Steven Kappes Leaves the Agency, Again

Here’s one of the more curious details about yesterday’s surprise news that Steven Kappes was leaving the CIA.

Best as I can tell, the White House has not yet issued a statement about his retirement (at least not via the White House press list). Not even in a week when one of the key issues for which Kappes gets some credit, the elimination of loose nukes (in Kappes case, in connection with Libya), was much in the news. Obviously, Obama doesn’t have to nominate Kappes’ replacement and get it approved by the Senate, but wouldn’t you think the White House would have had a “thank you for all your service” comment prepared?

House Intelligence Committee Chair Silvestre Reyes’ statement mentioned Kappes’ departure, but not until he spent two paragraphs lauding Kappes’ replacement, first.

I want to extend my congratulations to Mike Morell for his selection to serve as the next Deputy Director of the Central Intelligence Agency.  I have had the pleasure of knowing Mike and, for the past nine years I have worked with him on a broad range of subjects. He is an exemplary CIA officer.Throughout his 30-year career with the agency, Mike has served with distinction. Whether serving at the Director’s right hand, leading the agency’s team of analysts, or serving as the principal briefer to the President, Mike’s diligence and commitment to duty, and to his country, will serve him well as he assumes his new role.

I know the agency appreciates the job Steve Kappes has done for the nation during his tenure. I will miss Steve’s insight and candor, and I wish him all the best as he moves on to his post-agency career.

CIA Director Leon Panetta’s statement does take the traditional form–lauding the retiring officer first, before announcing his replacement. But even there, Panetta downplays the news that Kappes is leaving.

When I came to the CIA in February of 2009, I was extremely pleased that Steve Kappes agreed to stay on as my Deputy.  He was a great partner and I, like so many others, valued his advice and experience.  Steve is a one-of-a-kind professional who has dedicated himself to the CIA.  He has helped me tremendously in guiding this great organization.  Having worked side-by-side on some of the toughest issues around, I’m proud to call him a friend.

Throughout his life, Steve has put the needs of others first, as he did in returning to the CIA in the summer of 2006.  He hadn’t planned on so lengthy a stay this time around.  So when he told me a few months ago that it was time for him to move on, I understood.  Steve has, to put it simply, more than met the highest standards of duty to the nation.  He excels at what he does, because he embodies the very best of this outfit—skill and loyalty, dedication and discipline, integrity and candor.  He also has, if you know him, one hell of a sense of humor.

After a superb career of public service that stretches back to the mid-1970s, when Steve was in the United States Marine Corps, he deserves the gratitude of his colleagues and his country.  As he prepares to retire in May, I know I speak for every one of you when I wish him and his family all the good things.

It was, of course, crucial to both of us that we find an outstanding successor.  Today, as we celebrate the achievements of one extraordinary public servant, I am announcing the promotion of another.  I have asked Michael Morell, a 30-year veteran of the Agency, to become our next Deputy Director.

Only Senate Intelligence Committee Chair DiFi (who of course championed Kappes to take this position last year) gets the announcement pitch perfect, a balance between the recognition for Kappes’ service and welcome to Morrell.

I deeply appreciate the service that Stephen Kappes has given to the CIA and to the United States over the course of his long career. I was very supportive of his decision to remain as Deputy Director in the transition between the Bush and Obama Administrations, and he has maintained stability at the Agency and been a great help and resource for Director Panetta over the past year. I wish Mr. Kappes the best in the next stage of his career.

I also look forward to working more closely with Michael Morell, the new CIA Deputy Director. Mr. Morell is a 30-year veteran of the CIA and has served in the past decade in a senior position overseas, in the Agency’s top internal management position, as the President’s intelligence briefer, and as the Deputy Director for Intelligence.

Now surely there’s not that much you can conclude from deconstructing retirement notices, but these do seem to suggest Kappes departure announcement was fairly sudden–and that it was welcome in some quarters.

Jeff Stein, whose report on Kappes’ departure echos his recent unflattering profile of Kappes, attributes Kappes departure at least partly to the investigations CIA is under.

A congressional intelligence committee source said Kappes, 59, was feeling ground down.There were “investigations of his interrogators,” the source said, and the White House was “taking away tools” in counterterrorism. There was also “growing unrest among [friendly foreign] intel services,” he added, over perceived restrictions on the CIA’s operational latitude.


Another former senior CIA official said Kappes’s resignation “has been in the works for some time. Why today? Not sure.”

“It’s been rumored for six months,” said another. “The idle speculation is that things have just gotten too complex with all the investigations going on.”

