of that country’s Internet, which had helped protesters mobilize.
The Obama administration’s initiative is in one sense a new front in a longstanding diplomatic push to defend free speech and nurture democracy. For decades, the United States has sent radio broadcasts into autocratic countries through Voice of America and other means. More recently, Washington has supported the development of software that preserves the anonymity of users in places like China, and training for citizens who want to pass information along the government-owned Internet without getting caught.
But the latest initiative depends on creating entirely separate pathways for communication. It has brought together an improbable alliance of diplomats and military engineers, young programmers and dissidents from at least a dozen countries, many of whom variously describe the new approach as more audacious and clever and, yes, cooler.
Sometimes the State Department is simply taking advantage of enterprising dissidents who have found ways to get around government censorship. American diplomats are meeting with operatives who have been burying Chinese cellphones in the hills near the border with North Korea, where they can be dug up and used to make furtive calls, according to interviews and the diplomatic cables.
The new initiatives have found a champion in Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, whose department is spearheading the American effort. “We see more and more people around the globe using the Internet, mobile phones and other technologies to make their voices heard as they protest against injustice and seek to realize their aspirations,” Mrs. Clinton said in an e-mail response to a query on the topic. “There is a historic opportunity to effect positive change, change America supports,” she said. “So we’re focused on helping them do that, on helping them talk to each other, to their communities, to their governments and to the world.”
Developers caution that independent networks come with downsides: repressive governments could use surveillance to pinpoint and arrest activists who use the technology or simply catch them bringing hardware across the border. But others believe that the risks are outweighed by the potential impact. “We’re going to build a separate infrastructure where the technology is nearly impossible to shut down, to control, to surveil,” said Sascha Meinrath, who is leading the “Internet in a suitcase” project as director of the Open Technology Initiative at the New America Foundation, a nonpartisan research group.
“The implication is that this disempowers central authorities from infringing on people’s fundamental human right to communicate,” Mr. Meinrath added.
The Invisible Web
In an anonymous office building on L Street in Washington, four unlikely State Department contractors sat around a table. Josh King, sporting multiple ear piercings and a studded leather wristband, taught himself programming while working as a barista. Thomas Gideon was an accomplished hacker. Dan Meredith, a bicycle polo enthusiast, helped companies protect their digital secrets.
Then there was Mr. Meinrath, wearing a tie as the dean of the group at age 37. He has a master’s degree in psychology and helped set up wireless networks in underserved communities in Detroit and Philadelphia.
The group’s suitcase project will rely on a version of “mesh network” technology, which can transform devices like cellphones or personal computers to create an invisible wireless web without a centralized hub. In other words, a voice, picture or e-mail message could hop directly between the modified wireless devices – each one acting as a mini cell “tower” and phone – and bypass the official network.
Mr. Meinrath said that the suitcase would include small wireless antennas, which could increase the area of coverage; a laptop to administer the system; thumb drives and CDs to spread the software to more devices and encrypt the communications; and other components like Ethernet cables.
The project will also rely on the innovations of independent Internet and telecommunications developers.
“The cool thing in this political context is that you cannot easily control it,” said Aaron Kaplan, an Austrian cybersecurity expert whose work will be used in the suitcase project. Mr. Kaplan has set up a functioning mesh network in Vienna and says related systems have operated in Venezuela, Indonesia and elsewhere.
Mr. Meinrath said his team was focused on fitting the system into the bland-looking suitcase and making it simple to implement – by, say, using “pictograms” in the how-to manual.
In addition to the Obama administration’s initiatives, there are almost a dozen independent ventures that also aim to make it possible for unskilled users to employ existing devices like laptops or smartphones to build a wireless network. One mesh network was created around Jalalabad, Afghanistan, as early as five years ago, using technology developed at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Creating simple lines of communication outside official ones is crucial, said Collin Anderson, a 26-year-old liberation-technology researcher from North Dakota who specializes in Iran, where the government all but shut down the Internet during protests in 2009. The slowdown made most “circumvention” technologies – the software legerdemain that helps dissidents sneak data along the state-controlled networks – nearly useless, he said.
“No matter how much circumvention the protesters use, if the government slows the network down to a crawl, you can’t upload YouTube videos or Facebook postings,” Mr. Anderson said. “They need alternative ways of sharing information or alternative ways of getting it out of the country.”
That need is so urgent, citizens are finding their own ways to set up rudimentary networks. Mehdi Yahyanejad, an Iranian expatriate and technology developer who co-founded a popular Persian-language Web site, estimates that nearly half the people who visit the site from inside Iran share files using Bluetooth – which is best known in the West for running wireless headsets and the like. In more closed societies, however, Bluetooth is used to discreetly beam information – a video, an electronic business card – directly from one cellphone to another.
