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Did the Government “Know Who Journalists Are Talking To” in the Kiriakou Investigation?

As I laid out in this post, the complaint in the Jon Kiriakou case shows that the Patrick Fitzgerald-led investigative team could have found Kiriakou as the ultimate source for some Gitmo detainee lawyers’ information on two people associated with the torture program without accessing journalists’ communications directly (though the FBI has the contents two of Kiriakou’s email accounts, which likely contain a great deal of communication with journalists).

The sole possible exceptions are two emails between Journalist A and the Gitmo detainee lawyers’ investigator:

At 11:31 a.m. on August 19, 2008, approximately two hours after KIRIAKOU disclosed Covert Officer A’s last name to Journalist A, Journalist A sent an email to the defense investigator referenced above that contained Covert Officer
A’s full name in the subject line. The email further stated: “His name is [first and last name of Covert Officer A].” At 1:35 p.m., Journalist A sent a final email to the defense investigator in which he stated: “my guy came through with his memory.” Neither Journalist A nor any other journalist to my knowledge has published the name of Covert Officer A.

[snip]

For example, in an email dated April 10, 2008, Journalist A provided the defense investigator with Officer B’s home phone number.

The implication in the complaint is that the FBI got these emails from the investigator. But unlike Kiriakou’s emails, which it explains were, “recovered from search warrants served on two email accounts associated” with Kiriakou, the complaint doesn’t explain how and from whom the FBI obtained the emails between Journalist A and the defense team investigator.

Nevertheless, the complaint provides fairly innocuous possible explanations for how the FBI got a whole lot of emails involving journalists for this investigation. So maybe we have nothing to worry about.

Or maybe we do. It is also possible the government collected all communications within two degrees of separation from the defense investigator–thereby exposing a wide range of journalists’ sources–and we’d never know it.

That’s true for two reasons.

First, because this investigation is the first known leak investigation that has extended into the period–post October 15, 2011–during which the new Domestic Investigation and Operations Guide was in effect. The new DIOG made it a lot easier to use National Security Letters to get the contact information of journalists in investigations, like this one, with a national security nexus.

[T]he new DIOG seems to make it a lot easier to get news media contact records in national security investigations. A heavily-redacted section (PDF 166) suggests that in investigations with a national security nexus (so international terrorism or espionage, as many leak cases have been treated) DOJ need not comply with existing restrictionsrequiring Attorney General approval before getting the phone records of a journalist. The reason? Because NSLs aren’t subpoenas, and that restriction only applies to subpoenas.

Department of Justice policy with regard to the issuances of subpoenas for telephone toll records of members of the news media is found at 28 C.F.R. § 50.10. The regulation concerns only grand jury subpoenas, not National Security Letters (NSLs) or administrative subpoenas. (The regulation requires Attorney General approval prior to the issuance of a grand jury subpoena for telephone toll records of a member of the news media, and when such a subpoena is issued, notice must be given to the news media either before or soon after such records are obtained.) The following approval requirements and specific procedures apply for the issuance of an NSL for telephone toll records of members of the news media or news organizations. [my emphasis]

So DOJ can use NSLs–with no court oversight–to get journalists’ call (and email) records rather than actually getting a subpoena.

Read more

How Did DOJ Find Jon Kiriakou?

As I’ve noted, former CIA officer Jon Kiriakou was charged yesterday with leaking classified material–including one covert officer’s identity; the alleged leaks involve three different journalists. Since the complaint focuses on Kiriakou it’s easy to forget that the investigation didn’t start there: rather–it started with a filing submitted in a detainee defense case (almost certainly the 9/11 detainees) and photos found in some detainees’ cells, and went through at least one journalist (called Journalist A) along the way. So how did Patrick Fitzgerald’s team find Kiriakou? Did Fitzgerald obtain journalists’ contacts again?

In the case of Kiriakou, I don’t think so. At least not directly.

The complaint alleges there were two steps from Jon Kiriakou to the filing and the photographs.

Covert Officer A

  1. On August 19, 2008 Kiriakou gave Journalist A Covert Officer A’s name.
  2. Later the same day, Journalist A gave Covert Officer A’s name to the defense investigator.
  3. On January 19, 2009, the defense team submits a filing including Covert Officer A’s name.

