The Bigger Story Behind the AP Spying Scandal

Attack on the Press

You know that the Department of Justice tapped scores of phone lines at the Associated Press.

You might have heard that the Attorney General of the United States isn’t sure how often reporters’ records are seized.

You might have learned that the Department of Justice is prosecuting a whistleblower regarding North Korea … as well as the chief Washington correspondent for Fox News who reported on what the whistleblower told him.  As the Washington Post notes:

[Department of Justice investigators] used security badge access records to track the reporter’s comings and goings from the State Department, according to a newly obtained court affidavit. They traced the timing of his calls with a State Department security adviser suspected of sharing the classified report. They obtained a search warrant for the reporter’s personal e-mails.

You might have read that the Department of Justice Inspector General published a new report today saying that former U.S. Attorney for Arizona Dennis Burke leaked a document intended to smear Operation Fast and Furious scandal whistleblower John Dodson, concluding:

We believe this misconduct to be particularly egregious because of Burke’s apparent effort to undermine the credibility of Dodson’s significant public disclosures about the failures in Operation Fast and Furious. We further believe that the seriousness of Burke’s actions are aggravated by the fact that they were taken within days after he told Deputy Attorney General Cole that he took responsibility for his office’s earlier unauthorized disclosure of a document to The New York Times, and after Cole put him on notice that such disclosures should not occur. Burke also knew at the time of his disclosure of the Dodson memorandum that he was under investigation by OPR for his conduct in connection with the earlier disclosure to The New York Times. As a high-level Department official, Burke knew his obligations to abide by Department policies and his duty to follow the instructions of the Deputy Attorney General, who was Burke’s immediate supervisor.

And you may even have caught ABC News’ report today that an armed minder trailed reporters … preventing them from being able to talk to whistleblowers:

As we traveled the public hallways of the building – watched over by security cameras – an armed uniformed police officer with the Federal Protective Service followed us. We were looking for a particular office—of someone who would not want to be seen talking to reporters–but chose to bypass it because of our official babysitter.

Asked why we were being escorted in a public building, the officer identified himself as Insp. Mike Finkelstein and said he was only trying to make sure that the newsmen were not a “nuisance.” He brushed aside further questions. The cop said a supervisor would call to explain.

One of the reporters wanted to know if the act of following the journalists was an effort intended to scare off any federal employee who might have considered speaking to the press. That’s sure what it looked like; and, even if that wasn’t the goal, it was the effect.

As of Friday night, no supervisor had called back.

After ABC News phoned and e-mailed the spokespeople in Washington repeatedly for more than 24 hours, a low-level staffer with Homeland Security finally responded. “After review by a supervisor, it was determined that the inspector acted according to proper security procedures and that no improper conduct occurred,” the spokesman said.

But there have been many similar scandals over the last couple of years.  For example:

  • The Bush White House worked hard to smear CIA officersbloggers and anyone else who criticized the Iraq war
  • After Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Chris Hedges, journalist Naomi Wolf, Pentagon Papers whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg and others sued the government to enjoin the NDAA’s allowance of the indefinite detention of Americans – the judge asked the government attorneys 5 times whether journalists like Hedges could be indefinitely detained simply for interviewing and then writing about bad guys. The government refused to promise that journalists like Hedges won’t be thrown in a dungeon for the rest of their lives without any right to talk to a judge

In an effort to protect Bank of America from the threatened Wikileaks expose of the bank’s wrongdoing, the Department of Justice told Bank of America to a hire a specific hardball-playing law firm to assemble a team to take down WikiLeaks (and see this).

Wikileaks’ head Julian Assange could face the death penalty for his heinous crime of leaking whistleblower information which make those in power uncomfortable … i.e. being a reporter.

But – whatever you think of Wikileaks – that was the canary in the coal mine in terms of going after reporters.  Specifically, former attorney general Mukasey said the U.S. should prosecute Assange because it’s “easier” than prosecuting the New York Times.

Subsequently, Congress considered a bill which would make even mainstream reporters liable for publishing leaked information.

Journalist and former constitutional lawyer Glenn Greenwald notes today:

The Washington Post’s Karen Tumulty [says that "The alternative to 'conspiring' with leakers to get information: Just writing what the government tells you."]

That, of course, is precisely the point of the unprecedented Obama war on whistleblowers and press freedoms: to ensure that the only information the public can get is information that the Obama administration wants it to have. That’s why Obama’s one-side games with secrecy – we’ll prolifically leak when it glorifies the president and severely punish all other kinds – is designed to construct the classic propaganda model. And it’s good to see journalists finally speaking out in genuine outrage and concern about all of this.

