All the News That’s Not Fit to Print

Michael Roston asks an intriguing question: did the NYT refuse to print Shenon’s story about Rove’s back-channel communications with Philip Zelikow?

While some questions have been raised about the accuracy of Shenon’s report, there’s another matter that we need to address: why didn’t Shenon’s story run in the New York Times itself? Why was it saved for his book instead of run above the fold in America’s paper of record?

The Commission’s report came out in the Summer of 2004, and you’d have to think that some of this story about executive director Philip Zelikow’s dilution of the report would have been in Shenon’s hands sooner. It’s hard to imagine that he wouldn’t tell his Times’ editors about this. White House interference in such an esteemed commission, trying to make sense of the 9/11 attacks and their aftermath as it did, would be a story of the year in whatever year it emerged. So why 2008 instead of 2004 or 2005 or 2006? Did it really take so long for any of the disenchanted commission staff to be willing to come forward?

Now, Shenon has been off the 9/11 Commission beat for some time, publishing only one story on it since 2004. So maybe there’s a very simple answer. But as Roston reminds us, as I’ve posted before, and as Shenon himself reminds us in the other big NYT story of the week, the NYT has a history of leaving some of its reporters’ best scoops off the pages of the Gray Lady. In his story reporting that James Risen has been subpoenaed for the source for a chapter in his book, State of War, Shenon reveals that the chapter in question is one not included in the stuff the NYT printed.

Mr. Risen’s lawyer, David N. Kelley, who was the United States attorney in Manhattan early in the Bush administration, said in an interview that the subpoena sought the source of information for a specific chapter of the book “State of War.”

The chapter asserted that the C.I.A. had unsuccessfully tried, beginning in the Clinton administration, to infiltrate Iran’s nuclear program. None of the material in that chapter appeared in The New York Times.

Now, before I talk about this material in detail, let me first respond to questions those who can’t tell the difference between Judy Miller and James Risen might raise. I support Risen’s fight against this subpoena. After all, unlike Miller, he doesn’t have a recent history of outing his sources–including Libby, he hasn’t recently exposed another CIA affiliate, and there is not a great deal of evidence that Risen is protecting his source to cover up a deliberate crime. Further, consider the irony: Risen would most likely not be protected under the proposed Federal shield law, as there is an exception for National Security cases that (I suspect) will make it easier to pursue journalists for this kind of leak; whereas Judy might be protected.

Also, two interesting details. This subpoena came out of ED VA, not DC. So it’s almost certainly a CIA thing, and probably only secondarily out of DOJ. And note that Dave Kelley, Risen’s lawyer, resides at the intersection of Pat Fitzgerald (with whom Kelley fought terrorism in SDNY) and Floyd Abrams (his partner). So I imagine when Kelley says,

Jim has adhered to the highest traditions of journalism. He is the highest caliber of reporter that you can find, and he will keep his commitment to the confidentiality of his sources.

Those may be loaded words.

So now look at what the CIA/DOJ is likely after. The chapter in question has details about the US decision to support Iran’s MEK even though it’s a terrorist organization, Iranian attempts to help us on the GWOT (the same stuff that Flynt Leverett got censored on), and a description of a female officer inadvertently revealing all of CIA’s agents in Iraq. While any of these might be the sensitive information in question, and the exposure of CIA’s Iranian agents involved a double agent, by far the most likely item of interest is MERLIN, the operation in which the CIA used a Russian defector to provide Iran with nuclear blueprints. The Russian took one look at the blueprints and recognized they were faulty, so on his own initiative he included a note hinting the Iranians ought to consult experts before using the blueprint.

The operation, codenamed Merlin and approved by the Clinton administration, was intended to send Iranian scientists down a technological dead end, according to this account. They would spend years building a warhead which would fail to detonate. Instead, Risen writes, the operation may have helped Iran to "accelerate its weapons development" by extracting important information from the blueprints and ignoring the flaws.

This part of the chapter directly deals with sources and methods and the kinds of operations that, once exposed I would imagine, really hinder the CIA’s ability to pull the trick a second time (though ever since NK’s "nukes" went off in a fizzle I’ve wondered if they got dealt the crummy blueprint, too). So for the moment, let’s assume this is what they CIA/ED VA is looking for.

Risen focuses on the roles of three people: the Russian, about whom he says,

It is not known whether the Russian ever communicated again with the Iranians, or whether they tried to contact him.

The Russian’s CIA case officer, who,

… grew so concerned about whether he had aided the Iranian nuclear program that he went to the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence to tell congressional investigators about the problems with the program. But no action was ever taken.

And a "senior CIA officer" who sent the Russian out on the operation.

Risen also describes the roles of two agencies: how the NSA, which had broken the codes of the Ministry of Intelligence and Security, intercepted news that an Iranian had changed his schedule and flown home to Tehran. And how the "Z Division" of Los Alamos inserted the flaw into the blueprints; the flaw was supposed to be indetectible, but didn’t turn out that way. Given the interest focused on both the NSA (for its wiretapping programs) and Los Alamos (for its crummy security), either might be of interest.