Deuce Martinez

  1. On November 12, 2007, Kiriakou gave Journalist A Deuce Martinez’ personal email address. On May 20, 2008, Kiriakou told Journalist A that Martinez was not trained in torture. On November 17, 2008, Kiriakou told Journalist A some details about how Martinez traveled, presumably to a Black Site.
  2. On April 10, 2008, Journalist A gave a defense team investigator Martinez’ home phone number.
  3. The defense team had pictures taken of Martinez and gave them to detainees as part of a double blind identification effort; the pictures were found in “spring 2009.”

Note, the evidence in the complaint that Kiriakou was Journalist A’s source on Martinez is weaker than for Covert Officer A’s identity or that he was Scott Shane’s source for Martinez’ phone number. The complaint shows that Journalist A provided the phone number to the defense investigator, but does not show compellingly that Journalist A’s source of Martinez’ phone number was Kiriakou. That weak spot in their case is one piece of evidence that Fitzgerald’s team has neither interviewed Journalist A nor obtained his or her phone records to rule out other possible sources.

Now, remember, by the time DOJ started investigating this on March 19, 2009 (when the target was detainee lawyers, not their sources), and by the time Fitzgerald started investigating this on March 8, 2010, Scott Shane (who is described as Journalist B in the complaint) had already published this June 22, 2008 story, describing Deuce Martinez’ role in catching Abu Zubaydah and interrogating Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and others. It was sourced to,

The two dozen current and former American and foreign intelligence officials interviewed for this article offered a tantalizing but incomplete description of the C.I.A. detention program. [my emphasis]

In addition to Buzzy Krongard, Jon Kiriakou is the only on the record source. The story reveals that Kiriakou spoke with Shane in December 2007–the same month he spoke about waterboarding with ABC. But it also suggests Shane spoke with him after that, when he learned Kiriakou had been “cautioned … not to discuss classified matters.”

John C. Kiriakou, a former C.I.A. counterterrorism officer who was the first to question Abu Zubaydah, expressed such conflicted views when he spoke publicly to ABC News and other news organizations late last year. In a December interview with The Times, before being cautioned by the C.I.A. not to discuss classified matters, Read more

Did John Brennan’s Leak Hypocrisy Catch Up to Him?

In his interview with Jason Leopold in May 2010, Jon Kiriakou explained how his book got approved by the CIA Publication Review Board. He describes someone who–given the mention of the transition team and the seniority at CIA–must be John Brennan, advising him to wait to resubmit his book until after the Obama Administration cleaned out the CIA.

Kiriakou: I called a very senior CIA officer, former CIA officer, who was very quietly supportive of me.

Leopold: Can you identify that person?

Kiriakou: I can’t, unfortunately. But he said, ‘I’m on the Obama transition team. We’re going to win this election next week. And we’re going to be making wholesale changes over there. Everybody’s gonna go. So make your changes and don’t resubmit until I tell you to.’ A week later Obama wins. About six weeks pass, Director Hayden resigns. Several people a layer or two, three layers beneath him also resign, My friend calls me back and says ‘resubmit it.’ This is immediately after Panetta is named Director. I resubmitted it. A week later, I got a one page letter saying ‘the book is cleared in its entirety.’

So not only was this guy who appears identical to John Brennan “quietly supportive
of Kiriakou,” but this John Brennan lookalike also played a key role in getting Kiriakou’s book approved.

Which is mighty interesting, because John Brennan was also centrally involved in this investigation, particularly in the hiring of Pat Fitzgerald in March 2010 to respond to CIA’s demand for IIPA charges.

According to the officials, the dispute centered on discussions for a interagency memorandum that was to be used in briefing President Obama and senior administration officials on the photographs found in Cuba.

Justice officials did not share the CIA’s security concerns about the risks posed to CIA interrogators and opposed language on the matter that was contained in the draft memorandum. The memo was being prepared for White House National Security Council aide John Brennan, who was to use it to brief the president.

The CIA insisted on keeping its language describing the case and wanted the memorandum sent forward in that form.

That resulted in the meeting and ultimately to Mr. Vieira withdrawing from the probe.

Now, I’m not suggesting that Kiriakou was targeted just to get back at John Brennan.