Mr. Yahyanejad said he and his research colleagues were also slated to receive State Department financing for a project that would modify Bluetooth so that a file containing, say, a video of a protester being beaten, could automatically jump from phone to phone within a “trusted network” of citizens. The system would be more limited than the suitcase but would only require the software modification on ordinary phones.
By the end of 2011, the State Department will have spent some $70 million on circumvention efforts and related technologies, according to department figures.
Mrs. Clinton has made Internet freedom into a signature cause. But the State Department has carefully framed its support as promoting free speech and human rights for their own sake, not as a policy aimed at destabilizing autocratic governments.
That distinction is difficult to maintain, said Clay Shirky, an assistant professor at New York University who studies the Internet and social media. “You can’t say, ‘All we want is for people to speak their minds, not bring down autocratic regimes’ – they’re the same thing,” Mr. Shirky said.
He added that the United States could expose itself to charges of hypocrisy if the State Department maintained its support, tacit or otherwise, for autocratic governments running countries like Saudi Arabia or Bahrain while deploying technology that was likely to undermine them.
Shadow Cellphone System
In February 2009, Richard C. Holbrooke and Lt. Gen. John R. Allen were taking a helicopter tour over southern Afghanistan and getting a panoramic view of the cellphone towers dotting the remote countryside, according to two officials on the flight. By then, millions of Afghans were using cellphones, compared with a few thousand after the 2001 invasion. Towers built by private companies had sprung up across the country. The United States had promoted the network as a way to cultivate good will and encourage local businesses in a country that in other ways looked as if it had not changed much in centuries.
There was just one problem, General Allen told Mr. Holbrooke, who only weeks before had been appointed special envoy to the region. With a combination of threats to phone company officials and attacks on the towers, the Taliban was able to shut down the main network in the countryside virtually at will. Local residents report that the networks are often out from 6 p.m. until 6 a.m., presumably to enable the Taliban to carry out operations without being reported to security forces.
The Pentagon and State Department were soon collaborating on the project to build a “shadow” cellphone system in a country where repressive forces exert control over the official network.
Details of the network, which the military named the Palisades project, are scarce, but current and former military and civilian officials said it relied in part on cell towers placed on protected American bases. A large tower on the Kandahar air base serves as a base station or data collection point for the network, officials said.
A senior United States official said the towers were close to being up and running in the south and described the effort as a kind of 911 system that would be available to anyone with a cellphone.
By shutting down cellphone service, the Taliban had found a potent strategic tool in its asymmetric battle with American and Afghan security forces.
The United States is widely understood to use cellphone networks in Afghanistan, Iraq and other countries for intelligence gathering. And the ability to silence the network was also a powerful reminder to the local populace that the Taliban retained control over some of the most vital organs of the nation.
When asked about the system, Lt. Col. John Dorrian, a spokesman for the American-led International Security Assistance Force, or ISAF, would only confirm the existence of a project to create what he called an “expeditionary cellular communication service” in Afghanistan. He said the project was being carried out in collaboration with the Afghan government in order to “restore 24/7 cellular access.”
“As of yet the program is not fully operational, so it would be premature to go into details,” Colonel Dorrian said.
Colonel Dorrian declined to release cost figures. Estimates by United States military and civilian officials ranged widely, from $50 million to $250 million. A senior official said that Afghan officials, who anticipate taking over American bases when troops pull out, have insisted on an elaborate system. “The Afghans wanted the Cadillac plan, which is pretty expensive,” the official said.
Broad Subversive Effort
In May 2009, a North Korean defector named Kim met with officials at the American Consulate in Shenyang, a Chinese city about 120 miles from North Korea, according to a diplomatic cable. Officials wanted to know how Mr. Kim, who was active in smuggling others out of the country, communicated across the border. “Kim would not go into much detail,” the cable says, but did mention the burying of Chinese cellphones “on hillsides for people to dig up at night.” Mr. Kim said Dandong, China, and the surrounding Jilin Province “were natural gathering points for cross-border cellphone communication and for meeting sources.” The cellphones are able to pick up signals from towers in China, said Libby Liu, head of Radio Free Asia, the United States-financed broadcaster, who confirmed their existence and said her organization uses the calls to collect information for broadcasts as well.
The effort, in what is perhaps the world’s most closed nation, suggests just how many independent actors are involved in the subversive efforts. From the activist geeks on L Street in Washington to the military engineers in Afghanistan, the global appeal of the technology hints at the craving for open communication.
