The Government Leakers Who Truly Endanger America Will Never Face Prosecution

Search form

The Government Leakers Who Truly Endanger America Will Never Face Prosecution

The Government Leakers Who Truly Endanger America Will Never Face Prosecution
Mon, 10/7/2013 - by Robert Scheer
This article originally appeared on Truthdig

Secrecy is for the convenience of the state. To support military adventures and budgets, vast troves of U.S. government secrets are routinely released not by lone dissident whistle-blowers but rather skilled teams of government officials. They engage in coordinated propaganda campaigns designed to influence public opinion. They leak secrets compulsively to advance careers or justify wars and weapons programs, even when the material is far more threatening to national security than any revealed by Edward Snowden.

Remember the hoary accounts in the first week of August trumpeting a great intelligence coup warranting the closing of nearly two dozen U.S. embassies in anticipation of an al-Qaida attack? Advocates for the surveillance state jumped all over that one to support claims that NSA electronic interceptions revealed by Snowden were necessary, and that his whistle-blowing had weakened the nation’s security. Actually, the opposite is true.

The al-Qaida revelation, first reported August 2 by Eric Schmitt in The New York Times, came not from the classified information released by Snowden but rather from leaks deliberately provided by U.S. intelligence officials eager to show that the NSA electronic data-gathering program was necessary. A week ago Sunday, Schmitt co-wrote another Times article, similarly quoting American authorities, conceding that the officially condoned August leaks had caused more damage than any of the leaked information attributed to Snowden.

That’s because the government leak, which revealed that the United States had intercepted messages between two top al-Qaida leaders discussing a pending attack, resulted in a sharp decrease in their use of the communications channel that was being monitored by U.S. authorities, leaving the U.S. officials to try to find new avenues of surveillance.

According to the story,

“As the nation’s spy agencies assess the fallout from disclosures about their surveillance programs, some government analysts and senior officials have made a startling finding: the impact of a leaked terrorist plot by al Qaeda in August has caused more immediate damage to American counterterrorism efforts than the thousands of classified documents disclosed by Edward Snowden, the former National Security Agency contractor.”

Schmitt and his New York Times editors have stressed that the original Times story did not go as far as one in the McClatchy newspapers two days later, which identified the “senior operatives of al Qaeda,” as they were referenced in the Times story, as being the terrorist group’s reputed top leader, Ayman al-Zawahri, and Nasser al-Wuhayshi, who is said to head al-Qaida in Yemen. The Times, which was leaked those names, kept them out of the first story at the request of “senior American intelligence officials” but printed them when those officials granted permission after the McClatchy story appeared.

The Times and McClatchy stories, along with another on CNN, were based on the deliberate leaks of highly classified information intended to advance the case for extensive government data surveillance at a time when the NSA program was being widely criticized in the wake of Snowden’s revelations. U.S. officials, who were operating in an approved manner when they provided the pro-surveillance but still highly classified material, will not be prosecuted for violating the Espionage Act. Not so Snowden, whose revelation of the historically unprecedented intrusion into the private communications of American citizens as well as of foreigners who are supposed to be U.S allies, proved so embarrassing.

The material released by Snowden does not represent a threat to legitimate U.S. national security interests but rather reveals the arrogance of government power. As the Times cited Sunday in an example of the damage of Snowden’s disclosures: “Diplomatic ties have also been damaged, and among the results was the decision by Brazil’s president, Dilma Rousseff, to postpone a state visit to the United States in protest over revelations that the (NSA) agency spied on her, her top aides and Brazil’s largest company, the oil giant Petrobras.”

Embarrassing indeed! It mocks the claims of those in both political parties who are ever eager to justify the antics of the surveillance state, like Rep. C.A. “Dutch” Ruppersberger of Maryland, the leading Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, who told ABC’s “This Week” that the “NSA’s sole purpose is to get information intelligence to protect Americans from attack.” Or Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, quoted on CNN following its breathless report on the August intercept of an impending Yemen attack that never occurred. “Al Qaeda is on the rise in this part of the world and the NSA program is proving its worth yet again,” he said.

Rubbish. Al-Qaida is hardly on the rise anywhere in the world, with much of its leadership now dead and the remaining elements barely able to communicate. But until a more vigorous enemy turns up, the overblown terrorist enemy used to justify the vastly profitable surveillance state, with selective scary news leaks, is all the military-industrial complex has got.

Article Tabs

900 environmental activists have been killed in the past decade – but only 10 perpetrators were convicted, report says.

Social movements and electoral movements, which are imperative for nonviolent social change, should work together.

In state capitols from Maine to Oregon, environmental advocates are filing bills to identify and ban noxious chemicals, and industry groups are fighting back.

As many as 17,000 people will die directly as a result of their states refusing to expand Medicaid.

Life in tent encampments, vehicles, motels, and storage units - REAL CHANGE focuses on four men who sell Real Change News, a street newspaper in Seattle. Follow ROBERT, GEORGE, DANIEL, and BUDDY as they navigate the less visible side of homelessness in America. Despite their struggles, they persevere. Each sells newspapers to get by.

A series of potential jurors voiced opposition to Occupy Wall Street as Cecily McMillan, 25, faces seven years in prison for assault.

Posted 6 days 7 hours ago

"Right now the future of Spain's youth looks pretty black. The country is not creating anything. With minimal job opportunities, many young people are going to other countries to find work.”

Posted 6 days 8 hours ago

The new 192-page book documents the activities of Occupy Austin and includes photographs of marches, arrests, assemblies, court trials, the camp itself and even law enforcement infiltration.

Posted 6 days 7 hours ago

New research finds that richest 0.1 percent of Americans have doubled their share of the pie, dramatically expanding their portion of the country's wealth in three decades.

Posted 6 days 7 hours ago

In All the Presidents' Bankers, Nomi Prins writes a painstakingly researched history of the financial industry's collusion with the White House to create a self-serving United States financial policy.

Posted 6 days 7 hours ago

If the story of a human future is not green, there is no future. If we can restructure our world along new understandings of ecology and economics, there is a chance we can salvage something.

Can America Follow Europe's Lead on a Financial Transaction Tax?

Eleven European countries have said yes to a financial transaction tax that will bring in 10 cents on every $100. If the U.S. instituted something similar, it would raise more than $100 billion a year.

The Politics of Indifference, Canadian-style

Whether they agree with the methods or goals of the Occupy Movement or not, Canadians are slowly becoming aware of how inequality is fragmenting and harming our society.

The TPP poses what many consider to be the biggest threat to global internet freedom in years.

The narrow window of opportunity that physics provides us makes me doubt that a third party will offer a fast enough answer to come to terms with our changing planet.

Sign Up