Monday, April 23, 2012

Intel and the Media....

From Secrecy News...


As is often remarked, the number of individuals charged with Espionage Act violations by the Obama Administration for disclosing information to the media without authorization is unprecedented and exceeds all previous cases in all prior Administrations combined. But why is that?

There are several possible explanations. One answer is that the sources of unauthorized disclosures are easier than ever to identify. The actual disclosure transaction, as well as the source-reporter relationship behind it, often leaves an electronic footprint (especially email and telephone records) that official investigators are increasingly adept at exploiting. Another explanation is that the voluminous and sometimes reckless disclosures published by WikiLeaks triggered a predictable intensification of efforts to track and punish leakers, along with the broader tightening of information security that seems to be the most enduring legacy of the WikiLeaks episode.

But yet another factor that is usually overlooked is that Congress has pressured the Administration to vigorously pursue leaks. Congressional leaders want leak prosecutions, and they want a lot of them.

At her May 17, 2011 confirmation hearing to be head of the Justice Department's National Security Division (NSD), Lisa O. Monaco noted the role of the Senate Intelligence Committee in pushing the issue. "This Committee has... pressed the [Justice] Department and the intelligence community... to ensure that unauthorized disclosures are prosecuted and pursued, either by criminal means or the use of administrative sanctions," she said.

After Ms. Monaco described each of the multiple pending leak prosecutions that were pending at that time, she was nevertheless asked (in pre-hearing questions) "Are there any steps that the Department could take to increase the number of individuals who are prosecuted for making unauthorized disclosures of classified information to members of the news media?"

Ms. Monaco told the Intelligence Committee that "the NSD has been working closely with the Intelligence Community to expedite and improve the handling of such cases." She pledged to the Committee that it would be "my priority to continue the aggressive pursuit of these cases." And so it has been.

The record of Ms. Monaco's 2011 confirmation hearing before the Senate Intelligence Committee was published last month and is available here.


Monday, April 16, 2012

On Classified Info...

From Secrecy News... CLASSIFIED INFO IN CRIMINAL TRIALS, AND MORE FROM CRS Former CIA officer John C. Kiriakou is to be arraigned today on charges of leaking classified information to the press in violation of the Espionage Act and the Intelligence Identities Protection Act -- charges that he denies. See The Case of An Accused Leaker: Politics or Justice? by Carrie Johnson, National Public Radio, April 13. A newly updated report from the Congressional Research Service discusses Protecting Classified Information and the Rights of Criminal Defendants: The Classified Information Procedures Act, April 2, 2012. Another newly updated CRS report finds that federal agencies spent $750.4 million last year to pay for "advertising services." But though non-trivial, it seems that this amount was less than was spent for such purposes in any previous year since 2003. The term advertising is not strictly defined in budget documents, and may include various forms of public relations, public service notices, and the like. "Government advertising can be controversial if it conflicts with citizens' views about the proper role of government," the CRS report stated. "Yet some government advertising is accepted as a normal part of government information activities." Federal advertising expenditures have actually decreased over the past two years and haven't been lower since 2003. The highest level of advertising expenditures in the past decade occurred in 2004, the CRS report found. See Advertising by the Federal Government: An Overview, April 6, 2012. Some other updated CRS reports that have not been made publicly available by Congress include these: Detention of U.S. Persons as Enemy Belligerents, April 11, 2012 Rare Earth Elements in National Defense: Background, Oversight Issues, and Options for Congress, April 11, 2012 The Lord's Resistance Army: The U.S. Response, April 11, 2012 Kuwait: Security, Reform, and U.S. Policy, April 11, 2012 Pakistan: U.S. Foreign Assistance, April 10, 2012 _______________________________________________ Secrecy News is written by Steven Aftergood and published by the Federation of American Scientists.

Wednesday, April 04, 2012

Defending the Position....



Keith Taylor

Pendleton Marine Sgt. Gary Stein doesn't like our president. That's not unusual in today's military. Had our country voted the way our soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Marines did; McCain would be doing the worrying about Iran and its bomb today. I, on the other hand, think Obama is just what the country needs.

Despite our differences -- age, politics, branch of service -- Sgt. Stein and I have something in common. We both take strong, often unpopular, stands on things we think important. Then we defend our position with the tenacity of a bulldog.

For more than two decades I did that as a freelance columnist for Navy Times. After a Navy career spanning nearly twenty-three years as an enlisted man and junior officer. I loved having the opportunity to finally be able tell the world how things ought to be done.

Some didn't wait for retirement, but managed to stay circumspect enough the military didn't respond. Ward Reeves, was the pseudonym for a Navy senior chief who also contributed articles for the Times. Reeves was a firebrand who, when he felt it necessary, excoriated the president, the CNO, and almost everybody who attended the infamous 1991 "Tail Hook" convention in Las Vegas. He was breaking the rules but had the sense to be incognito.

The senior chief and I shared so many sentiments that when I went to the annual reunion of the Naval Cryptologic Veterans Association, one of my old shipmates accused me of being Ward Reeves.

On his retirement, our columns ran side by side. His column was his swan song, a poignant piece telling of his love for the Navy. Mine bore the headline "I'm not Ward Reeves, but I wish I were." I never met the man for whom I was confused, and I consider that my loss. I haven't heard from him in years, but I betcha he's raising hell.

But ya gotta be circumspect. A few years after that, an active duty Marine Corps major, a mustang writing under his own name, took off on President Clinton and earned himself a letter of reprimand. I'm guessing he never made lieutenant colonel.

Writing is a heady experience, but if you're not careful it can be trouble, a ton of it. The military has a hard and fast rule that publicly criticizing those above oneself in the chain of command is forbidden. Sgt Stein would not have called his commanding officer a jackass.

But he considered the president fair game. He started a Facebook page entitled Armed Forces Tea Party. Like those tea party folks we saw on TV wearing tea bags from their hats and carrying signs urging the defeat of Obama, he pulled no punches. Twenty-six thousand, the equivalent of several regiments, joined him. Soon his messages started flying around the world at the speed of light.

A picture on the site depicted the president as a jackass. Another screamed PRESIDENT LIES! Mention was made of refusing to follow the president's orders. It was later amended to read lawful orders. Invectives flew, and Stein's Facebook pages give the impression of a united group marching in opposition to the president and his policies.

Most those who identified themselves were members of the armed forces. The equivalent of three regiments waiting for a barracks lawyer to determine the nuance of lawful before attacking, might be considered a clear and present danger.

The sergeant has started something huge, and the repercussions can be enormous. Then there's that thing about unit cohesion and discipline. That's practically gospel talk to the Marines, especially those who have to decide Stein's fate.

Meanwhile he sergeant isn't backing off. Nor is the corps. Stein has been read his rights. His CO has recommended he be given a discharge.

He's still at it, defying the Corps and the President.

I asked an Internet friend and retired Navy captain what she thought about all this. She wrote: "I agree with the actions the Marine Corps is taking. It is time for him to become Mr. Stein if he wants to be known for his political views."

Or, maybe Representative Stein? He lives in and is stationed in California's 49th district now representated by Darrell Issa. It is considered one of the most politically conservative and anti Obama districts in the country. The day after the sergeant was given his rights and urged to stop, he was invited to give a talk to a meeting of Tea Party members in Bonsall, also within the 49th.

With all the support Stein is getting from the tea party folks, he might decide to go into politics. But, even in north San Diego county, it's a long shot and I hope Sgt. Stein doesn't take it. The corps needs people with spunk, but not if it directly confronts the Commander in Chief. I too believe in unit cohesion.