I’m reading Charlie Savage’s Power Wars. While I disagree with some parts of it and have additional information that isn’t included in others (the book is already 700 pages, so it’s possible they were left out because of length), it is absolutely worth reading and provides a ton of insight about what Obama’s legal insiders were willing to share with Savage. Here’s a long interview with Glenn Greenwald about it.
As it happens, last year I wrote but never finalized a post on an area that is misleading in Savage’s chapter on the Obama Administration’s serial prosecution of leakers, about the prosecution of Donald Sachtleben, the retired FBI guy who, after being busted for kiddie porn, ultimately got prosecuted for being the leaker behind the AP’s UndieBomb 2.0 story. I’m tweaking it and posting it now. This post explains his bust.
Savage claims that Sachtleben never got IDed because he didn’t access any classified documents about the bomb and hadn’t signed the sign-in sheet of the room where it was being investigated — which is all stuff claimed in a Statement of Offense that is obviously designed to be misleading (though Sachtleben’s FBI badge did show him entering the examination space where the bomb was being examined; the Statement doesn’t say whether the specific room tracked badge entries). Savage states, Sachtleben “had visited the Quantico lab where the new underwear bomb was being examined on May 1, 2012, a few hours before Goldman and a colleague, Matt Apuzzo, first called government officials to say they knew the FBI had intercepted a new underwear bomb from Yemen” [that date of the call in the Statement is May 2]. That suggests (again, as the statement does) that Sachtleben was therefore the source for the things the AP told the government it knew on May 2.
As I’ve noted, Sacthleben contested this claim at his sentencing, which is actually consistent with what the text messages with him show: Goldman and Apuzzo were looking for confirmation of something they already knew.
“I was neither the sole nor the original source of information to ‘Reporter A’ about the suicide bomb,” Sachtleben said in a statement sent by his law firm. “The information I shared with Reporter A merely confirmed what he already believed to be true. Any implication that I was the direct source of a serious leak is an exaggeration.”
But in CIA Public Affairs emails obtained by FOIA by The Intercept last year, there’s further support for this. The emails reveal that by April 25, 2012 — 5 days before talking to Sachtleben — Goldman was already asking roughly the same questions about Ibrahim al-Asiri asked of Sachtleben. (PDF 548-9)
“We’re hearing about aqap activity that has USG spun up and Ibrahim al-asiri is back on agency’s radar.” None of that’s surprising, of course, since AP sourced the initial story to numerous officials, and it’s unlikely two Pulitzer Prize winners would single source a story.
The Statement misleadingly suggests that the when Goldman and Apuzzo called the government on May 2, two and a half hours after speaking with Sachtleben (and a full week after Goldman’s email to the CIA Public Affairs office), they stated for the first time that “they believed, but had not confirmed, that the bomb was linked to AQAP’s premier bomb-maker, Ibrahim al-Asiri.” Except the government knew, but did not reveal in the Statement, that the AP reporters had already reached out via official government channels a week earlier with some of that information. Contrary to what Savage suggests, the call on May 2 was not the “first” that government officials learned the AP was working on the story, though it may have been the first time they claimed to have confirmed details about the bomb.
The emails also show the extent of AP’s efforts to provide CIA an opportunity to weigh in on the story.
After several exchanges the week before (including a “chat” between Deputy CIA Director Mike Morell and an AP editor in which the AP agreed to hold the story), CIA’s press office set up a meeting between Goldman, Apuzzo, and Morell at 9:30 on the morning they released their story, May 7. An Apuzzo email describes the purpose. “[T]his meeting is just the one the DDCIA [Morell] suggested, to offer some details to the story we agreed to hold for a few days.” (PDF 308)
This confirms a point the AP long insisted on — that they heeded an administration request for a few days before they published the story. And in response, Apuzzo’s email makes clear, Morell had offered to provide further details on the plot. That of course means that Mike Morell was himself a source for the story, probably including for the detail that CIA had just drone-killed Fahd al-Quso. Last I checked, Morell is not in prison for leaking to the AP (though of course his influence on the story would be considered official declassification and therefore cool).
