‘Transparent’ Obama declares war on leakers

Demonstrators protest against the resignation of State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley over comments he made about U.S. Army Private Bradley Manning, who is accused of having handed hundreds of thousands of classified military and diplomatic documents to WikiLeaks. President Barack Obama has taken "unprecedented" aim at leakers who divulge classified information to journalists, critics say (AFP)

Elected on a promise of a more transparent government, President Barack Obama has taken “unprecedented” aim at leakers who divulge classified information to journalists, critics say.

“We’ve seen the current president bringing five prosecutions so far… against people for whistleblowing, for leaks of classified information,” said Daniel Ellsberg, famous for his 1971 leak of the “Pentagon Papers,” which helped turn the tide of public opinion against the Vietnam War.

“All previous presidents put together brought three prosecutions… We see a campaign here against whistleblowing that is highly unprecedented in legal terms.”

The White House declined to answer questions about its policy towards those who leak government secrets.

The five prosecutions include the case of US soldier Bradley Manning, who is accused of having handed hundreds of thousands of classified military and diplomatic documents to WikiLeaks.

Manning, 23, was arrested in June while deployed to Iraq, amid suspicions he was responsible for passing a trove of secret US government documents to the whistle-blowing website, many of which were then published around the world.

Earlier this month, the military unveiled 22 additional charges against Manning including “aiding the enemy”, which carries a potential death sentence, though the army said it would not seek capital punishment.

US investigators have failed so far to establish a direct link between the Manning and the website, which began publishing the documents last year.

Rights groups have criticized the conditions of Manning’s detention at a Marine base in Quantico, Virginia.

And earlier this month State Department spokesman PJ Crowley was forced to resign after publicly criticizing the “ridiculous, counterproductive and stupid” way in which he is being treated.

Another accused leaker facing possible prison time is Jeffrey Sterling, a former CIA operative accused of passing US secrets to the New York Times.

And Thomas Drake is said to have revealed the existence of the George W. Bush administration’s warrantless wiretapping program. His trial is set to begin in Baltimore next month.

Despite the barrage of prosecutions, experts say the government will have a heavy burden in proving its case under a 1917 espionage law.

“One of the statutes says that you have to give this information… ‘with the intent or reason to believe that this information is to be used to the injury of the US’,” said Andrew Contiguglia, an expert on constitutional law.

“In the situation that you have here, there are former CIA operatives, military operatives, taking the information and giving it off to press people, not spies,” he said.

“What makes us think that when we give information to the press, that info is going to be used to the injury of the US?”

He goes on to argue that the leaks are part of the American system.

“It’s important that in order to strenghten our democracy, we have to keep our government honest, and the only way to keep our government honest is to give access to that information,” he said.

Dan Marcus, a law professor at the American University in Washington, says it’s possible to read too much into the administration’s probes.

“All presidents and all national security branch officials worry about unauthorized leaks,” he said.

“There’s always been a great concern in the governments about leaks of damaging national security information, and I don’t think that’s changed dramatically from one administration to another.”

He added that there is a bit of a double standard at play.

“There is a certain amount of hypocrisy,” Marcus said.

“There are good reasons for the government trying to keep certain information secret (but) government officials often leak some information when they believe it is in the interest of the government to do so.”

Copyright © 2011 AFP

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11 Responses to "‘Transparent’ Obama declares war on leakers"

  1. Carl Nemo  March 23, 2011 at 2:45 pm

    Barack Obama the President is definitely not the man we witnessed on the campaign trail. He’s demonstrated in our face duplicity and treachery relative to his “change we can believe in” promises.

    His actions to date are that of a ‘judas goat’ leading a nation of sheep to slaughter, surely in a financial sense. Seemingly too he doesn’t ‘blink’ while doing so. Scary indeed…!

    Congress from both sides of the aisle needs to pull the financial funding plug so he can no longer wage war willy nilly anywhere and everywhere on planet earth just on the whim of his NSC and cotererie of faceless advisers. He and his predecessors have abused the vested power of being “Commander in Chief” of our armed forces.

    This entire contrived ‘war on terror’ needs to be wound down to the level international policing and not one of military enforcement. This ‘war’ is virtually devouring the financial resources of our nation. If not throttled back, it will soon be our total undoing relegating us prematurely to the ashbin of history.

    *****

    “Secrecy is the beginning of tryanny”… Robert Heinlein

    *****

    Carl Nemo **==

  2. NightWisp  March 23, 2011 at 4:19 pm

    The war on terror was an excuse to attack countries to seize their natural resources for the greedy corporations that run this country through the President and Congress Critters to the Supreme court. 9/11 was an inside job for many reasons. But when Silverstein said” pull it”, that gave the game away.

    Washington DC looks more and more like the third reich. Maybe they are Poppy’s Fourth Reich. Bought and paid for and coming after everything the world owns. But they forget.. Ea ( rth) Enki’s world. And he is here.

