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Entries in Leaks (8)

Friday
Jun072013

Wikileaks Redux? Intel Officials Fear More Leaks

Hemera/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- The Guardian appears to have obtained yet another “TOPSECRET/NOFORN” document.  This one is a Presidential Policy Directive on U.S. cyber operations and directs the President’s national security team to “identify a list of potential targets” for US cyber attacks.

But more significant than the document itself is the fact that was leaked – the third such TOPSECRET document to the same reporter, Glenn Greenwald, who received the leaks of the documents dealing with the FISA phone records and Operation PRISM.

There is concern in the intelligence community that these leaks may be the tip of the iceberg — that the administration is facing another WikiLeaks situation with an individual with access to lots of classified information and prepared to leak more.

One senior US intelligence official also notes that these leaks come just as the trial of Bradley Manning, the WikiLeaks leaker, has begun.

The source says: “I am guessing here but the Manning trial can’t be a pure coincidence.”

There is one important distinction between the “Secret” documents Bradley Manning is accused of leaking and the “TOPSECRET” documents that have been leaked to the Guardian.

On this latest leak regarding potential targets in a cyber war, National Security Council spokesperson Caitlin Hayden has already released a statement which seems to confirm the authenticity of the document by defending its contents:

“As we have already publicly acknowledged, last year the President signed a classified Presidential directive relating to cyber operations, updating a similar directive dating back to 2004. This step is part of the Administration’s focus on cybersecurity as a top priority. The cyber threat has evolved, and we have new experiences to take into account.

“This directive establishes principles and processes for the use of cyber operations so that cyber tools are integrated with the full array of national security tools we have at our disposal. It provides a whole-of-government approach consistent with the values that we promote domestically and internationally as we have previously articulated in the International Strategy for Cyberspace.

“This directive will establish principles and processes that can enable more effective planning, development, and use of our capabilities. It enables us to be flexible, while also exercising restraint in dealing with the threats we face. It continues to be our policy that we shall undertake the least action necessary to mitigate threats and that we will prioritize network defense and law enforcement as the preferred courses of action. The procedures outlined in this directive are consistent with the U.S. Constitution, including the President’s role as commander in chief, and other applicable law and policies.”

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Jul242012

Feinstein's Blaming White House for National Security Leaks Emerges as Campaign Issue

Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call(WASHINGTON) -- In remarks at the World Affairs Council, Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., the chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, expressed concern Monday about leaks of national security information coming, she's concluded, from the Obama administration, saying, “The White House has to understand that some of this is coming from its ranks. I don’t know specifically where, but I think they have to begin to understand that and do something about it.”

Referring to David Sanger’s book Confront and Conceal: Obama’s Secret Wars and Surprising Use of American Power, Feinstein said, “There’s one book they can read and they’ll see it very clearly. And I think that should be the case.”

Feinstein said that, “what the president actually knows about this is difficult because with respect to intelligence he is in a bubble. He has his daily brief, called the PDB, the President’s Daily Brief, early every morning. And so he gets briefing from intelligence I don’t believe for a moment that he goes out and talks about it, I don’t believe the briefers go out and talk about it, but who knows who else? And I think that the importance of this has to be really set by the president himself. And hopefully he will do it, and I think he’ll most likely read the book and see it himself.”

Asked for more detail about the senator’s comments, a Feinstein aide says that when she said the leaks were “coming from its ranks,” the senator was referring to the Obama administration -- the federal government -- in general, not specifically individuals in the White House. The aide also claimed that the senator does not know who the leakers were; she was assuming.

Critics have accused the Obama administration of leaking information on such secret operations for political gain.

Presumptive GOP nominee Mitt Romney on Tuesday made much of her remarks -- and the leak issue in general -- Tuesday in his speech to the VFW.

“After secret operational details of the bin Laden raid were given to reporters, Secretary Gates walked into the West Wing and told the Obama team to ‘shut up,’” Romney said, also referring to a passage in Sanger’s book. “And he added a colorful…word for emphasis.”