Six months, FWIW, would date those rumors to October, less than two months after John Durham’s investigation expanded to include Gul Rahman’s death.  And while I’m not sure the complexity referred to here portends legal problems for Kappes, it might suggest increased scrutiny on chain of command.

Or maybe it just means Kappes doesn’t like anyone overseeing the work his officers do.

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.

100 replies
  1. crossword says:


    – he’ll leak.
    – we get to watch and see what contractor or thinktank he hooks up with.
    – his departure may convince others to bail.


    – there aren’t any. Unless he links up with a really shady contractor.

  2. Rayne says:

    I like this bit by Reyes:

    I know the agency appreciates the job Steve Kappes has done for the nation during his tenure. I will miss Steve’s insight and candor, and I wish him all the best as he moves on to his post-agency career.

    The agency appreciates Kappes — but not Reyes. Heh.

    And I wonder if “miss Steve’s insight and candor” means something else entirely.

    • crossword says:

      He expanded cooperation with DoD and made some questionable personnel decisions. So your divination is right, at least to me.

    • emptywheel says:

      Yeah, I noticed that too. And that’s where I first learned about it. He wasted no time in sending out a big welcome to Morrell.

      And if that’s the right read, it is at least as telling that DiFi is the only one showing much remorse about this.

  3. Mary says:

    Such a shame he’s leaving before the CIA rapist trial gets going in June.

    BTW – do we know how the Republicans feel about giving Rapists Rights? Trials – due process – etc? I never hear anyone ask them.

    I don’t guess we’ve ever heard who it was that sat on the Warren info to the point where the Intel Committee heard about things from reading it in the press?

  4. orionATL says:

    mike morrell

    “leading the agency’s team of anslysts”.

    the cia is a two-part agency –

    1.analysts of all kinds – historians, chemists, geographers, agronomists, engineers, etc.

    2. spooks, cowboys, law-breakers – people whose competence can never be judged until they f***-up once again, as with their pointless torture program.

    my hope:

    the cowboys are having their horses taken away. the analysts will be the top guns now.

    if so, credit to panetta and obama for ending another shameful era in the agency’s history.

    • Jeff Kaye says:

      Too simplistic a division. While there is a division between operations and analysis, there are other areas, most especially administrative. Morell belongs to the latter, and was a Tenet man. A briefer. He knows how to handle presidents. And now he will handle Obama.

      Kappes was way too close to the operational side, and like an exposed salient in a battle, it has to be abandoned.

      …increased scrutiny on chain of command.

      We can only hope.

      • Gitcheegumee says:

        Seems Morell was with Bush the morning of the September 11 attacks on WTC,according to the events outlined at History Commons:

        Michael J. MorellJust after 8 a.m., President Bush sits down at his hotel on Longboat Key, Florida, for his daily intelligence briefing with Mike Morell, his CIA briefer. … › Entities – Cached – Similar

        • crossword says:

          Yes, Morell was an NIO.

          d. The National Intelligence Officers are specifically charged with warning in their respective fields. They will conduct Community-wide reviews at least monthly of situations potentially requiring the issuance of warning, and will keep the Director of Central Intelligence advised of the results, in consultation with the National Intelligence Officer for Warning. They will be continually alert to the need for immediate issuance of warning.

  5. orionATL says:

    i wonder

    was morell the cia officer briefing george bush on the immenient threat to mainland u.s. from al-q back at the ranch in august, 2001.

    the officer to whom, after the pdb was finished, our president said, “well, you’ve covered your ass now.”

    what a wise cynic our georgie boy proved to be.

  6. allan says:

    OT. Anybody know what this is about?

    Ex-NSA Worker Charged in Classified Leak Case

    A former senior executive at the National Security Agency was charged Thursday with lying and obstruction of justice in an investigation of leaks of classified information to a newspaper.

      • MadDog says:

        Pete Williams on MSNBC just now said it was a reporter on the Baltimore Sun and not the NYT.

        I’m wonder if it was Charlie Savage who was the National Security honcho at the Baltimore Sun at the time.

            • MadDog says:

              The NSA is headquartered in Maryland; it is not the reporter being indicted, it is Drake who worked at NSA


              My comment was too vague regarding Maryland. My point wasn’t about the reporter per se, but instead about where the alleged crime occurred.

              The jurisdictional nexus of the alleged crime was Maryland including both NSA at Fort Meade and the Baltimore Sun.

        • MadDog says:

          Ack!!! I screwed up. Ignore my suggestion it was Charlie Savage. Charlie worked for the Boston Globe; not the Baltimore Sun.

          Instead, think about it being Siobhan Gorman who did work as the National Security honcho for the Baltimore Sun in that timeframe. She now works for the Wall Street Journal.