Apuzzo followed up on the meeting and the story later that day. “I know that there were some strained conversations between our bosses this evening, but as far as Adam and I are concerned, I hope you found the story fair, accurate and responsible.” (PDF 308)
Of course, CIA had no reason to be pissed, given that the AP story celebrated their successful interception of a plot. Indeed, there is a very high likelihood that the CIA talked the AP reporters out of including more sensitive details — such as that the plot was really a sting run by a Saudi asset — that detail came out in other outlets, thanks in part to John Brennan and Peter King (the latter of whom was in turn blabbing about something the CIA had just briefed him), within a day. Or, something implied by the story but not stated directly, that the Administration had deployed a bunch of Air Marshals to Europe to protect against a threat that had never really been a threat and that they had already neutralized anyway. Those are the damning details of the story, but they weren’t in the AP’s version of it.
But the government came after them anyway. And, after members of Congress — including Peter King, who had served as a source for journalists!! — demanded a head, Donald Sachtleben served as a convenient one to offer up.
The story the government has told about Sachtleben — that they found he had a Secret CIA cable among his kiddie porn but didn’t pursue it any further until they exposed the sources of the entire AP newsroom — has never made sense. But as a guy who had already confessed to kiddie porn charges and had actually only served as the confirming source for some of the least sensitive information in the leak, he was convenient.
And while Savage appropriately lays into the Administration for the damage they did to journalism with their pursuit of leakers, the back story behind the scapegoating of Sachtleben suggests DOJ has been far more cynical about leaks and who gets prosecuted for them than suggested in Savage’s chapter.
Dianne Feinstein’s been writing op-eds again.
This one mostly rehashes the old arguments.
There’s the claim that stopping a guy less dangerous than Peter King once was is worth creating a database of all the phone-based relationships in the United States.
In fact, since its inception, this program has played a role in stopping roughly a dozen terror incidents in the United States. And it continues to contribute to our safety.
On Oct. 31, the Senate Intelligence Committee took the first step to restore that confidence and bridge the gap between preventing terrorism and protecting civil liberties by passing the bipartisan Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act Improvements Act.
And there’s the claim that “drip, drip, drip” and a higher standard of honesty that government officials has the ability to erode the mighty US military’s credibility.
This drip, drip, drip of disclosures – often without proper context and frequently just plain wrong – has eroded the confidence of the American people in the dedicated men and women of our intelligence community and the strong legal and constitutional protections already in place to prevent improper behavior.
But those arguments have all gotten stale by now.
What’s truly amusing is DiFi’s attempt to rebut the well-deserved mockery for her claim that creating a database of every phone-based relationship in the US to catch just two people with terrorist ties does not constitute surveillance.
This is not a surveillance program.
Merriam-Webster’s dictionary defines “surveillance” as “the act of carefully watching someone or something especially in order to prevent or detect a crime.”
In the case of the call-records program, neither individuals nor their phone conversations are being listened to. No one is being monitored. And no one is being watched under the call-record program.
Nevermind that Merriam-Webster provides this, as an example:
- government surveillance of suspected terrorists
What’s so funny about DiFi’s op-ed is her desperate reliance on Merriam-Webster to defuse mockery.
Because — as I’ve noted — if the Administration had to rely on Merriam-Webster for their own definitional claims, it would destroy their claims that “substantially all” phone records in the United States are “relevant” — that is, “having significant and demonstrable bearing on the matter at hand” — to the hunt for terrorists.
To create this dragnet, after all, the Administration has had to blow up the meaning of “relevant” beyond all meaning. And they had to dig up an old British tome for this particular, all-important definition?
So I looked up how the American Merriam-Webster online dictionary defines “relevant.” Here are the first two definitions:
a : having significant and demonstrable bearing on the matter at hand
b : affording evidence tending to prove or disprove the matter at issue or under discussion <relevant testimony>
“Having significant and demonstrable bearing on the matter and hand.” Not, “possibly maybe having a teeny fraction bearing on the matter and hand.” But a “significant and demonstrable bearing” on a terrorist investigation, in context.
