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Donít Play "Misty" for Me
American Spectator ^ | 16 DEC 04 | Jed Babbin

Posted on 12/15/2004 11:41:48 PM PST by dts32041

How long are we going to tolerate senators and congressmen who divulge our most closely-held secrets to the public in search of cheap political gain? We have laws that make those leaks serious federal crimes. We're spending enormous resources on finding out who leaked Valerie Plame's identity as a CIA agent to the press. Leaks that are vastly more important -- and which should be pursued with no less determination and resources -- are regularly ignored because the culprits are sitting members of Congress. These leakers should be thrown out of office and prosecuted.

It's been about two years since Sen. Richard Shelby blew one of our most important secrets -- that we were bugging Osama bin Laden's cell phone, a fact that could have led to the capture of America's most wanted terrorist -- by bragging about it to a reporter. Shelby's action (if it really was him) has never been prosecuted. Why not? Now, another huge leak comes in the form of the disclosure by members of the Senate of a highly-classified satellite program. Three members of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence have apparently committed a very serious crime by blabbing about a highly-classified satellite program to the press last week. If these men actually did what it appears they did, we ought to throw the book at 'em for divulging one of our most-protected secrets: stealthy reconnaissance satellites.

As a result of their revelations to the public and the press, three U.S. Senators -- Sens. Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.), who's also the ranking Dem on the Senate Intelligence Committee, Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) and Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) -- are the subject of a "criminal referral" made on Monday for speaking publicly about this satellite. Such referrals are made to the Justice Department by the administration when criminal conduct is suspected. In this case, it's not only suspected, it's evidenced on the front pages of the New York Times and the Washington Post. A highly reliable intelligence community source told me that the referral had been made because senior administration officials were beside themselves that the three had taken the controversy on funding this project to the press.


YOU HAVE TO UNDERSTAND that the kind of project we're talking about is protected by the highest level of security our government has. When Sandy Bergler was carrying "code word" level papers out of the National Archives in his pants and socks, he was committing a federal felony. So -- according to sources -- was Sen. Richard Shelby, who is the subject of an earlier criminal referral for blabbing about our bugging OBL's cell phone. When the government buys something secret, those that are most classified are called "black" programs because their existence can't even be admitted. They aren't listed in the public versions of legislation that authorizes and pays for them. Black programs are made so for a reason.

Think about why we might build a stealthy satellite. Many nations, including Iran and other terrorist regimes, have the ability to spot conventional satellites on their radars. They can predict with considerable accuracy what those satellites can see, and when. If we had a satellite that couldn't be seen, its view of the bad guys couldn't be predicted. Now, these three senators have blown the cover on a black satellite program that may be code-word named "Misty," and by so doing, reduced the value of the satellite and the strategy that it is to implement to zero.

To be cleared for these programs, which the senators and their intel staffers all are, each had to be briefed in detail about their legal obligations, and how the information has to be handled. They would have had to sign agreements such as the one I signed when I had these clearances. The paperwork warns you -- loudly and clearly -- that this is a damned serious matter. If they divulged information on this program -- whatever the program may actually be -- they broke the law knowingly and intentionally.

The three senators made a variety of disclosures about the program. Rockefeller made a statement on the Senate floor which his staff claims was "fully vetted and approved by security officials." Baloney. According to a congressional source, Rockefeller's statement wasn't cleared with anyone in the Pentagon or CIA, and wasn't checked by the Intelligence Committee majority staff. Whomever "vetted" it isn't clear, but it wasn't done by the proper authorities.

Wyden's statement, quoted in the Sunday New York Times, not only talked about the satellite system but demagogued its price. According to the Times, Wyden -- whose Pentagon and defense industry-bashing skills were developed in years of service as one of John Dingell's minions on the House Energy and Commerce Committee -- "did not mention Lockheed, but he expressed concern about the rapidly escalating cost of the satellite program and the way in which the contractor was selected." By even admitting publicly that the program exists -- which at least Wyden did explicitly -- is a crime punishable by years in exotic vacation spots such as Fort Leavenworth. (One source told me that Durbin has made similar statements to those of Wyden and Rockefeller, but I could not confirm this by deadline.)