In a chat with a Times reporter via Facebook, Malik Ibrahim Sahad, the son of Libyan dissidents who largely grew up in suburban Virginia, said he was tapping into the Internet using a commercial satellite connection in Benghazi. “Internet is in dire need here. The people are cut off in that respect,” wrote Mr. Sahad, who had never been to Libya before the uprising and is now working in support of rebel authorities. Even so, he said, “I don’t think this revolution could have taken place without the existence of the World Wide Web.”
(THE INTEL HUB) When it comes to president Obama’s birth certificate issue there are many unanswered questions. In a recent AP article entitled “Some Obama birth records made public for years” Fukino the former State Heath Director of Hawaii, came out saying;
“It is absolutely clear to me that he was born here in Hawaii,” Fukino told the AP. “It should not be an issue, and I think people need to focus on the other bad things going on in our country and in our state and figure out what we’re going to do about those things.”
I find this excerpt from the same AP article interesting as well;
“Highlighted in yellow on page 1,218 of the thick binder is the computer-generated listing for a boy named Barack Hussein Obama II born in Hawaii, surrounded by the alphabetized last names of all other children born in-state between 1960 and 1964. This is the only government birth information, called “index data,” available to the public.”
Well thanks for your input Fukino – However, this issue is even more simplistic than you could ever imagine.
The sad fact is that we do not even know if the man standing in as President of the United States of America claiming to be “Barack H. Obama” was born under that name. In fact the name Barry Soetoro is what the president went by until later in life when apparently he made the switch. A total of 27 fraudulent social security numbers have been linked to Barak Obama.
In fact, the mass corporate controlled media managed to dodge the following question for years now.
Q: Why would the name on the alleged authentic birth certificate and the name published on page 1218 of the thick binder say “Barack H. Obama” when that name has not even been proven to Obama’s actual birth name?
Obviously this name was either planted into the records afterward or was staged in advance, possibly as part of a covert CIA operation surrounding the insertion of a foreign terrorist into the office of the Presidency of the United States of America, thus allowing the largest looting of a country in history worldwide through criminal bailouts.
One must also ask how a lawyer (Obama) that never even practiced law in a working manner would be worth over 1 billion dollars on record.
(ABC) In a statement issued Friday night, President Obama took issue with some provisions in the budget bill – and in one case simply says he will not abide by it.
Last week the White House and congressional Democrats and Republicans were involved in intense negotiations over not only the size of the budget for the remainder of the FY2011 budget, and spending cuts within that budget, but also several GOP “riders,” or policy provisions attached to the bill.
One rider – Section 2262 — de-funds certain White House adviser positions – or “czars.” The president in his signing statement declares that he will not abide by it.
“The President has well-established authority to supervise and oversee the executive branch, and to obtain advice in furtherance of this supervisory authority,” he wrote. “The President also has the prerogative to obtain advice that will assist him in carrying out his constitutional responsibilities, and do so not only from executive branch officials and employees outside the White House, but also from advisers within it. Legislative efforts that significantly impede the President’s ability to exercise his supervisory and coordinating authorities or to obtain the views of the appropriate senior advisers violate the separation of powers by undermining the President’s ability to exercise his constitutional responsibilities and take care that the laws be faithfully executed.”
Therefore, the president wrote, “the executive branch will construe section 2262 not to abrogate these Presidential prerogatives.”
In other words: we know what you wanted that provision to do, but we don’t think it’s constitutional, so we will interpret it differently than the way you meant it.
During his presidential campaign, then-Senator Obama was quite critical of the Bush administration’s uses of signing statements telling the Boston Globe in 2007 that the “problem” with the Bush administration “is that it has attached signing statements to legislation in an effort to change the meaning of the legislation, to avoid enforcing certain provisions of the legislation that the President does not like, and to raise implausible or dubious constitutional objections to the legislation.”
Then-Sen. Obama said he would “not use signing statements to nullify or undermine congressional instructions as enacted into law.”
The president said that no one “doubts that it is appropriate to use signing statements to protect a president’s constitutional prerogatives; unfortunately, the Bush Administration has gone much further than that.”
Another rider bans the use of federal funds to transfer detainees from Guantanamo to foreign countries unless certain conditions are met.
“Requiring the executive branch to certify to additional conditions would hinder the conduct of delicate negotiations with foreign countries and therefore the effort to conclude detainee transfers in accord with our national security,” the president wrote.
Another rider denies the ability of the Obama administration to prosecute Gitmo detainees in criminal court.
“The prosecution of terrorists in Federal court is a powerful tool in our efforts to protect the Nation and must be among the options available to us,” the president wrote. “Any attempt to deprive the executive branch of that tool undermines our Nation’s counterterrorism efforts and has the potential to harm our national security.”