The same dictionary that DiFi clings to to justify her “surveillance” claim also shows why her beloved dragnet is illegal, a stretch of the word “relevant” so absurd that only old Englishmen would buy it.
So which is it DiFi? Your “not-surveillance” claim, or your dragnet?
Atrios asks what the whole dragnet is about.
It’s actually a serious question. Maybe it’s just a full employment program for spooks. Maybe they just do it because they can. But the only “real” point to such an extensive surveillance system is to abuse that surveillance (the surveillance itself is already an abuse of course).
At best it’s a colossal fucking waste of money. At worst?
I actually think there are understandable answers for much of this.
Since Michael Hayden took over the NSA, contractors have assumed an increasingly dominant role in the agency, meaning you’ve got a former DIRNSA at Booz Allen Hamilton pitching future Booz VPs on solutions to keep the country safe that just happen to make them fabulously profitable and don’t happen to foreground privacy. As Thomas Drake showed, we’re pursuing the biggest and most privacy invasive solutions because contractors are embedded with the agency.
I think there’s the One Percent approach we got from Dick Cheney, that endorses maximal solutions to hunt terrorists even while avoiding any real accountability (both for past failures and to review efficacy) because of secrecy. We’re slowly beginning to wean ourselves from this Cheney hangover, but it is taking time (and boosters for his approach are well-funded and publicized).
And, at the same time, criminals and other countries have attacked our weak network security underbelly, targeting the companies that have the most political sway, DOD contractors and, increasingly, financial companies, which is setting off panic that is somewhat divorced from the average American’s security. The accountability for cybersecurity is measured in entirely different ways than it is for terrorism (otherwise Keith Alexander, who claims the country is being plundered like a colony, would have been fired years ago). In particular, there is no punishment or even assessment of past rash decisions like StuxNet. But here, as with terrorism, the notion of cost-benefit assessment doesn’t exist. And this panicked effort to prevent attacks even while clinging to offensive cyberweapons increasingly drives the overaggressive collection, even though no one wants to admit that.
Meanwhile, I think we grab everything we can overseas out of hubris we got while we were the uncontested world power, and only accelerated now that we’re losing that uncontested position. If we’re going to sustain power through coercion — and we developed a nasty habit of doing so, especially under Bush — then we need to know enough to coerce successfully. So we collect. Everything. Even if doing so makes us stupider and more reliant on coercion.
So I can explain a lot of it without resorting to bad faith, even while much of that explanation underscores just how counterproductive it all is.
But then there’s the phone dragnet, the database recording all US phone-based relationships in the US for the last 5 years. Continue reading
But, as bmaz emphasized in his post on Donald Sachtleben’s plea agreement, there’s no hint of prosecuting Brennan, who leaked Top Secret details about the British/Saudi double agent into AQAP, even while they’re imprisoning Donald Sachtleben, who is only accused of leaking details he knew to be Secret.
A law enforcement official indicated that the case has not been officially closed but the charges against Sachtleben are the only ones expected.
(Sure, the evidence that Sachtleben was involved with kiddie porn seems solid, but then Brennan drone-killed children, so he’s not above reproach for his treatment of children either.)
But that is by no means the weirdest thing about the government’s treatment of the UndieBomb 2.0 leak investigation.
The entire premise of the FBI narrative is that they exercised greater care with a kiddie porn accusee they had dead to rights than they did the 100 or so AP reporters who got sucked up in their overbroad dragnet. They would have you believe that, even after seizing a CD holding a November 2, 2006 SECRET CIA intelligence report at Sachtleben’s house in May 2012 pursuant to a kiddie porn warrant (which they have not produced in the docket), they just sat on his devices for almost a year until they obtained the phone records for 20 AP phone lines, in a seizure far more intrusive into journalism than any recent known subpoena.
Sachtleben was identified as a suspect in the case of this unauthorized disclosure only after toll records for phone numbers related to the reporter were obtained through a subpoena and compared to other evidence collected during the leak investigation. This allowed investigators to obtain a search warrant authorizing a more exhaustive search of Sachtleben’s cell phone, computer, and other electronic media, which were in the possession of federal investigators due to the child pornography investigation.