Finally, Risen cites from "several former CIA officials."

So presumably, the grand jury investigation may interested in any of those sources.

All of which brings me back to how I started this post: this was not published in the NYT. The NYT spokeswoman gets very terse when asked about this subpoena:

Ms. Mathis would not say why the material about the C.I.A. program involving Iran appeared in Mr. Risen’s book but not in pages of The Times. “We don’t discuss matters not published in The Times,” she said.

Which makes me wonder, all the more, why this didn’t appear in the NYT. Is this another program that BushCo, after being alerted to the story, asked the NYT to spike (though I should reiterate–MERLIN was dreamt up under Clinton). Or did the NYT doubt the veracity of the story for some reason (though, as I’ve pointed out, Risen appears to have a number of sources for it)?

Marcy has been blogging full time since 2007. She’s known for her live-blogging of the Scooter Libby trial, her discovery of the number of times Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was waterboarded, and generally for her weedy analysis of document dumps.

Marcy Wheeler is an independent journalist writing about national security and civil liberties. She writes as emptywheel at her eponymous blog, publishes at outlets including the Guardian, Salon, and the Progressive, and appears frequently on television and radio. She is the author of Anatomy of Deceit, a primer on the CIA leak investigation, and liveblogged the Scooter Libby trial.

Marcy has a PhD from the University of Michigan, where she researched the “feuilleton,” a short conversational newspaper form that has proven important in times of heightened censorship. Before and after her time in academics, Marcy provided documentation consulting for corporations in the auto, tech, and energy industries. She lives with her spouse and dog in Grand Rapids, MI.

55 replies
  1. bobschacht says:

    Oh, good! Another “dog that didn’t bark” mystery!

    Um, just a thought– since this thing started under the Clintons, and since the NYT is the Home-town newspaper of Senator Clinton, and since Prez. Bill *lives* in NYC, is there any chance that it was the Clintons that asked the NYT not to publish?

    Who stands to lose the most when this story gets out? Or, make that past tense– was there a reason to spike the story then, that was different from now?

    Just asking,
    Bob in HI

  2. mamayaga says:

    Well, we’ve known for a while now that our major media don’t like to afflict the comfortable, and more and more act as propaganda arms of government. The Times was happy to sit on the story about Chimpy’s extracurricular spying until he was safely reelected, was glad be a high-profile channel of many of the 953 Iraq lies, and to my knowledge has yet to report on the voting irregularities in Ohio. In 2004. I’m afraid these kind of stories are getting to be more “dog bites man” than vice versa.

    Funny they don’t see that this cozy relationship and their willingness to self-censor when politically expedient completely undercut any argument for shield laws or for any special treatment under the law due to the press’ supposedly critical role in informing the citizens of a democracy.

  3. Mary says:

    EW – you know we disagree on a lot of this (not so much that Schumer’s proposed legislation sux, but for very different reasons), so it won’t be a big surprise when I say that the rules that apply shouldn’t be premised on whether or not you can tell the difference between Miller and Risen (and let’s face it, Risen has some failures to his name too) but rather on how much you believe in protection of a free press. Because, just like due process rules end up protecting the guilty as well as the innocent, and you don’t get to point to whether or not someone can tell the difference between Rodney King and George W, the boy King and Martin Luther King before you decide whether or how they should be allowed protections of due process, so that you back in to deciding if you are going to protect based on whether you like the person or their actions — neither should press protections be premised on whether you think Miller is a lying sleaze and Risen is a truth to power guy.

    I always backed Fitzgerald’s handling of Miller IF there were truly a case that was being considered to be made for charges other than the he-said/she-said charges and other than disclosure of classified info — the IIPA is of a different nature than general disclosure to a journalist of classified info. But I do think putting Miller in jail simply to bolster a case about whether or not her source lied to an FBI agent based on things that she knows from his conversations withh her as a source — that set what can end up as a terrifically bad precedent. And those precedents get laid down slowly and steadily and they chip and erode and just like the AIPAC lobbyist case (or the selection of Hamdan and Padilla for the Sup Ct cases for that matter) they pick their most attractive facts or their least attractive defendants and use those to generate bad law. And that bad law always – ALWAYS – comes back to bite. Just like Ex Parte Quirin has been resurrected as the life’s blood of the Yoos. Obviously, there weren’t many more unattractive plaintiffs than the German saboteurs during war, and unlike Milligan, but the time the case went up, the consequences of the Exec action couldn’t be undone, but the case is always there, ready to be used.

    So, now, will be the standard of how Miller was treated in what became, really, a case about whether someone’s statement to an investigator/gj was correct – not whether the person making the statement had broken any other law. That is a scarey bad precedent for jailing journalists IMO. And I know and can make and HAVE made at FDL and other places, all kinds of arguments as to why the Miller case was special – in particular when it looked like there might be some charge for an underlying crime – but don’t kid yourself that the law can long survive when it depends on someone’s assessment of who they like and don’t like. And when you say, “and there is not a great deal of evidence that Risen is protecting his source to cover up a deliberate crime” the fact of the matter is – his sources were telling him classified information. That is a crime. That’s kind of the point.

