(WMR)—President Obama’s Nixonian assault on the press is rooted in the mistaken belief that leaks of “national security” information can do great harm to the country’s security. Therefore, Obama and his attorney general, Eric Holder, a former District of Columbia judge who was appointed by President Ronald Reagan and vetted by the ultra-conservative Federalist Society, have brought the government’s immense surveillance capabilities on reporters for The New York Times, the Associated Press, The Smoking Gun website, Fox News, and now, according to one of its Washington reporters, CBS News.
According to insiders at the National Security Agency, WMR has been the subject of a secret grand jury probe, a National Security Letter, and subpoenas for phone and email records to determine the identities of our sources inside NSA and other U.S. intelligence agencies.
It is clear that Obama is trying to implement in the United States a British-style Official Secrets Act. In Britain, the government can issue what is known as a “D-Notice” and prohibit the publication of any information the government deems “classified” or “sensitive.” British journalists who publish classified information and those who leak such information face jail terms if found guilty. Obama, knowing that President Bill Clinton vetoed such a provision during his administration and not wanting to inflame civil libertarians any more than he already has, is creating a de facto American Official Secrets Act and “D-Notice” system through executive fiat and using the powers granted to the Justice Department pursuant to the USAPATRIOT Act.
The draconian British system of censorship by prior restraint controls on the press has always been used, in part, to prevent British government officials from being embarrassed by revelations of incompetence or illegal or immoral acts.
In fact, Obama’s Executive Order 13526, issued on December 29, 2009, bans the classification of documents to “conceal violations of law, inefficiency, or administrative error” or “prevent embarrassment to a person, organization, or agency.” However, Obama is not following his own Executive Order. The FBI’s seizure of the phone records of Fox News’s James Rosen and those of his parents who live on Staten Island for a one-month period in 2009, as well as the phone records of at least five other Fox reporters, was to prevent the disclosure that sanctions applied against North Korea directly resulted in its plans to test fire missiles. That disclosure had nothing toi do with U.S. national security, merely that Washington’s fetish for trade sanctions were powerless against countries like North Korea. However, for the image-conscious White House, the revelation was embarrassing.
It was fear of embarrassment that caused Obama and Holder to bring six Espionage Act indictments against four current and former U.S. government employees and two contractors. Obama even pronounced one of those charged, Army Private First Class Bradley Manning guilty of releasing a quarter million State Department cables, before his military court-martial. Said to be the most damaging of the leaks, the cables were mostly the product of English translations of local gossipy tabloids, information derived from discussions at cocktail parties, luncheon receptions, and, undoubtedly trysts between American diplomats and foreign sources, and pure personal opinion of U.S. diplomatic personnel, including ambassadors who were both career foreign service and political appointees who received their positions because they or a spouse donated hundreds of thousands or millions of dollars to the winning presidential campaign. The only “sensitive sources and methods” that were divulged were that some foreign government officials often beat a path to the U.S. embassy to gossip about the inner workings of their governments. What they get in return for their gossip is anyone’s guess but it is guaranteed that it would be “embarrassing” to the foreign officials in question.
What makes Obama’s crackdown on the press so ridiculous is the fact that often U.S. “classified” information is derived from U.S. government employees, including intelligence agency officials, talking to the press or taking a published news article, adding to it, and classifying the edited and appended information “Secret” or even “Top Secret.”
In 1993, this editor compiled a table of foreign intelligence agencies and rated their abilities to hack into computer systems and networks. The table was published in the Journal of Intelligence and Counterintelligence, an academic-style and peer-reviewed periodical widely read by CIA officers. Later, I was told by a CIA source that I was being investigated by the CIA for obtaining and publishing a classified table prepared by the CIA. The table contained a list of foreign intelligence agencies and their hacking capabilities. The boys at Langley had copied my own table, perhaps adding a few tidbits, and reclassified it as Top Secret. The CIA not only plagiarized my original work but was confident that they could bring charges against me for publishing my own material! In the past, the CIA has done the very same thing with published reports in The New York Times and Washington Post.
My late friend John K. Cooley of ABC News routinely wrote about U.S. operations, especially in the Middle East, from his vantage point as The Christian Science Monitor’s correspondent in Beirut. Cooley was a vessel for exposing America’s hypocritical stance in the Middle East, especially with regard to Israel. And Cooley was relied upon by a number of U.S. intelligence officers in the region who leaked “classified” information to him in order to expose America’s one-sided policies in the region.