          Doh! *g*

          • watercarrier4diogenes says:

            Instead, think about it being Siobhan Gorman who did work as the National Security honcho for the Baltimore Sun in that timeframe. She now works for the Wall Street Journal

            Rupert Murdoch.

        • MadDog says:

          …The indictment alleges that in approximately November 2005, a former congressional staffer asked Drake to speak with a reporter. Between November 2005 and February 2006, according to the indictment, Drake signed up for a free account and then paid for a premium account with an e-mail service that enabled its users to exchange secure e-mails without disclosing the sender or recipient’s identity. Using an alias, Drake allegedly then contacted the reporter and volunteered to disclose information about the NSA. The indictment alleges that Drake directed the reporter to create the reporter’s own secure e-mail account…

          Now ask yourself how could the government find out about anonymous email accounts used by both Drake and the reporter.

            • MadDog says:

              Could be, but if it was Charlie Savage of the Baltimore Sun as I related in my # 38, I’d be surprised if he was turned.

              Could’ve been via immunity, but you’d think there would have been a public fight on forcing a reporter to give up his sources.

              And for all concerned, Charlie Savage is now working for the NYT.

      • Gitcheegumee says:

        From your linked article:

        The case is being prosecuted by Senior Litigation Counsel William M. Welch II of the Criminal Division and Trial Attorney John P. Pearson of the Criminal Division’s Public Integrity Section.

        This case is being investigated by the FBI and the NSA Office of Security & Counterintelligence. The National Security Division also provided assistance in this matter.

        NOTE: William M. Welch II was the lead prosecutor in the “botched” Ted Stevens corruption trial.

        As has been posted here very recently, Welch was reassigned to Springfield,Massachusetts.

        • Gitcheegumee says:

          DOJ PIN Head Steps Into More Malfeasance Poo | EmptywheelApr 6, 2010 … Bush DOJ hacks Brenda Morris and Leura Canary are still alive and … William Welch, the head of DOJ’s Public Integrity Section , won’t be …

    • Mary says:

      Good ol Breuer –

      There’s no problem with DOJ losing classified docs and misrepresenting them to the courts and he’ll even ante up affidavits ‘aw gosh’ing those obstructions – no aggressive prosecutions there.

      There’s nothing important about torture killings and government run torture programs and kidnapping – no aggressive prosecutions there.

      Leaks on a massively illegal program about which gov and DOJ’s AG has fibbed -oh, well, that has to be aggressively pursued.

  7. orionATL says:

    re: @7-10

    thomas tamm?

    thomas drake?

    or both?

    are their actions connected?

    where does russell tice fit in all this?

  8. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Deconstructing these notices is worthwhile, because writing and issuing them is an art much practiced inside the Beltway and in corporate America. “Leaving to spend more time with his family” is preschool stuff, reserved for the no longer important and those no longer able or willing to hit back.

    Who issues these notices, what is said and in what order, praise for the dearly departing and welcome to the new Wunderkind, when is it said and in what media are the breadcrumbs along the trail of why, how and why now. You do us a great service.

  9. orionATL says:

    from the standpoint of political oganizanizing to publicly expose illegal wiretapping in a major way the nytimes never did,

    and to embarrass the doj and the bush/obama administrations for supprting illicit programs like the domestic wiretapping,

    it seems like you couldn’t do better than combining these two cases and some contemporary bureaucratic history.

    • Gitcheegumee says:

      McGovern, a former CIA analyst, does a great piece with interesting comments from Bobby Ray Inman included re: FISA and illegal wiretapping.

      Ray McGovern: Unimpeachably ImpeachableJul 3, 2007 … Unimpeachably Impeachable. By RAY McGOVERN. Former CIA analyst. Last week’s four-part Washington Post feature on Vice President Dick Cheney … – Cached

      Consortiumnews.comJul 2, 2007 … Unimpeachably Impeachable. By Ray McGovern. July 2, 2007 …. on the Judiciary during the hearings on impeaching President Richard Nixon. …

      • bobschacht says:

        McGovern, a former CIA analyst, does a great piece with interesting comments from Bobby Ray Inman included re: FISA and illegal wiretapping.

        I’m surprised to read that Super-spook Bobby Ray Inman, now 79 years old, was involved in writing FISA. I wonder what his role has been in the various revisions to FISA that have whittled away its Constitutional protections.

