Most Transparent Administration in History Prosecuting More Leakers Than All Previous Presidents Combined

Government's clamping down on leaks even as politically expedient ones continue.


transparently something

Today's report from the New York Times about the FBI's ongoing  investigation into leaks about America's cyber attacks on Iranian computer systems, a foiled terror plot in Yemen, as well as the president's drone war "kill list" describes a chilling effect that's come as a result. From the Times:

"People are being cautious," said one intelligence official who, considering the circumstances, spoke on condition of anonymity. "We're not doing some of the routine things we usually do," he added, referring to briefings on American security efforts and subjects in the news.

And legislation is working its way through the Senate that would formalize a clampdown:

The legislation approved last week by the Senate Intelligence Committee would reduce to a handful the number of people at each agency permitted to speak to reporters on "background," or condition of anonymity; require notice to the Senate and House intelligence committees of authorized disclosures of intelligence information; and permit the government to strip the pension of an intelligence officer who illegally discloses classified information.

Stripping pensions is a big deal, given all the circumstances in which disgraced government employees get to keep theirs. Congressmen can do prison time and still collect princely benefits. BUT DON'T TALK TO THE PRESS.

Unless, of course, it makes the government look good. The Times again:

Senator John McCain, Republican of Arizona, suggested that the F.B.I. was foot-dragging and should zero in on high-level Obama administration officials.

Mr. McCain said he was "frankly puzzled" that investigators were taking so long, since the relevant articles and books cited "a relatively small number of senior officials."

Leaks about Operation Neptune Spear, the mission that killed Osama bin Laden, are not mentioned in the Times, and do not appear to be part of the FBI investigation.

Interestingly, the only senator to vote against the anti-leaks legislation on the Intelligence Committee is Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR), who has said that if Americans knew how the government was interpreting its already expansive surveillance powers they would be "stunned".

The main backer of the anti-leaks legislation is Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), who is pressing for prosecuting Julian Assange for the various government leaks disseminated by Wikileaks. As Glenn Greenwald and others have noted, there's not a substantive difference in what Wikileaks and the New York Times do, in so far as a free press is concerned.

A judge recently ruled that the government can continue to consider all State Department cables released by Wikileaks as classified. The president's first term has less than six months left to go, yet through most of it the White House acted as if its expansive and troubling intercontinental drone war was secret, even when the president himself talked about it.

All this would be bad enough without the president's promise to lead the most transparent administration in history. Worse, still, is its continued insistence that it is indeed committed to transparency. Somebody call the truth team

NEXT: Too Many Privately Educated Athletes?

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. Obama and Co. are just pissed off because the leaks make them look bad. They have no problems with leaks when it makes them look good, even when it jeopardizes important informants and other intelligence assets.

  2. Couldn’t find a picture with horns in the background instead of a halo?

    1. Courtesy White House

  3. I was thinking that the use of the word “clampdown” deserved a link to the Clash song on youtube. But then the comments on it were so depressing (including gems like “Free market drives you into the ground. Read Das Kapital and you will see why.”) I just closed the window up and said fuck it. I suppose I could have found a different link, but I was worried there’d be more of the stupid there.

  4. lol, Obamas answer to everything, throw a speech at it lol.

  5. As the administration clamps down harder, it is incresingly apparent now is the time to hold onto a good rifle and a stash of ammunition. It is only a matter of time before we go into full police state terror.

    As much as I don’t like Romney, does anybody think his administration would be any worse? I am sure Governor Johnson would be able to bring some transparancy and accountability to this clusterfuck of a government, but I am not optimistic about him getting any electoral votes.

  6. “Authorized” anonymous spokesmen? WTF? If you’re leaking on behalf of the government, you should damn well be on the record with your position, if not your name.

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.