***

Here’s an amazing and revealing fact: after Richard Nixon lost the right to exercise prior restraint over the New York Times’ publication of the Pentagon Papers, he was desperate to punish and prosecute the responsible NYT reporter, Neil Sheehan. Thus, recounted the NYT’s lawyer at the time, James Goodale, Nixon concocted a theory:

“Nixon convened a grand jury to indict the New York Times and its reporter, Neil Sheehan, for conspiracy to commit espionage . . . .The government’s ‘conspiracy’ theory centered around how Sheehan got the Pentagon Papers in the first place. While Daniel Ellsberg had his own copy stored in his apartment in Cambridge, the government believed Ellsberg had given part of the papers to anti-war activists. It apparently theorized further that the activists had talked to Sheehan about publication in the Times, all of which it believed amounted to a conspiracy to violate the Espionage Act.”

As Goodale notes, this is exactly “the same charge Obama’s Justice Department is investigating Assange under today,” and it’s now exactly the same theory used to formally brand Fox’s James Rosen as a criminal in court.

Indeed, this is not a partisan issue.  Bush was worse than Nixon on unlawful spying and harassment of reporters … but so is Obama.

Whistleblower Witch Hunt

But Obama has gone after whistleblowers more viciously than Bush, Nixon, or any president in history.  Indeed, the Obama administration has prosecuted more whistleblowers than all other presidents combined.

And the government goes out of its way to smear whistleblowers and harass honest analysts.

Even high-level government employees are in danger. For example, after the head of the NSA’s spying program – William Binney – disclosed the fact that the U.S. was spying on everyone in the U.S. and storing the data forever, and that the U.S. was quickly becoming a totalitarian state, the Feds tried to scare him into shutting up:

[Numerous] FBI officers held a gun to Binney’s head as he stepped naked from the shower. He watched with his wife and youngest son as the FBI ransacked their home. Later Binney was separated from the rest of his family, and FBI officials pressured him to implicate one of the other complainants in criminal activity. During the raid, Binney attempted to report to FBI officials the crimes he had witnessed at NSA, in particular the NSA’s violation of the constitutional rights of all Americans. However, the FBI wasn’t interested in these disclosures. Instead, FBI officials seized Binney’s private computer, which to this day has not been returned despite the fact that he has not been charged with a crime.

Other NSA whistleblowers have also been subjected to armed raids and criminal prosecution.

After high-level CIA officer John Kiriakou blew the whistle on illegal CIA torture, the government prosecuted him for espionage.

Even the head of the CIA was targeted with extra-constitutional spying  and driven out of office.

The Most Gagged Person in the History of the United States

One example of the extreme gagging of whistleblowers is former FBI translator Sibel Edmonds.

The ACLU described Edmonds as:

The most gagged person in the history of the United States of America.

Edmonds has been deemed credible by the Department of Justice’s Inspector General, several senators (free subscription required), and a coalition of prominent conservative and liberal groups.

Edmonds’ allegations have been confirmed by numerous Pentagon, MI6 and FBI officials, including 18-year FBI counter-intelligence expert John Cole.

Famed Pentagon Papers whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg says that Edmonds possesses information “far more explosive than the Pentagon Papers”.

Ellsberg also said that the government has ordered the media not to cover 9/11:

Ellsberg seemed hardly surprised that today’s American mainstream broadcast media has so far failed to take [former FBI translator and 9/11 whistleblower Sibel] Edmonds up on her offer, despite the blockbuster nature of her allegations [which Ellsberg calls "far more explosive than the Pentagon Papers"].

As Edmonds has also alluded, Ellsberg pointed to the New York Times, who “sat on the NSA spying story for over a year” when they “could have put it out before the 2004 election, which might have changed the outcome.”

“There will be phone calls going out to the media saying ‘don’t even think of touching it, you will be prosecuted for violating national security,’” he told us.

* * *

“I am confident that there is conversation inside the Government as to ‘How do we deal with Sibel?’” contends Ellsberg. “The first line of defense is to ensure that she doesn’t get into the media. I think any outlet that thought of using her materials would go to to the government and they would be told ‘don’t touch this . . . .‘”

Indeed, the mainstream British newspaper the Sunday Times started publishing a series of articles exposing the scandal which Edmonds had uncovered.   But U.S. State Department pressure killed the series.