  3. Allen  March 23, 2011 at 8:44 pm

    The point folks seem glean over is that Private Bradley Manning is accused of TREASON. If the allegations are proven true, then he should be taken to the steps of the Lincoln Memorial with full media coverage, and be shot.

    I don’t care if he disagreed with the policies and politics, he was entrusted with classified material and (if the Army follows security protocol) he signed a non-disclosure agreement (NDA). What he is accused of is deadly- and it sickens me that a portion of our “society” regard him a a hero.

    He is an accused traitor and should (if found guilty of divulging classified material) be put to death- no I am not being dramatic and if he isn’t shot in a public square, it proves that we have acquiesced into a nation of weaklings that have no understanding of duty or honor. I don’t say that lightly- but it is imperative that people who are entrusted with classified material understand the grave responsibility that comes with it.

  4. Carl Nemo  March 24, 2011 at 1:50 pm

    Um…errrr Allen…? Hello…Allen….?!

    Seemingly you don’t feel the same about G.W. Bush, Dick Cheney, Douglas Feith and Paul Wolfowitz for sending this nation to war based on engineered, cooked intel concerning WMD’s.

    These men have the blood over over 4000 men and women of our armed forces and hundreds of thousands of innocent Iraqi citizens et al. on their hands including the deriviative spillover into Afghanistan. Now our seeming bloodlust at the highest levels of our now rogue government is raining terror from the skies on Libya which is engaged in a civil war, none of our business unless one believes in the concept of a “New World Order”.

    I’m going to take your comment as that coming from an agent provocateur; ie., agitator on behalf of the ‘regime’ or that of an very ignorant to uninformed entity that doesn’t have a clue as to what true patriotism and service to a righteous, nation might be.

    It scares me to think of how many millions of your type and mindset are circulating about in this rebirthed version of the reich; I.E., the New AmeriKan Empire.

    Carl Nemo **==

  5. Carl Nemo  March 24, 2011 at 1:58 pm

    “the blood over over 4000 men and women” …extract from post

    Should read:

    “the blood of over 4000 men and women”

    My apologies.

    Carl Nemo **==

  6. Allen  March 24, 2011 at 9:28 pm

    Carl,

    I don’t argue your point for a second, and they too should be held accountable. It may surprise you that we actually see things very similarly; my point is specifically about the actions of Private Manning and what he is accused of.

    I am not a provocateur; an agitator on behalf of the ‘regime’ or an ignorant to uninformed entity that doesn’t have a clue as to what true patriotism and service to a righteous, nation might be. I have served my country for over two decades in uniform including BOG in Iraq and, while I personally may disagree with many actions and policies our “leaders” present, I still have an obligation to my orders and what I took an oath to defend. I guess John Walker and Benedict Arnold were heroes too? Walker may have sought financial or personal gain, but their actions were the same. Some in Great Britain would argue that Arnold was a patriot; I guess it just depends on one’s perspective. At the end of the day, they both were traitors and betrayed their nations.

    My point is holding this person up as a hero is lunacy. If found guilty, he should be held accountable and I still say should be shot in a public square. I guess honor, integrity and being true to one’s word means something different to the more enlightened. To us simpletons, it is pretty cut-and-dry. He was entrusted with national secrets and swore an oath to serve; maintaining those secrets was part of his obligation. His elevation to cult hero only serves to weaken us farther and illustrates yet again why our culture and nation continue to degrade- we turn our backs on character and revere the weasels.

    I say that and vehemently believe that there are quite a few within the Beltway that should face the same charges… and the same penalty. This article illustrates that all too well IMHO.

    Sad part is we collectively have lost the ability (or the will) to hold individuals accountable for their actions.

    /r

    Allen

  7. griff  March 24, 2011 at 9:44 pm

    I can see your point. But I would say that you, as well as Manning, took an oath not to blindly follow orders, but to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic.

    A soldier also has the obligation to disobey orders he deems immoral. But there may be consequences to such disobedience. So you think that Manning lacks character when he fully understood that death could possibly be a consequence of his actions?

    I think one could argue that what our government does in the name of its citizens, under the guise of national security and national interests, is both immoral and unconstitutional.

  8. Allen  March 24, 2011 at 9:48 pm

    On a related point, don’t confuse me or other men in uniform for some sort of brainwashed drone that is “of your type and mindset [who] are circulating about in this rebirthed version of the reich; I.E., the New AmeriKan Empire”

    Your tone is smug and disrespectful and you seem quite quick to make judgments about my mindset.

    One of the reasons I still wear a uniform AND frequent CHB (and similar sites) it that I refuse to sit on the sidelines and whine and I refuse to sit back and just accept the garbage being spewed from the usual suspects.

    Carl, you just might be right to be scared but not of me or the millions of “my type”…

    /r

    Allen

  9. Allen  March 24, 2011 at 10:26 pm

    “But there may be consequences to such disobedience. So you think that Manning lacks character when he fully understood that death could possibly be a consequence of his actions?”

