Tag: Secrecy

Not a Surprise

The EU spent €360,000.00 on a study of the effects of piracy on sales of media, and found that there was no evidence of an effect, so they buried the report in a deep hole in Brussels until an MEP demanded its release:

One of the problems in the debate about the impact of unauthorized downloads on the copyright industry is the paucity of large-scale, rigorous data. That makes it easy for the industry to demand government policies that are not supported by any evidence they are needed or will work. In 2014, the European Commission tried to address that situation by putting out a tender for the following research:

to devise a viable methodology and to subsequently implement it in view of measuring the extent to which unauthorised online consumption of copyrighted materials (music, audiovisual, books and video games) displaces sales of online and offline legal content, gathering comparable systematic data on perceptions, and actual and potential behaviour of consumers in the EU.

The contract was awarded to Ecorys, a “research and consultancy company” based in the Netherlands that has written many similar reports in the past. The value of the contract was a princely €369,871 — over $400,000. Given that hefty figure, and the fact that this was public money, you might expect the European Commission to have published the results as soon as it received them, which was in May 2015. And yet strangely, it kept them to itself. In order to find out what happened to it, a Freedom of Information (FOI) request was submitted by the Pirate Party MEP, Julia Reda. It’s worth reading the to and fro of emails between Reda and the European Commission to get an idea of how unhelpful the latter were on this request. The European Commission has now released the report, with the risible claim that this move has nothing to do with Reda’s FOI request, and that it was about to publish it anyway.


The European Commission was quite happy to publish partial results that fitted with its agenda, but tried to bury most of its research that showed industry calls for legislation to “tackle” unauthorized downloads were superfluous because there was no evidence of harm. This is typical of the biased and one-sided approach taken by the European Commission in its copyright policy, shown most clearly in its dogged support for the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement — and of the tilted playing field that those striving for fair copyright laws must still contend with on a regular basis. Sadly, it’s too much to hope that the European Commission’s own evidence, gathered at considerable cost to EU taxpayers, will now lead it to take a more rational approach to copyright enforcement, and cause it to drop the harmful and demonstrably unnecessary upload filter it is currently pushing for.

The study actually showed that illegal downloads BOOSTED legal sales of games, books, and music.

You can see MEP Reda’s comments on this whole perfect storm hypocrisy here .

Least Surprising News of the Day

An intelligence evaluation of the Manning leaks has been leaked, and no real harm was caused:

In the seven years since WikiLeaks published the largest leak of classified documents in history, the federal government has said they caused enormous damage to national security.

But a secret, 107-page report, prepared by a Department of Defense task force and newly obtained by BuzzFeed News, tells a starkly different story: It says the disclosures were largely insignificant and did not cause any real harm to US interests.

Regarding the hundreds of thousands of Iraq-related military documents and State Department cables provided by the Army private Chelsea Manning, the report assessed “with high confidence that disclosure of the Iraq data set will have no direct personal impact on current and former U.S. leadership in Iraq.”

So, we’re talking about embarrassment, and little else.

Our culture of over-classification leads to poor decisions and generally stupid sh%$.

I’d really like to see the Swedish concept of Offentlighetsprincipen (openness) written into our constitution:

In the 18th century, after over 40 years of mixed experiences with parliamentarism, public access to public documents was one of the main issues with the Freedom of the Press Act of 1766. Although the novelty was put out of order 1772–1809, it has since remained central in the Swedish mindset, seen as a forceful means against corruption and government agencies’ unequal treatment of the citizens, increasing the perceived legitimacy of (local and central) government and politicians. The Principle of Public Access (Swedish: Offentlighetsprincipen), as the collection of rules are commonly referred to, provides that all information and documents created or received by a “public authority” (local or central government, and all publicly operated establishments) must be available to all members of the public. It also states that all public authorities must provide information promptly (skyndsamt) upon request. 

Secrecy makes the holders of secret information feel unjustifiably exceptional, which builds arrogance, which in turn leads to stupidity and insane plans, which in turn leads to disaster.

