from the FAS Project on Government Secrecy
Volume 2010, Issue No. 63
August 4, 2010

Secrecy News Blog:


The Obama Administration's aggressive pursuit of leakers who disclose classified information to the press or to other unauthorized persons is moving forward on multiple fronts.

Shamai Leibowitz, a former FBI linguist who pleaded guilty to the unauthorized disclosure of classified intelligence information to an unidentified blogger, reported to prison this week, his attorney said. Leibowitz has begun serving a twenty-month sentence at the Federal Correctional Institution (FCI) - Low in Petersburg, Virginia.

Thomas Drake, a former National Security Agency official who is suspected of having disclosed classified information to a reporter, pleaded not guilty to the charges against him. Last week a jury trial in his case was scheduled to begin on March 21, 2011.

Last Sunday, Defense Secretary Robert Gates told ABC News that Wikileaks was "morally culpable" because its massive disclosure of classified Afghanistan war records may have placed at risk individual Afghans who were named in the documents. "That's where I think the verdict is guilty on WikiLeaks. They have put this out without any regard whatsoever for the consequences."

Wikileaks spokesman Daniel Schmitt said there were too many classified documents in the leaked collection to permit a careful review of all of them.

"Asked why WikiLeaks did not review all of the Afghan war logs before releasing them last month to make sure that no Afghan informants or other innocent people were identified, Schmitt said that the volume of the material made it impossible," according to an August 3 report by Philip Shenon in the Daily Beast. Mr. Schmitt said that Wikileaks welcomed Pentagon assistance in processing other leaked records for release.

I offered some comments on the Wikileaks case on NPR's "On the Media" show last week.


Two civil liberties organizations said they will file a legal challenge against the government's suspected targeting for assassination of an American supporter of Al Qaeda, arguing that under the U.S. Constitution no citizen can be "deprived of life... without due process of law."

The American Civil Liberties Union and the Center for Constitutional Rights first filed suit against the Treasury Department, which said they needed a "license" in order to act on behalf of Anwar al-Awlaki, who has been designated as a terrorist. After the lawsuit was filed yesterday, the Treasury Department said the license to proceed would be granted.

Meanwhile, Rep. Dennis Kucinich and several House colleagues introduced legislation last week "to prohibit the extrajudicial killing of United States citizens."

"No United States citizen, regardless of location, can be 'deprived of life, liberty, property, without due process of law', as stated in Article XIV of the Constitution," their bill said.

White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said yesterday that the targeting of al-Awlaki was not done entirely without process. "There's a process in place that I'm not at liberty to discuss," he said.

"If... we think that direct action [against terrorists] will involve killing an American, we get specific permission to do that," then-DNI Dennis C. Blair told a House Intelligence Committee hearing on February 3, 2010.

But the Kucinich bill said that "No one, including the President, may instruct a person acting within the scope of employment with the United States Government or an agent acting on behalf of the United States Government to engage in, or conspire to engage in, the extrajudicial killing of a United States citizen."


Secrecy News is written by Steven Aftergood and published by the Federation of American Scientists.

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