The following are some of the things Cooley exposed based on “leaks”:
- America’s problems in the Middle East were brought about largely by the 1950s policies of CIA director Allen Dulles, who had no problem with Israel widening its borders, subjugating the Palestinian people, and making the United States almost totally dependent on Saudi Arabian oil.
- Members of the Lyndon Johnson administration helped the Israelis prepare for the 1967 Israeli-Arab War in which Israel launched preemptive attacks on Egypt, Jordan, and Syria. The U.S. covert assistance to Israeli war planners was done without the knowledge of either Secretary of State Dean Rusk or Israeil Foreign Minister Abba Eban.
- A US Joint Chiefs of Staff directive calling for the destruction of Iran’s oil fields existed since the 1950s. The plan was developed in the event of a Soviet invasion of Iran.
- Then-Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Dayan ordered a deliberate attack on the USS Liberty, a National Security Agency intelligence-collection ship, off the Sinai coast during the June 1967 Israeli-Arab War. Thirty-four U.S. Navy and NSA personnel were killed. The attack was ordered because the ship intercepted Israeil communications that, in addition to seizing east Jerusalem, the West Bank, Gaza, the Golan Heights, and Sinai, Israeli troops were going to enter Cairo and overthrow and assassinate Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser. The Israeli plan exceeded the secret war planning agreement made between Israel and President Johnson. It was also the reason why Johnson wanted the Liberty incident buried and the ship sunk because the NSA intercept operators had proof of Johnson’s treasonous activities with his Israeli co-conspirators.
- It was the British government that scuttled a 1950s peace agreement between Nasser and Israel’s dovish Prime Minister Moshe Sharett. The British wanted to oust Nasser at all costs and eventually it succeeded in getting the CIA to back away from its early support for the Egyptian leader, a move that sent Nasser to the Soviets for military and political support.
Investigative reporter Jack Anderson routinely published information based on classified information leaks. Congressman Henry Gonzalez of Texas once remarked to his general counsel that there was a joke in Congress that when you read Anderson’s column in The Washington Post in the morning you had better be on the can in the men’s room. The counsel asked why. Gonzalez, replying with a laugh, said, “When you read what’s in there, you’ll shit.”
Take Anderson’s column in the Post on September 23, 1980, titled “CIA Conspired to Save a Terrorist.” Based on Top Secret CIA and State Department documents, Anderson revealed that notorious international terrorist Ilitch Ramirez Sanchez, also known as “Carlos the Jackal,” was a longtime CIA informant and asset.
Anderson revealed that, in late 1974, the six Latin American dictatorships that made up Operation Condor (Argentina, Chile, Bolivia, Paraguay, Uruguay, and Brazil) embarked on a plan that would result in the assassination of the Venezuelan-born Carlos in Paris. Carlos was later implicated by Condor in the assassination of Colonel Ramon Trabal, Uruguay’s military attaché in Paris, and the Bolivian ambassador to Paris Joaquin, Zenteno Anaya. Anderson, using top secret files leaked to him from CIA files, reported that the CIA contacted the French authorities about the planned hit on Carlos and France pressured the Condor nations to abort their planned assassination of the terrorist mastermind. An intelligence source hinted to Anderson that Carlos was working for the CIA. Carlos went on to help plan the 1976 hijacking of an Air France plane to Entebbe, Uganda, a plot that was later linked to the Mossad as a way of engendering sympathy among the French public for Israel.
Other examples of the U.S. government, particularly the CIA, classifying information to prevent embarrassment abound. After a half-century, the CIA continues to classify information relating to the assassination of President John F. Kennedy in Dallas. The information has nothing to do with U.S. national security but everything to do with showing that at least one former CIA director, as well as a U.S. president, FBI director, and Secret Service director were abject traitors to their country and deserved to be shot before a firing squad. Proving treason is perhaps the highest form of “embarrassment” for the subject of a newspaper article exposé. But harmful to national security and requiring a high security classification? Hardly.
Obama, a product of CIA education and training, is carrying out the dictates of his true masters at Langley. Never before has the CIA had a president who it owns and operates lock, stock, and barrel.
Previously published in the Wayne Madsen Report.
Copyright © 2013 WayneMadenReport.com
Wayne Madsen is a Washington, DC-based investigative journalist and nationally-distributed columnist. He is the editor and publisher of the Wayne Madsen Report (subscription required).