    But more than that, what Miller’s treatment stands for is that it is ok to jail a journalist just to find out if the statements made by the CIA or others who were interviewed and who may have denied being sources are true. And what the AIPAC case opens up is that Risen violated the law by merely receiving the classified info that his sources passed on to him for his book.

    The waters are pretty muddy right now. And the heroes in one context may not end up being heroes in another. It’s a very complicated issue with no bright lines marking the avenue, but cases by the Bush DOJ – even in pursuit of truly bad guys like Libby and the lobbyist/spies – haven’t done much to make it easier to be a journalist who does try to get the truth out there.

    I also don’t really agree with a part of this: Risen would most likely not be protected under the proposed Federal shield law, as there is an exception for National Security cases that (I suspect) will make it easier to pursue journalists for this kind of leak in that I don’t see how it would make it easier – it would pretty much put things right here where they are without the shield law. Right here where they were with Miller going to jail because she wouldn’t provide information that might show her source lied to investigators about — basically, being her source. A bit more, but that’s how it can be interpreted.

    And while I know that Kelly worked with Fitzgerald on counterterrorism, don’t forget that he also worked to put al-Mari into the So Car. brig where he still resides with no recourse, or that he worked very hard to kill Higazy’s case against the FBI interrogator and others who came pretty close to sending Higazy to the Salt Pit or to be left in a stress position in the cold, to die in the night with no investigation, no follow up, and never any accountability or concern for lies, justice and law.

    It was all a part of his job, but that part of his job that he agreed to do, that part of his personal discretion that he chose to exercise as a Dept. of Justice prosecutor. If there are two sets of cases to be made for Zelikow, there are certainly two sets to be made for almost any Bush Dept of Justice employee who has worked the “war on terror” They’ve done bad things, or solicited others to do bad things, or covered up for bad things solicited by their colleagues, or simply chosen to do and say nothing as the bad things are done and become publically acknowledged as the policies of their superiors and their colleagues. Whatever the cases they take now, the taint of never speaking out or doing the right thing when they were prosecutors entrusted with this country’s soul doesn’t go away.

    OT – Helgerson gets a watchdog picked by Hayden:…..tchdog.php

    Helgerson agreed to an internal watchdog of his own, a “quality-control manager” who will ensure that all exculpatory and mitigating information about the subjects of IG investigations is included in final reports.

    And just how funny is that – to make sure that all the exculpatory and mitigating info – you know, the stuff that Maher Arar, Kahlid el-Masri, KSM’s 6 and 8 yo children, etc. etc. etc. never got to have access to before they were summarily disappeared and/or tortured or both.

    I guess you get the best disgraces in uniform and the most corrupt and foul souls when you can promise them utter and complete protection from any kind of retribution. Ever. Because in NewYork, unlike Nuremberg, it is a defense to say you were following orders. Hell, it doesn’t have to be a defense because in New York and DC, there just plain won’t be a trial or a charge because the Sup Ct is a failed institution that turned el-Masri away and the Dept of Justice is a band of wholly owned, partisan or afraid of partisans, prosecutors who prosecute for poltics and pride and to protect the inner circle.

    • emptywheel says:


      First of all, you’re completely wrong, from what I’ve seen of the evidence, that Judy was interviewed just to prove that Libby lied to the FBI.

      Judy was interviewed because ALL THE EVIDENCE says Dick Cheney deliberately outed Valerie Wilson. The reason an IIPA could not be taken is NOT because there wasn’t abundant they knew she was covert or because Fitz was too complicit to charge it–it’s because there are two legal reasons why the VP escapes liability.

      So long as you insist differently simply because the ultimately difficult case was not made, you’re ignoring a real possibility, if not reality.

      Furthermore, there is ALSO abundant evidence that Judy was not protecting her source. As soon as she appealed the case she IDENTIFIED Libby as her source. So why does she get to then say she won’t tell investigators what she has willingly told the world just because she wants to hide the content of the conversation? (The same, of course, is true of Russert.) And there is further evidence that Judy was operating, repeatedly, as conduit for illegal information NOT for the purpose of journalism, had already outed a CIA asset, and had served as a key part of the Administration’s attempt to lie their way out of the fact they made up the case for war. Not to mention the fact that she ONLY refused to testify once she became clear that her testimony would differ than Libby’s. These are not the actions of a journalist.

      It’s very easy to say that Judy sets a standard when ignoring the actual facts of Judy’s case.

      See, I’m all in favor of a journalism shield law. But it needs to tie with the act of journalism, not with the title of journalist. And that is relatively easy to measure in a particular context–easier than the current guidelines DOJ has. There is no measure–using journalism’s own criteria–by which Judy counts as a journalist, particularly not in this case. None. Risen might be asked to make the case that, when dealing with the CIA, he too doesn’t count as a journalist. But it would be much much more difficult to make the case (not least because one of his sources for THIS story appears to have been a whistleblower).

