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Why is Obama Going After AP So Hard?

The Obama administration has a terrible track record when it comes to pursuing whistleblowers and leakers, far worse than Bush ever had. But why are they going after the Associated Press so aggressively over the leak about the CIA operation in Yemen? No operational details were released and the AP even held off on the story and left some things out at the request of the administration, they weren’t being uncooperative when it comes to protecting national security secrets. Marc Armbinder suggests several reasons:

Why was this leak so bad, then? Why pursue these leakers so aggressively?

Because Brennan might have been implicated and may have spoken off the cuff or too hastily in his briefing, and because he was slated to be the president’s next CIA director (everyone assumed this in Washington but it hadn’t been confirmed), and because Congress demanded an investigation of this particular leak, and because (I’ll grant) the information released could well have been harmful, a perfect storm arose, and the Justice Department found it had the political backing to aggressive and unflinchingly pursue the leakers.

Marcy Wheeler notes that the two-month period in question would (potentially) allow the FBI access to phone records of AP intelligence reporter Kimberly Dozier when Dozier was reporting several new details about a change in the way the White House manages its counter-terrorism targeting process. Congress, too, demanded an investigation into these leaks, even though the facts in question were very far removed from operational details that could conceivably harm national security.

In that case, Congress was mad because it was not told before someone gave the information to Dozier. Brennan took over this targeting process at the time the U.S. started “signature strikes” in Yemen and the administration made a concerted effort to rebut allegations that the careful targeting processes employed the Defense Department had been gutted.

To protect Brennan? That makes it much worse to me. Brennan was the last person who should have been put in charge of the CIA, or been given his White House job in the first place. He was an advocate of the Bush torture regime. That fact alone should disqualify him from any job in the intelligence community forever.

Comments

  1. deltmachinos says

    how we won the Jame Randi Paranormal Challenge…. as if anyone cares for your BABBLE…

    thenakedscientists.com/forum/index.php?topic=47814.0

  2. says

    Why does anyone think that the Obama admin is going after AP harder than anyone else in the press?? In the past, the FBI cheerfully broke the law to attempt to determine who was leaking out of the Nixon whitehouse. It was Nixon and Kissinger’s over-the-top psychotic reaction that made Hoover backpedal away from his existing taps on the press, which made Nixon hire a bunch of yutzes from the CIA – the rest is history. The FBI tapping the press is nothing new at all – given the FBI’s history of tapping the press any journalist should assume they are being tapped all the time.

  3. calebt says

    “Why does anyone think that the Obama admin is going after AP harder than anyone else in the press?? In the past, the FBI cheerfully broke the law to attempt to determine who was leaking out of the Nixon whitehouse. It was Nixon and Kissinger’s over-the-top psychotic reaction that made Hoover backpedal away from his existing taps on the press, which made Nixon hire a bunch of yutzes from the CIA – the rest is history. The FBI tapping the press is nothing new at all – given the FBI’s history of tapping the press any journalist should assume they are being tapped all the time.”

    I don’t know about Nixon, but I’ve heard evidence that Obama has been worse than the last three presidents combined in terms of prosecuting whistleblowers. And when you consider the hubris of the Clinton and W. Bush administrations, that’s a damning indictment of the Obama administration.

  4. Ichthyic says

    Why does anyone think that the Obama admin is going after AP harder than anyone else in the press??

    that’s a good question. Most of the outrage on this is indeed coming from the AP. requests for phone records is standard procedure when you are trying to track a suspect.

    really really.

    this is NOT an aggressive response to AP.

    And when you consider the hubris of the Clinton and W. Bush administrations, that’s a damning indictment of the Obama administration.

    I sincerely doubt anyone here has a good grasp of who and what has been pursued to what degree by any administration, ever.

    feel free to prove me wrong, but it certainly hasn’t been apparent in any of the posts on the subject I have read, here, or frankly anywhere.

  5. slc1 says

    Re Marcus Ranum @ #3

    That’s why Woodward, Bernstein, and Mark Felt used pay phones. Can’t do that today because pay phones have disappeared because of the ubiquity of cell phones. However, it is my information that throwaway prepaid cell phones purchased from the likes of 7/11 are just as hard to identify the callers.

  6. says

    it is my information that throwaway prepaid cell phones purchased from the likes of 7/11 are just as hard to identify the callers.

    Don’t bet your health or freedom on that theory. :(

    Disposables are valuable inventory and are closely tracked for purposes of pilferage prevention. Each phone can be traced the the point of sale and 7-11s have very good video surveillance. Also, they correlate phones – you’d be amazed how many people forget to turn their other cell phone off (or leave it home) when they buy their tosser. In fact, carrying a tosser is a threat indicator. You’re best off using email sent from a trojaned home computer accessed via rdp from a free internet service using a stock ipad that is not configured with itunes.

  7. says

    Felt’s tradecraft was very good – as you’d expect from a senior FBI officer who was planning to air out the CIA’s dirty laundry.

  8. says

    Like the other two scandals that the GOP has been “fluffing”* for the last two weeks or so, this one has no apparent basis in reality.

    Yahoo! was running a breathless header yesterday about the the Tea Party using this bullshit as a lever to increase their influence on the GOP and their cred with REAL MurKKKans. That former is doubtful, the latter, unnecessary.

    * Lest there be any confusion, I DO mean this in the exact same way as used by actors in porn movies.

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