(I may be mistaken, but I don’t think the FBI made this claim in any court document, so I assume it is bullshit, especially since they had had to do extensive forensic searches of Sachtleben’s computer and he had already signed a plea deal forfeiting it.)
They would also have you believe the AP had no inkling of the UndieBomb plot until ABC reported inflammatory claims about cavity bombs on April 30, 2012, even in spite of ABC’s reference to TSA head John Pistole’s earlier fear-mongering about it and in spite of additional reporting about broad Air Marshall mobilization. DOJ goes to great lengths to make you believe AP first texted Sachtleben on April 30 and not, say, on April 28 (which would mean the kiddie porn investigation accelerated after such contact), though there’s no reason to believe that’s true and the AP call records DOJ obtained apparently go back to well before April 30. They also suggest AP was asking Sachtleben about an Asiri bomb, though the first text they include is an assertion — not a question — that Asiri has been busy.
They would have you believe that two Pulitzer Prize winners would defy White House and CIA wishes with a story sourced to a single source who, just a day earlier, had provided a mistaken guess about the excitement. Continue reading
POGO has a story that adds a new twist to an old story.
The old story is Leon Panetta, leaking classified info, in this case, leaking info on the Osama bin Laden raid to a Zero Dark Thirty executive.
In June 2011, when he was director of the Central Intelligence Agency, Panetta discussed the information at a CIA headquarters event honoring participants in the raid that killed Osama bin Laden, according to an unreleased report drafted by the Inspector General’s office and obtained by the Project On Government Oversight (POGO).
“During this awards ceremony, Director Panetta specifically recognized the unit that conducted the raid and identified the ground commander by name,” the draft report says. “According to the DoD Office of Security Review, the individual’s name is protected from public release” under federal law, the report says.
“Director Panetta also provided DoD information, identified by relevant Original Classification Authorities as TOP SECRET//SI//REL TO USA, AUS, CAN, GBR, NZL, as well as, SECRET/ACCM,” the report says.
This is the investigation Peter King requested in 2011.
The new, but predictable, twist, is that when DOD’s Inspector General tried to investigate this, it apparently got no cooperation from Panetta himself, who had subsequently moved over to head DOD itself. More importantly, the IG stalled the report, apparently until Panetta retired.
The unknown fate of the IG report was the subject of a December 2012 email exchange—obtained by POGO—between a congressional staff member and an employee in the IG’s office. The congressional aide mentions having heard that someone in the IG’s office was “sitting on it until Secretary Panetta retires” and asks the IG employee for any information about it.
The IG employee replies: “That effort . . . has been controlled and manipulated since inception by the IG Front Office.” The employee adds: “There is a version ready to hit the street, been long time ready to hit the street…but we will see if that happens anytime soon. Highly unusual tight controls and tactical involvement from senior leadership on this project.”
The employee says the matter reflects broader problems within the IG’s office.
“I have grave concerns that the message and findings are now controlled and subject to undue influence across the board at DoD IG. I have never experienced or seen so much influence or involvement by outsiders now in developing and issuing oversight reports.”
The IG employee invokes whistleblower status.
“I consider this protected communications on alleged wrong-doings within the Government.”
While it doesn’t say so directly, POGO suggests the Obama Administration may have pulled this off by withholding the nomination for the Acting Inspector General to become its permanent IG.
The Defense Department IG’s job has been vacant since December 2011, and the office has been headed on a temporary basis by Lynne M. Halbrooks, who is now the principal deputy inspector general. She has sought support to be named permanent inspector general, a presidential appointment that traditionally involves the approval of the secretary.
In short, Panetta exposed a classified identity to a movie maker, as well as SIGINT pertaining to the Osama bin Laden raid (perhaps reports on the intercepts the government used to identify the courier?). But rather than being treated like John Kiriakou, for example, Panetta got moved into a position to prevent any release of this information.