      • emptywheel says:

        One more point. I believe in the free flow of information (which is what the underlying principle is). I do not believe in creating a special class of people with privileges I don’t have who then use those privileges to interrupt or distort the free flow of information, often even as they go singing about the glorious role the press has in the free flow of information (see Max Frankel, for example). That the press has become so really ought to be a wake up call for those lecturing about grand principles.

      • Jeff says:

        I gotta say, though, that this –

        The reason an IIPA could not be taken is NOT because there wasn’t abundant they knew she was covert or because Fitz was too complicit to charge it–it’s because there are two legal reasons why the VP escapes liability.

        is not entirely persuasive because it goes no way toward explaining why Libby wasn’t charged with IIPA violation. And I think it is overstatement to say there was abundant evidence Libby knew she was covert. I do think a pretty good evidence-based case to that effect can be made. But abundant evidence?

        • radiofreewill says:

          Jeff – If there were an IIPA Violation – Burning the cover of a Spy – hypothetically speaking, would that not also trigger an Espionage Investigation?

          The reason Libby wasn’t charged, imho, is because his Grand Jury defense portrayed him as Acting on Orders, from Cheney, Authorized by Bush. As far as Libby was concerned, he was delivering declassified information to Judy Miller on the morning of the 8th.

          The 6/12 CPD Note contains enough information – “CP/ – his wife works in that division” – that anyone with Top Secret/SCI clearances, like Libby, would ‘know’ she was Covert, because she was Working in the Covert Side (Operations) of the CIA.

          Libby ‘knew’ that. Cheney ‘knew’ that. Bush ‘knew’ that. Why else would the three of them go through the elaborate attempts to hide the Original of the 6/12 CPD note – the one stamped “Treated as Top Secret/SCI”?

          I’m with Emptywheel, the only way talking point #4 gets on the 6/12 CPD note is if Cheney and Libby saw Valerie’s 2/13/02 Cable – which alone ‘tips off’ that Valerie was Covert.

          The Original of the 6/12 CPD note seems to have all the information needed for Novak’s 7/14 hit piece in one place. The note was Not Submitted to the Formal Declassification Process, but Insta-declassified by Bush and then Hidden in Libby’s Files.

          Before Libby goes to the Grand Jury, he has this conversation with Addington:

          A Larger office in OEOB, I knew it would have to do with the case. I reminded them that I was employee for the govt, our conversation wouldn’t be privileged. He said, I just want to tell you I didn’t do it.

          F: What else was said?

          A: He asked me how you would know if you met someone from CIA if they were undercover. I responded when I worked out there, you’d ask if someone if they were undercover. He asked if they introduced themselves how you’d know. I told him you wouldn’t know unless you asked or saw a piece of paper that said it was classified. I volunteered to him I could get him a copy of IIPA that makes it a crime to reveal identity of covert agent. I took it to his office and gave it to him.

          That “saw a piece of paper that said it was classified” part, imo, is what made Libby, Cheney and Bush hide the Original 6/12 CPD note, first sending a Copy overstamped with “Treated as Secret/SCI” and then a Transcription still stamped with “Treated as Secret/SCI” – if the “information” is merely ‘Secret,’ then Valerie is not likely Covert.

          But, Top Secret information – not formally declassified – slipped-out secretly to Judy Miller?

          Imho, That looks just like Espionage.

          • emptywheel says:

            Though I should say–when I said “evidence” I meant “reason to be confident that Valerie was knowingly outed.” That’s obviously different from “evidence” meaning, “enough evidence to indict a Vice President.”

          • Jeff says:

            Yeah, but that’s my point – the legal/constitutional issues could conceivably explain why Fitzgerald didn’t indict Cheney on particular (or any) charges, but cannot explain why Fitzgerald didn’t indict Libby on particular charges. Which undercuts the notion of “abundant evidence”, although I suppose you could still argue there is a different explanation, such as the relative difficulty of trying the case on different charges.

    • Leen says:

      It would seem that Journalist use of “sources” and their need to protect those sources would be based on how that Journalist uses or mis-uses, intelligence, known false intelligence or classified intelligence to undermine U.S. National Security (Valerie Plame ) other peoples lives (both foreign and domestic) or foreign policy negotiations.

      Degree of severity!

  4. MadDog says:

    So, is Rison the actual target of the GJ or the means to a target?

    Of course, if the Administration got a two-fer, it shouldn’t surprise us.

    Or as it has been postulated previously, is this just part of Deadeye Cheney’s grand 4th estate intimidation plan? The one originally managed by Porter Goss, but now in the much more weasely hands of Mikey Hayden?

    The same Mikey Hayden who as the former Director of the NSA was Deadeye’s go-to-guy for implementing the TSP?

    The very same warrantless surveillance TSP program that might have been scooping up every Call Record and email message in the US?

    The very same warrantless surveillance program that might be used for identifying who called/emailed who in DC? Particularly journalistic folks who spill Deadeye’s secrets?