Said Romney Tuesday, “Lives of American servicemen and women are at stake. But astonishingly, the administration failed to change its ways. More top-secret operations were leaked, even some involving covert action going on in Iran. This isn’t a partisan issue; it’s a national security crisis. And yesterday, Democrat Senator Dianne Feinstein, Chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said, quote, ‘I think the White House has to understand that some of this is coming from their ranks.’ End of quote.”

Gov. Romney said, “This conduct is contemptible. It betrays our national interest. It compromises our men and women in the field. And it demands a full and prompt investigation by a special counsel, with explanation and consequence.”

Feinstein Tuesday issued a statement saying she was “disappointed by the statements made by Mr. Romney today regarding a question I was asked yesterday at the World Affairs Council. I was asked whether the White House might be responsible for recent national security leaks. I stated that I did not believe the president leaked classified information. I shouldn’t have speculated beyond that, because the fact of the matter is I don’t know the source of the leaks.”

Feinstein went on, saying, “I’m on record as being disturbed by these leaks, and I regret my remarks are being used to impugn President Obama or his commitment to protecting national security secrets. I know for a fact the president is extremely troubled by these leaks. His administration has moved aggressively to appoint two independent U.S. attorneys. There is an investigation under way, and it is moving forward quickly. I know we are in a campaign season, but I hope the investigation proceeds without political accusation or interference from anyone.”

Responded the Romney campaign’s Ryan Williams: “It looks like President Obama has given Dianne Feinstein the 'Cory Booker treatment,'" referring to the Newark New Jersey mayor who made critical statements of the president only to come under fire from Obama staffers and then apparently reverse his position. "Yesterday she was speaking candidly about the leaks originating from this White House," Williams said, "today, she was forced to walk it back. As Governor Romney said today, we need a leader who will take responsibility and immediately halt these security breaches before more American lives are put in danger.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Monday
Jun182012

Romney Calls for Special Prosecutor to Investigate Counterterrorism Leaks

Ethan Miller/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Mitt Romney joined a list of mostly Republican leaders Monday calling for a special independent prosecutor to investigate leaks about U.S. counterterrorism programs, saying sensitive information “should not be leaked in a way that puts American interests and our people in jeopardy.”

“I do think that a special prosecutor should look into them,” Romney told Fox News Channel’s Carl Cameron. “I think we should make every effort to understand how those matters that relate to the safety of our men and women in uniform around the world and to our foreign policy plans.”

The New York Times and Newsweek ran reports revealing a “kill list” of terrorist targets, as well as details about a cyber-warfare campaign against Iran and the U.S. drone program.

Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., has called for an independent investigation, as have other senators including Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., and Sen. Joseph Lieberman, I-Conn.

In Monday’s interview, Romney wouldn’t give any hints as to when he may pick a running mate.  And even though Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wisc., joined him on the campaign trail Monday, he would only say, “There are a number of terrific people in our party who could potentially serve as a vice president. We are going through that process now of making that decision, but I got no names for you.”

He wouldn’t confirm or deny reports that he may choose a running mate early, before the Republican convention, just saying it’s something “I’ll be deciding down the road.”

“I don’t know what the history is of all the people who have been selected and when they’ve been nominated or decided upon by the various candidates,” Romney said in Wisconsin. “No timetable for you now, but I’ll decide exactly when it is I’ll name my V.P. It could be at the convention, it could be earlier. Probably not much later than the convention, but I expect it will come when it comes.”

As he did Sunday on CBS News’ Face the Nation, the presumptive GOP nominee twice refused to say whether he would repeal the president’s order on immigration. Cameron asked why he wouldn't say if he would reverse it, as he does consistently with the president’s health care plan, Romney answered he favors a “long-term solution,” without going into detail. He did say it’s an issue he will start working on “as soon as I get elected” so he’s “ready to go immediately.”

