Department of Justice

Obama's Administration Continues Its Record of Criminal Cases Against "Leakers"


Just as Obama promised, he's giving us "an unprecedented level of openness in government" by adding to his unprecedented record of criminal charges against government officials who decide to be more open than his administration likes. From the New York Times:

The Justice Department on Monday charged a former Central Intelligence Agency officer with disclosing classified information to journalists about the capture and brutal interrogationof a suspected member of Al Qaeda, Abu Zubaydah — adding another chapter to the Obama administration's crackdown on leaks….

And so many chapters there are! An "unprecedented" number of them:

Mr. Kiriakou, who was released on a $250,000 bond after appearing in federal court in Alexandria, Va., on Monday, was a leader of the team that captured Abu Zubaydah, and he came to public attention in late 2007 when he gave an interview to ABC News portraying the suffocation technique called waterboarding as torture, but calling it necessary. (It later emerged that he significantly understated the C.I.A.'s use of the technique.) His lawyer did not return a call for comment on Monday.

The prosecution of Mr. Kiriakou is the sixth criminal case brought under President Obama against current or former government officials accused of providing classified information to the media, more such cases than all previous presidents combined. The crackdown, long sought by the C.I.A. and other agencies, has won the administration some credit with security officials angered by the president's earlier decision to release classified legal opinions on the agency's interrogation program…..

Mr. Obama entered office pledging unprecedented transparency for government operations, and his record has drawn fire from civil libertarians and groups supporting whistle-blowers and press freedoms.

Mr. Obama's word is not worth much. From our February issue, more from Jacob Sullum on Obama's lies of openness.

NEXT: For Your Consideration...Meet This Year's Oscar Contenders

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. Mr. Obama entered office pledging unprecedented transparency for government operations, and his record has drawn fire from civil libertarians and groups supporting whistle-blowers and press freedoms.

    Who will, undoubtedly, still vote for him in 2012.

    1. it’s a pleabargin: vote for Obama and he won’t indefinitely detain your ass.

    2. #hope & #change via military style detention

    3. It’s becoming increasingly transparent how Obama’s executive branch operates, and he certainly gives an unprecedented level of protection to whistleblowers — it’s just that he didn’t specify that it would be an unprecedently LOW level of protection …

      So, depending on how Obama worded those promises using weasel words, he might have been telling the truth for once. =P

  2. Wonder if Greenwald or others will ever realize that their calls for prosecuting Scooter Libby over leaking classified information would inevitably lead to reinvigorating Espionage Act prosecutions for leaking things that they thought should be leaked.

    Leak prosecutions were nearly a dead letter before Scooter Libby. But no, Greenwald and others thought that the government could somehow be trusted to only prosecute the bad leaks, not the good leaks. Instead of it obviously being the other way around.

    1. ^^This^^

    2. of course not. GG will continue to distinguish ad nauseum between Libby’s leak that embarrassed an administration critic and leaks that embarrass the administration.

      1. Oh, I can see how they can be distinguished. I just don’t see how you can trust the executive branch to make the correct call. I guess that maybe you could get an Administration to make the previous Other Team one look bad, but the Executive Branch civil service has a lot of continuity and shared interest.

        1. Totally agree. And one day so will GG.

  3. I have more important news: Get your very own limited edition Ron Paul action figure now!

    1. Is that a little rolled-up Constitution in his hand? Looks like he is ready to beat the crap out of someone with it.

      I’m ordering 2.

        1. “I have secret clown business that superceeds any need you have for this thread!”

    2. Does it come with its own, genuine crazy-uncle attic with live action bats-in-the-belfrey?

    3. Too bad you can only pay for it with gold or silver bullion.

    4. comes with realistic ill-fitting suit action!

  4. They should sue him for breach of contract. (Whichever “him” you want.)

    1. Anyone in the CIA or military with a security clearance knows that prosecution is the probable outcome of leaking classified information.

      1. Well, they know now. Prior to the Scooter Libby imbroglio, the probable outcome was a bunch of finger-shaking, replies that “everybody does it,” and remarks from DoJ that it was just too hard to stop.

        The CIA has been, as the Charlie Savage article notes, pushing for years for prosecutions to be the “probable outcome.” Fools who hated Scooter Libby, Cheney, and GWB more than they loved civil liberties (just as they hate Rand Paul more than they love civil liberties re: the TSA) helped put an end that state of affairs.

        1. Clayton Lonetree and John Anthony Walker were the examples being used when I went through training. Lonetree got 9 years in Leavenworth. Walker is serving 365 years.

  5. February 4 is the “National Day of Action” aimed at preventing a war against Iran. Please, we all must act regardless of how you describe yourself politically we must work together to stop another bloody pointless war. The Black Out day against ACTA and SOPA showed that working together across the political spectrum can accomplish things. Lets try it again to stop a war on February 4.

    1. If you oppose war with Iran, you must obviously be teh gay.

    2. what war? we’re gonna hit those nuke sites w deep penetrators from release points outside iran’s borders then finish-off anything of concern w killbots.

      1. So said George W. Bush about Iraq.

  6. “But after he was briefed on the depth and breadth of the threats against us, he had no choice! He only muzzles us because he loves us.”

  7. Mr. Obama’s word is not worth much.

    Some of us recognized this long before he took office.

    1. ^^THIS^^

  8. I’m no Obama fan, but it is not reasonable to equate “Increased Transparency” (which I never believed would be delivered) with Declassification.

    Leaking classified information is an actual crime. I doubt Kiriakou can claim whistleblower protection.

    1. Classifying documents is an easy way to avoid transparency. It’s an other dodge for bureaucrats to avoid responsibility.

      1. Bullshit. We are talking about the interrogation of captured high-level AQ operatives – not Presidential chats with Solyndra executives.

        1. And why should that be classified exactly?

          1. 1. Foreknowledge of interrogation methods could destroy their effectiveness.

            2. Disbursement of information could destroy the ability to act on it – names, places, etc…

            3. When you join the CIA or military, you sign a CONTACT swearing not to divulge classified material. During training, the penalties for doing so are explained in detail.

            1. 1. Maybe, rather flimsy though since discussion of interrogation techniques occurs all over the place. And considering their track record, I think it’s reasonable to try and hold the CIA accountable for potentially torturous and/or illegal interrogations.

              2. Sure, the actual information learned in interrogations can and should (usually) be classified.

              3. Completely irrelevant to the question of whether something should be classified or not.

              1. So you want a CIA in which every individual agent decides if something should be classified or handed over to a reporter?

                1. No, they should simply be subject to FOIA requests without being redacted. I don’t know where you got the individual agents and reporters thing, but please don’t ascribe the positions of the little men in your head to me.

                  1. You don’t know where I got the individual agents and reporters thing? That’s what happened in this case that you think shouldn’t be prosecuted.

                    1. Jesus Christ, I was just joking about the little men in your head thing. I haven’t said a single thing about the prosecution of this case.

            2. 3. is certainly correct. But that’s a far cry from your previous claim that such prosecution was the “probable outcome.” Until recently, it was not the probable outcome. Not for leaks of factual information to the media.

  9. “Captain Darling?!” Funny name for a guy, isn’t it? [jumps off table and faces Darling] Last person I called “Darling” was pregnant 20 seconds later! Hear you couldn’t be bothered to help old Slackie here.

    1. If only our politicians, like dear old Blackadder, actually got more intelligent over time.

  10. They eat their own.

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.