It’s a Greek tragedy writ unbelievably small.

The Incercept Just Failed OPSEC 101

The latest NSA leaker, the rather incongruously named Reality Winner, may have inadvertently been outed by a screw up by the online publication The Intercept:

Across the computer security world yesterday, heads were shaking.

The FBI filed a criminal complaint against Reality Winner, an NSA contractor, who the agency alleges stole classified documents and shared them with an “online news outlet” believed to be The Intercept. Because the documents in question appear to have been printed, some security experts have been wondering if a mysterious code used by some printers is to blame for Winner’s capture. That code is an almost-invisible grid of dots that some color printers ink into every document they print.

The complaint also details how agents say they tracked the leak back to Winner. The news org contacted the National Security Agency and said they were “in possession of what they believed to be a classified document.” The news organization then sent that document to the NSA, presumably for verification. “The U.S. Government Agency examined the document shared by the News Outlet and determined the pages of the intelligence reporting appeared to be folded and/or creased, suggesting they had been printed and hand-carried out of a secured space,” the complaint continues.

From there, the agents say that they simply looked to see who had printed the document—six people had—and then discovered that one of them, Winner, had been in contact with the media company in question from her work computer (although on an unrelated topic).

When FBI agents showed up at her house, they say she confessed to “removing the classified intelligence reporting from her office space, retaining it, and mailing it from Augusta, Georgia, to the News Outlet.” She faces up to 10 years in prison.

It’s clear that in releasing high resolution scans, The Intercept made it much easier for the authorities to identify the leaker.

This is a major f%$#-up.

FYI, a good primer on the printer tracking dots here. Basically, various law enforcement agencies, most notably the US Secret Service, have required these dots on color printers as an anti-counterfeiting measure.

This is F%$#ed Up

Various aspects of the US State security apparatus have been leaking so egregiously that the Manchester police has stopped sharing data with US agencies over the concert bombing:

Police investigating the Manchester Arena bomb attack have stopped sharing information with the US after leaks to the media.

UK officials were outraged when photos appearing to show debris from the attack appeared in the New York Times.

It came after the name of bomber Salman Abedi was leaked to US media just hours after the attack, which left 22 dead.

Theresa May said she would tell Donald Trump at a Nato meeting that shared intelligence “must remain secure”.


Greater Manchester Police hope to resume normal intelligence relationships – a two-way flow of information – soon but is currently “furious”, the BBC understands.

Its chief constable Ian Hopkins said the recent leak had caused “much distress for families that are already suffering terribly with their loss.”.

The force – which is leading the investigation on the ground – gives its information to National Counter-Terrorism, which then shares it across government and – because of the Five Eyes intelligence sharing agreement – with the US, Australia, Canada and New Zealand.


BBC security correspondent Gordon Corera says UK officials believe that US law enforcement rather than the White House is the likely culprit for the leaks.

The leaks do sound a lot like the FBI: The organization has a long tradition of grandstanding with the press.

And I would note that it has happened before, and it only seems when it’s the FBI that’s involved in the investigation:

Lord Blair, who was the head of the Metropolitan Police at the time of the bombings in London on 7 July 2005, said a similar leak had happened then.

“It’s a different world in which the US operate in terms of how they publish things and this is a very grievous breach but I’m afraid it’s the same as before,” he said.

This is why my money is on the leaker being in the FBI.

Oh Snap!

It appears that everyone’s favorite racist nut-job, Attorney General Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III, lied on his security clearance forms:

Attorney General Jeff Sessions did not reveal meetings with Russian officials when he applied for his security clearance to serve as the nation’s highest-ranking law enforcement official.

Sessions came under fire earlier this year for not disclosing to the Senate Judiciary Committee during his confirmation hearing that, as the senator from Alabama, he met twice with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak during the presidential election when he was also serving as an adviser to the president. In March, Sessions recused himself from investigations related to the 2016 presidential campaign after The Washington Post reported the two meetings.