But I am saying that it is–at the very least–ironic that a world class leak hypocrite would be supportive of the guy who got nabbed in this investigation.

On the one hand, after all, Brennan had an antagonistic role with at least one of the whistleblowers the Obama Administration has targeted.

Yet, at the same time, he’s a noted leaker himself, such as for the breathless account of the Osama bin Laden targeting, and, more recently, providing on the record details that the Administration had declared a state secret.

The CIA got their IIPA charge. I’m not sure whether Kiriakou is the guy everyone thought they’d get.

Will the CIA Regret It Started a Witchhunt against Detainee Lawyers?

As I noted, DOJ charged former CIA officer Jon Kiriakou for allegedly leaking information relating to the CIA’s torture program (as well as purportedly secret information about GPS tracking that is not secret).

But remember how this investigation started: as an effort to implicate Gitmo detainees’ lawyers.

1) DOJ has been investigating the John Adams Project since last August to find out how photographs of torturers got into the hands of detainees at Gitmo. The JAP has employed a Private Investigator to track down likely interrogators of detainees, to take pictures, get a positive ID, and once done, call those interrogators as witnesses in legal proceedings. DOJ appears concerned that JAP may have made info–learned confidentially in the course of defending these detainees–available to those detainees, and therefore violated the protective order that all defense attorneys work under. Yet JAP says they collected all the info independently, which basically means the contractors in question just got caught using bad tradecraft.

2) DOJ appears to believe no crime was committed and was preparing a report to say as much for John Brennan, who will then brief Obama on it.

3) But CIA cried foul at DOJ’s determination, claiming that because one of the lawyers involved, Donald Vieira, is a former Democratic House Intelligence staffer, he is biased.  They seem to be suggesting that Vieira got briefed on something while at HPSCI that has biased him in this case, yet according to the CIA’s own records, he was not involved in any of the more explosive briefings on torture (so the claim is probably bullshit in any case). After CIA accused Vieira of bias, he recused himself from the investigation.

4) So apparently to replace Vieira and attempt to retain some hold on DOJ’s disintegrating prosecutorial discretion, DOJ brought in Patrick Fitzgerald to pick up with the investigation. Fitz, of course, a) has impeccable national security credentials, and b) has the most experience in the country investigating the Intelligence Identities Protection Act, having investigated the Torturer-in-Chief and his Chief of Staff for outing CIA spy Valerie Plame. In other words, DOJ brought in a guy whom CIA can’t bitch about, presumably to shut down this controversy, not inflame it.

Now, it appears that the CIA’s concerns were included in the memo to Brennan over DOJ’s wishes. Or perhaps Fitz is just going to review the case. And if the JAP people did, as they say, use only external information to ID these torturers, then they are likely legally safe and the involvement of Fitz is simply going to quiet down the controversy.

The investigation appears to have led to Kiriakou by tracing backwards through–presumably–John Sifton (who led the John Adams Project work) to his source, an as-yet unidentified journalist, and from him to Kiriakou.

Now, as a threshold matter, the investigation completely exonerated the detainee lawyers.

According to the complaint affidavit, the investigation determined that no laws were broken by the defense team as no law prohibited defense counsel from filing a classified document under seal outlining for a court classified information they had learned during the course of their investigation. Read more

DOJ Charges Former CIA Officer for Exposing CIA’s Torture

It would be too simple to say that Jon Kiriakou was a whistle-blower. His initial leaks to journalists seemed like sanctioned leaks to minimize the effect torture had.

But whatever role he played, DOJ just charged him for leaking information–almost certainly about the Abu Zubaydah torture–to journalists.

A former CIA officer, John Kiriakou, was charged today with repeatedly disclosing classified information to journalists, including the name of a covert CIA officer and information revealing the role of another CIA employee in classified activities, Justice Department officials announced.

The charges result from an investigation that was triggered by a classified defense filing in January 2009, which contained classified information the defense had not been given through official government channels, and, in part, by the discovery in the spring of 2009 of photographs of certain government employees and contractors in the materials of high-value detainees at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. The investigation revealed that on multiple occasions, one of the journalists to whom Kiriakou is alleged to have illegally disclosed classified information, in turn, disclosed that information to a defense team investigator, and that this information was reflected in the classified defense filing and enabled the defense team to take or obtain surveillance photographs of government personnel. There are no allegations of criminal activity by any members of the defense team for the detainees.