        Bob in AZ

          • Gitcheegumee says:

            Here’s a particularly interesting bit of info:

            Bobby Ray Inman – SourceWatchRetired U.S. Navy Admiral Bobby Ray Inman is a member of the Board of Directors of the coal company, Massey Energy. He is also the Interim Dean of the …
   – Cached – Similar

            NOTE: Massey Energy,isn’t that the company front and center in the current West Virginia mining disaster?

            @#33 Sorry, I didn’t see your entry when I posted.

            • Gitcheegumee says:

              Accordig to newsreports, the employees of Massey have been told to NOT attend the funerals of their dead coworkers:

              Published on April 14th, 2010

              As the community around the Upper Big Branch mine in West Virginia mourns its dead and papers report that miners are not being allowed to attend their friends’ funerals, S&P Equity Research upgraded the company’s stock from a “hold” to a “buy.”


  10. orionATL says:

    crossword @13

    i was able to figure out they weren’t the same person.

    it just not clear to me if their cases are connected.

  11. WilliamOckham says:

    Just a hit and run comment here, but I commented on Spencer’s blog that instead of Stein’s original hit piece having something to do with Kappes’ resignation, it is more likely that knowledge of Kappes’ forthcoming resignation was the instigator of the article. After thinking a little about that, it might be instructive to re-read that article, keeping in mind that some of Stein’s sources would have known that Kappes was on his way out. Was that article a ‘warning shot across the bow’ for Kappes?

  12. orionATL says:

    jeff kaye @17

    thanks jeff. that was helpful.

    certainly, kappas seems to have been unceremoniously dumped and rather rapidly it would appear.

    i still want to believe that this is one of those small incremental changes that political leaders make to bring about change in a charged emvironment.

  13. Gitcheegumee says:

    A Change of Leadership at the CIA
    Apr 14 2010, 2:30 PM ET

    “The influential number two executive at the CIA, Steve Kappes, is stepping down. In a memo to CIA employees today, director Leon Panetta announced that Kappes will retire in May.By way of compromise, Obama asked Kappes to stay on as Panetta’s deputy, even though Kappes, 59, was known by Obama’s transition team to be an uncompromising advocate of the harsh interrogation and rendition policies that Obama publicly opposed.

    Kappes enjoyed solid relationships with congressional overseers, particularly Sen. Diane Feinstein, now the chair of the Senate intelligence committee, and Sen. Jay Rockefeller, the former chair.Kappes had left the CIA, ostensibly for good, in 2004, after a dispute with then CIA director Porter Goss. He re-joined the CIA in 2006.

    He’s known as a case officer’s case officer, and helped Panetta to understand the equities that the CIA’s National Clandestine Service hold in the nation’s intelligence structure. His relationship with intelligence overseers in the office of the Director of National Intelligence was strained as the DNI, Adm. Dennis Blair (ret.), moved to better integrate covert operations with President’s national intelligence strategy.
    Kappes was in the public eye most recently as the subject of an unflattering accusation that he helped to cover up the death of an inmate in CIA custody in Afghanistan in 2002.”

    Excerpt, The Atlantic,Ambinder 4/15/10

    • Gitcheegumee says:

      ExecutiveGov A Change of Leadership at the CIA‎ – 22 hours ago

      The influential number two executive at the CIA, Steve Kappes, is stepping down. In a memo to CIA employees today, director Leon Panetta announced that …
      Atlantic Online (blog) – 176 related articles »

  14. b2020 says:

    “the elimination of loose nukes (in Kappes case, in connection with Libya)”

    There were nukes loose in Lybia? Or just enough weapon-grade fissionables to make a few warheads? An actual bomb design? Or just (parts of) AQ Kahn blueprints? North Korean-style “accidental dirty bomb” duds?

    Globalsecurity says:
    “By late January 2004 investigators had learned that Libya had covertly acquired thousands of parts for gas centrifuges as well as machine tools for making additional centrifuges. Libya also had acquired designs for making a nuclear bomb. But key elements of the design were missing, and Libya’s scientists lacked the expertise to evaluate the plans or build such a weapon.”
    “some 25 metric tons of Libyan weapons program components including centrifuge parts, uranium, and sensitive documentation”

    Elsewhere it says:
    “20 kilograms of weapons-grade HEU fuel returned to Russia”

    I also found claims of uranium provided by Pakistan or Korea. But remarkably, there are no amounts specified. And nobody mentioned actual nukes. What am I missing? Just nuclear weapon program related activities?

  15. Mary says:

    Does it strike anyone that CIA is being REALLY REALLY chatty with bloggers about the Kappes story?

    TPM mentions Stein’s article when it reports Kappes leaving and it gets a response in a flash and a heartbeat. Ackerman – ditto.