That same information was omitted from Sessions’s security clearance form, which is known as an SF-86, as first reported Wednesday night by CNN.


The security clearance form requires anyone applying for a security clearance to list “any contact” that he or his family had with a foreign government or its representatives over the past seven years.

His spokesmen are claiming that the FBI told him that he didn’t have to list the contacts, which is not what the law says.

There does appear to be an exception for contacts at foreign conferences as a part of government business, but none of Sessions fall under that exception:


A legal expert who regularly assists officials in filling out the form disagrees with the Justice Department’s explanation, suggesting that Sessions should have disclosed the meetings.

“My interpretation is that a member of Congress would still have to reveal the appropriate foreign government contacts notwithstanding it was on official business,” said Mark Zaid, a Washington attorney who specializes in national security law.
Zaid added that in a similar circumstance he advised a member of Congress to list all foreign contacts — including those made during official US government business.

To obtain a security clearance, a federal official is not required to list the meetings if they were part of a foreign conference he or she attended while conducting government business. Sessions’ meetings, however, do not appear to be tied to foreign conferences.

Jeff Sessions has been a cancer on the American political scene for decades.

One hopes that he won’t weasel out of this.

This is the One Case Where the “Tricky Dick Defense” Actually Works

Everyone is having conniptions because Donald Trump had a discussions with Russian officials describing credible reports that he had received regarding of ISIS plans to use a laptop bomb to take down a plane.

This may be stupid, but it’s not illegal, because POTUS is the ultimate classification authority in the United States, which means that he can tell whoever he wants whatever secrets he wants, and it’s legal, “Because the President is doing it.”

This does not apply to the multitude of crimes that Richard Milhous Nixon actually committed, but it does apply here.

His decision to go into detail about this with the Russians is a matter of politics and policy, but there is no violation of the law here, though there would be if any other individual in the US did so without authorization.

The President can authorize any release of classified data that is not constrained by other laws (For example, if there were a release of medical data, he might be in violation of the HIPAA statute).*

That is the beginning and the end of the law here.

This does not mean that his discussion wasn’t f%$#ing stupid, it appears that the intel came from another nation, and his behavior would make other nations more reticent about intelligence sharing, but it is not illegal.

This is a tempest in a teapot over what is what I would call masturbatory intelligence outrage:

President Trump revealed highly classified information to the Russian foreign minister and ambassador in a White House meeting last week, according to current and former U.S. officials, who said Trump’s disclosures jeopardized a critical source of intelligence on the Islamic State.

The information the president relayed had been provided by a U.S. partner through an intelligence-sharing arrangement considered so sensitive that details have been withheld from allies and tightly restricted even within the U.S. government, officials said.

The partner had not given the United States permission to share the material with Russia, and officials said Trump’s decision to do so endangers cooperation from an ally that has access to the inner workings of the Islamic State. After Trump’s meeting, senior White House officials took steps to contain the damage, placing calls to the CIA and the National Security Agency.

“This is code-word information,” said a U.S. official familiar with the matter, using terminology that refers to one of the highest classification levels used by American spy agencies. Trump “revealed more information to the Russian ambassador than we have shared with our own allies.”


Trump went on to discuss aspects of the threat that the United States learned only through the espionage capabilities of a key partner. He did not reveal the specific intelligence-gathering method, but he described how the Islamic State was pursuing elements of a specific plot and how much harm such an attack could cause under varying circumstances. Most alarmingly, officials said, Trump revealed the city in the Islamic State’s territory where the U.S. intelligence partner detected the threat.

The Post is withholding most plot details, including the name of the city, at the urging of officials who warned that revealing them would jeopardize important intelligence capabilities.

“Everyone knows this stream is very sensitive, and the idea of sharing it at this level of granularity with the Russians is troubling,” said a former senior U.S. counterterrorism official who also worked closely with members of the Trump national security team. He and others spoke on the condition of anonymity, citing the sensitivity of the subject.