What are Edmonds’ allegations … that the media is too cowardly to report … that the most famous whistleblower in history calls “more explosive than the Pentagon Papers”?

Among other things, Edmonds says that the U.S. government worked with Bin Laden and his top lieutenant 3 months after 9/11 … as part of an ongoing operation of launching war under false pretenses.

Now that would be a big story if true, wouldn’t it?

The mainstream media is finally awakening to the fact we are flirting with tyranny … and is finally starting to push back.

The best defense is a strong offense, and it is use it or lose it time for the Constitution and Bill of Rights.

The press should shake of its sleepiness and start talking to the whistleblowers (like Edmonds)  it’s been ignoring for years … to find out what the government is working so hard to hide.

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  • PrissyPatriot®

    Nice article, well thought out and very disturbing-to say the least.

  • Jay R.

    The press screwed up years ago with 9/11 until they fix that they can go to hell. Quit playing games get the truth out.

  • HS

    This is likely the best summary of the US government’s descent into tyranny that I’ve read. You, my friend, have got a pair. Do us all a favor and avoid traveling in small aircraft in the near future.

  • mijj

    > The mainstream media is finally awakening to the fact we are flirting with tyranny … and is finallystarting to push back.

    yeh .. until bruised egos are soothed .. that’s what is getting the news media all hot and bothered. They’ve already shown they don’t care two hoots about exposing government crimes. A few blow jobs here and there and soothing tales of “No, really. You’re an important part of the government. We value your tremendous contribution.” And all will be back to the usual government servility.

  • gozounlimited

    Is this the most corrupt administration ever?

    A stunning 50% of Americans surveyed in an independent poll said yes President Obama should be impeached for the following:

    Fast And Furious (guns for drug lords, resulting in murder of Americans and Mexicans)

    Robosigning (over 100,000 perjured affidavits filed in court cases)

    IRS Tea Party and other group and individual abuse in direct violation of the law (politically-based harassment and now apparently-perjured testimony before Congress)

    Money Laundering for terrorists and drug lords (by multiple large banks)

    Intentional and unlawful destruction of property rights (GM bondholders screwed for political cronies in the UAW)

    Intentional and unlawful destruction of your saved wealth (QE, QE2, QE3, QEinfinity, $1 trillion+ deficits, etc; Treasury and Federal Reserve actions)

    Benghazi (apparent illegal arming of terrorists, then an attempt to reverse that leading to the attack on our CIA outpost and what appears to beintentional indifference and orders to stand down
    during the attack that had to come from the White House despite ability to respond; this amounts to conspiracy with the terrorists to kill Chris Stevens and the others who died.)

    Swindles by the billions in countless schemes during the 2000s related to securitizations and other hinky deals (where despite black letter legalrequirements for actual endorsement and delivery of documents banks simply did not comply and now argue there should be no penalty for not
    having done so, and that these defects are “mere procedural errors” despite intent to not comply.) The result is that our land title system no longer has any resemblance of integrity.

    Intentional destruction of anything approaching a “free market” for health care going back 30+ years andnow compounded through active conspiracy by Obama and all of the political parties to grant, protect and enforce through government monopolies and cost-shifting resulting in cost escalations of 500-1,000% or even more against market prices and now, with Obamacare, abuse of the IRS tax power to force another 100% or more increase in those expenses down your throat for the express purpose of enrichment of those in the medical industry.

    http://www.shtfplan.com/headline-news/high-crimes-half-of-americans-want-obama-impeached-including-democrats_05202013

  • Jeff Javik

    If Seibel Edmonds has been “gagged” why do we know what she said? No Bradley Manning treatment for her.

    • Jay R.

      Because sibel is not talking about buildings coming down in their foot print. Her story doesn’t cross the line of the terrorist were soley responsible for the buildings coming down. If I am wrong please tell me.

  • davol

    I just felt like mentioning that of the three scandals of today it’s the AP scandal that I can’t help but notice my TV news doesn’t want to talk about at all. The best my Sunday TV watching would do is mention it in passing while concentrating on the other two scandals. I think that means that this is the scandal with the teeth, and I say it serves Obummer right for being the 3rd and 4th terms of the Bush Administration. Who voted for that? At the same time I want to point out that these scandals are all over things legalized by Bush so there will be no Impeachment, but maybe we could make them crimes again. This is my old prophetic reaction to 9/11 coming home to roost. When you legalize the abuse of power you end up with abused power. Go figure?

 

 

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