    Now I see Gawker is another ditto –

    Their story, Longtime CIA Officer Resigns to Spend More Time Covering Up Torture-Related Deaths of His Family

    has this statement, “He is also complicit in kidnapping, extraordinary rendition, torture, actual outright murder, and then the coverup of said murder. Real stand-up guy.”

    And the CIA got back with them right away – by email – to correct the record.

    Uh, they didn’t correct the “complicit in” and “actual outrights” and “coverups” references. But they did say that the magazine article has nothing to do with him retiring.

    Update: The CIA says Kappes is totally not resigning because of a magazine article. In fact, they emailed us!

    “This posting is offensive. And the notion that he is retiring because of a magazine story is ludicrous.”

    And to continue in down the Cherrytree Blossom Pathway DC has decided to share with China, Gawker’s response to the CIA denial is that, “if the CIA says he is not resigning because of a magazine article than(sic) smart money says he’s resigning because of a magazine article”

    • timbo says:

      No, of course not! He’s resigning because he can’t send people to be tortured any more! Oh, it’s all alleged of course, cuz in this country you’re not subjected to punishment until you are proven guilty in a court of law…or???

  16. tjbs says:

    O/T but related did you check out the lead editorial in the NY Times today concerning weather to try KSM in a court or military commission.
    The comments reveal a public split with some great comments about trying him.

    • skdadl says:

      and fatster @ 52: I see that they changed the name of the main prison from Bagram to Parwan. Near as I can tell on the map, that isn’t much of a move. Would they have any good reason for doing that, apart from playing cute with us old perfessers?

      And the U.S. military has never heard of this black site but will certainly investigate.


        • crossword says:

          To piggyback on what Jim is saying, and to clarify, there are five types of detention facilities in Afghanistan:

          – BTIF (Bagram Theater Internment Facility) ran by the Air Force

          – DFIP (Detention Facility in Parwan) ran by Joint Task Force 435, an unclassified detainee task force ran by an Admiral who used to work for the Joint Special Operations Command.

          “the” black site on or around Bagram Air Base(run by the Joint Special Operations Command, with interrogators from the Defense Intelligence Agency and defense contractors)

          Field Detention Facilities
          ran by conventional Army, Marine and Navy elements in the field

          Field Detention Sites ran by human intelligence officers and contractors working for the Joint Special Operations Command

          Remote forward operating bases like Khost are supposedly ran by the military but are staging grounds for CIA paramilitary operations in Afghanistan and over the border. They don’t have the infrastructure to hold large amounts of people.

          • skdadl says:

            Those are detention facilities run by the U.S. You should hear what our troops (Canadian) seem to be handing the prisoners they detain on to — not just Afghan police, which was the original story, but to the NDS, Afghanistan’s version of something like a combined FBI/CIA. Torture reportedly inevitable, although of course our government and senior command folks have never heard of such things (and are keeping all relevant docs redacted, in the face of a parliamentary command to produce, just to make sure no one else does either).

      • fatster says:

        Filed my taxes yesterday. Infuriates and sickens to realize some of my tax dollars go to the salaries and expenses of the goons who are responsible for this.

  17. orionATL says:

    mary @28

    precisely my thought.

    the powerful and complicit doj leaves alone (or colludes with).

    the powerless individual who risks a lot to bring illegal govt (or corporate) conduct into public view

    is fair game for our courageous agent javerts and indominable ausa javerts of america’s Department of Justice.

    time for defense lawyers to bone up on robert jackson’s definition of political

  18. Mary says:


    Wired (Threat Level) has a piece up on the NSA leaking that says Fox is reporting the reporter was Siobhan Gorman

    They dig into some of what might have been leaked and you can seee why NSA was proably touchy about it –

    Articles Gorman published at the time dealt with the threat of cyber attacks and the NSA’s struggles to modernize its technology. A Feb. 2006 article discussed the failure of a $300 million NSA project management system and other mission-critical softeware programs the agency needed to combat terrorism and attacks.

    Threat Level is saying that the email accounts were Canadian based “Hushmail” accounts

    But Threat Level previously reported that the company has subverted its own encryption to help U.S. and Canadian authorities gain access to customer e-mail, in response to court orders. It’s unclear if the FBI used that capability in investigating Drake

    An interesting title for one of the internal NSA emails found when they raided Drake’s home, “Volume is our Friend.”

      • Mary says:

        I should have mentioned that – I was mostly using that info as the lead into what was new to me – that Threat Level had previously reported on Hushmail getting court orders and having to subvert its encryption for US and Canadian authorities.

        BTW – I do have to take back a bit – it looks like from the Threat Level piece, maybe Drake was handing out info on the massive screw ups more so than on the massive illegal programs.