The president said in his statement he will work with Congress to repeal those provisions.
(POLITICO) The Obama administration, which famously pledged to be the most transparent in American history, is pursuing an unexpectedly aggressive legal offensive against federal workers who leak secret information to expose wrongdoing, highlight national security threats or pursue a personal agenda.
In just over two years since President Barack Obama took office, prosecutors have filed criminal charges in five separate cases involving unauthorized distribution of classified national security information to the media. And the government is now mulling what would be the most high-profile case of them all – prosecuting WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.
That’s a sharp break from recent history, when the U.S. government brought such cases on three occasions in roughly 40 years.
The government insists it’s only pursuing individuals who act with reckless disregard for national security, and that it has an obligation to protect the nation’s most sensitive secrets from being revealed. Anyone seeking to expose malfeasance has ample opportunity to do so through proper channels, government lawyers say.
But legal experts and good-government advocates say the hard-line approach to leaks has a chilling effect on whistleblowers, who fear harsh legal reprisals if they dare to speak up.
Not only that, these advocates say, it runs counter to Obama’s pledges of openness by making it a crime to shine a light on the inner workings of government – especially when there are measures that could protect the nation’s interests without hauling journalists into court and government officials off to jail.
“It is not to me a good sign when government chooses to go after leakers using the full force of criminal law when there are other ways to handle these situations,” said Jane Kirtley, a University of Minnesota law professor and former executive director of the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press. “Of course, the government has to have some kind of remedy, [but] I’d certainly hope they’re being very selective about these prosecutions.”
Jesselyn Radack, a former Justice Department attorney now with the Government Accountability Project, said it’s “very destructive and damaging to be going after people for leaks that embarrass the government.” The policy, she said, is “a disturbing one particularly from a president who got elected pledging openness and transparency — and someone who also got elected thanks to a lot of [Bush-era] scandals that were revealed by whistleblowers.”
But Jack Goldsmith, a senior Justice Department official under President George W. Bush, said the U.S. intelligence apparatus — which is perhaps most at risk from leaks of classified information — has pressured Obama’s Justice Department to get tough.
“Leaking has gotten a lot worse over the last decade,” said Goldsmith, now a law professor at Harvard . “It’s viewed as sort of crisis in the intelligence community in the sense that there is a strong perceived need to do something about it.”
Yet Goldsmith notes an apparent double standard: top White House and administration officials give unauthorized information to Washington reporters almost daily, but authorities will come down hard if rank-and-file employees get caught doing the same thing. “Top officials frequently leak classified information and nothing happens to them,” he said.
Still, leak prosecutions brought under Obama amount to “almost twice as many as all previous presidents put together,” noted Daniel Ellsberg, who changed history and helped set a legal precedent when he handed the Pentagon’s top-secret assessment of the Vietnam War to New York Times reporters four decades ago. “The campaign here against whistleblowers is actually unprecedented in legal terms.”
The stakes in the White House’s anti-leak drive could rise higher if the Justice Department decides to prosecute Wikileaks’ Assange for facilitating the publication of hundreds of thousands of classified U.S. military reports from Iraq and Afghanistan, along with thousands of sensitive cables from American diplomats overseas. Prosecuting the enigmatic Australian, however, is easier said than done.
Trying to extradite Assange and haul him into a U.S. court is certain to ignite hot debate over First Amendment protections and raise questions about whether mainstream journalists will be the next targets for prosecution. But if the Obama administration doesn’t move against Assange, it could spur outrage in the intelligence community and bipartisan anger on Capitol Hill.
It’s hard to say how much of the campaign to punish leakers stems from the current administration’s desire to make it a priority and how much stems simply from the glacial-paced investigation of cases left over from Bush’s term. Two of the five prosecutions brought since Obama took office pertain to alleged leaks that sprung under his predecessor.
The Bush-era cases include, former National Security Agency official Thomas Drake, who is set to stand trial next month in a case stemming from leaks that led to Baltimore Sun articles in 2006 and 2007 about alleged waste in classified NSA surveillance programs. In September, former Central Intelligence Agency officer Jeffrey Sterling is scheduled to go on trial for allegedly leaking information about a botched CIA covert operation to sabotage Iran’s reputed nuclear weapons program — a plot disclosed in Times reporter James Risen’s 2006 book, “State of War.”
Another three prosecutions relate to leaks on Obama’s watch, however, including the case of Army Private Bradley Manning — perhaps the highest-profile leak case in American history. Manning, a boyish, 23-year-old intelligence analyst, allegedly helped Assange and Wikileaks obtain hundreds of thousands of military reports and diplomatic cables, many of them classified.
