Combating The Leaks

Yesterday The Epoch Times posted an article about Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe‘s recent decision to scale back election security briefings in person to Congress because of leaks.

The article reports:

Over the weekend, reports said Ratcliffe and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) told the House and Senate intelligence committees that it will still provide written briefings on election security matters. Ratcliffe, in letters to the panels, said that leaks from members of Congress were a primary reason for the change.

Ratcliffe said on Fox News that he had been frequently briefing “not just the oversight committees but every member of Congress.”

But, he said, “within minutes of one of those briefings ending, a number of members of Congress went to a number of different outlets and leaked classified information for political purposes.”

He said that it was designed “to create a narrative that simply isn’t true, that somehow Russia is a greater national security threat than China.”

“I don’t mean to minimize Russia. They are a serious national security threat, but day in, day out, the threats that we face from China are significantly greater,” Ratcliffe said. “Anyone who says otherwise is just politicizing intelligence for their own narrative.”

Obviously Democrats are complaining about the move, but until the leaking stops, I think it is a good idea. The Democrats are still being briefed, but I suspect leaks may be easier to trace. Leaking classified information is punishable by law.

Fixing The Intelligence Community

On Friday, The Daily Caller posted an article titled, “OPINION: How Could The Intelligence Community Fail So Badly?”

The article states:

Far more than a failure of journalism, the Russia collusion narrative was, at its core, a monstrous failure of U.S. intelligence and counterintelligence.

All criticism of the news media aside for the moment, the bottom line is that professional journalists received fake intelligence information from U.S. government leakers whom they trusted.

That is probably true, but I also think that the personal bias of those individuals reporting the news caused them to believe things that most people would have regarded as totally ridiculous.

The article continues:

The entire Russian collusion debacle shows that the American intelligence and counterintelligence processes have broken down.

Emphatic former CIA director John Brennan, a main engine behind spreading the Russia collusion story through the intelligence community and into the media, suddenly doesn’t sound so certain about himself. The day after Attorney General William Barr released the special prosecutor’s finding of no collusion, Brennan confessed to MSNBC, “I don’t know if I received bad information but I think I suspected that there was more than there actually was.”

This is a shocking admission from the man who was, at the time, the nation’s highest-ranking professional intelligence officer.

Brennan wasn’t indicting just himself. He inadvertently accused the entire CIA. Whatever quality control systems it has, the CIA failed to prevent “bad information” from making its way up the chain to the national strategic level.

The article goes on to mention that journalists have learned to depend on leaks from government officials. Leaking classified information is a crime punishable by law. Those leaking need to be held accountable. At the same time, the government needs to be more transparent. A lot of things that are classified are classified to save the government from embarrassment.

The article concludes:

This leads to the most dangerous conclusion of all. The Russia collusion debacle has shown that the FBI and CIA leadership are not effectively under the oversight of elected officials, but instead are capable of tampering with the American democratic process and constitutional governance.

All this must stop. President Trump should assemble a team of solid intelligence and counterintelligence veterans to dig deep into the FBI and CIA leadership, discover the real nature of the problems and devise solutions before our system self-destructs.

It’s time to create an intelligence community that is apolitical. I don’t know if that is possible, but it’s a great goal.

Who Is James Wolfe?

Who is James Wolfe, and why does it matter? On Thursday, American Greatness posted an article about James Wolfe, a former staff employee of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence (SSCI).

The article reports:

Late Thursday, a federal judge sentenced Wolfe to two months in jail for one count of lying to the FBI; the prosecution had asked for 24 months. After a tearful apology to the judge, Wolfe essentially escaped with a slap on the wrist. Outrageous.

Wolfe, 58, was a key player in the leaking strategy employed by anti-Trump bureaucrats to seed bogus Trump-Russia collusion stories in the news media during the administration’s early months. Entrusted with safekeeping the committee’s most secret documents, Wolfe was caught passing off the information to four reporters. One of the journalists, Ali Watkins, was at least 30 years his junior; their three-year affair began when she was a college intern working for a Washington, D.C. news organization.

The first lesson here is don’t let your daughters be interns in Washington–there are a lot of older men walking around with evil intentions. The second lesson is more serious. James Wolfe was leaking classified information to newspapers with the intention of discrediting the Trump administration. He then lied about his actions when caught. He is looking at two months in jail. General Flynn has agreed to a plea of lying to investigators. He has lost his house, been financially ruined, etc. I realize that there is probably much more to that case than the public is aware of, but it seems to me that General Flynn’s actual crime was agreeing to be part of the Trump administration. His treatment by those in the ‘deep state’ was meant to send a message to anyone who was willing to be part of the Trump administration. The Mafia has been known to use similar tactics.