  19. MadDog says:

    Does anyone else find this wording in the indictment from page 7 “peculiar”?

    …(a) defendant DRAKE exchanged hundreds of e-mails with Reporter A via Hushmail and also met with Reporter A no more than six times in various locations throughout the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area…

    (My Bold)

    No more than? Why is that phrased that way?

    If Drake had met with Reporter A (Siobhan Gorman) seven times, would he be eligible for a bigger prize/sentence? *g*

  20. Mary says:

    It sounds like they mean something more like, “as many as” ?

    It’s interesting that his deal with her was that she should always have a confirming source – so what other emails and correspondence accounts has DOJ been sifting through once they fingered the Reporter?

    I guess on the word choice front, I’m wondering if they might should have picked something other than “unwitting” to describe NSA employees contacted by Drake?

    It is just too strange that Welch, with his own obstruction issues, is handling the case. Talk about someone who needs and wants a scalp.

    Nonsequitor – or not – I had just pulled this up earlier today for a different reason, but it’s always something to keep in mind for a jury or a grand jury.

    ‘You’re not concerned with the law, Members of the Jury,’ I told them, ‘you are concerned with justice!’
    ‘That is a quite outrageous thing to say! On the admitted facts of this case, Mr O’Higgins is clearly guilty!’ His Honour Judge Graves had decided but the honest twelve would have to return the verdict and I spoke to them. ‘A British judge has no power to direct a British jury to find a defendant guilty! I know that much at least.’
    ‘I shall tell the Jury that he is guilty in law, I warn you.’ Graves’s warning was in vain. I carried on regardless.
    ‘His Lordship may tell you that to his heart’s content. As a great Lord Chief Justice of England, a judge superior in rank to any in this Court, once said, “It is the duty of the Judge to tell you as a jury what to do, but you have the power to do exactly as you like.” And what you do, Members of the Jury, is a matter entirely between God and your own consciences….’

    Horace Rumpole [John Mortimer, “Rumpole à la Carte,” The Third Rumpole Omnibus, Penguin Books, 1998, p.265]

  21. 1boringoldman says:

    The indictment has this:

    Defendant DRAKE worked at NDU until on or about November 28, 2007 when NSA suspended his security clearance.

    Google has this [no content]

    Siobhan Gorman – jobs, classes, community and …
    November 29, 2007: Siobhan Gorman will cover domestic intelligence agencies, terrorism and counter-terrorism at the The Wall Street Journal. …

    I guess it was a good time for a job change…

    • emptywheel says:

      Yeah, I remembered that she had moved around then. I wonder if the Sun cooperated with authorities? It sure would make me want to find another place of employ.

    • crossword says:

      He worked at the National Defense University? At Fort McNair?

      Things that make you go hmmmmmm…

  22. orionATL says:

    does cia have any known responsibilities in any of these five?

    if not, it would seem dod has locked up all interrogation (cf dia at the black site)

  23. cbl2 says:

    good lord I’m glad y’all are talking about the Drake Indictment – was starting to think I had imagined the headline – whole lotta online crickets chirping except for GG and Wired. thanks guys

  24. MadDog says:

    Some tidbits from the latest on the indictment of former NSA employee Thomas Drake from the WaPo:

    …The indictment does not name the reporter, but The Washington Post has learned that she was Siobhan Gorman, a prize-winning intelligence correspondent for the Baltimore Sun at the time and subsequently at the Wall Street Journal. Gorman published a string of articles that spotlighted poor management of NSA facilities and its failure to set priorities.

    Messages left with editors of the Baltimore Sun were not immediately returned. Gorman, who was covering the Senate confirmation hearing of NSA Director Lt. Gen. Keith B. Alexander when the indictment was announced, left without commenting Thursday…


    …James Wyda, the federal public defender in Baltimore assigned to Drake’s case, said he had just received the indictment, and that Drake has been “extraordinarily cooperative with the government.”

    “Mr. Drake loves his country. He’s very disappointed that criminal charges were brought and we were not able to resolve this matter in another way,” Wyda said…


    …Word of the indictment sent a jolt through Washington media organizations and national security officials who work closely with them, as well as through congressional oversight committees, think tanks and outside policy groups…

    A couple points that come to mind:

    I’m guessing that government worked backwards by starting with Siobhan Gorman as the author of the offending NSA stories. Perhaps with a subpoena for her communications records, but perhaps with something like a 2703(d) order for her “more than 180 days old” Baltimore Sun email.

