According to James Clapper, John Brennan Is a Leaker

To celebrate Sunshine Week last week, the Office of Director of National Intelligence  released to Jason Leopold that office’s memo on ramped up use of polygraphs to crack down on leaks.

The memo requires that polygraphs incorporate the following guidelines about what constitutes a leak.

  • “Unauthorized recipient” includes any U.S. person or foreign national without a need to know or not cleared at the appropriate level for the information, including any member of the media.
  • “Unauthorized disclosure” means a communication, confirmation, acknowledgement, or physical transfer of classified information, including the facilitation of, or actual giving, passing selling, keeping, publishing, or in any way making such information available, to an unauthorized recipient.
  • Classified information includes information classified at any level, including Confidential, Secret, or Top Secret. [my emphasis]

Note these categories are — at least as listed in the memo — position independent. No matter who does these things, an unauthorized disclosure of classified information to an unauthorized recipient is a leak.

Including the acknowledgement of classified information that may be already public.

Funny, then, that Clapper celebrated the confirmation of John Brennan at the Global Threats hearing last week. Because as part of Brennan’s confirmation process, he responded this way to a Richard Burr supplemental question about his own leaks.

Describe each specific instance in which you were authorized to disclosure classified information to a reporter or media consultant, including the identity of the individual authorizing each disclosure and the reason for each such disclosure.

In exceptional circumstances, when classified information appears to have already been leaked to the media, it may be necessary to acknowledge classified information to a member of the media or to declassify information for the very purpose of limiting damage to national security by protecting sources and methods or stemming the flow of additional classified information. Such conversations involve only the most senior Agency officials or their designees and must be handled according to any applicable regulations. I have on occasion spoken to members of the media who appeared to already have classified information, in an effort to limit damage to national security; however, even in those circumstances I did not disclose classified information.

Now, this doesn’t mean CIA Director Brennan will fail the polygraph question his new boss set up last year. At multiple times in his confirmation process, he admitted that he talks to journalists, up to and well beyond “acknowledging” information already out there. (Though he proved remarkably unwilling to provide the Senate Intelligence Committee a list of those acknowledgements leaks, which is one reason Saxby Chambliss voted against him.) He’s honest that he’s a leaker, though he himself excuses his own leaking because he’s so high ranking.

But as the effects of Clapper’s new system become clear, remember that he thinks John Brennan, an admitted leaker, is a great guy to head up the CIA.

Update: This WhoWhatWhy article on Brennan connects the way his graduate thesis express lukewarm support for human rights and advocacy for censorship in some circumstances with this Stratfor email details his 2010 crackdown on investigative journalists.

Brennan is behind the witch hunts of investigative journalists learning information from inside the beltway sources.

Note — There is specific tasker from the WH to go after anyone printing materials negative to the Obama agenda (oh my.) Even the FBI is shocked. The Wonder Boys must be in meltdown mode…”

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 Vice, Motherboard, the Nation, the Atlantic, Al Jazeera, 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 in Grand Rapids, MI.

6 replies
  1. Greg Bean (@GregLBean) says:

    Love the update.

    One of the things uniquely powerful about the independent journalists is the way they share and reference other’s articles, unlike the corporate media who see everyone else as competition.

    And with the ability to support other indie’s with immediate feedback that provides further background that can then be pasted onto a still hot-off-the-press article as an update, it becomes realtime reporting in an interconnected world.

    As its current exponential growth becomes logarithmic it means corporate media has got a snowball’s chance in hell of matching this indie phenomenon.

    You beauties!!

  2. TarheelDem says:

    Polygraphs. The pseudo-science of law enforcement. Getting you to tell the story they want to hear.

  3. scribe says:

    Now that we know what Brennan’s thesis looked like (Why was that not a topic during his confirmation hearings?), one is compelled to wonder even more about just what was in Obama’s college writings….

  4. Frank33 says:

    he admitted that he talks to journalists

    Brennan committed a crime against the National Security State. Everything is secret, so revealing any truth about the wars and phony terror false flag ops is a crime.

    Bradley Manning admitted the same thing. So Manning should be released from the torturers of the Gulag. Or, Brennan should be thrown into the Gulag also, today. Then Brennan should be prosecuted for “assisting the enemy”.

  5. bsbafflesbrains says:

    Leaking FOR the propaganda machine is “good leaking” and leaking AGAINST the propaganda machine is “bad leaking”. The big lie has so many sub lies it must get confusing over there at the ministry of truth.

Comments are closed.