That “Former senior U.S. counterterrorism official who also worked closely with members of the Trump national security team?”

That would be former SecDef Bob Gates, the unofficial mascot of what Ben Rhodes calls “The Blob”, the interventionist foreign policy conventional wisdom, which is itching for some sort of war with Russia.

With all the damage that Trump and his Evil Minions are doing to our economy, our environment, and our civil rights, the hysteria of America’s always wrong foreign policy establishment should not be a primary concern.

*I love it when I get to go all Dr. McCoy!
My guess is that the source is Israel, simply because it sounds like the sort of thing that the Mossad would catch, but this is a completely uninformed guess.

Well, This is a Bit of a Riddle

Photos and video: USAF

Specifically, the USAF is operating the X-37 unmanned reusable space plane, and it just completed 2 years in orbit, which is kind of a long time for a technology demonstrator:

Top-secret military spaceplanes certainly know how to make an entrance.

The U.S. military’s X-37B, an uncrewed spacecraft that looks like a miniature version of the retired space shuttles, returned to Earth over the weekend after spending nearly two years in low-Earth orbit. It sent shockwaves rippling through the air as it entered the atmosphere over Florida, producing a sonic boom loud enough to jolt people awake across the state. The Air Force, which operates the X-37B, tweeted about its return minutes later, and soon posted a flurry of images and videos of the spaceplane online. “Our team has been preparing for this event for several years, and I am extremely proud to see our hard work and dedication culminate in today’s safe and successful landing of the X-37B,” said Brigadier General Wayne Monteith, the commander of the Air Force’s Space Wing.

To which many observers said, wait, what?

The news that the military had a space shuttle quietly orbiting Earth for more than 700 days came as a surprise to some. Why didn’t we know about this thing, the reaction seemed to go. The reaction illustrated the distinct line between the country’s civilian and military activities in space, and how much the general public knows about each. People know plenty about the civilian side—the missions to other planets, the SpaceX launches, astronauts’ cool Instagram pictures from the space station. But secret military spaceplanes? You usually need a sonic boom to hear about that.

What the hell was was this doing up there so long?

It would be simpler and cheaper to do performance testing on propulsion in a small non-returnable package.

The only thing that I can think it would be doing would be deploying and retrieving some sort of payload, but there should be no need for that:  Any surveillance data would be transmitted digitally these days, and if you were testing something like orbital targeting, it would be simpler, and less easily observed, if you simply deorbited the payload at the end of the test.

The only thing that would explain the duration of the mission is some sort of biological payload, but that would be something that NASA, and not the Air Force, should be doing.

Curiouser and curiouser.

Wisdom of the Day

In a discussion of the nature of leaks and leakers, a point is made that is not often made:

The deeper threat that leakers such as Manning and Snowden pose is more subtle than a direct assault on U.S. national security: they undermine Washington’s ability to act hypocritically and get away with it.

This is the truth not only of whistle-blowers, but many of our secrets:  It is about protecting us from the consequences of our own hypocrisy.

Live in Obedient Fear, Citizen!

It looks like Jeff Sessions will be seeking to press charges against Julian Assange, in a move that many are calling a direct assault on the practice of journalism:

In an unprecedented and dangerous move that threatens the press freedom rights of all journalists, the US Justice Department has indicated it is preparing to charge WikiLeaks with a crime and may attempt to arrest its founder Julian Assange. The charges may stem from the publication of US State Department cables in 2010 and their more recent of disclosure of CIA hacking tools.

Whether you like or dislike WikiLeaks – especially if you dislike them – it’s important to understand just how dangerous this potential prosecution is to the future of journalism in the United States. Newspapers publish classified information all the time, and any prosecution of WikiLeaks puts journalists of all stripes at risk of a similar fate. Even WikiLeaks’ harshest critics need to denounce this potential move as a grave threat to the first amendment.