“When we talk about illegal immigration I think I want to start by saying we got to secure the border, we’ve got to have an employment verification system,” Romney said. “And then with regards to these children who came in here brought by their parents who came here illegally, how we deal with this is something that I think deserves a long-term solution, and I don’t think we go jumping from one solution to the other. I think the president made a mistake by putting out there what he called a stopgap measure. I don’t think that’s the right way to go.”

President Obama announced Friday that illegal immigrants will no longer face the threat of deportation if they were brought to the U.S. before they turned 16, are younger than 30, have no criminal record and have graduated from high school or earned a G.E.D. It could affect 800,000 people in this country.

Romney called the president’s announcement “partly political” and said it wasn’t the role of “a nominee like myself go out and talk about short term answers.”

“I want to put in place a long-term solution to our illegal immigration challenges and make sure those people who have come here illegally understand what their status will be,” Romney said.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Jun122012

AG Holder and FBI Director Questioned in Leak Investigation

Official White House Photo by Pete Souza(WASHINGTON) -- In what seemed to be an unusual disclosure, Attorney General Eric Holder Tuesday testified that both he and FBI Director Robert Mueller have been interviewed by FBI agents conducting the leak investigation into disclosures of the recent al Qaeda bomb plot.

“In an abundance of caution -- I’ll just say this -- both the director and I have been already interviewed in connection with the knowledge that we had of those matters; at least of that matter,” Holder testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Agents from the Washington Field Office have been investigating the leaks about the averted attack.  The FBI is also investigating the source of the leak over who revealed that the individual at the center of the plot was a double agent working for Britain’s MI-6 secret intelligence service and the CIA, along with Saudi Arabian intelligence assets.

“I can also tell you that I have been interviewed already and I can tell you that that interview was not some kind of pro forma, ‘take it easy’ interview.  I mean, these were serious -- a serious interview that was done by some serious FBI agents. The same thing happened to the director of the FBI, as well, because we were people who had knowledge of these matters and we wanted to make sure that with regard to the investigation that it began with us,” Holder testified.

Holder was extensively questioned by Republican senators about why he had not appointed a special counsel to oversee the leak investigations into the bomb plot and the disclosures about President Obama ordering cyber attacks against Iran with the Stuxnet computer worm that appeared in an article in the New York Times by David Sanger. Last Friday Holder appointed Ron Machen, the U.S. attorney for the District of Colombia, and Rod Rosenstein to lead the criminal investigations.

“I think they are extremely serious,” Holder said about the damaging effect of the leaks, but he defended his appointment of the two U.S. attorneys to lead the cases.

“The two people I have appointed to look into these matters are first-rate prosecutors, who will do, I think, a great job. And as we look at the history of what U.S. attorneys, who have been appointed in these kinds of cases, I think we can feel a great deal of comfort,” Holder said.

Graham said it was a double standard that Holder has not appointed a special counsel yet when compared to the leak investigation of CIA Officer Valerie Plame, which focused on the Bush White House.

“Vice President Biden was on TV morning, noon and night, urging the Bush administration to appoint a special counsel in the Valerie Plame case,” Graham said.

“As attorney general, I am seized with the responsibility of looking at allegations, controversies and making the decision on the basis of what I think is best for a successful investigation and potential prosecution,” Holder said.

In the Plame case then Attorney General John Ashcroft recused himself from the investigation when it appeared the White House may be involved. Several months after the initial investigation began then Deputy Attorney General James Comey appointed U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald as special counsel.

Texas Republican Sen. John Cornyn, who had called for Holder’s resignation during the hearing, asked Holder if he was concerned that U.S. Attorney Ron Machen, who is heading up one of the criminal leak investigations, had made $4,600 in political donations to the Obama campaign in 2007 and 2008 before he was appointed U.S. attorney.

“Would it surprise you to know that he is a political contributor to President Obama’s campaign and indeed serves as a volunteer in ‘Obama for America,’ and assisted in the vetting of potential vice presidential candidates?” Cornyn asked.

“I am confident that he has the ability, the capacity to investigate this case in a non-partisan, independent, thorough and aggressive way,” Holder responded.

