The timing of government leaks is always suspicious. They’re used to turn media and thus public attention toward a more manageable scandal. However, the types of leaks we’ve been seeing seem to point to something more. They appear to be threats.
For example, what is the reason for recent leaks about the government illegally obtaining reporters’ phone records? As reported in slate.com:
The AP incident involved the DoJ obtaining two months of reporters’ phone records, which listed outgoing calls for the work and personal phone numbers of AP journalists and editors…
Typically, phone records obtained by the feds will show date, time, and duration of incoming and outgoing calls and/or text messages, according to the ACLU. While the data do not reveal the actual content of a call, they can be used to show a network of contacts and reveal relationships between people…
But obtaining phone records of journalists is an extreme course of action that has serious ramifications. There are special rules in place in the United States that authorities are supposed to adhere to when obtaining journalists’ communication records…Federal regulations instruct investigators that they can obtain journalists’ phone records only as a last resort, and the decision to seek the records should receive the “express authorization of the Attorney General.”
In recent years, however, the FBI has flagrantly disregarded these rules on multiple occasions. A scathing 2010 review by the DoJ’s inspector general criticized how the feds had spied on Washington Post and New York Times reporters in a leaks investigation carried out in 2004. The feds obtained 22 months of reporters’ phone records “without any legal process or Attorney General approval,”
The Washington Post reports that James Rosen, the chief Washington correspondent for Fox News, was subjected to intense government monitoring as part of an investigation into possible leaks of classified information about North Korea in 2009. The intrusion on Rosen was more severe than that of the AP reporters, whose phone call records were grabbed as part of a separate national security leaks investigation. According to court documents, two days’ worth of Rosen’s personal e-mails, documents, and attachments stored in a Gmail account were seized as were all his historic emails to a Yahoo account used by the alleged source, State Dept. security adviser Stephen Jin-Woo Kim. The feds obtained authorization to seize information showing Rosen’s communication with “any other source” related to the leak and also demanded Google turn over IP addresses and other metadata stored by the reporter’s Gmail account. In addition, investigators tracked Rosen’s movements to and from the State Department using security badge access records, and the timings of his calls with Jin-Woo Kim were traced…
The Post notes that a federal judge approved a search warrant to seize the content of Rosen’s private emails on the basis that there was “probable cause” that the journalist was a “co-conspirator.” Google was ordered not to disclose the existence of the warrant, and it is not clear whether the company lodged any legal objections. (A spokesman for Google had not responded for comment at the time of publication.)
Is the government threatening whistleblowers? It brings up the suspicious deaths of Vince Foster, Ron Brown, John Wheeler, and those are just the ones that immediately come to mind.
It’s interesting that, as the slate.com report mentions, phone records “can be used to show a network of contacts and reveal relationships between people.” Isn’t that what Facebook and Yahoo! Mail can also reveal? According to naturalnews, former NSA Technical Director William Binney
disclosed that the federal government is basically collecting whatever data it possibly can on every single American. This is made even easier, of course, by social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Foursquare, Path, and many others that actively monitor and track people’s every action.
“Domestically, they’re pulling together all the data about virtually every U.S. citizen in the country and assembling that information, building communities that you have relationships with, and knowledge about you; what your activities are; what you’re doing,” said Binney.
Why would the government want to do that? Is it because an individual might be brave in the face of government threats but not so much when the threat is against, say, a niece or nephew? Will an individual back off for a promise of, perhaps, an organ transplant for a friend’s terminally ill child? How about for a spot in one of the government’s underground bunkers?
Here is our Director of National Intelligence, James Clapper, testifying before Congress:
Poor guy. There have to be good reasons why normally honest folks would lie like this. Again, I think they’re threatened and I think that every suspicious death, every report about spying, and perhaps every manmade disaster is a general threat to those in the know. The leaks that the government is using technology to spy on us and the IRS to harass us are threats to anyone else who might be paying attention.
You can find the latest news about government spying in these reports posted on Blacklisted News:
See also my recent blog on Yahoo! Mail and my very long post on the Mormons (who, as masters of PR and secrecy, have a role in government spying). In that post, I mentioned that the NSA chose northern Utah as the site for its super spy warehouse. Here are a few photos of it from Real Clear Politics (there are more photos on their website):
Let me end with this, from slate.com:
It’s worth noting that the debacle [of the AP spy scandal] comes amid an unprecedented wider crackdown on leaks instigated by the Obama administration’s DoJ, which has so far prosecuted more whistleblowers under the Espionage Act than all previous administrations combined. The targeting of AP journalists’ phone records to reveal confidential sources, like the ongoing criminal investigation into WikiLeaks for its publishing work, will stand as another egregious example of disproportionate action taken by a government attempting to assert its authority over state secrets like a high school bully on steroids.