Time to Investigate the Times

By

Clandestine secret spying against our enemies by agencies of the Executive Branch is hardly new. One of the most famous examples, of course, is the U—2 spy plane program authorized by President Eisenhower in the 50s. As Eisenhower explained at the time, "no one wants another Pearl Harbor." He felt it his duty to protect the nation regardless of legal technicalities.

The U—2 spying overflights of the USSR were revealed only when one of the pilots, Gary Powers, was shot down by the Soviets; otherwise, the missions would have continued in deep secrecy.

Since then, the 1970s saw a severe weakening of America's ability to collect and share intelligence among its various protective agencies such as the CIA, FBI, and DIA —— orchestrated Sen. Frank Church, who did immeasurable damage to our intelligence establishment and made the need to bend rules even greater than it had been under Eisenhower.

Now revelations of secret, although carefully selective, interceptions of suspicious emails and phone calls between persons in the US and terror—connected individuals overseas have been made, not by an accident as in the U—2 case, but by the deliberate leak from presumably disgruntled bureaucrats to the New York Times — a publication ever willing to print anything that will damage an administration (remember the Pentagon Papers) it doesn't like, regardless of the damage to national security.

In this case, the President made it clear in his address yesterday that:

the existence of this secret program was revealed in media reports after being improperly provided to news organizations. As a result, our enemies have learned information they should not have.

And the unauthorized disclosure of this effort damages our national security and puts our citizens at risk. Revealing classified information is illegal, alerts our enemies and endangers our country.

Obviously, classified information, harmful to the security of the United States and useful to its enemies, was illegally disclosed by one or more government employees. This is a serious matter, bordering on, if not actually constituting treason; and it is far more serious that the phony "outing" of a non—undercover publicity hound named Plame.

The President should immediately instruct the Justice Department to commence a full—scale investigation to determine who leaked this information, and see to it that those guilty are prosecuted to the full extent of applicable law. The investigation should be conducted Justice's regular investigative staff —— no "special" or "independent" prosecutors wanted or needed; and one of its primary and initial methods should be to subpoena management, editorial, and reportorial personnel at the New York Times under threat of jail time for contempt if they refuse to name the sources who provided this classified information to them.

Richard N. Weltz    12 18 05

Clandestine secret spying against our enemies by agencies of the Executive Branch is hardly new. One of the most famous examples, of course, is the U—2 spy plane program authorized by President Eisenhower in the 50s. As Eisenhower explained at the time, "no one wants another Pearl Harbor." He felt it his duty to protect the nation regardless of legal technicalities.

The U—2 spying overflights of the USSR were revealed only when one of the pilots, Gary Powers, was shot down by the Soviets; otherwise, the missions would have continued in deep secrecy.

Since then, the 1970s saw a severe weakening of America's ability to collect and share intelligence among its various protective agencies such as the CIA, FBI, and DIA —— orchestrated Sen. Frank Church, who did immeasurable damage to our intelligence establishment and made the need to bend rules even greater than it had been under Eisenhower.

Now revelations of secret, although carefully selective, interceptions of suspicious emails and phone calls between persons in the US and terror—connected individuals overseas have been made, not by an accident as in the U—2 case, but by the deliberate leak from presumably disgruntled bureaucrats to the New York Times — a publication ever willing to print anything that will damage an administration (remember the Pentagon Papers) it doesn't like, regardless of the damage to national security.

In this case, the President made it clear in his address yesterday that:

the existence of this secret program was revealed in media reports after being improperly provided to news organizations. As a result, our enemies have learned information they should not have.

And the unauthorized disclosure of this effort damages our national security and puts our citizens at risk. Revealing classified information is illegal, alerts our enemies and endangers our country.

Obviously, classified information, harmful to the security of the United States and useful to its enemies, was illegally disclosed by one or more government employees. This is a serious matter, bordering on, if not actually constituting treason; and it is far more serious that the phony "outing" of a non—undercover publicity hound named Plame.

The President should immediately instruct the Justice Department to commence a full—scale investigation to determine who leaked this information, and see to it that those guilty are prosecuted to the full extent of applicable law. The investigation should be conducted Justice's regular investigative staff —— no "special" or "independent" prosecutors wanted or needed; and one of its primary and initial methods should be to subpoena management, editorial, and reportorial personnel at the New York Times under threat of jail time for contempt if they refuse to name the sources who provided this classified information to them.

Richard N. Weltz    12 18 05