The Amerikan Emporer George W. Bush tries to shut down free speach in government. If the people don't know the government is abusing people they can't complain!
Bush administration seeking to limit leaks Journalists, sources being targeted
Dan Eggen Washington Post Mar. 5, 2006 12:00 AM
WASHINGTON - The Bush administration, seeking to limit leaks of classified information, has launched initiatives targeting journalists and their possible government sources. The efforts include several FBI probes, a polygraph investigation inside the CIA and a warning from the Justice Department that reporters could be prosecuted under espionage laws.
In recent weeks, employees at the CIA, the National Security Agency and other intelligence agencies have been interviewed by agents from the FBI's Washington field office, who are investigating possible leaks that led to reports about secret CIA prisons and the NSA's warrantless domestic-surveillance program, according to law-enforcement and intelligence officials familiar with the two cases.
Numerous employees at the CIA, FBI, Justice Department and other agencies also have received letters from the Justice Department prohibiting them from discussing even unclassified issues related to the NSA program, according to sources familiar with the notices. Some GOP lawmakers are also considering whether to approve tougher penalties for leaking.
In a little-noticed case in California, FBI agents from Los Angeles have already contacted reporters at the Sacramento Bee about stories published last July that were based on sealed court documents related to a terrorism case in Lodi, according to the newspaper.
Some media watchers, lawyers and editors say that, taken together, the incidents represent perhaps the most extensive and overt campaign against leaks in a generation and that they have worsened the already-tense relationship between news organizations and the White House.
"There's a tone of gleeful relish in the way they talk about dragging reporters before grand juries, their appetite for withholding information and the hints that reporters who look too hard into the public's business risk being branded traitors," New York Times Executive Editor Bill Keller said in a statement responding to questions from the Washington Post. "I don't know how far action will follow rhetoric, but some days it sounds like the administration is declaring war at home on the values it professes to be promoting abroad."
President Bush has called the NSA leak "a shameful act" that was "helping the enemy" and said in December that he was hopeful the Justice Department would conduct a full investigation into the disclosure.
"We need to protect the right to free speech and the First Amendment, and the president is doing that," White House spokesman Trent Duffy said. "But at the same time, we do need to protect classified information which helps fight the war on terror."
Disclosing classified information without authorization has long been against the law, yet such leaks are one of the realities of life in Washington.
Presidents have also long complained about leaks: Richard Nixon's infamous "plumbers" were originally set up to plug them, and he tried, but failed, to prevent publication of a classified history of the Vietnam War called the Pentagon Papers. Ronald Reagan exclaimed at one point that he was "up to my keister" in leaks.
Bush administration officials, who complain that reports about detainee abuse, clandestine surveillance and other topics have endangered the nation during a time of war, have arguably taken a more aggressive approach than other recent administrations, including a clear willingness to take on journalists more directly if necessary.
"Almost every administration has kind of come in saying they want an open administration, and then getting bad press and fuming about leaks," said David Greenberg, a Rutgers University journalism professor and author of Nixon's Shadow. "But it's a pretty fair statement to say you haven't seen this kind of crackdown on leaks since the Nixon administration."
But David B. Rivkin Jr., a partner at Baker & Hostetler in Washington and a senior lawyer in the Reagan and George H.W. Bush administrations, said the leaking is "out of control," especially given the unique threat posed by terrorist groups.
"We're at the end of this paradigm where we had this sort of gentlemen's agreement where you had leaks and journalists were allowed to protect the leakers," Rivkin said. "Everyone is playing Russian roulette now."
At Langley, the CIA's security office has been conducting numerous interviews and polygraph examinations of employees in an effort to discover whether any of them have had unauthorized contact with journalists. CIA Director Porter Goss has spoken about the issue at an "all hands" meeting of employees and sent a recent cable to the field aimed at discouraging media contacts and reminding employees of the penalties for disclosing classified information, according to intelligence sources and people in touch with agency officials.
The New York Times, which first disclosed the NSA program in December, and the Post, which reported on secret CIA prisons in November, said investigators have not contacted reporters or editors about those articles.
In Sacramento, the Bee reported last month that FBI agents had contacted two of its reporters and, along with a federal prosecutor, had "questioned" a third reporter about articles last July detailing the contents of sealed court documents about five terrorism suspects. A Bee article on the contacts did not address whether the reporters supplied the agents with any information or whether they were subject to subpoenas.