    That is precisely my point- consequences. I obviously have never met Pvt Manning, but I would suspect that he had no clue the full ramifications of his (alleged) actions and personally he has illustrated to me that he has no character.

    What I really am bothered by is that the lack of character is so incredibly pervasive today; from the highest of highs in our society to the “average Joe”. I know I may sound like everyone’s grandfather going on about society (those darn kids today!)- I’m just not so sure it is just because I’m getting older. I firmly believe it is out of control. Our “leaders” are role models, and for the wrong reasons.

    All I can do is raise my kids to hopefully do the right thing- when nobody is looking because it’s the right thing to do.

    I get even more perturbed when articles like the one above point out that our “leadership” (pick a side) will do nothing but ooze hypocrisy…

    /r

    Allen

    • Carl Nemo  March 24, 2011 at 11:00 pm

      Thanks Allen for your reply. Rest assured I was not being smug and disrespectful per se. In addition to content I also write for impact. In fact I write the way I would speak with you in person as far as thoughts etc.

      At this point we still don’t know much about Manning and his duties in the com center. It’s said that he was downloading the traffic on to a CD/DVR disk in some fashion including a laptop. The disks were marked music or something to that effect and was taking it in an out of the center/mobile van. Why Pvt Manning was never challenged by his immediate supervisor albeit civilian or military is beyond me. He’s in the center to do a job and if it’s secure as it should have been in Iraq where he was located at the time of the data theft, then somebody fell asleep at the wheel so to speak. Allegedly the highest classification of the thousands of stolen docs were Secret in nature. It doesn’t lessen the offense, but thank the gods he didn’t do a ‘Pollard’ on us.

      Worse yet with my knowledge of secure communications, why was this material being transmitted via a SIPRNet hub in plain text. Everything should have been heavily encrypted so without the key given to end users, no intermediate intercept point could have been read plain text rendering Manning’s hacking of the data useless. Sounds to me that there’s sloppy communication protocols being used by the State Department et el.

      ***
      “Manning had been assigned in October 2009 to a support battalion with the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division, based at Forward Operating Base Hammer, Iraq. There he had access to the Secret Internet Protocol Router Network (SIPRNet), used by the United States government to transmit classified information.” …extract from Wiki
      ***

      I’m retired USN 30 years and held a Top Secret Cryptographic clearance along with other SCI compartmentalized add-ons. Access to any file or information was on a need to know basis…period! No one and I mean no one just went into a vault then to a file cabinet and started to peruse records much less start taking snapshots with Minox unless they were a spy. No briefcases were allowed to be taken into the vaults, much less laptops in these times. You signed logs to enter and to clear the vault/s including file cabinet manifests as to the fact you went into a file etc.

      Nowadays in the pure data environment great quanities of sensitive to highly classified information can be stolen in the blink of an eye. I’m used to Marine guards at entryways to such centers and surveillance of such within if the classification warrants such. I retired in ’95′. Obviously this newer purely ‘professional military’ has changed alot especially with US Army personnel.

      I’m also beginning to believe the FBI and other agencies tasked to do security checks on individuals are “winging it” as many things in our times. There must be something in this youngsters background that would indicate he was a potential loose cannon on deck.

      The U.S Government had to suffer treason on behalf of Jonathan Pollard a Dept. Navy civilian who compromised the entire “Holy Bible of SIGINT” the NSA’s RASIN to Israel all for bucks and jewelry. Pollard’s doing life, but Israel is constantly working for his release and consider him a ‘hero’. Even John McCain is working for his release, yet McCain turned his on further searches for missing POW’s…say what! Is everything upside down or what in these times. I suggest readers fetch Pollard’s link and read up on how this whack job managed to steal so much data. Admiral Sumner Shapiro recommended his clearances be pulled and Pollard fired, but somehow the order fell through the cracks. I have suspicions how this happened, but I won’t air it on this site because it would sound anti-Semitic.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bradley_Manning

      In passing, I must inform you I’m no bleeding heart or a “softie”. Manning’s actions piss me off too, but the man? is entitled to a speedy trial along with the administration justice. Someone is covering their own arses on this one and it seems keeping him in the Marine “Red Line” brig at Quantico in closely confined solitary for so long is done with the intention of scrambling his brains to the point he’s useless concerning any of his testimony. In a way this debacle is the “Abu Ghraib” of secure military data communications.

      Thanks for your comments and sorry to be so intense and cranky towards your post. I just don’t like folks being shot, hanged or electrocuted without due process. In fact relative to Manning’s alleged ‘crimes against the state’ he’d be at the end of the lineup relative to those in high places that need similar justice for compromising the nuclear weps and delivery technology of this nation.

      Best regards,

      Carl Nemo **==

  10. Carl Nemo  March 25, 2011 at 12:34 am

    “McCain turned his on further searches for missing POW’s” …extract from post

    should read:

    “McCain turned his back on further searches for missing POW’s.

    Due to the fact it references Senator McCain it should be correct.

    My apologies.

    Carl Nemo **==

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