People may not realize it, but not a week goes by without classified information on the front pages of the New York Times, Washington Post or Wall Street Journal. Without the right to publish secret information, as New York Times reporter Max Frankel put it more than 40 years ago in the landmark Pentagon Papers case: “There could be no adequate diplomatic, military and political reporting of the kind our people take for granted, either abroad or in Washington and there could be no mature system of communication between the government and the people.” 

This is a profoundly chilling prospect.  As Marcy “Emptywheel” Wheeler notes, “Jeff Sessions’ DOJ could pick and choose which publishers’ speech gets curtailed.”

This is a natural outgrowth of Barack Obama’s jihad against leakers, and it was a foreseeable development, but because he saw himself as a good person, he thought that everything was Ok.

Worst Constitutional law professor ever.

Something Useful from the C.I.A.

Among the various CIA documents Wikileaks has released recently is instructions for how covert operatives can handle aggressive screeners at airports.

I’ve not read the document in detail yet (it’s a PDF at the link), but it seems to me that it has some useful hints for travelers.

Unfortunately, it doesn’t say much about dealing with the increasingly out of control ICE & CPB agents in the US, but it is good general primer on how to avoid that body cavity search.

Wikileaks Explains Why the Internet of Things Sucks

Another document dump from Wikileaks, this revealing how the CIA hacks into PCs, phones, and smart televisions:

In what appears to be the largest leak of C.I.A documents in history, WikiLeaks released on Tuesday thousands of pages describing sophisticated software tools and techniques used by the agency to break into smartphones, computers and even Internet-connected televisions.

The documents amount to a detailed, highly technical catalog of tools. They include instructions for compromising a wide range of common computer tools for use in spying: the online calling service Skype; Wi-Fi networks; documents in PDF format; and even commercial antivirus programs of the kind used by millions of people to protect their computers.

A program called Wrecking Crew explains how to crash a targeted computer, and another tells how to steal passwords using the autocomplete function on Internet Explorer. Other programs were called CrunchyLimeSkies, ElderPiggy, AngerQuake and McNugget.

The document dump was the latest coup for the antisecrecy organization and a serious blow to the C.I.A., which uses its hacking abilities to carry out espionage against foreign targets.

The initial release, which WikiLeaks said was only the first installment in a larger collection of secret C.I.A. material, included 7,818 web pages with 943 attachments, many of them partly redacted by WikiLeaks editors to avoid disclosing the actual code for cyberweapons. The entire archive of C.I.A. material consists of several hundred million lines of computer code, the group claimed.

In one revelation that may especially trouble the tech world if confirmed, WikiLeaks said that the C.I.A. and allied intelligence services have managed to compromise both Apple and Android smartphones, allowing their officers to bypass the encryption on popular services such as Signal, WhatsApp and Telegram. According to WikiLeaks, government hackers can penetrate smartphones and collect “audio and message traffic before encryption is applied.”

If you are wondering why you are constantly hearing of some large organization being hacked, one reason is that our state security apparatus refuses to patch holes, because they use them to spy on the rest of us:


Some of the attacks are what are known as “zero days” — exploitation paths hackers can use that vendors are completely unaware of, giving the vendors no time — zero days — to fix their products. WikiLeaks said the documents indicate the CIA has violated commitments made by the Obama administration to disclose serious software vulnerabilities to vendors to improve the security of their products. The administration developed a system called the Vulnerabilities Equities Process to allow various government entities to help determine when it’s better for national security to disclose unpatched vulnerabilities and when it’s better to take advantage of them to hunt targets.

At least some civil liberties advocates agree with the WikiLeaks assessment. “Access Now condemns the stockpiling of vulnerabilities, calls for limits on government hacking and protections for human rights, and urges immediate reforms to the Vulnerabilities Equities Process,” Nathan White, senior legislative manager for digital rights group Access Now, wrote in response to the new leak in a press release.