The term “sheep dip” has been adopted to refer to the practice of having Special Forces operate under CIA guise, as they did on this OBL raid, to operate under CIA’s covert authorities. It turns out the institutional shell game with the OBL raid served not to keep secrets, nor even to sustain deniability from the Pakistanis (particularly after Panetta identified Shakeel Afridi), but rather to allow the Administration to treat this covert operation just like they do covert operations like drones (Joby Warrick’s book, The Triple Agent, includes a lot on drones that obviously comes from Panetta’s office too), to make them selectively public.
Barack Obama and Eric Holder, in my opinion, have violated the Constitution and international laws on a large number of fronts in carrying out the Great War on Terror, but they are to be commended for their move to try Osama bin Laden’s son-in-law, Suleiman Abu Ghaith, in federal court rather than in a military commission at the US prison in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. However, in reading reports in this rapidly developing story, a couple of key questions stand out. We only learned yesterday, when New York Republican (or Democrat?) Peter King first broke the news that Abu Ghaith had been captured, that he was to appear today at an arraignment in New York. The exact date on which he was detained is not known and it appears that he spent at least some time in custody in Jordan. The involvement of Jordan in this case is highly problematic, because the Bush administration relied heavily on Jordan for torture of suspects who eventually were sent to Gitmo.
Lara Jakes of AP broke what seems to be the first report on Abu Ghaith’s capture:
Rep. Peter King, the former chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, credited the CIA and FBI with catching al-Qaida propagandist Sulaiman Abu Ghaith in Jordan within the last week. He said the capture was confirmed to him by U.S. law enforcement officials.
A Jordanian security official confirmed that al-Ghaith was handed over last week to U.S. law enforcement officials under both nations’ extradition treaty. He declined to disclose other details and spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the matter.
But just how long was Abu Ghaith in Jordan? Here is NPR:
Sources familiar with the case tell NPR that bin Laden’s son-in-law left Iran last month to travel to Turkey. He entered the country under a false passport and Turkish authorities subsequently found him and arrested him in a luxury hotel in Ankara, the Turkish capital. They held him briefly but then decided that they couldn’t detain him because hadn’t committed a crime on Turkish soil.
Abu Ghaith is originally from Kuwait. He was stripped of his passport soon after 9-11, so he is essentially stateless. Nevertheless, the Turkish authorities decided to deport him back to Kuwait via Jordan.
It was during that transfer that U.S. officials picked him up, officials said. Some media outlets are reporting that the CIA was involved. Others say it was the Special Forces.
The U.S. government has not said how Abu Gaith came into its custody. But he was flown to New York after a big internal discussion within the U.S. government on the best venue in which to try him. And it appears the decision was to bring charges in a federal court.
Here is how the Justice Department described which US agencies were involved in the capture:
The charges and arrest of Abu Ghayth are the result of the close cooperative efforts of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York, the Joint Terrorism Task Force – which principally consists of agents and detectives of the FBI and the New York City Police Department – the United States Marshals Service and the National Security Division of the U.S. Department of Justice. The Justice Department’s Office of International Affairs and the U.S. Department of State also provided assistance.
The question of whether Abu Ghaith was held by Jordan and for how long is important because of the torture Jordan carried out on behalf of the US during the Bush administration. From a Washington Post story in 2007: Continue reading
Peter King, House Republican, called today for New Yorkers to stop funding House Republicans because they refused to pass a Sandy relief bill last night.
“These Republicans have no problem finding New York when they’re out raising millions of dollars,” King said on Fox News. “They’re in New York all the time filling their pockets with money from New Yorkers. I’m saying right now, anyone from New York or New Jersey who contributes one penny to congressional Republicans is out of their minds. Because what they did last night was put a knife in the back of New Yorkers and New Jerseyans. It was an absolute disgrace.”
King also said he was ready to buck Republican leaders on every issue until the Sandy aid is approved.
“As far as I’m concerned, I’m on my own,” King said. “They’re going to have to go a long way to get my vote on anything.”
There’s a lot of choice things to say about what this signals for the GOP and King.
But rather indulge myself in that, I’d like to draw a larger lesson from it.
It is time to start funding relief for climate change related disasters ahead of time–for all the reasons we should have always funded the Afghan and Iraq Wars through the budget rather than supplemental funding.