I’ll have more shortly. But one thing to remember is that Lanny Breuer represented Kiriakou in the two years leading up to 2009. And Patrick Fitzgerald is the prosecutor on this case.

Update: Here’s the NYT story cited in the press release. It’s a Scott Shane article on Deuce Martinez.

Update: Here’s one detail Kiriakou is alleged to have leaked (the quote is from the Shane story).

Armed with Abu Zubaydah’s cellphone number, eavesdropping specialists deployed what some called the “magic box,” an electronic scanner that could track any switched-on mobile phone and give its approximate location. But Abu Zubaydah was careful about security: he turned his phone on only briefly to collect messages, not long enough for his trackers to get a fix on his whereabouts. [my emphasis]

First of all, this information was readily available–they will have an interesting time proving this was classified. But I find it particularly ironic given the Jones decision that came down today.

Update: I’ve corrected the title and text to indicate that Kiriakou was charged, but not yet indicted.

At About the Time He Subpoenaed Judy Miller, Patrick Fitzgerald Interviewed Cheney a SECOND Time

When I recover a bit more from having finished Dick Cheney’s infernal tome, I will have more to say about it.

But I wanted to point to this piece of news in it that no one has yet noted:

I participated in two lengthy sessions with the special counsel. The first was in my West Wing office in May 2004. The second was in Jackson Hole Wyoming, in August 2004. The second session was conducted under oath so that my testimony could be submitted to the grand jury.(408)

That is, Patrick Fitzgerald interviewed Cheney not just the one time we knew about–on May 8, 2004. But he also interviewed Cheney sometime during August 2004 (at least according to Cheney), apparently in anticipation of submitting that testimony to the grand jury.

The timing of this is pretty telling.

On August 12, 2004, Fitzgerald subpoenaed Judy Miller to testify. And on August 27, 2004, he wrote an affidavit justifying his subpoena, focusing closely on Scooter Libby’s claims that he had been ordered by Dick Cheney to leak material to Miller. And we know from Cheney’s first interview that he hung Libby out to dry, denying any knowledge of such things.

The Vice President does not recall any member of his staff, including Scooter Libby, meeting with New York Times reporter Judith Miller during the week of 7/7/03, just after publication of Joe Wilson’s editorial in the New York Times.

[snip]

The Vice President advised that no one ever told him of a desire to share key judgments of the NIE with a news reporter prior to the NIEs declassification on 7/18/03.

[snip]

The Vice President cannot specifically recall having a conversation with Scooter Libby during which Libby advised the Vice President that he wanted to share with the key judgments of the NIE with Judith Miller. Although if it did occur, he would have advised Libby only to use something if it was declassified. He believed Libby would have told him about any attempts to put something out to the media prior to its declassification and the Vice President cannot recall such a discussion.

When asked if he ever had a conversation with Scooter Libby wherein Libby informed the Vice President that certain material within the NIE needed to be declassified before it could be shared externally, Vice President Cheney advised he does not recall.

To a large degree, Cheney’s first answers–assuming they remained substantively the same in the second interview–necessitated Judy Miller’s testimony, since Libby had clear notes about being ordered to leak material to Miller that had been effectively hidden by his lies about Russert. Libby’s notes made it appear like he might have leaked Plame’s identity to Miller (which turned out to be the case). And Cheney’s refusal to claim he had authorized that leak put Libby at real risk of an IIPA indictment.

This interview raises a few more questions. First, in his first interview, Cheney did not release the journalists he had spoken with from their pledge of confidentiality. Bob Novak testified on September 14, 2004; though Fitzgerald’s affidavit makes it clear much of that discussion was about his conversation with Richard Armitage, Novak spoke with someone at OVP on July 7, 2003, so it has always been possible he was hiding a Cheney conversation.

In addition, Judy Miller explained away the “Aspens connected at the roots” comment by relating a chance encounter with Libby in Jackson Hole in August 2003 (not 2004). Though when I asked her if she had seen Cheney on that same trip, she did not answer. Is it possible the reference to Jackson Hole was a coded reference to Cheney?