Iterestingly enough, it appears that the hacking tools were not actually classified:


But Wikileaks also suggests that, because the CIA doesn’t classify its attack tools, it leaves them more vulnerable to theft.

In what is surely one of the most astounding intelligence own goals in living memory, the CIA structured its classification regime such that for the most market valuable part of “Vault 7” — the CIA’s weaponized malware (implants + zero days), Listening Posts (LP), and Command and Control (C2) systems — the agency has little legal recourse.

The CIA made these systems unclassified.

Why the CIA chose to make its cyberarsenal unclassified reveals how concepts developed for military use do not easily crossover to the ‘battlefield’ of cyber ‘war’.

To attack its targets, the CIA usually requires that its implants communicate with their control programs over the internet. If CIA implants, Command & Control and Listening Post software were classified, then CIA officers could be prosecuted or dismissed for violating rules that prohibit placing classified information onto the Internet. Consequently the CIA has secretly made most of its cyber spying/war code unclassified. The U.S. government is not able to assert copyright either, due to restrictions in the U.S. Constitution. This means that cyber ‘arms’ manufactures and computer hackers can freely “pirate” these ‘weapons’ if they are obtained. The CIA has primarily had to rely on obfuscation to protect its malware secrets.

This is why offensive cyber war is something to be avoided, because any weapon you devise becomes immediately available to the enemy to be deployed against you.

If you find a bug, it should get fixed, because if you can use, so can anyone else.

The Pentagon Acquisition System in a Nut Shell

The GAO wrote a report detailing the massive cost overrun for its over priced and under performing Littoral Combat Ship.

This information was promptly classified to prevent public disclosure:

The Pentagon office that reviews information to determine whether it’s classified has blocked publication of potentially embarrassing data on cost overruns for the first two vessels bought under the Navy’s primary Littoral Combat Ship contracts, according to a new congressional audit.

In a report examining Navy shipbuilding contracts, the U.S. Government Accountability Office deleted overrun information on two of the Littoral Combat Ships launched in late 2014 — the USS Milwaukee built by Lockheed Martin Corp. and the USS Jackson built by Austal Ltd. — at the request of the Defense Office of Prepublication and Security Review.

The GAO said the Defense Department “deemed the cost growth” on both vessels “to be sensitive but unclassified information, which is excluded from this public report. However, the percent difference” in cost for each ship “was above target cost.” Other types of ships were listed with specific data on cost increases that ranged from 4 percent to 45 percent.

“This seems to be an overly broad reading of competition-sensitive information,” said Mandy Smithberger, a director for the Project On Government Oversight’s military reform initiative. “Taxpayers are footing the bill for these overruns. They deserve to know the costs.”

We desperately need to get the military out of the business of defense acquisition, as the Swedes have with FMV.

Another Stopped Clock Moment from Trump

After years of litigation and stonewalling from the Obama administration, the Trump administration has handed over the full classified Senate torture report to a Federal Court:

Credit where credit is due: Trump has done more to preserve the full CIA Torture Report than Obama ever did. On his way out the door, the DOJ fought on his behalf in federal court, arguing against an order to deposit the full report with the court clerk for preservation in the ongoing trial of Abd al-Rahim Al-Nashiri, who has alleged he was waterboarded while detained by the CIA.


Maybe it’s oneupmanship or maybe the Trump’s legal counsel feels it has too much on its plate already, but as the New York Times’ Charlie Savage reports, Team Trump is handing over a full copy of the Torture Report to the court as requested.

[A]s the Obama era came to an end, two Federal District Court judges for the District of Columbia ordered the executive branch to provide a copy of the report to the court’s security officer, and today, on the deadline set by one of them, the Trump administration complied rather than appeal.

A one-page notice of compliance [PDF] was issued by the White House on February 10th.

Respondents are filing this notice to advise the Court that, in accordance with the orders entered in the above captioned cases on December 28, 2016, and January 23, 2017,2 on February 6, 2017, the Government deposited for the Court Information Security Officers (CISOs) for secure storage a complete and unredacted electronic copy of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence Committee Study of the CIA’s Detention and Interrogation Program (2014). Specifically, the Government deposited the electronic copy that had been previously delivered to the Department of Justice Office of Legislative Affairs.

