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

David Petraeus, prosecuting leakers, whistleblowers, Black Books, Paula Broadwell, Espionage Act, John Kiriakou, Stephen Kim, Identities Protection Act, Wikileaks, Chelsea Manning

The former Army general and CIA director gave highly-classified journals to his onetime lover and lied to the FBI about it – but he only has to plead guilty to a single misdemeanor, with no jail time, thanks to a deal with prosecutors.

An average of 545 people killed by local and state law enforcement officers in the U.S. went uncounted in the country’s most authoritative crime statistics every year for almost a decade, according to a report released on Tuesday.

Black Lives Matter, #BlackLivesMatter, Black Panthers, Black Panther Party, Ferguson protests, Michael Brown, racial injustice, police killings, police violence, police brutality, Huey Newton, Bobby Seale, Fred Hampton

A half century ago, activists were demanding not only the recognition that black lives matter but also the right to black power.

recycled biofuel, Uptown Oil, Fatbergs, carbon emissions, clean burning fuel, biodiesel

Uptown Oil estimates London could produce around 50 million liters per year of recycled biodiesel, causing a major drop in greenhouse gas emissions. So why is government turning its head?

public banking, public banks, Bank of Canada

Canada’s privatization of public finance in the last 40 years has led to an unprecedented level of debt – now, a scrappy legal case for economic justice is seeking to reverse that.

public banking, public banks, Bank of North Dakota, Ellen Brown

New bedfellows are writing what may be the next chapter in the story of our democracy: a network of public banks to facilitate a lateral, collaborative distribution of affordable credit that challenges Wall Street's control.

Posted 3 days 16 hours ago

Occupy.com's New Original Series: Act Out! Premiers March 4th, Watch the Trailer Now!

Posted 3 days 15 hours ago
Charlie Hebdo, ISIS killings, LGBT threats

A human rights commission report warns that anyone believed to be LGBT under the Islamic State control is likely at imminent risk of death.

Posted 3 days 15 hours ago
Boris Nemtsov, Russia repression, Russia protests, Russian opposition movement, Alexei Navalny, Vladimir Putin

"If political views are punished this way, then this country simply has no future," Sergei Mitrokhin, an opposition leader, said of Nemtsov's murder.

Posted 3 days 15 hours ago

"Under The Dome," which relates a mother's concerns about the effect of the country’s filthy air on her child, has been compared to Rachel Carson's seminal work "Silent Spring."

Posted 2 days 12 hours ago
In-Q-Tel, intelligence outsourcing, Total Information Awareness, Palantir, Peter Thiel, surveillance programs, military-intelligence complex

Palantir – with its carefully honed image as a countercultural spy outfit committed to privacy in the pursuit of national security – is a monstrous government snoop, mining our most intimate data.

Forbes Billionaire List, Bill Gates, Carlos Slim, Warren Buffett, Mark Zuckerberg

The 29th annual guide to the globe’s richest found a record 1,826 billionaires with an aggregate net worth of $7.05 trillion – up from $6.4 trillion a year ago.

Protest against student loans is a good way to earn the first dividend in the proposed America Permanent Fund.

public banking, public banks, Bank of North Dakota, Ellen Brown

New bedfellows are writing what may be the next chapter in the story of our democracy: a network of public banks to facilitate a lateral, collaborative distribution of affordable credit that challenges Wall Street's control.

Stephen Harper, Bill C-51, constitutional erosions, constitutional rights, anti-terrorism legislation, tar sands, environmental protests

Bill C-51 represents a clear erosion of constitutional rights – if the bill becomes law, blocking a pipeline or organizing a protest without permission from authorities would be considered terrorism.

Sign Up