Finally–and critically importantly–when CREW FOIAed this interview, they asked for “all transcripts, reports, notes and other documents relating to any interviews outside the presence of the grand jury of Vice President Richard B. Cheney that are part of Special Counsel Patrick Fitzgerald’s investigation into the leak of the identity of Valerie Plame Wilson.” In other words, this second interview would have been squarely within the terms of their request. This interview should have been released under their FOIA, but was not.

This previously unreported Cheney interview would appear to go right to the heart of why Patrick Fitzgerald subpoenaed Judy Miller to find out whether Scooter Libby leaked Valerie Plame’s identity to her. And for some reason, it appears the Bush and Obama DOJ didn’t want us to read it.

Blago Lesson: It’s Okay to Sell a Senate Seat, So Long as You Don’t Lie about It

All you Californians ought to be getting awfully nervous about Senate-Select Carly Fiorina about now. Because the lesson I take from the Rod Blagojevich verdict–he was found guilty of just one charge of lying to the FBI, while the jury remained deadlocked on 23 other charges–is that it’s okay to sell a Senate seat, so long as you don’t lie about it.

A federal jury today convicted former Gov. Rod Blagojevich of only one count against him: lying to the FBI. Jurors said they were deadlocked on the other 23 counts against the former governor, and all four counts against his brother Robert.

Mind you, prosecutors immediately told the judge they’d be back to retry the remaining counts.

But in spite of the fact that Blago appears to be headed for jail, this is not a big victory against corruption.

“He didn’t threaten anybody. He opined.”

When Hal Turner was led away to jail for writing that three judges who had upheld the Chicago gun ban (which has since been overturned at SCOTUS) “deserved to be killed”–and provided maps to help his readers find the judges–his son insisted Turner didn’t threaten anybody, he opined.

But the third jury that ruled on charges that he threatened to assault and kill judges in retaliation for performing their official duties (the first two juries deadlocked) didn’t see it that way. After two hours of deliberation, they found him guilty.

As luck would have it, this country’s fearmongerers and bigots are rather busy sowing fear of Muslims right now, or there might have been a bigger response to this. But particularly given the delay through three trials, this verdict seems almost curious. Turner got sent to jail for behavior that is becoming increasingly acceptable of late. After all, more than one candidate for Congress has implicitly threatened violence as part of their campaign (though I wonder whether Sharon Angle and Ben Quayle are smart enough to draw maps, as Turner did). Yet much of the the press seems hesitant to call out that rhetoric as beyond the pale.

Hal Turner did step over the line (though I think it’s a close call legally). But just as big a problem is the media circus that allows someone like Turner to thrive, include the so-called objective media that apparently has a difficult time discerning between the violent rhetoric from right wing activists and policy arguments advanced through legislative means of lefty activists.

Remember Scooter Libby’s Lost Emails?

Turns out they’re still lost.

When we last heard from Libby’s lost emails, CREW and National Security Archive had reached a settlement with the White House to restore 33 days worth of email and examine 21 days of low volume email to see whether prior restorations had really worked (among other things).

I’m still reading through the documents to figure out what has happened since (aside from Libby’s emails still being lost–but then, that’s not news). The eye-popping takeaway is that, for the 21 days of emails supposedly restored, 83% of the emails weren’t restored:

As documented [in a report from Microsoft included in CREW’s available documents] the comparison of the two data sets–one containing emails previously identified as the archival email records of the Bush administration for the 21 days in question and one containing emails extracted from backup tapes for those 21 days–revealed a huge discrepancy between the two. Specifically, 190,819 email messages on the backup tapes were not found in the archival set of email messages. Conversely, 31,819 emails contained in the archival set were not found on the backup tapes for those same days. In other words, 83% of the universe of known emails for those days were not archived and would not be available today but for actions of CREW and the Archive and the resulting restoration project.

Now, the discrepancy, to me, is even more interesting than the sheer numbers involved. It suggests that two totally different sets of emails were captured in the multiple archiving processes. Which suggests a great deal of emails may have been tampered with between the time they were written and archived. (Though I await the tech wonks to explain this in more depth).

And then there’s this bit.

[On May 10, 2006], the estimated cost for one of [the options for restoring White House email]–restoring all dates of low volume email for EOP components–was $2,414.221 [sic]. The Bush White House did not pursue this option, and instead hired multiple contractors to perform various costly analyses aimed at winnowing down the number of days that arguable could be considered as statistically low volume.