My guess is that this is a case of doing the right thing for the wrong reason:  It is likely that Trump and  Evil Minions probably did this as a big “f%$# you” to Barack Obama.

Still, on this one issue, it does give the inverted traffic cone a leg up on the worst constitutional law professor ever.

Another John Carpenter Moment

Yesterday, I noted that after almost 35 years, I was finally more horrified and disgusted than Palmer was in the 1982 version of the movie The Thing.

Who knew that the mixture of horror and disgust at Betsy Devos would be exceeded in the next day.

Specifically Judith Miller tweeted her horror at the commutation of Chelsea Manning’s sentence:

Obama commutes sentence of Chelsea Manning. How many people died because of manning’ leak? https://t.co/WrijBtp4fo

— Judith Miller (@JMfreespeech) January 17, 2017

This engendered the following observation from Jason Concepcion:

don’t worry, no one can touch your high score https://t.co/2pzkm7dHEz

— ☕netw3rk (@netw3rk) January 17, 2017

For those of you who don’t recall, during the run-up to the invasion of Iraq, Judith Miller, then a New York Times reporter was desperately shilling for the Bush administration (Google Judith Miller Curveball) and was typing up anything and everything that she could find, without regard to classification to help them.

So, 4,424 US Soldiers dead, and around 500,000 Iraqis dead, because of her casual handling of classified material, and her even more casual handling of the truth, and suddenly, she’s concerned about the body counts.

Why she isn’t selling perfume one cash register over from Janet Cooke for a living is completely beyond me.

H/t Naked Capitalism.

I’m Cynical, so My Question is, “What’s Obama’s Vig?”

I gotta figure that the news that Barack Obama has commuted Chelsea Manning sentence is more about Barack Obama than it is about Chelsea Manning:

President Obama on Tuesday commuted all but four months of the remaining prison sentence of Chelsea Manning, the Army intelligence analyst convicted of a 2010 leak that revealed American military and diplomatic activities across the world, disrupted Mr. Obama’s administration and brought global prominence to WikiLeaks, the recipient of those disclosures.

The decision by Mr. Obama rescued Ms. Manning, who twice tried to kill herself last year, from an uncertain future as a transgender woman incarcerated at the men’s military prison at Fort Leavenworth, Kan. She has been jailed for nearly seven years, and her 35-year sentence was by far the longest punishment ever imposed in the United States for a leak conviction.

At the same time that Mr. Obama commuted the sentence of Ms. Manning, a low-ranking enlisted soldier at the time of her leaks, he also pardoned Gen. James E. Cartwright, the former vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff who pleaded guilty to lying about his conversations with reporters to F.B.I. agents investigating a leak of classified information about cyberattacks on Iran’s nuclear program.

The two acts of clemency were a remarkable final step for a president whose administration carried out an unprecedented criminal crackdown on leaks of government secrets. Depending on how they are counted, the Obama administration has prosecuted either nine or 10 such cases, more than were charged under all previous presidencies combined.

My guess is that this has something to do  Obama’s quest for legacy.

He does not want Manning’s suicide to be in his historical footnotes, and for the speaking circuit, he needs to get along with former military speakers, and he could not pardon Cartwright without commuting Manning.

It is completely out of character for Obama though.

Why Independent and Powerful Inspector Generals Are Essential to the Functioning of All Democracies, Part MMMMMMMDCCXXXIV

Blah, blah, blah!






Case in point, the US Air Force revoking a revoking clearance to retaliate against whistleblower:

It appears some Air Force brass wish their subordinates would fly a little farther under the radar, especially when airing their office’s dirty laundry.