  5. Jeff says:

    First of all, “some questions” underplays the doubts that abc report throws on the only really damning part of Shenon’s story about Zelikow we’ve heard so far. Second, what I don’t get is why they’re going after Risen for this. After all, the part of the book that was so troubling, I thought, was the disclosure about the TSP. Unless part of the explanation is that they’re deliberately going after stuff that was not published in the NYT in the hopes of splitting the NYT’s interests from Risen’s. Or maybe they went after his TSP sources separately? As for why this stuff didn’t show up in the Times, it’s hard to know, but it’s possible Risen held it back. After all, he wanted to and had to convince his publishers he could sell some books.

    • emptywheel says:

      I think one of the possibilities (which is why I laid out his sources), is that they’re going after another consistent leak. It could be AIPAC-related (Iran, Israel plays a role in the chapter), it could be the persistent leaks out of Los Alamos. Or it could be that one of the figures in here was a double agent. All of which might make Risen’s source interesting.

  6. MsAnnaNOLA says:

    So do you think this kind of thing is why Bush is “convinced” Iran wants nukes. I mean we offered them blueprints to make a bomb and they took the bait. They bought the blueprints I presume, so of course they want nukes.

    But this is like entrapment, if a cute girl says you wanna date? what are you going to say? No?

  7. sailmaker says:

    Obviously I am not a lawyer, but I had a thought about grand juries, reporters and shield laws: while shield laws protect journalists in some states more than others, sometimes there is federal law that covers them, is there a shield law for people writing books (as opposed to reporters)? Is there anything to the idea that the Feds are directing the grand jury to Risen as a book writer only, where he might otherwise be covered for whatever he wrote for the NYT?

    OT sometime I’d like to find out the real reason the NYT sat on Risen’s story for more than a year.

    • sailmaker says:

      I found the answer to my question about whether the law treats journalists and their sources differently than people gathering materials and writing a book.

      The Act’s definition of the persons it protects is fairly reasonable: It covers both “a person engaged in journalism” and “a supervisor, employer, parent, subsidiary, or affiliate” of such a person.

      “Journalism” is defined, in turn, as “the gathering, preparing, collecting, photographing, recording, writing, editing, reporting or publishing of news or information that concerns local, national, or international events or other matters of public interest for dissemination to the public.”

      as opposed to

      One example is Vanessa Leggett, whom I discussed in a prior column. Though her interviews occurred in the course of research for a nonfiction book, she served 168 days in jail because a court – unreasonably, in my view – would not deem her to be a journalist.

      Source: Julie Hilden.

      James Risen is without a doubt a journalist, so my idea is moot.

  8. Hugh says:

    AFAIK the AIPAC spy case involved a DOD analyst Lawrence Franklin who had worked for Feith and Wolfowitz and who was passing secrets about Iran to the Israelis through a couple of AIPAC employees. There is no First Amendment, press, or whistleblower component to the case that I know of. So I really don’t see it as pertinent to Risen.

    The facts of the Risen case do raise some interesting issues and some pursuit of him may well be meant to have a chilling effect. But let’s face it in Washington classified information gets batted around a lot. A prosecution would be difficult to contain or conclude successfully. What if Risen decided to make known who all else has passed him classified information over the years or just list all the instances where some politician from Cheney on down publically disclosed classified information on a whim?

    As for MERLIN, I think the one flaw in the plan was to make the changes to the blueprints in crayon. The stickmen probably didn’t help either.

    • emptywheel says:


      The AIPAC case–as charged already–involves Franklin and the two AIPAC people.

      But every early report describes the investigation as being wider than that, including a number of Israelis. And given that the central point of this–efforts to infiltrate Iran’s Nukes program–is so closely aligned with teh concerns of Franklin’s folks–it might be relevant.

      In the same way the leaks from Los Alamos are a known larger focus of the intelligence world, but not necessarily focused on the edgy folks who have snuck stuff out of the laboratory.

  9. orionATL says:

    the (prior) post on rove’s phone calls to zelikov is very interesting.

    this particular post is a mish-mash.

    the central issue of interest to me is whether or not the nytimes stopped a story from being printed.

    i cannot imagine that there is any other informed guess than:

    “of course they did.”

    the nytimes has been withholding negative stories about the bush administration,

    in an effort to gain the acceptance of and, following that, access to, the bush administration, for seven years now.

    the times offers their best, e.g., judy miller’s tales of Iraqi wmd’s, micheal gordon’s tale so iranian wmd’s

    but, alas for them,

    they never, ever, get the acceptance or access they hoped for.

    cheney keeps playing them for suckers.

    but that has not kept the nytimes from trying – e.g., stuffing the risen story on wiretapping in their trunk,

    or killing the story of how bush was wired to receive advice during the 2004 debates.

    (nor by the way does it stop them from enthusiastic investigative reporting on the misdeeds of our former presidential bad boy, bill clinton. in fact, …)


    self-serving american corporation that it its,

    the nytimes soldiers on,

    putting its interests ahead of any national interests.

    • Loo Hoo. says:

      True. I was in Mexico City when I learned that Bush had been using the telecoms to spy on Americans and that the NYT had known it for a year. Since before the election. It was the most frustrating time of my life because I was alone in a place where I couldn’t speak the language well enough to communicate. No internet, just CNN International. Blew my freaking mind.