Following Holder’s hearing Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., introduced a resolution in the Senate calling for the appointment of a special counsel to investigate the string of recent national security and intelligence leaks.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Jun122012

McCain Introduces Senate Resolution Calling for Special Counsel to Investigate Leaks

ROSLAN RAHMAN/AFP/GettyImages(WASHINGTON) -- Keeping the drumbeat up, Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., introduced a resolution in the Senate Tuesday calling for the appointment of a special counsel to investigate the string of recent national security and intelligence leaks.

“I can’t think of any time that I have seen such breaches of ongoing national security programs as has been the case here,” McCain said from the Senate floor Tuesday. “The damage to our national security has been articulated by many both in and outside of the administration, including the most damaging that we have seen, including our director of national intelligence saying that it’s the worst that he’s seen in his 30 years of service.”

The non-binding resolution expresses the Sense of the Senate that Attorney General Eric Holder should appoint an outside special counsel to investigate the unauthorized disclosure of classified and sensitive information by administration officials.

Based on that information, the resolution states the president should assess whether any such unauthorized disclosures of classified and highly sensitive information damaged national security and how such damage can be mitigated.

Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., said that not only would this serve the country well but it would serve Attorney General Holder well too.

“We’re setting a precedent,” Graham said of the need to appoint a special prosecutor, “for us to say that we don’t need one here is a precedent that will haunt the country and this body and future White Houses in a way that I think is very disturbing.”

Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., says that he’s never been an advocate of the special counsel but he believes that this is a case where it is needed, given the magnitude of some of the leaks added all together.

Holder has assigned two U.S. attorneys to lead investigations of possible unauthorized disclosures of classified information. The White House has been insistent that there is “no need” for a special counsel.

“There is no need for a special counsel.  These things have consistently been investigated when that’s appropriate,” White House press secretary Jay Carney said Monday.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., dismissed the call for a special prosecutor as nothing more than a “strictly partisan, insincere attempt to embarrass the president,” and said the appointment of two U.S. attorneys is enough.

“Two of the finest prosecutors we have in the Justice Department are working on this as we speak,” Reid said. “It isn’t anything that anyone wants. Leaks happen. We don’t know where these leaks came from. That’s why taking a look at this is a good idea, and that’s what the attorney general agreed.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Jun072012

Congress Warns Intel Leaks Put ‘Lives at Risk’

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Top Democrats and Republicans Thursday demanded an end to leaks of classified intelligence because, they said, the leaks are putting lives at risk and jeopardizing future operations.

Thursday afternoon, the senior Democrats on the House and Senate intelligence committees joined together with Republicans to denounce a recent flood of national security leaks about U.S. covert actions in counterterrorism and espionage, and to announce their collective effort to investigate the recurring issue of classified information being disclosed in the media.

Earlier this week, the FBI has opened a leak investigation into the disclosures in the New York Times last week that President Obama ordered the intelligence community to speed up cyber attacks against Iran with the Stuxnet worm, according to federal law enforcement officials. In recent weeks, there have also been stories about the president’s “kill list” of al Qaeda drone targets and another about the double agent who helped the U.S. foil the latest attempted al Qaeda attack on a U.S. airline.

Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger, the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, called recent leaks “one of the most serious of breaches” that he has seen in 10 years sitting on the committee.

“It puts us at risk. It puts lives at risk,” said Ruppersberger, D-Md. “It hurts us in recruiting assets that give us intelligence information that will allow us to protect our citizens, to work through issues that are so important to the whole issue of peace throughout the world and how we protect our citizens throughout the world.”

Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., the chairwoman of the Senate Intelligence committee, echoed those concerns, warning that “leaks jeopardize American lives,” and have an adverse impact on intelligence employees in the field.

“We are not finger-pointing,” she said. “This has to stop. When people say they don’t want to work with the United States because they can’t trust us to keep a secret, it’s serious.”

Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Mich., the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, said there is “a clear need for a formal investigation,” with the investigative power to examine any office or department of the United States government “free of influence from those who conducted or reviewed the programs at issue.”

“It’s not just an isolated incident, and that’s what has brought us together. It seems to be a pattern that is growing worse and more frequent,” Rogers said. “The severity of the leaks are serious.”

Feinstein said that over the next month she will work with Sen. Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga., the vice chairman of the intelligence committee, to change language to the Senate authorization bill to shore up weaknesses exposed by the recent string of classified leaks. The House has already passed an intelligence authorization for financial year 2013, but the California senator said that any changes to the language will be written in close consultation with House intelligence leaders.

Some GOP senators, like Sens. John McCain, R-Ariz., and Lindsay Graham, R-S.C., believe the leaks are politically motivated to help President Obama’s reelection campaign. House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, told reporters Thursday morning that he is “concerned about the leaks,” but he would not opine on whether he believes the leaks were politically motivated.

“I’m not going apply any motives to this, but when we leak sensitive data, we disclose methods, we disclose activities that put our intelligence officials and our military in a more dangerous position. It should not happen,” Boehner said.

Still, Feinstein and Ruppersberger were reluctant to suggest that the leaks were politically motivated or could affect the election. Feinstein asked for “a little more time” to consider the merits of assigning a special prosecutor to scrutinize the leaks. She said one of the things she is considering is a possibility of giving inspectors general “more investigatory authority.”

“It’s clear that the security aspects of the existing agencies haven’t really done the job, and we need to find out why,” Feinstein said. “A special prosecutor can take years, we don’t have years. We need to legislate and we need to get some solutions.”

Aboard Air Force One Wednesday, White House press secretary Jay Carney said there were no orchestrated leaks by the White House -- and certainly not for political gain.

As Congress works to enact changes to prevent leaks from ever occurring in the first place, Ruppersberger suggested changing the culture of how classified material is shared in order to limit the number of people exposed to intelligence secrets.

“The first thing we have to do is we have to change the culture of anybody who works in the intelligence community, to educate them and let them know how serious these leaks are and the ramifications,” Ruppersberger said. “If you violate that policy, you’re going to be held accountable. That’s important.”

Earlier this week, McCain announced that the Senate Armed Service committee, on which he is the ranking member, will schedule hearings on the leaks sometime soon. McCain also first proposed appointing a special counsel to investigate what happened with each of the specific leaks and to potentially prosecute those responsible.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Jun052012

McCain Calls on White House to Plug Intelligence Leaks

Mark Wilson/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Describing the string of recent intelligence leaks to news outlets as “disturbing” and “simply unacceptable,” Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., accused the White House of putting the president’s ambitions for another term in the Oval Office ahead of national security.

“A really disturbing aspect of this is that one could draw the conclusion from reading these articles that it is an attempt to further the president’s political ambitions for the sake of his re-election at the expense of our national security,” McCain said on the Senate floor late Tuesday.

The Arizona senator was speaking about criticism the Obama administration has received for news reports in which they cite leaked classified or highly sensitive information. McCain suggested the leaks are coordinated and appear to be evidence of a “broader administration effort to paint a portrait of President Obama as a “strong leader” on national security issues.

McCain specifically pointed to the June 1 New York Times article on the president’s secret decision to accelerate cyber-attacks on Iran’s nuclear enrichment facilities with a computer virus, the May 29 New York Times article that divulged classified information regarding U.S. plans to expand the secret drone campaign against terrorists in Yemen and the Horn of Africa, and the article this week on the administration’s so-called “kill list” of counter-terrorism targets.

McCain announced that the Senate Armed Service Committee, on which he is the ranking member, will be holding hearings on the leaks sometime soon. The senator also proposed appointing a special counsel to investigate what happened with each of the specific leaks and potentially prosecute those responsible.

“I call on the president to take immediate and decisive action -- including the appointment of a special counsel to aggressively investigate the leak of any classified information on which the recent stories were based and, where appropriate, to prosecute those responsible.”