In other words, rather than spend what now looks like a pittance (less than $2.5 million) to restore everything, the Bush White House instead spent even more money paying consultants to argue that not all these days needed to be restored. And that decision was taken, of course, at a time when Libby’s case was in discovery and any indictment of Rove had just been declined. And, presumably, Patrick Fitzgerald still may have had lingering suspicions that Libby and Judy (if not Novak) were emailing back and forth about outing Plame.

But really, none of this is suspicious at all.

Meanwhile, CREW just recently started this whole process over again to get John Yoo’s missing torture emails.

Does no one else see the pattern here?

The Protective Order on Khadr’s Interrogators and the John Adams Project

In addition to the bombshell that Omar Khadr’s military commission will start Wednesday, less than a day after lawyers in the case will have received the thick manual laying out the rules for the newfangled military commissions, Gitmo released one more thing today: the protective order covering “intelligence identities” that applied to Khadr’s old-fangled military commission. (h/t Carol Rosenberg)

Given the witch hunt launched against the John Adams project (in which detainee lawyers employed investigators to figure out the identity of detainees’ torturers, in response to which the CIA has been demanding the lawyers be charged with violating the Intelligence Identities Protection Act), I’m particularly interested in this language (assuming, of course, that these protective orders are fairly standard).

2. Accordingly, IT IS HEREBY ORDERED:

a. Names or other identifying information of intelligence personnel that have been or may, from time to time, be disseminated to or obtained by the Defense Counsel for the accused, may be disclosed to members of the Defense team, such as paralegals, investigators, and administrative staff, with an official need to know. However, such information shall not be disclosed to the accused or to anyone outside of the Defense team other than the Military Commission panel subject to the limitations below;

b. Unless disclosure has been authorized by the Military Judge, names or other identifying information of any intelligence personnel shall not be disclosed in open court or in any unsealed filing. Any mention of the name or other identifying information of intelligence personnel must occur in closed session and any filing to the Military Commission panel that includes such information shall be filed under seal.

First, let’s read a: “Names or other identifying information of intelligence personnel that have been or may, from time to time, be disseminated to or obtained by the Defense Counsel for the accused”–note they don’t explain why those intelligence personnel would have been disclosed to defense counsel. And they also describe both “names” and “identifying information”–which would presumably include photographs (the CIA is particularly pissed that pictures of interrogators have been passed among detainees at Gitmo).

It goes on: “However, such information shall not be disclosed to the accused.” I’m curious what you lawyers think about this? Is there a parallel in civilian trials? In any case, the protective order makes it clear that the government is trying to protect these identities, first of all, from disclosure to those who were abused by said intelligence personnel.

Then there’s part b: “Unless disclosure has been authorized by the Military Judge, names or other identifying information of any intelligence personnel shall not be disclosed in open court or in any unsealed filing.” Call me picky, but this seems to be sloppy writing here. Since this passage does not refer explicitly back to part a, it would seem that the prohibition on disclosing “such information” would not be limited to information “disseminated” to lawyers for the accused. And in any case, part a includes language about information “obtained by” lawyers for the accused.

What is the significance of this for lawyers who, in an attempt to get information not disseminated (and therefore witnesses who may have exonerating information not produced) have gotten investigators to find out the identities of those who tortured their clients? Furthermore, note that the protective order doesn’t qualify the limit of those whose identities are protected here at all. What happens if a defense lawyer doesn’t know if someone is an intelligence professional but has a suspicion that the person might have been the guy who tortured his client, and in any case is probably a contractor? Does showing the client a picture count as disclosing identifying information, even if the only one who can confirm that the person in question is affiliated (however loosely) with US intelligence is your client?

In any case, this protective order only calls for sanctions, not the IIPA charges that CIA seems to be clamoring for. And this protective order appears to have been operative in 2007, not necessarily 2009 and 2010. I’m not a lawyer, but if the CIA is trying to equate this with security agreements in order to criminally charge defense attorneys, I’m skeptical it’ll work.

But it does give one snapshot of how Kafkaesque the Bush-era military commission process was (as distinct from how Kafkaesque the Obama-era one day rule cramming is).