  10. Jeff says:

    the AIPAC spy case

    There is no AIPAC spy case. What are you talking about? The AIPAC case is not a spy case. As Steve Aftergood just put it,

    They are not accused of espionage, nor does the U.S. Government argue that they are agents of a foreign power. To the contrary, prosecutors acknowledged in a January 30, 2006 court filing (pdf) that it is a “fact that the defendants were not agents of Israel, or any foreign nation.”

    I’ll also add that I find the AIPAC case deeply troubling, and I find the enthusiasm for it on the left deeply troubling.

    • merkwurdiglieber says:

      Please expand on troubling aspects of AIPAC case… FAS link you cite
      provides information in addition to Aftergood opinion, namely the 4
      criteria for espionage related prosecutions that are met by the case,
      agent status is your key, are you sure about it.

      • Leen says:

        Par for the course that the MSM has barely whispered anything about the Aipac espionage investigation and upcoming (if Mukassey does not dismiss it) trial. You can ask most Americans and they know nothing about this case…just the way the I lobby likes it. Chris Matthews did whisper one time that the case had been delayed for the 4th time at that point. Have never head him whisper anything about it again. Olberman, Dodd, Abrams, Scarborough no one will touch it. Nah the I-lobby has no influence on our media nah

        Even so-called “progressive” blogs have barely touched this investigation or upcoming trial

        • merkwurdiglieber says:

          Easy way to get labeled anti-semite for bringing it up in these days of
          so-called “left wing” anti-semitism which is really a Faux News buzz
          word. I just asked for more information so my views could be more
          informed, but as usual, nothing was delivered.

      • Jeff says:

        Long story short, it’s not clear they did anything wrong, and DoJ is almost certainly using this case to set precedents to go after journalists. In that regard, probably not a coincidence that they picked targets they knew would not get a lot of sympathy from the left, the most likely defenders of free press and so forth.

        • emptywheel says:

          Not a lot of sympathy from the left? AIPAC is extremely influential among parts of the left. If they were looking for someone who wouldn’t be protected among the left they would have sought out someone who was stalking Hillary or leaking details about corruption of a left idol.

          Plus, the notion that “DoJ is almost certainly using this case to set precedents to go after journalists” is pretty amazing. Don’t you think, for better or worse, they’re simply using subpoenas to go after people they believe traffic in classified secrets? If anything, the precedent would pertain to OTHERS (pointedly not journalists) who traffic in classified secrets.

          We don’t know everything about this investigation–why they decided to focus on this and use such non-traditional means of prosecuting it. There has been a lot of reporting that they were investigating something they believed to be much larger than just Franklin and a couple of AIPAC guys. Who knows? If that’s true than perhaps they’re trying to use non-traditional means for a reason they feel is very important.

          • emptywheel says:

            This comment came off to suggest I’m all in favor of using the espionage statute in such cases–I’m not. My point though is, we don’t know. There have been reports that there is a lot more there. If that were true, I might feel like they were trying what they needed to to get the bigger there there. But I don’t pretend to know the contents and direction of a secret grand jury inquiry.

  11. BayStateLibrul says:

    Maybe this is off the wall, but how did the FBI agent who
    interrogated Saddam, obtain approval to appear on 60 minutes?

    How come no censorship on this interview?

  12. merkwurdiglieber says:

    My guess is Risen is being pulled into a case to dry up a current
    source that might offer information concerning a current operation,i.e.
    cable cutting, or an upcoming intercept related operation in re Iran.
    This DOJ will do anything, especially as Risen has burned them before.
    The Times has probably repeated it’s prior behavior pattern since Punch
    hired Kristol, what has changed?

  13. Leen says:

    Miller undermined National Security with her lies and false reporting. Judy “I was fucking right” Miller is part of the team responsible for the deaths and injuries of millions and the 4 million Iraqi refugees. Risen’s reporting does not fall into this category.

    The New York Times blows with the wind. Before the invasion they were with Miller and the right wing “cakewalk in Iraq” radicals. After the majority of folks in the states had gotten hold of the truth about Iraq…New York Times was all about ripping up the Bush administration.

  14. Neil says:

    “Although there are still facts missing — such as whether this Subpoena was actually approved by Mukasey rather than Gonzales — it’s hard to avoid the conclusion that the Grand Jury Subpoena was done at least with Mukasey’s assent. It seems rather clearly to signify the intent of his Justice Department to more aggressively pursue reporters who disclose information embarrassing to the President.

    It’s hard to overstate how threatening this behavior is. The Bush administration has erected an unprecedented wall of secrecy around everything it does. Beyond illegal spying, if one looks at the instances where we learned of lawbreaking and other forms of lawless radicalism — CIA black sites, rendition programs, torture, Abu Ghraib, pre-war distortion of intelligence, destruction of CIA torture videos — it is, in every case, the by-product of two forces: government whistleblowers and reporters willing to expose it.

    Grand Jury Subpoenas such as the one issued to Risen have as their principal purpose shutting off that avenue of learning about government wrongdoing — the sole remaining avenue for a country plagued by a supine, slothful, vapid press and an indescribably submissive Congress.”