McCain said such leaks can undermine similar ongoing or future operations and compromises national security by informing our nation’s enemies.

“For this reason, regardless of how politically useful these leaks may be to the president, they have to stop,” McCain said, “I find that interesting considering that the only conceivable motive for such damaging and compromising leaks of classified information is that it makes the president look good.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Monday
May212012

Congressman Calls for FBI Probe of Al Qaeda Leaks

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Rep. Peter King, the chairman of the House committee on Homeland Security, wrote FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III on Monday to formally request that the bureau launch a comprehensive investigation into leaks of detailed and highly classified information about an international anti-terror operation involving al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula earlier this month.

In the letter to Mueller, King deduces that “the leak would have to have emanated from a small universe,” considering “this intelligence matter was handled in the most restricted manner.” In a breach of this magnitude, King demanded that the investigation “must encompass everyone who had access to this vital information.”

Last week, Mueller testified before Congress that the FBI is already investigating leaks to the news media about the recently disrupted plot by al Qaeda’s Yemen affiliate, also known as AQAP, to smuggle a bomb designed to be concealed in underwear onto a U.S. bound jet.

Reached by phone Monday, King told ABC News that Congress was left in the dark about the operation, which he called “almost unprecedented,” but he suggested that would help narrow the possibilities of who could have disclosed the classified information.

“Nobody in Congress knew about it, so we start off with that,” King, R-N.Y., told ABC News Monday morning. “Even the Speaker of the House [John Boehner] didn’t know about it. It’s almost unprecedented. Even with [Osama] bin Laden, my understanding is certain members of Congress were told about it months in advance, the killing of bin Laden, and I know the speaker is generally briefed on critical intelligence on a regular basis…but in this case no one was briefed.”

“I have no idea where it’s coming from,” he confessed. “It had to be somebody who knew the entire situation, and again it’s a very small universe.”

The leaks revealed that the CIA, along with Britain’s MI-6 secret intelligence service and Saudi Arabian intelligence assets, apparently used a double agent to disrupt the plot by infiltrating the organization, posing as a suicide bomber, and then delivering the bomb to intelligence agents instead of carrying the device onto a U.S.-bound plane.

In his letter Monday, King also requested that the scope of the FBI’s inquiry encompass “the Intelligence Community, the Department of Defense, the Department of Homeland Security, federal law enforcement and the White House, including the National Security staff.” He also asks the FBI to investigate whether the lives of “a unique intelligence source” and others may have been jeopardized, to examine whether the operation had to be aborted before its potential was maximized or whether critical intelligence relationships have been damaged as a result of the leaks.

“This [mole] was such a really unprecedented penetration – a very rare penetration of al Qaeda and al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula,” King said. “This really was criminal, and I use the term criminal, but this really was. To put the source at risk, to force the aborting of the operation, to preventing us getting more information than we would have gotten, but also to create real distress with partners that we were involved with in this operation.”

“Ultimately there could have been a way found to get him out…to create a situation where he doesn’t necessarily have to blow his cover,” he added. “Certainly the allies using him and others had not decided at all to admit that they had a source in there. You could have had cover stories, you could have had something done…there could have been ways to have extricated that person without giving up his identity.”

The FBI’s ongoing investigation is likely being run by the Justice Department’s counterespionage section and agents from the FBI’s Washington Field Office. The Office of the Director of National Intelligence is also conducting a separate review with the DNI’s general counsel to see if the leaks originated in any of the 16 agencies that DNI James Clapper oversees.

King said he is unlikely to schedule his own hearings at the Homeland Security committee, but he also sits on the Intelligence committee, where he predicted the first hearings could occur.

“[House Intelligence chairman Mike Rogers] is very concerned about this and because of the security level, because of the classifications, it’s right now I think more appropriate that the intelligence committee do it,” King said. “It’s right now I think more appropriate that the intelligence committee do it. I don’t want to be getting in their way, I don’t want to be duplicating hearings for the sake of duplication here.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio







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