We need to start setting aside realistic relief funds–say $100 billion a year–to deal with these disasters, because if we don’t, these supplementals will become yet more hostage situations for the GOP. After all, while it was probably a fracking-related disaster rather than a climate change one, Eric Cantor held his own constituents hostage when they needed funds after the earthquake in his district. If Cantor will hold them hostage (and they’ll continue to reelect him), then they’ll hold anyone hostage. And if a city as big and vital as NYC can get held hostage, then the towns that extreme weather are wiping off the map in Arkansas and Alabama will surely be hostages, too.
We can’t let increasingly frequent not-quite-so-natural disasters be serial opportunities for Republicans to gut government.
Furthermore, until we start budgeting climate change relief as such, we’ll never start accounting for how much we’re already paying because of climate change. We’ll never adequately balance whatever benefits come from–say–Shell drilling in the Arctic or KXL pipeline transit of the US if, as we did with the Iraq War, we simply don’t treat relief for climate victims as a real cost, one we’re going to have to pay year after year in increasing amounts.
Democrats are very happy to harp on Bush’s wars, which were treated as but never really were free. But the government’s commitment to drilling over better approaches to energy in the face of climate change–along with a failure to fund the obvious outcome of that drilling–is no less foolish.
Between the extensive leaking from the so-called closed hearings on Thursday and Friday (Spencer’s got a good wrap-up here) and the Sunday shows (LAT has a good wrap-up here), we’ve got a little better understanding of the Administration’s current understanding of the Benghazi attack.
That said, I’ve got a different set of questions about what those show than most of the pundits commenting on it.
How strongly did Petraeus initially blame al Qaeda-related attackers?
My first question pertains to an apparent discrepancy, not about the testimony last week, but about Petraeus’ initial testimony shortly after the attack.
We know that in his testimony Friday, Petraeus said he knew fairly quickly that Ansar al-Sharia was behind the attack.
He knew “almost immediately” that Ansar al-Sharia, a loosely connected radical Islamist group, was responsible for the attack, as suggested by multiple sources and video from the scene, said the source. At the same time, a stream of intelligence — including about 20 distinct reports — also emerged indicating that a brewing furor over the anti-Islamic video preceded the attack.
The CIA eventually disproved the reports that film-related protests had anything to do with the attack. But this didn’t happen until after Petraeus’ initial briefings to lawmakers, in which he discussed all the possibilities, the source said.
Petraeus blamed some other unnamed intelligence agency for taking out the reference to Ansar al-Sharia (though the talking points came from CIA).
Petraeus testified that the CIA draft written in response to the raid referred to militant groups Ansar al-Shariah and al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb but those names were replaced with the word “extremist” in the final draft, according to a congressional staffer. The staffer said Petraeus testified that he allowed other agencies to alter the talking points as they saw fit without asking for final review, to get them out quickly.
But different lawmakers have differing recollections about what Petraeus originally testified, just days after the attack. Peter King suggested that Petraeus hid the role of terrorists in his September 14 briefing to the House Intelligence Committee.
King said Petraeus had briefed the House committee on Sept. 14 and he does not recall Petraeus being so positive at that time that it was a terrorist attack. “He thought all along that he made it clear there was terrorist involvement,” King said. “That was not my recollection.”
Feinstein, appearing on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” said that the now-former director of the Central Intelligence Agency, David H. Petraeus, had “very clearly said that it was a terrorist attack” in a meeting with lawmakers the day after the attack in Benghazi.
Mind you, those were different briefings–it’s possible just the Gang of Four got briefed on September 12. If that’s the case (and if King is telling the truth), it would mean Petraeus was less forthcoming about terrorist involvement with the full House Committee than with a more select group of lawmakers.
And note this seems to be the reverse of the politics you’d expect. While both DiFi and King vow to get to the bottom of how the talking points were made, King seems to attribute some deceit to Petraeus whereas DiFi seems to believe the suffering Petraeus was forthright–and clear-headed–from the start.
Were we really afraid to let Ansar al-Sharia know we were onto them?
