May 26 Radio: Expert Analyzes U.S. Leak Charges

By Andrew Kreig / Project Director

Former network news editor and CIA officer John Kelly analyzed on the May 26 edition of MTL Washington Update radio the White House prosecutions of suspected leakers within national security agencies. Under President Obama, the crackdown includes spy charges against former National Security Agency John Kelly(NSA) analyst Thomas Drake. Drake faces trial June 13 on charges of spying, lying to agents and obstructing justice after leaking secrets about government waste.

Kelly, left, questioned the public benefit of such all-out Justice Department prosecutions. He has decades of experience in such sensitive matters after working on cutting-edge stories as an NBC and CBS network news reporter and editor beginning in the 1960s, and then as a CIA officer during the Indochina war.Thomas Drake

The show I co-host with Scott Draughon was heard nationwide live at noon (EDT) May 26 on the My Technology Lawyer (MTL) radio network, and is currently available by archive. Click here to access.  Advisory: Mac listeners need “Parallels.” Listener questions are always welcome via (864) 685-7469 or email, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

During our opening overview of Washington-based news, I summarized our Project reporting last Friday, “June NSA Trial Looms As Obama DOJ Crusades Against Critics.” The story explores why the Justice Department is prosecuting Drake, right (photo by Steven DePolo) and a number of other internal critics at the NSA, CIA and DOJ. They complained internally about government waste and other misconduct. Some also leaked information to the news media. Drake says the federal charges stem from his efforts to combat massive waste in government procurement systems. On May 22, CBS 60 Minutes broadcast a report that helped increase the story’s national prominence.

Kelly stepped forward in the 1970s in on-the-record comments to syndicated columnist Jack Anderson decrying wasteful spending during the Viet Nam War that hurt both taxpayers and military personnel. He later returned to journalism, including Watergate coverage that brought him into contact with such confidential sources as Martha Mitchell, wife of former Attorney General John Mitchell. On the show, Kelly plans to discuss lessons from such controversies relevant to current prosecutions of leakers by the Obama administration. Kelly hopes also that insiders and the public alike replace the term “whistleblower” with a name that underscores that such actions are by “taxpayer friends” and “patriots.”

Kelly directs John Kelly & Associates Public Relations, a strategic consultant for businesses and non-profits. Previous employers have included NBC News, CBS News, the State of New York and the CIA. With experience including cutting-edge stories on the 1960 Kennedy Presidential campaign, he has reported exclusives about Cuban militants planning Castro's overthrow, Soviet espionage, Mafia crime, the Viet Nam War, and Watergate. He volunteers for several cultural and other civic organizations. These groups include the Justice Integrity Project, whose website lists details of Kelly’s career.

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Below are significant articles on legal reform and related political, security and media factors. The articles, including a strong representation from independent blogs and other media, contain a sample of news. See the full article by visiting the home page and clicking a link to the full article.

May 25

Bradley Manning Support Network, Recording of Press Call with Julian Assange, Daniel Ellsberg, etc. Bradley Manning Support Network, March 25, 2011. http://bradleymanning.org, MP3 Recording:  PFC Bradley Manning is accused of being the source of revelations leaked to Wikileaks, including diplomatic cables that many experts believe helped to catalyze democratic revolts across the Middle East. His supporters assert that the information g should have been in the public domain. Supporters discuss his situation on the eve of one-year anniversary of arrest, as pretrial approaches. Speakers on the recording: Daniel Ellsberg, retired defense analyst known for releasing the Pentagon Papers; Julian Assange, editor-in-chief of Wikileaks; Jesselyn Raddack, attorney and staff member of the Government Accountability Project; Ann Wright, Retired Lt. Colonel of the United States Army; Glenn Greenwald, investigative journalist and constitutional lawyer; Christina McKenna, activist arrested at Quantico in an action to support Bradley Manning; Kevin Zeese (moderator), attorney with the Bradley Manning Support Network.

Huffington Post, IRS To Take On Karl Rove? Tax Laws Could Take A Bite Out Of Secret Political Spending, Dan Froomkin, May 25, 2011. Top Republican political strategist Karl Rove's method of secretly funneling unlimited contributions from big donors was so hugely successful in the 2010 campaign that Democrats are now trying to copy it. But his model may yet end up backfiring spectacularly.

