Thursday, August 24th | 2 Elul 5777

Close

Be in the know!

Get our exclusive daily news briefing.

Subscribe
June 13, 2011 6:44 pm

Leaks and More Leaks

avatar by Ed Koch

Email a copy of "Leaks and More Leaks" to a friend

Julian Assange, from Wikileaks. Photo: Espen Moe.

Last year, Thomas A. Drake, a former employee of the National Security Agency (NSA), was originally charged with a felony under the Espionage Act, a crime subject to a penalty of 35 years.  His defense, in effect, was that he was a whistleblower.  Recently, Drake was given a plea agreement of a misdemeanor with an agreement by the prosecution that they, according to The New York Times of June 10, “would not oppose a sentence under which Mr. Drake would serve no time.”

Also, according to The Times, prosecutions against the media – Drake had given classified material to a reporter – prior to President Obama “have been extremely rare.”

The President, in my opinion and to his credit, responding to “a bipartisan belief in Congress…that leaks were getting out of hand,” has directed that five such criminal lawsuits be brought, and never more than one under any other president.

President Obama has been criticized because he “entered office promising unprecedented transparency but in less than three years in office has far outdone the security-minded Bush administration in pursuing leaks.”

Related coverage

August 23, 2017 4:25 pm
0

New York Times Publishes Paean To ‘Klinghoffer’ Opera Author

If there was any remaining doubt that the New York Times is biased specifically against traditional Judaism and not merely...

I received an e-mail from an op-ed writer for an article appearing in the Wall Street Journal which article discussed Drake as a whistleblower. My correspondence follows:

“Dear Mr. Mayor, Are whistleblowers heroes or knaves?  The answer would seem to depend upon some specific fact.  The Thomas Drake affair, which settled in a surprise plea-bargain on late Thursday, is a case study in ambiguities.  I explore them in Friday’s Wall Street Journal…All good wishes”

My response: “An employee who disagrees with his employer’s policy (he served in the National Security Agency) does not have the right to violate the law and provide classified information to a reporter.  Here, after trying to get the policy changed and failing to do so, his options were to go along notwithstanding his disagreement or quit.  I do not agree he was a whistleblower entitled to immunity from prosecution.  My question is, why hasn’t the WikiLeaker, Julian Assange, been indicted for receiving and publishing classified material? All the best.”

The plea bargain provided was offered “after Judge Bennett ruled last week that the government would have to show some of the allegedly classified material to the jury, prosecutors on Sunday withdrew four of the documents and redacted information from two others about N.S.A.’s targeting of a particular telecommunications technology.”

I believe in cases where there is no jury, the government would proceed showing the evidence “in camera,” so it would not be made public.  In jury cases, which would generally be the case, couldn’t the evidence be shown to jurors with an admonition by the court that they would be committing a criminal act if they made it public?  My guess is few if any jurors would later violate the law and expose themselves to criminal penalties.

I assume the government will bring a case against Julian Assange, who has violated the law with the distribution of hundreds of thousands of documents to the media.  Is the American public better off as a result of the leaks?  I think not.  Undoubtedly, too many documents are classified when they shouldn’t be.  Nevertheless, as a result, I believe at least in the case of Assange, lives may have been put at risk and our country’s ability to deal with other countries has been severely jeopardized.

President Obama deserves support for his ordered change in direction of the country vis-à-vis leakers of classified information.

Share this Story: Share On Facebook Share On Twitter Email This Article

Let your voice be heard!

Join the Algemeiner
  • decora

    “Drake had given classified material to a reporter”

    this is flat out wrong. the judge just ruled last week or so that there was ‘no evidence’ that any classified info in his basement wound up in Gorman’s articles.

    he also ruled that there was no classified information in the hushmail emails between Drake and Gorman.

    on top of that, he was never charged with giving information, of any kind, to anyone. he was charged with ‘willfull retention’ of ‘national defense information’ – the 793 portion of the Espionage Act does not even contain the word ‘classified’.

    on top of that, Drake specifically made part of his conditions for talking to the reporter that he would give her no classified information.

    “has directed that five such criminal lawsuits be brought”

    Citation?

    “I believe in cases where there is no jury, the government would proceed showing the evidence “in camera,” so it would not be made public. In jury cases, which would generally be the case, couldn’t the evidence be shown to jurors with an admonition”

    The Sixth Amendment of the United States guarantees the right to a Public Trial, which is a principle inherited from English Common Law going back to the 1700s and further, after the horrors of the Star Chamber, the Feme, and the Inquisition were realized even in pre-democratic Europe to be horrors upon the notion of justice.

    There is a procedure to ‘hide’ evidence as you suggest – it’s called the Silent Witness Rule, and grew out of the Classified Information Procedures Act, including I might add the Iran-Contra hearings. I am guessing the various conservative folks would have not supported the ‘hide the evidence’ if it had been used to convict Colonel North.

    the judge actually allowed the procedure, but only in a limited form . . . because the judge (bush appointed) believe it could damage the defendants rights if not used carefully.

    the problem? TWO OF THE DOCUMENTS WERE UNCLASSIFIED.

    thus the whole question of ‘leaking classified material’ is absolutely pointless to ask in the Drake case – 40% of the case against him had nothing, whatsoever, to do with classified information.

Algemeiner.com