    Is Michael Mukasey prioritizing the harassment and imprisonment of journalists?, Greenwald

  15. Neil says:

    EW et al,

    An argument can be made that the most inportant national political races in ’08 are for Senate seats. That Democrats needs to be able to overcome the 60 vote threshold in the Senate to allow our goverment to work in spite of the Republican strategy of obstruction.

    I read this exhortation in a local paper and I wondered what you advice you might offer.

    Send a contribution to your favorite non-Republican U.S. Senate candidates in each of the following states – Alaska, Colorado, Idaho, Maine, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Oregon and Virginia – where senate seats now held by Republicans are in play due to retirement, scandal, and/or Iraq and the rest of Bush and Cheney’s impeachable policies.

    • emptywheel says:

      I’ve said that before–on TV even. While I would be happy with any of the 3 2 main candidates, I think the best way to keep both of them from expressing their tendency to triangulate is to make sure they can claim they have to.

      While in DC a bunch of the DKos front pagers and I had a discussion about which were the most interesting of these–but I think they’re all interesting.

    • phred says:

      Neil — I think the Presidential race is almost beside the point (not entirely, particularly with the expected Supreme Court nominations in the near future). All of the abuses of BushCo have occurred with the blessing of Congress. Every President (no matter the party) will use the power they inherit and will likely press for more. That is to be expected. What we need most desperately is a Congress that will asssert its authority and push back to restrain such executive abuses.

      The fundamental problem we have right now is with the Republican controlled Congress (whether Senate or House). While I am all in favor of increasing the numbers of Dems in both houses, it will be far more important to change the leadership. I would give a great deal for serious primary challengers to Pelosi, Hoyer, Emmanuel, and Reid. Until the leadership genuinely feels threatened by the progressive wing of the party, they will be able to continue to ignore us and undercut our interests at will.

  16. lllphd says:

    i’d like to address the calls for a federal shield law the risen/miller piece raises.

    first of all, the distinction that you draw between miller and risen is not at all compelling. it’s not that miller’s role in the leak case differs from the government’s maintenance of secrecy; the admin’s secrecy dominated in both cases, and both reporters played some role in exposing information.

    to tighten up the argument, it’s important to emphasize the fact that the purpose of the first amendment’s protection of the freedom of the press is NOT about protecting sources. instead, it’s fundamental purpose is about keeping an objective distance between the government and the press so that the latter does not serve as the former’s mouthpiece. why is this important? because democracy needs the fourth estate to expose abuses of the power the people entrust them with.

    when applied to the two cases of miller and risen, you can now see how stating this principle so boldly makes a HUGE difference: whereas risen was working to EXPOSE abuses of governmental power, miller was working to HIDE them.

    which is why a federal shield law could actually work against the fundamental purpose of the free press. consider what such a shield law would have meant in miller’s case!! rove would have been thrilled for miller to have been protected in her keeping her sourceS to herself!! in fact, they were all banking on reporters’ relying on that protection, and on the courts’ providing it, when they used her and others to leak the offensive information.

    we all need to be very very careful about this clamor for a federal shield act, as it does NOT get at the roots of why the free press is important.

  17. garyg says:

    I think most of us here realize that the NYT is part of the problem . . . a MAJOR part of the problem in our media-industrial complex.

    Judy Miller, Michael Gordon . . . they buried Risen’s work, and I’ll bet they buried this too.

    What I only recently realized, however, is that it has always been this way at the times. Reading The Power Broker by Robert Caro (highly recommended) is eye opening on many levels. But one of the little things fleshed out late in the story is the abject lack of any challenging journalism from the times . . . the “paper of record” has always been a servant of the establishment.

  18. JohnJ says:

    Many years ago a family friend, a retired CIA officer, explained to me that over 80% of all classified information is classified to protect someone’s mistakes, crimes and/or incompetence. Virtually anyone working on gov stuff can get their work classified above their own level. The threshold for getting something classified is trivial (intended to allow this abuse), while we all (except the Big Dick and company) know how hard it is to get something unclassified. It reminds me of flushing something down the toilet; easy to do, extremely difficult to undo.

    With this definition of “classified”, we NEED to have some kind of protection for “journalists” against charges of receiving “classified” information, it is unlikely there is ANY evidence of government wrong doing that isn’t “classified”. It is a disingenuous argument (darth’s trademark) to link “classified” 100% with some kind of threat to our government, most of it is more like “company confidential”; a civil matter.

    Then again, some stuff NEEDS to be classified; the stuff I worked on was such a simple concept, that knowing even the basics can lead someone to the whole technology.

    Unintended consequences.
    Tread lightly.

  19. JohnJ says:

    Here’s your circular argument: criminal activity can’t be classified, but once it is classified, it is a crime to obtain the information about the criminal activity.

    Why is some civil war stuff still classified? To protect us from our enemies?

    Catch-22 is just the 22nd item on a long list.

