President Trump, like many other people including former President Obama, members of Congress, and the supposedly educated but woefully ignorant skews media, persist in referring to the unauthorized disclosure of national security information as “leaks” or “leaking.” Using those terms carelessly trivialize a very serious criminal act.
The Memorial Wall at NSA Headquarters identify 176 of our fellow citizens who have died protecting the integrity of signals intelligence or the sources and methods used to gather it so that the rest of us may live our lives comfortably and safely.
OpenCdA urges our three or four readers to read the February 14, 2017, column by Bloomberg View writer Eli Lake. Mr. Lake titled his column “The Political Assassination of Michael Flynn” . Please pay particular attention to the last paragraphs beginning at paragraph 7 which reads:
Normally intercepts of U.S. officials and citizens are some of the most tightly held government secrets. This is for good reason. Selectively disclosing details of private conversations monitored by the FBI or NSA gives the permanent state the power to destroy reputations from the cloak of anonymity. This is what police states do.
General Michael Flynn was asked to resign as President Trump’s national security adviser because the partial transcript of an intercepted telephone conversation between General Flynn and the Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak was provided to persons not authorized to reveal its contents to anyone else. General Flynn was not even permitted to see the transcript, so he could hardly affirm or refute its accuracy and completeness.
Yet some people who had lawful access to the transcript decided that using the information for political expediency was more important than national security. Those people who unlawfully revealed partial details of the Flynn-Kislyak conversation for personal and political gain betrayed more than the public trust; they dishonored the memories of all those who have served honorably in service to the United States.
OpenCdA hopes that Attorney General Sessions and his Acting Assistant Attorney General for National Security have already convened a federal grand jury under the authority of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA). This unauthorized release of extremely sensitive national security signals intelligence must be investigated for the purpose of pursuing criminal prosecutions against all violators including elected and appointed officials as well as members of the skews media.
Given the limited distribution of signals intelligence (telecommunications) interceptions permitted by law and the stringent documentation associated with access to each interception (see my July 14, 2016, post “It’s a Bigot List“), we hope that every person who was given unauthorized access will be subpoenaed and compelled to give grand jury testimony under oath. It will not be a complicated investigation.
Regardless, we hope that from the resignation of General Michael Flynn, arrogant politicians and ignorant skews media members as well as private citizens will better appreciate the importance of safeguarding national security information.
We are not a police state. Yet.