In 2011, an Air Force whistleblower had his security clearance revoked after pestering his supervisor about fraud and waste within the agency, according to a Defense Department Inspector General report. The Inspector General’s investigation concluded in December that his supervisor retaliated against the civilian employee for disclosing the infractions.

The heavily redacted report, which MuckRock requested following on an announcement in the January newsletter of the Department of Defense Inspector General, found that the supervisor accused the whistleblower of being a mentally unstable drug abuser in addition to revoking his security clearance for the offense of reporting that colleagues were allowed to leave work hours early and lie on their time cards.

The Air Force civilian employee — referred to as “Complainant” throughout the heavily redacted report — began notifying his superiors of the timecard abuse in January 2010, according to the report.


Even though that complaint circumvented the Air Force chain of command, it was considered a protected communication under the Military Whistleblower Protection Act, which safeguards communications from service members reporting violations of laws or regulations.

But less than two weeks after the complainant went to the Inspector General, his supervisor — an Air Force lieutenant colonel, per the January newsletter — revoked access to classified information and areas.

Even though that complaint circumvented the Air Force chain of command, it was considered a protected communication under the Military Whistleblower Protection Act, which safeguards communications from service members reporting violations of laws or regulations.

But less than two weeks after the complainant went to the Inspector General, his supervisor — an Air Force lieutenant colonel, per the January newsletter — revoked access to classified information and areas.


A year the reprisal claim was filed, however, the Inspector General concluded that the supervisor “could not provide any evidence to support these allegations,” and that the clearance revocation was reprisal.

The IG investigation concluded by recommending that the Air Force restore the whistleblower’s clearance, as well as “Consider taking appropriate corrective action against [redacted supervisor’s name].”

This sort of behavior is typical of any sort of hierarchical institution, and it is why it is essential to have some sort of independent agency which can investigate allegations of wrongdoing.

The Washington Post just Became the Most Repulsive OP/ED Page in the US

When considering the fact that the Wall Street Journal‘s editorial page is a competitor, this is no small mark of ignominy, but since they just called for the prosecution of their own source in an Pulitzer Award winning study, they have clearly jumped the proverbial shark:

Three of the four media outlets that received and published large numbers of secret NSA documents provided by Edward Snowden — The Guardian, the New York Times, and The Intercept –– have called for the U.S. government to allow the NSA whistleblower to return to the U.S. with no charges. That’s the normal course for a news organization, which owes its sources duties of protection, and which — by virtue of accepting the source’s materials and then publishing them — implicitly declares the source’s information to be in the public interest.

But not the Washington Post. In the face of a growing ACLU and Amnesty-led campaign to secure a pardon for Snowden, timed to this weekend’s release of the Oliver Stone biopic “Snowden,” the Post editorial page today not only argued in opposition to a pardon, but explicitly demanded that Snowden — the paper’s own source — stand trial on espionage charges or, as a “second-best solution,” accept “a measure of criminal responsibility for his excesses and the U.S. government offers a measure of leniency.”

In doing so, the Washington Post has achieved an ignominious feat in U.S. media history: the first-ever paper to explicitly editorialize for the criminal prosecution of its own source — one on whose back the paper won and eagerly accepted a Pulitzer Prize for Public Service. But even more staggering than this act of journalistic treachery against the paper’s own source are the claims made to justify it.


The editorial page is separate from the news organization and does not speak for the latter; I seriously doubt the journalists or editors at the Post who worked on these news stories would agree with any of that editorial. But still, if the Post editorial page editors now want to denounce these revelations, and even call for the imprisonment of their paper’s own source on this ground, then they should at least have the courage to acknowledge that it was the Washington Post — not Edward Snowden — who made the editorial and institutional choice to expose those programs to the public. They might want to denounce their own paper and even possibly call for its prosecution for revealing top-secret programs they now are bizarrely claiming should never have been revealed to the public in the first place.

(emphasis mine)

Jeff Bezos: You didn’t hire him, but you can fire Fred Hiatt, editorial page editor of the Post, tomorrow.

He is a cancer on journalism.