  20. phred says:

    On a somewhat tangential note, I would like to suggest that the whole premise of MERLIN was monumentally stupid. To give even flawed plans to anyone is just asking for trouble. We sometimes forget how easy it is for smart scientists and engineers to find errors and correct problems. To assume that you are handing over plans to a bunch of bungling nitwits should never ever be the basis of a sound strategy. I sincerely hope that with all the hoopla that will undoubtedly follow Risen and the subpoena and the quest for sources, that the underlying premise of the operation is carefully investigated and that the morons who advocated it get reassigned to pencil sharpening duty. Alas, I fear however, that like the torture tapes, the flawed logic (and morality) of the actual program will be glossed over and ignored.

      • phred says:

        LOL : ) Yep. Logic, reason, and math have no place in our modern ideological times ; )

        I wonder if the Society for Creative Anachronism has a sub-group for those of us still wistful for the Enlightenment… ; )

  21. Jeff says:

    Worth noting that Newsweek’s new story on the Shenon book suggests it is considerably less Zelikow-centric than that initial indication.

    • emptywheel says:

      Oh, c’mon Jeff, you’re buying Isikoff spin.

      In any case, the suggestion by conspiracy theorists—who have seized on the evidence in Shenon’s book—that Zelikow was serving as a secret White House “mole” is hard to sustain. As some of the 9/11 commissioners themselves pointed out, Zelikow—despite his occasionally abrasive style—oversaw the production of a hard-hitting report that disclosed an unprecedented amount of previously secret information. Its highly damning revelations exposed negligence in both the Bush and Clinton administrations. “He was totally dedicated to a full airing of the facts,” Lee Hamilton, the Democratic vice chairman of the panel, told Newsweek.

      Isikoff includes abundant evidence that the report really should have–but didn’t–say Condi was incomptent. You don’t perhaps think that in response to the first post, shills like Lee Hamilton didn’t run to fellow shill Mike Isikoff to, once again, defend Zelikow’s role?

      • Jeff says:

        Look, I agree to the extent that it is almost impossible for me to imagine anyone directing something like the 9/11 Commission report and not going easier than he should on as close a colleague as Rice was to Zelikow. In that sense, it makes no real sense to have Zelikow doing the report, not because of anything particular about Zelikow, but sheerly because of his closeness to Rice. Still, the substance of the report is very damning of Rice, if you read it.

        And all I was saying in that comment really is that just as some of the attacks on Zelikow seem to be insubstantial (as they really do), there seem to be criticisms of others involved as well.

          • Jeff says:

            If you look at the original excerpt/summary posted at that blog, most of the stuff is just extremely negative spin on pretty innocuous stuff. There are basically three troubling things: the contact with Rove; the phone message business with his secretary; and the notion that the report soft-pedaled the culpability of Rice. The latter I’ve already said what I thought about it. The abcnews report suggested that the Shenon book was flatly wrong about the rules regarding contact with someone like Rove; and the Newsweek suggests further that it had nothing to do with the Commission (though I’d like to know just how Rove was interested in the University of Virginia, which seems odd). And we’ll just have to see about the phone message stuff. Marcus appears to contradict elements of it, no?

            So on the one hand, a lot of the specifics of what we’ve heard from Shenon melt away; on the other, as I’ve said, you’d have to be superhuman to face what your friend and colleague had done and not done and not be affected by it.

            • emptywheel says:

              Wow. I just absolutely disagree that Zelikow didn’t soft-pedal Rice’s role. The report describes her ignoring clear warnings in the most bureaucratic of language, and ignores a lot that Clarke was trying to do. And I disagree, too, that this stuff is innocuous.

              But beyond that fact, Zelikow should never have been in this role. Taking it was a profoundly poor decision.

              • Jeff says:

                I don’t disagree with that, to a large extent. Two separate things: a lot of what was in the Holland summary was pretty innocuous, or anyway not so damning. But second, I think the 9-11 Commission report, even if underplaying some things that it should play up, could be a lot worse – put it that way. It seems to be mostly there, and it’s not like the SSCI where it is consciously and deliberately, and effectively, misleading as to facts.

                • emptywheel says:

                  I think it’s better about misleading as to facts, and some of it is in fact not there–particularly regarding the animosity bet Rice and Clarke, and her decision to freeze him out. That may not be Zelikow’s fault–before Holland, I didn’t blame it on Zelikow specifically, I blamed it on the fact that the WHOLE Commission was rife with conflicts, Zelikow most of all.

                  What Condi did in the lead-up to 9/11 should have gotten her fired, if only for political reasons (though I think she is in fact incompetent). Her role was soft-pedaled, she kept her job, and continued to be incompetent in Iraq and still in Iraq.

                  • Jeff says:

                    I’m gonna move up to the other thread for the comprehensive response, but I’ll just say, again, on a fundamental point, I agree: Rice should have been fired. But I guess I would say the flaw in the 9-11 Commission Report in that regard was that it was all (or almost all) there – certainly there was more than enough in the report to compel the conclusion that she should be fired – but was less full-throated than it could and should have been in making clear that Rice should be fired. However, that was in part a failure in the reception of the report too.

                    I will add that, just as a reading experience, I was actually quite surprised at how damning of Rice the report was, given the closeness between her and the Commission’s Executive Director.

Comments are closed.