Wrong Investigation

Ken AshfordWar on Terrorism/TortureLeave a Comment

The Justice Department is starting an investigation into the leak about the secret illegal NSA wiretaps.

Once again, the investigation isn’t about the wiretaps themselves, but about the leaking of the fact of the wiretaps to the press.  You know …trying to determine who the whistleblower is.


This is all a nice segue to a guest post at Bradblog by Sibel Edmonds.  Ms. Edmonds was terminated from the FBI after reporting security breaches, cover-up, and blocking of intelligence with national security implications.  Now, she’s the Director of the National Security Whistleblowers Coalition, and her thoughts begin as follows:

Without whistleblowers the public would never know of the many abuses of constitutional rights by the government. Whistleblowers, Truth Tellers, are responsible for the disclosure that President George W. Bush ordered unconstitutional surveillance of American citizens. These constitutional lifeguards take their patriotic oaths to heart and soul: Rather than complying with classification and secrecy orders designed to protect officials engaging in criminal conduct, whistleblowers chose to risk their livelihoods and the wrath of their agencies to get the truth out. But will they be listened to by those who are charged with accountability?

Read the whole thing.

I expect there will be a lot of comparisons in the weeks and months to come between the leak of classified information in L’Affaire Plame compared to the leak of classified information in L’Affaire NSA Wiretaps. 

Hopefully, I’m not stating the obvious, but there certainly is a salient difference between the two: the classified information exposed in the former (Valerie Plame’s CIA status) was not illegal, but the classified information in the latter (the extrajudicial NSA wiretaps) was. 

Legally-speaking, I am not sure (yet) if the federal statutes care about the res of what is leaked.  Covert means covert, regardless of whether the subject matter is covertly legal or covertly illegal.

But politically-speaking, exposing secret illegalities of the intelligence community is far more culpable then exposing the secret status of CIA members as a means to cause embarrassment to political opponents.

In any event, it will be interesting to watch Bush apologists twist and argue that the "rule of law" is important when it comes to the leak of the NSA wiretaps, but not when it comes to the actual NSA wiretaps themselves.  That’s a pretty tough tightrope act.