Will Michael Vickers Now Be Subjected to Forced Nudity?

If you’ve been following the Bradley Manning case at all, you know the government treats alleged leakers by inventing reasons to take away their clothes away.

So I wonder whether they’ll now subject Undersecretary of Intelligence Michael Vickers–who, DOD’s Inspector General has determined, provided the identity of a Special Operations planner to the makers of Zero Dark Thirty.

Pentagon investigators concluded that a senior Defense Department official who’s been mentioned as a possible candidate to be the next CIA director leaked restricted information to the makers of an acclaimed film about the hunt for Osama bin Laden, and referred the case to the Justice Department, according to knowledgeable U.S. officials.


The case involved a determination by investigators of the Pentagon’s inspector general’s office that Vickers provided the makers of the film “Zero Dark Thirty” with the restricted name of a U.S. Special Operations Command officer who helped plan the May 2, 2011, raid on bin Laden’s hideout in Pakistan, one official said.

Though perhaps the best comparison is not between Vickers and Manning, but between Vickers and Kiriakou. Both, after all, gave the name of someone who might not be all that protected to a third party so they could conduct further investigation. With both, the name did not become public via this leak.

And John Kiriakou’s headed to prison.

There’s little chance Vickers will experience a similar fate as Kiriakou though. As McClatchy notes, the Administration has already declassified a report showing Vickers providing this name. DOJ has been sitting on the referral since September. And McClatchy’s sources are discussing how this will affect Vickers’ chances of becoming CIA Director, not whether anything worse will happen.

Even Peter King, who demanded the investigation in the first place, does not want an indictment, but appears to prefer instead to politicize the fact that he hasn’t been told about Vickers’ role.

King told McClatchy that the delay in notifying him “raises the question” of whether officials were trying to put it off for political reasons, but he wanted to see the full report before drawing any conclusions.

I’m not looking for anyone to be indicted,” he said. “But the IG does not make referrals to the Justice Department as a matter of routine. To me the fact that any information at all would be given to Hollywood producers by this administration is disgraceful.”

“If it’s wrong enough or questionable enough for the IG to refer it to the Justice Department, that means it shouldn’t have been done.” [my emphasis]

Yes, I imagine Peter King wouldn’t want to encourage top people being indicted for leaking classified information…

Which demonstrates, once again, what our classification system really is. It is not a law, to be applied neutrally to all. On the contrary, it is applied selectively, used primarily as a threat tied to higher wages tied to a clearances, but on occasion, as the premise to punish those who deviate from NatSec orthodoxy.

Update: This post originally stated Kiriakou was already in prison. He’s not. As Thomas Drake corrected me, he’s scheduled to be sentenced next month.

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.

4 replies
  1. DWBartoo says:

    “It is not a law, to be applied neutrally to all. On the contrary, it is applies selectively …”

    Ah yes, the Rule of Law.

    The Rule of Law is dead.

    Long live the rule of law!

    Thank you, EW, for your many efforts to point out the truth.

    Someday, should this nation survive, a rebuilt civil society might, possibly, also thank you for those efforts and the held principles which those efforts reflect.


  2. rg says:

    We have a precedent for this: a deferred prosecution agreement. Subject pays a fine and promises not to do it again; he does not admit any wrongdoing, and get to keeps any gains. Simple.

  3. leveymg says:

    Hi – Vickers may not be stripped of his shorts, but it looks like something approaching a purge of the top regime changers is going on, and that he’s just the latest following Petraeus and Rice to be pulled away from the controls of US covert action, open policy, and diplomacy in the Mideast.

    Please see http://www.dailykos.com/story/2012/12/18/1171525/-First-Petraeus-now-Top-Pentagon-Covert-Operator-Vickers-under-Investigation

    Would be interested in your feedback, Marci, and anyone else at this fine blog.

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