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I was previously a constitutional law and civil rights litigator and am now a journalist. I am the author of three New York Times bestselling books -- "How Would a Patriot Act" (a critique of Bush executive power theories), "Tragic Legacy" (documenting the Bush legacy), and With Liberty and Justice for Some (critiquing America's two-tiered justice system and the collapse of the rule of law for its political and financial elites). My fifth book - No Place to Hide: Edward Snowden, the NSA and the US Surveillance State - will be released on April 29, 2014 by Holt/Metropolitan.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Treason by association

Almost every Bush follower screeching about the Mary McCarthy story thinks it is extremely significant that (a) she donated money to John Kerry's campaign; (b) Dana Priest's husband knows Joe Wilson, as does McCarthy herself; and (c) McCarthy has professional ties to Sandy Berger. While many of them are content to insinuate darkly about the nefarious Plot against America which has likely been revealed by exposure of this web, others are more bold, explicitly speculating that this is but the tip of an iceberg of a traitorous conspiracy.

But if one's political and professional connections to a leaker cast aspersions on the person's integrity and patriotism, there are plenty of aspersions to be cast. Larry Franklin, for instance, is a former Department of Defense official who -- unlike McCarthy -- has actually been convicted of the unauthorized disclosure of classified information, to which he had access as a result of his Pentagon job, and sentenced to 12 years in prison.

Franklin was a top aide to Douglas Feith, the No. 3 official in Bush Defense Department, and had long-standing and very close ties to Paul Wolfowitz, deputy to Don Rumsfeld. He did not merely pass classified information to the American media, but to AIPAC, a group with close ties to a foreign government. Franklin has all kinds of friends in the pro-Bush media who defended him and insisted that he could not possibly be guilty, and had close ties to the highest and most powerful Bush officials.

Recently, close Bush ally, Republican Senator Richard Shelby of Alabama, was found by investigators to have leaked highly sensitive, classified information to Fox News' Carl Cameron and CNN's Dana Bash while Shelby served on the Senate Intelligence Committee -- an unauthorized and serious leak which, for some odd reason, the Bush Justice Department refused to prosecute. No Bush followers, at least that I know of, objected to the decision to allow Sen. Shelby to leak with impunity.

Equally close Bush ally, Republican Senator Orrin Hatch, leaked some of the most classified information our government had in the immediate aftermath of the 9/11 attacks:

A senior senator's disclosure of highly classified information about the U.S. terrorism investigation has infuriated Bush administration officials and led to a clampdown on how much the White House will share with lawmakers.

Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), ranking Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee, told reporters hours after terrorists crashed hijacked jetliners into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon that U.S. intelligence had intercepted a telephone call from a suspect reporting to his handler that the targets in New York City and near Washington had been hit.

"They have an intercept of some information that includes people associated with[Osama] bin Laden who acknowledged a couple of targets were hit," Hatch told The Associated Press. He made similar comments to ABC News and said the information had come from officials at the CIA and FBI.

Electronic intercepts represent some of the most sensitive intelligence possessed by the government. U.S. officials rarely discuss their content because to do so would reveal to adversaries, including foreign governments, that American intelligence had penetrated their sensitive communications.

Hatch's disclosure, with the possibility it would tip off terrorists that their communications had been compromised, left senior officials of the administration dumbfounded and angry.

For some weird reason, the Justice Department did not prosecute Hatch's leak either, and Bush followers did not express any objections to that decision.

And, as I detailed yesterday, there is a slew of leaks of classified information from the Bush White House -- not decisions by the President to declassify information and then release it to the public, but anonymous pro-Bush disclosures by executive branch officials of information which is still classified, and which is released selectively and for plainly political ends. Leaking classified information is one of the principal tactics of the Bush White House and -- as demonstrated -- its closets political allies. Thus, if we are going to embrace a framework where not only the leaker but the leaker's political comrades and professional associates are considered suspect, there aren't many people in the Bush-loving world who will be free of suspicion.

UPDATE: Mark Coffey of Decision 08 says that he is opposed to Howard Dean's plan to inspect all of the cargo that enters the United States. Why are so many Bush supporters against programs to prevent Al Qaeda from shipping bombs and other dangerous materials into our country? In a Time of War, they want to leave our ports unprotected and help Al Qaeda smuggle bombs -- perhaps even dirty bombs -- into the U.S. They have a lot to answer for with their actions that impede the War on Terror.

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