Thursday, April 15, 2010

Leaker Plugged? UPDATED

Via Ed Morrissey over at Hot Air, comes this WaPo story on what appears to be the identification and indictment of an NSA staffer who may have been a source of the leaks which enabled certain unnamed major news outlets (cough--NewYorkTimes--cough) to blow the cover of two successful tools for the monitoring of terrorist activities against the US. Quoth Ed:
The indictment doesn’t name the paper or identify the subject matter, but it also doesn’t appear too difficult to connect dots in this case.  The Times produced most of the original reporting on these secret programs, including the Terrorist Surveillance Program (TSP) that eventually got retroactive cover in a rewriting of FISA laws.  They also exposed the secret bank-tracking program Swift that turned out to be both completely legal and extraordinarily effective — before the Times blew its cover.
This is another one of those issues which, in even a reasonably sane political climate, should transcend partisan politics. This staffer was sworn to protect this Nation from all threats, both foreign and domestic. If he had a problem with the Administration's use of its Constitutionally delineated powers, then the course of action was to seek redress within the scope of his role as a defender of that Constitution. The fact that he (i.e., the leaker, whether or not this particular individual turns out to be guilty) felt that he was empowered to sabotage the mechanism of National Security by going to the fracking press with classified programs (leaving aside what I feel about the NYT for running the stories...might generate content warnings if I let myself go there) makes him an enemy of the state, an outlaw in the most literal sense. Similarly we as citizens need to look at this sort of behavior as wholly unacceptable, whether we agree with its motivations or not. It is yet another subversion of the processes of rule-of-law governance by arrogant individuals with a greater regard for their own feelings than for the consequences of their little tantrums on the safety of their fellow citizens.

Kudos to the Obama DOJ for going after this. I don't care what side of the political spectrum you live on; this kind of vindictive political vigilantism endangers us all, and constitutes the skinny end of a wedge toward anarchy.

UPDATE: Powerline's John Hinderaker appears to have read the article more closely than I, finding (in plain sight) that:

Unfortunately, Drake's leaks don't appear to be the ones that threatened national security. Rather, they put NSA's bureaucracy in an unflattering light:
Gorman's coverage of NSA often placed an unflattering focus on NSA administrators. An August 2006 story quoted intelligence officials as showing that the NSA eavesdropping facilities in Fort Meade were at risk of paralysis because of electrical overload and potential failure of the power supply.
Dang. Still, though far less critical than finding the wanker(s) who spilled the beans on the specific programs whose beans were spilled, this is nonetheless not entirely insignificant an indictment. Not only does this guy's alleged misbehavior violate the lawful processes by which such things ought to be handled, but it did reveal potential sources of vulnerability in the infrastructure which subtends our intelligence-gathering operations. One can easily imagine some inventive enemies were looking very carefully at ways to overtax certain electrical sub-grids...

Still a generous helping of just desserts, even if it's not the top banana split I would've liked.

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