May 24

Washington Post /Associated Press, Feds subpoena Times reporter in CIA leak case; say journalists enjoy no privilege, May 24, 2011. Federal prosecutors issued a subpoena for a New York Times reporter demanding his testimony in the prosecution of a former CIA operations officer charged with illegally leaking classified information. In a court filing late Monday, prosecutors in the Eastern District of Virginia said the reporter, James Risen, can provide crucial testimony implicating the defendant, ex-CIA employee Jeffrey Sterling, of O’Fallon, Mo. But Risen has steadfastly refused to cooperate in the Sterling prosecution.

FireDogLake, Government Subpoenas James Risen for the Third Time, Emptywheel, May 24, 2011. The government appears to hope three time’s a charm. There’s a lot we can conclude from this filing – not least that the government seems to be abandoning the intent of the Attorney General guidelines on subpoenaing journalists (the guidelines are not mentioned once in the filing). But most of all, it seems we can conclude that the government doesn’t care so much that Sterling allegedly leaked this information –because they’re not charging the other CIA officers they appear to know leaked to Risen – but that Sterling was critical of the operation while he leaked the information.

Harper’s / No Comment, No Blood, No Foul, Scott Horton, May 24, 2011. In the period immediately following the publication in 2004 of photographs from Abu Ghraib, the Department of Defense pledged to fully investigate every allegation of prisoner mistreatment. By 2006, the department was asserting that it had opened some 842 inquiries or investigations. Joshua E.S. Phillips’s recent report for The Nation and PBS’s Need to Know suggests that the Rumsfeld Pentagon was keen to open a large number of investigative files on Abu Ghraib primarily to create the impression of diligence. President Obama furthered this illusion in 2009. The bulk of incidents were never actually investigated or acted on.

May 23

Wayne Madsen Report (WMR), 60 Minutes on NSA corruption and incompetence. Report follows WMR report by six years, May 23, 2011. (Subscription-only service here.) CBS "60 Minutes" reported on May 22 on former National Security Agency (NSA) official Thomas Drake's charges of high-level corruption and incompetence within the eavesdropping agency. WMR is re-publishing our report on NSA, which includes a reference to "Thinthread," the first-ever report in the media on this system.

WMR, NSA and selling the nation's prized secrets to contractors, Wayne Madsen, June 1, 2005.

In August 1, 2001, just five and a half weeks before the 911 attacks, NSA awarded Computer Sciences Corporation (CSC) a more than $2 billion, ten-year contract known as GROUNDBREAKER. The contract was never popular with NSA's career professionals. CSC had originally gained access to NSA through a "buy in" project called BREAKTHROUGH, a mere $20 million contract awarded in 1998 that permitted CSC to operate and maintain NSA computer systems. When General Michael V. Hayden took over as NSA Director in 1999, the floodgates for outside contractors were opened and a resulting deluge saw most of NSA's support personnel being converted to contractors working for GROUNDBREAKER's Eagle Alliance (nicknamed the "Evil Alliance" by NSA government personnel), a consortium led by CSC....

Thanks to some very patriotic and loyal Americans inside NSA, this author is now in possession of an internal NSA contract document from November 2002 that shows how GROUNDBREAKER and TRAILBLAZER have allowed the Eagle Alliance and other contractors to gain access to and even virtual control over some of the most sensitive systems within the U.S. intelligence community.

FireDogLake, Did Thomas Drake Include Privacy Concerns in His Complaints to DOD’s Inspector General? Emptywheel, May 23, 2011. The government argued that Drake couldn’t claim to be a whistleblower because, by 2007, the issues at hand were resolved. They’re arguing both that any whistleblower claims would be mooted because Turbulence, Trailblazer’s successor, integrated “significant portions” of ThinThread, and that the debate was “over” by 2007, when Drake was (according to the indictment) serving as a source for Baltimore Sun reporter Siobhan Gorman.

May 22

CBS 60 Minutes, The Espionage Act: Why Tom Drake was indicted: Former NSA whistleblower charged under Espionage Act talks to "60 Minutes" just weeks before his trial begins, Scott Pelley, May 22, 2011. Nearly two years before 9/11, America's largest intelligence agency had recordings of three of the al Qaeda hijackers plotting an attack. But the information, obtained by the National Security Agency, wasn't analyzed in a way that could uncover the plot. Inside the super-secret NSA, several analysts and managers believed the agency had a powerful tool that might have had a chance to head off 9/11. But it wasn't used. One of those agency insiders was Thomas Drake, who thought taxpayer money was being wasted on useless intelligence gathering projects while promising technology was ignored.