Now consider the excuse Petraeus gave for taking mention of Ansar al-Sharia and AQIM out of the unclassified talking points: we didn’t want the terrorists to know we knew about them.
Testifying out of sight, ex-CIA Director David Petraeus told Congress Friday that classified intelligence showed the deadly raid on the U.S. Consulate in Libya was a terrorist attack but the administration withheld the suspected role of al-Qaida affiliates to avoid tipping them off.
I wonder if that’s the entire story.
I’m not saying the Administration deliberately used inaccurate talking points; if they had, then why did Obama name terrorism even before Susan Rice appeared on the Sunday shows? It’d be a colossal fuckup of a cover-up.
And there are certainly reasons to believe that’s why they withheld this detail. It is true that the conclusions about Ansar al-Sharia and AQIM rely in significant part on–presumably–NSA intercepts of voice communications. Continue reading
The NYT has a long article revealing that TSA officers in Boston were profiling people of color as part of its behavior detection program.
In interviews and internal complaints, officers from the Transportation Security Administration’s “behavior detection” program at Logan International Airport in Boston asserted that passengers who fit certain profiles — Hispanics traveling to Miami, for instance, or blacks wearing baseball caps backward — are much more likely to be stopped, searched and questioned for “suspicious” behavior.
“They just pull aside anyone who they don’t like the way they look — if they are black and have expensive clothes or jewelry, or if they are Hispanic,” said one white officer, who along with four others spoke with The New York Times on the condition of anonymity.
It’s an important article that deserves attention, particularly given the White House’s practice of refusing to let citizens use the White House’s own accountability mechanisms to complain about the TSA, as happened Friday when it took down its petition process just before the petition attained the signatures that would have elicited a White House response.
But the article dissolves into hilarity around about paragraphs 35 and 36, when the article quotes a noted civil libertarian assailing racial profiling.
Representative Peter T. King, a New York Republican who has pushed for more aggressive counterterrorism measures, said he was troubled by the reports of profiling in Boston.
“If it is going on, it is wrong and can’t be defended,” Mr. King said.
Peter King?!?! The NYT quotes Peter King worrying about racial profiling without noting that with King’s rabid support the NYPD has turned the Gray Lady’s own city in to the poster child for illegal racial profiling? Without noting that King has turned the House Homeland Security Committee into an instrument of racial profiling? C’mon, NYT, you can’t be unaware that these comments, from King, are not credible!
Or maybe they are. After all, since Wade Page’s attack on a Sikh temple brought increased focus on the threat represented by white supremacists, King has faced calls to hold hearings on the radicalization of white people, just like he held a never-ending series of hearings on the radicalization of Muslims. Maybe King has thought about how inappropriate it would be to suggest all white people–or even all white supremacists–might be terrorists. Maybe King has developed a new found hatred of racial profiling now that there’s good reason white people might be targeted.
But you’d think the NYT would want to explain why a local Congressman’s statements conflict so dramatically with his past actions.
First, this story is based on the leak of a covert Finding–precisely the kind of leak that Congress has gone on the warpath against. Hosenball attributes his reporting to US sources–an attribution that can (though doesn’t necessarily) refer to Congressional sources.
U.S. sources familiar with the matter said.
A U.S. government source acknowledged
And while he notes–and names–the Senators who have been pressuring Obama to do precisely what he has been doing for months, Hosenball doesn’t name the members of Congress who are opposed to such an action.
Some U.S. lawmakers, such as Republican Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham, have criticized Obama for moving too slowly to assist the rebels and have suggested the U.S. government should become directly involved in arming Assad’s opponents.
Other lawmakers have suggested caution, saying too little is known about the many rebel groups.
In short, chances are not insignificant that a Congressional source leaked the contents of a Finding authorizing covert operations.
And yet … crickets!
I spoke prematurely. Peter King is on the case with a letter asking Robert Mueller to investigate that leak. He notes both the Finding and the location of the control center (close to our own airbase) are secret.
If my suspicion that this leak came from Congress is correct, it’ll be interesting to see what happens as Congress begins to eat its own.