The article continues:

When confronted by the FBI about the affair and the disclosure of classified information to the other reporters, Wolfe repeatedly lied both during a personal interview and on a questionnaire. The investigation into Wolfe’s activities was so critical and risky that “the FBI’s executive leadership took the extraordinary step of limiting its notification to two individuals—the Chair and Vice Chair of the [committee]. Had this delicate balance not been achieved, this situation could easily have resulted in the possible disruption of information flow—an untenable degradation of national security oversight.”

Sounds a little bit more consequential than a phone conversation about Russian sanctions, right?

But here is the real injustice: While it was clear by both the original indictment and the sentencing memo that Wolfe was responsible for disclosing details about the FISA warrant on Trump campaign aide Carter Page, he was not charged with that crime—a felony punishable by up to 10 years in prison.

The investigation into Wolfe began after the Washington Post published an explosive story in April 2017 confirming that the FBI had obtained a FISA order right before the election to spy on Page.

“There was probable cause to believe Page was acting as an agent of a foreign power, in this case Russia,” the Post reported. “This is the clearest evidence so far that the FBI had reason to believe during the 2016 presidential campaign that a Trump associate was in touch with Russian agents. Such contacts are now at the center of an investigation into whether the campaign coordinated with the Russian government to swing the election in Trump’s favor.” The information was given to the reporters “on the condition of anonymity because [the sources] were not authorized to discuss details of a counterintelligence probe.”

James Wolfe belongs in prison for much longer than two months. Until we have equal justice under the law, we will not have our republic. The press is supposed to be holding elected officials and other bureaucrats accountable–not putting their thumb on the scales of justice.

A Slightly Different Take On The Recent National Security Leaks

Andrew McCarthy posted an article at PJMedia about the recent leaks of classified information and the search for the source of the leaks. He points out that a special prosecutor may not be the answer to solving the problem of who is leaking and stopping the leaks.

Mr. McCarthy explains why pursuing the leaks as a criminal matter is probably not a good idea:

The lesson here — of far more political than legal significance — is that President Obama is a reckless custodian of the nation’s secrets. That is yet another good reason why it is so important to defeat him come November. The rest — who said what — is details. It’s the guy in the Oval Office who sets the tone. And that guy, by the way, is fully empowered to declassify whatever information he chooses to declassify, no matter how sensitive, no matter how damaging its disclosure. So if it turns out that Obama effectively approved the leaks, they are probably not actionable disclosures of classified information anyway.

I will admit–that is an angle I had not considered.

Mr. McCarthy further reminds us:

 If the president decides to make information public, it is public — no matter how classified it was before, and no matter who in the government thinks the publicizing of it is a bone-headed move. The president gets to do that — and that’s part of why it matters who the president is.

Classified information belongs to the executive branch. Under the Constitution, the executive power is vested in a single official, the president. As Justice Scalia pointed out in his classic dissent in Morrison v. Olson, this does not mean some of the executive power; it means all of the executive power. The president can make a bad de-classification decision, but it is his decision to make.

It does matter who the President is.


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This Should Have Been Done A Long Time Ago

Yesterday the Washington Post reported that a former CIA Officer is being charged with repeatedly leaking classified information. After leaving the CIA in 2004, John Kiriakou worked as a Senate aide, working as an investigator on the staff of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee for a year before leaving in 2010.

The article reported:

Kiriakou made a media splash in 2007 when he appeared on ABC News describing the use of waterboarding against al-Qaeda suspect Abu Zubaida, also known as Zayn al-Abidin Muhammed Hussein.

He also revealed the name of the CIA’s interrogator of a piece he wrote for the New York Times in 2008.

The article further reports:

The Kiriakou investigation appears to have been triggered by a CIA referral to the Justice Department as well as a separate probe into how photographs of CIA operatives ended up in the possession of high-value detainees at Guantanamo Bay in 2009.

Investigators believe that defense attorneys obtained the photos after learning the identities of CIA operatives from a journalist who had been in contact with Kiriakou. The photographs, which included shots taken surreptitiously outside CIA employees’ homes, were shown to the detainees as part of an effort by defense attorneys to identify participants in CIA interrogations and potentially call them as witnesses in terrorism trials.

A interesting piece of information was left out of the story in the Washington Post. Newsbusters reported that between 2009 and last year Kiriakou worked as an investigator for Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., at the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. The NBC report on this story by Michael Isikoff reported this in the second paragraph.

This man needs to be charged with treason. His actions put CIA operatives and their families in danger. After reading the article, I wondered if Mr. Kiriakou was motivated by idealism or politics. He was undermining President Bush as Commander-in-Chief during a time of war. He didn’t mind breaking the law in order to do that.

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