    Finding this “suspicious” email as noted on page 6 in the indictment (14 page PDF):

    …Defendant DRAKE, using an alias, subsequently sent Reporter A a secure e-mail via Hushmail and informed Reporter A that “someone we both knew referred me to you.” In that e-mail, defendant DRAKE volunteered to disclose information about NSA, but directed Reporter A to create a Hushmail account so that both of them could communicate securely thereafter…

    The government then tracked back the Hushmail accounts of both Drake and Gorman.


    Secondly, and please all legal eagles feel free to chime in here, Drake gets questioned by the FBI and lies his head off, resulting in some of the additional charges he now faces.

    Long story short, but does anyone else find Drake to less than overwhelming intellectually?

    I mean just how dumb does one have to be to both work at NSA, and somehow blithely ignore their vaunted communications expertise?

    And just how dumb does one have to be when faced with FBI questioning, that instead of standing mute via the 5th, lies about involvement?

    And again, just how dumb does one have to be to have been, as his defense attorney says:

    …extraordinarily cooperative with the government…

    Lastly, if their are any National Security reporters reading here, you really might want to avoid communicating with your sources via any type of electronic communications.

    Shorter advice: “Someone might be is listening!”

    • MadDog says:

      Another interesting tidbid from NPR:

      …In response, a senior justice official said no reporters were subpoenaed in this investigation…

      To my parsing, that doesn’t mean Gorman’s email wasn’t acquired via subpoena or a 2703(d) order.

        • MadDog says:

          And one wonders why it took so long to hand down the indictment today?

          Almost 2 1/2 years since Drake had his security clearances pulled and the same amount for Gorman’s move to the WSJ.

          Ulterior meaning anyone?

          • 1boringoldman says:

            That’s a great question. If Stein’s article is on target, they must have had the email chain and presumably the evidence from Drake’s computer a long time ago. In addition, he apparently lied to them before he became “extraordinarily cooperative with the government.” So why wait a couple of years? And why those specific charges?

            What they said was:

            “Our national security demands that the sort of conduct alleged here — violating the government’s trust by illegally retaining and disclosing classified information — be prosecuted and prosecuted vigorously,” said Assistant Attorney General Lanny A. Breuer in a statement.

            I had an odd thought. Maybe they indicted him because he broke the law, and they’re not so squeamish about staying away from any cases that might touch the NSA [like the Bush DoJ]. I know it’s far fetched, but it would be refreshing to find out the DoJ was playing something straight for a change…

            • Gitcheegumee says:

              Somewhat off topic:

              This case continues to remind me of the espionage case of Jonathan Pollard, the NCIS analyst who spied for Israel.

              (Now, I am quite aware that Drake is not accused of selling info to a foreign power,as did Pollard. What I am saying is that it brings the Pollard case to my mind.)
              Pollard’s Wiki gives extensive info on the methodology he employed to purloin classified info,some which was used to enhance his wife’s career .

              Interesting that Ted Olsen represented him in his appeal.

              The definitive piece on Pollard,imo, is by Seymour Hersh,entitled “The Traitor.”

              Annals of Espionage: The Traitor : The New YorkerANNALS OF ESPIONAGE about former Navy employee and convicted Israeli spy Jonathan Pollard… …

      • bmaz says:

        Trust me, subpoena is a term of art here and does not rule out other modalities of investigatory reach available on a stated national security matter. Doesn’t even mean their publications were not probed without attaching the individual reporter. The quoted line is fairly slippery if you really look at it.

        • MadDog says:

          And as Gorman left the Baltimore Sun for the WSJ in November 2007, I wonder how hard if at all the Baltimore Sun would have been inclined to backstop Gorman and the 1st Amendment.

          Sour grapes anyone?

    • bmaz says:

      Well, as a clandestine agent, Drake’s tradecraft surely sucks big ones. Dude is significant at the NSA and doesn’t understand that if you want to pass information from one point in Maryland to another point in – wait for it – Maryland, you simply transfer an envelope with hard copies. What part of the NSA’s ability to sniff out digital shit over common communication carriers (even with some internet download supposed encryption junk) does he not grasp? I dunno; maybe a better plan could have been helpful…….

  25. 1boringoldman says:

    And then there’s this about Hushmail.

    At the rate the information is moving on this story, we’ll be reading Gorman’s and Drake’s emails by breakfast tomorrow morning.