The military filed more charges against Manning last week including a count of aiding the enemy — a capital offense, though prosecutors say they won’t seek the death penalty.
Justice Department spokesman Matt Miller declined to comment on whether the Obama administration is taking a tougher line against leakers, but said “we take the leaking of classified information very seriously.” However, court documents indicate that punishing leakers seems to have become a higher priority.
In a brief filed in January seeking to deny Sterling bail, prosecutors argued that leaking is more pernicious and harmful to national security than old-school, cash-for-info spying. Unlike an intelligence swap or document transaction with a foreign agent, prosecutors wrote, Sterling “elected to disclose the classified information publicly through the mass media” where any U.S. enemy could read it, “thus posing an even greater threat to society.”
Nevertheless, despite talk of a scorched-earth campaign against leakers, there have been no charges filed in connection with some of the most significant secrets revealed during the past decade — including disclosures to The New York Times about the Bush-era effort to intercept some phone calls and e-mails without warrants.
The lack of charges over the warrantless wiretapping leak, which hit the front page of the Times in December 2005, is particularly notable since former Justice Department attorney Thomas Tamm told Newsweek more than two years ago that he was a key source for the story.
“He basically put a target on his head and said, ‘Come get me,’” said Steven Aftergood, with the Federation of American Scientists’ Project on Government Secrecy. “And they didn’t.”
In addition, there have been no prosecutions or even signs of serious investigation into a large volume of classified leaks to Washington Post reporter Bob Woodward for the books he has written on war policy under both recent White Houses. POLITICO reported last year that Woodward sometimes arrived for official interviews carrying classified maps.
While the Obama administration has, like its predecessors, steered clear thus far of charging journalists with receiving or publishing classified information, it has not shied away from using the courts to pry out information about a reporter’s sources. Last year, the Justice Department re-issued a grand jury subpoena to Risen in an apparent effort to determine his sources for the Iran nuclear story. Attorney General Eric Holder is believed to have personally authorized the subpoena, since under department rules, decisions to subpoena reporters are made at the highest level.
“I was extremely surprised that the Risen subpoena was reinstituted. That struck me as a battle that no one needed to have,” Hearst Corp. general counsel Eve Burton, a veteran of First Amendment court fights told POLITICO after word of the subpoena emerged last year. “I thought Eric Holder would be a more moderating force in that regard.”
A judge later quashed the subpoena at Risen’s request, heading off a confrontation that could well have resulted in him going to jail to maintain his silence.
The Obama administration’s angst over leaks begins at the top. In private White House meetings, the president has reportedly railed against disclosure of national security information, including the breaches that dogged his review of the U.S. Afghanistan/Pakistan policy in 2009. After one eruption from the president, National Counterintelligence Executive Bear Bryant was ordered to come up with new ways to plug the leaks.
Officials have been tight-lipped about Bryant’s review, but a source told POLITICO the administration will use not only the law but also employee discipline procedures and classified clearance cancellations to punish the suspects.
Some lawyers also believe that pressure from both parties in Congress, about Wikileaks in particular, is driving the administration’s tough line.
“This is worse than Ames and Hanssen combined because of the totality of the information,” said House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers (R-Mich.), referring to former CIA analyst Aldrich Ames and former FBI agent Robert Hanssen, both of whom are serving life terms for spying for Russia.
Rogers said century-old statutes for dealing with national security information need to be updated.
Already, Sens. John Ensign (R-Nev.), Scott Brown (R-Mass.), Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) and House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Peter King (R-N.Y.) have proposed a bill that would make it a crime to disclose the name of a classified U.S. source or informant. And Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.) has drafted legislation that would make it easier to charge and convict leakers.
An aide to Cardin called his measure “a balanced approach” and said it would enhance whistleblower protections, but critics warned Cardin’s bill edges close to Britain’s Official Secrets Act—a statute that makes it a crime to leak anything the government designates as secret.
“Sen. Cardin disavows the Official Secrets Act label, but the fact is that his bill would sanctify whatever is classified,” Aftergood said. “The bill says that whatever is classified is presumptively properly classified. That does not correspond to anyone’s experience of classification policy. Not even the president believes that. … So, why write it into law?”
Aftergood said that if the law passed it would discourage what he termed “good leaks,” which expose government wrongdoing or abuse.
“The downside is very serious,” he said. “Should disclosure of prisoner abuse at Abu Ghraib prison have been a felony just because the information was classified at the time? Should the disclosure of domestic surveillance that violated the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act have been a felony. I say, no. By failing to allow for the possibility of good leaks, the bill sweeps too broadly.”