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Why is Obama Going After AP So Hard?

Why is Obama Going After AP So Hard? May 18, 2013

The Obama administration has a terrible track record when it comes to pursuing whistleblowers and leakers, far worse than Bush ever had. But why are they going after the Associated Press so aggressively over the leak about the CIA operation in Yemen? No operational details were released and the AP even held off on the story and left some things out at the request of the administration, they weren’t being uncooperative when it comes to protecting national security secrets. Marc Armbinder suggests several reasons:

Why was this leak so bad, then? Why pursue these leakers so aggressively?

Because Brennan might have been implicated and may have spoken off the cuff or too hastily in his briefing, and because he was slated to be the president’s next CIA director (everyone assumed this in Washington but it hadn’t been confirmed), and because Congress demanded an investigation of this particular leak, and because (I’ll grant) the information released could well have been harmful, a perfect storm arose, and the Justice Department found it had the political backing to aggressive and unflinchingly pursue the leakers.

Marcy Wheeler notes that the two-month period in question would (potentially) allow the FBI access to phone records of AP intelligence reporter Kimberly Dozier when Dozier was reporting several new details about a change in the way the White House manages its counter-terrorism targeting process. Congress, too, demanded an investigation into these leaks, even though the facts in question were very far removed from operational details that could conceivably harm national security.

In that case, Congress was mad because it was not told before someone gave the information to Dozier. Brennan took over this targeting process at the time the U.S. started “signature strikes” in Yemen and the administration made a concerted effort to rebut allegations that the careful targeting processes employed the Defense Department had been gutted.

To protect Brennan? That makes it much worse to me. Brennan was the last person who should have been put in charge of the CIA, or been given his White House job in the first place. He was an advocate of the Bush torture regime. That fact alone should disqualify him from any job in the intelligence community forever.


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