  26. orionATL says:

    mad dog and bmaz @75 @77

    come on!

    you’re going to beat up on an american citizen who has his ass in a crack because he exposed nsa managerial incompetence?

    get your priorities in order!

    the guy is facing POLITICAL prosecution on relatively trivial breeches of law.

    he and his case are being used by nsa and doj to discourage others who might publicly out govt incompetence.

    are you really comfortable calling this citizen – who is in deep legal trouble with his govt – “a dumb leaker” or “a spook with poor spookcraft”?

    i cannot tell you how many times in this socirty these dsys i have watched someone do something quite courageous

    only to have media commentators, who themselves never had to exhibit that courage,

    slowly destroy the courage of the act by continuously picking away at the whistleblower’s errors and faults.

    • MadDog says:

      That’s probably an overreach.

      I support whistleblowing, and I certainly support government folks speaking out when they encounter government criminality.

      That said, Drake seems to lack the basic common sense to protect himself.

      I think that is a fair analysis of his performance.

  27. orionATL says:

    mad dog @86

    i didn’t say you were wrong; i don’t believe you were.

    i asked: are you more comfortable focusing on his deficiences than on his act of courage.

    and pointed put that focusing on a whistleblower’s deficiences is a commom media behavior these days that i regard as highly destructive of what appears to me to be an act of courage.

    • MadDog says:

      …i asked: are you more comfortable focusing on his deficiences than on his act of courage…

      Your question poses a zero sum outcome (i.e. I must choose one or the other, but not both). I don’t accept that premise.

      Let me pose a responding “silly or not” question for you:

      Why do you want to censor the discussion here? Think about that for a moment.

      To take your counsel, it seems I must only see the glorious courage of Drake and Gorman, but I must not observe nor remark on their frailties.

      Sorry, but I prefer to keep my eyes open and see what they see.

  28. Gitcheegumee says:

    Is it just me or has the cumulative effects of Wikileaks website struck a nerve -and Drake is the sacrificial offering that serves as a warning to other potential whistleblowers?

  29. orionATL says:

    in this evening’s nytimes, front page,

    there are two articles stacked on top of each other in the left column,

    one by m. marzetti discusses cia chief (and former republican congressman’s) porter goss’ agreement with his subordinate rodriguez’s decision to destroy LOTS of torture tapes.

    the second by s. shane discusses the indictment of nsa employee thomas drake.

    it seems clear the implicit message is:

    if you are a high ranking cia official you can, with impunity, acquiese with the destruction of evidence and the fbi/doj will ask no questions and make no charges.

    but if you are a mid-level govt employee who has used govt documents to show govt incompetence to a reporter, thereby embarrassing the u.s. govt,

    then you will become, courtesy of our dept of justice, fodder to be ground up in our federal court system.

    and the fbi will come calling (or is that “crawling”, as in “cockroach”).

  30. orionATL says:

    crossword @96

    i don’t doubt that for a minute.

    but doj WILL tackle drake.

    that indicates the gap in “criminal responsibility” between drake and rodriguez that
    drake’s lawyers should pursue.

    the decision to prosecute drake is a political, i. e., arbitrary, decision on the part of the doj.

    the decisipn NOT to prosecute rodriguez is, identically, a political, i. e., arbitrary, decision.

  31. Gitcheegumee says:

    There is also a fairly recent case involving an NSA employee named Ken Ford,Jr.

    Here is an excerpt from an article which provides a bit of background. I will provide a link for those who wish to read it in its entirety:

    Kenneth Ford Jr, Took Sensitive Documents Home and Later Lied about Investigation
    Greenbelt – 12/18/2005

    A Waldorf man faces 10 years in prison and a $500,000 fine for taking classified documents home with him after resigning from the National Security Agency, to take a job with private defense contractors.
    A federal grand jury this week convicted Kenneth Wayne Ford, Jr., 34, of Waldorf, on charges of unlawfully possessing classified information related to the national defense, and making a false statement to a U.S. government agency.

    According to evidence presented at trial, Ford was employed by the National Security Agency (NSA) in Maryland between June 2001 and late 2003. On January 11, 2004, FBI agents executed a search warrant at Ford’s residence in Waldorf, and discovered sensitive classified information throughout his house, including numerous Top Secret documents in 2 boxes in Ford’s kitchen.

    Ford was arrested on January 12, 2004. Evidence presented during the trial indicated that Ford took home the classified information on the last day of his employment at NSA in December 2003, when Ford was to start working in the private sector on a classified contract for a defense contractor.Ford also wrote out a statement on the night the search was conducted, admitting to taking home the documents, but at trial argued that the statement had been coerced by the FBI.(Excerpt)

  32. Gitcheegumee says:

    Kenneth Ford Jr, Took Sensitive Documents Home and Later Lied …A federal grand jury this week convicted Kenneth Wayne Ford, Jr., 34, of Waldorf, on charges of unlawfully possessing classified information related to the ……/Y – Cached

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