ONE OF THE MOST DISTURBING facts about this incident isn't whatever problems may or may not exist with the alleged satellites. (Among the leaks are further details that the satellites may not have infrared and radar capability, rendering them dependent on weather.) The biggest problem right now is that Senate Majority Leader Sen. Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) is treating the whole matter with a big yawn. A Congressional source told me that Frist was doing precisely nothing to help the administration deal with what may be the most serious violation of security laws in the Senate in years. What is Frist thinking?

Senators and their staffs have an important role to play in authorizing, appropriating, and overseeing intelligence expenditures. But they cannot be permitted to take disputes on those issues public. Now that the criminal referral has been made, several things should happen immediately, and Sen. Frist should be leading the charge to make sure they do.

First and foremost, the senators and staffers involved (and, for good measure, Sen. Shelby and any of his people who were included in the earlier criminal referral) should have their security clearances suspended during the period of the investigation. If that leaves a gap on the Senate intel committee, it can be quickly and easily filled by other senators and staff who have clearances at the proper level. Second, a damage assessment should be ordered to determine just how much information was actually revealed, what programs it may affect, and how -- or whether -- the damage can be repaired.

Third, the investigations should be pursued vigorously and with all possible speed. If the senators are found indictable, they should be indicted, tried and judged in accordance with the law. (The so-called "legislative immunity" of the Speech and Debate clause of the Constitution shouldn't be a defense to the crimes here. According to Edward MacMahon, a criminal defense lawyer expert in matters of classified information, "If a senator committed a crime, the Speech and Debate Clause would give no protection.") Charges, trials and removal from the Senate -- if the investigations show the allegations worth trial, and the trials result in conviction -- are events every one of us should demand.

If the laws that require our secrets be kept secret aren't taken seriously by those who hold the public's trust -- such as Shelby and the "Misty Three" -- and if serious violations of these laws are also taken lightly as Sen. Frist seems to be doing now -- our system of government will not be able to function as the Constitution says it must. If Congress cannot be trusted with secrets such as these, it cannot provide the essential checks and balances on the Executive we rely on it to perform in order to protect us from a runaway president. Right now, we apparently have a runaway Senate. The Justice Department, and Sen. Frist's office, should be working day and night until this problem is solved, and cooperate to ensure the leakers are punished to the full extent of the law.


TAS Contributing Editor Jed Babbin is the author of Inside the Asylum: Why the U.N. and Old Europe Are Worse Than You Think (Regnery Publishing).





TOPICS: Constitution/Conservatism; Crime/Corruption; Editorial; Extended News; Government; News/Current Events; US: Illinois
KEYWORDS: aidandcomfort; bushhassers; cia; classified; doublestandard; huntforobl; hypocrites; information; jedbabbin; killersofsoliders; leak; liberalmccarthyism; looselips; mediabias; nationalsecurity; obl; osamabinladen; phoneyoutrage; senatorsdurbin; topsecret; traitors; treason; witchhunt; yellowcake
Gee do you really think they care about anything but their own power?
1 posted on 12/15/2004 11:41:48 PM PST by dts32041
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To: dts32041

BUMP


2 posted on 12/15/2004 11:51:50 PM PST by nickcarraway
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To: dts32041

Leaky Leahy is still in office.


3 posted on 12/15/2004 11:52:51 PM PST by nickcarraway
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To: dts32041

Frist needs to get his frickn head outta his Klinton. It hans't proved to be much of a "leader" IMO.


4 posted on 12/15/2004 11:59:31 PM PST by Texas_Jarhead (I believe in American Exceptionalism! Do you?)
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To: dts32041

bttt


5 posted on 12/16/2004 1:06:33 AM PST by lainde
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To: dts32041
When will these me first, national security last, dimocRats be brought to justice? During the campaign all we heard was what was going wrong with the war in Iraq. How the President and his people did not plan correctly. How much money was being spent that could be used elsewhere. Added to this were specific, personal attacks on the President. I am so tired of these grandstanding democRats putting their nation's warriors in peril. Does Frist have to be the point man on this loose lips issue?
6 posted on 12/16/2004 5:14:26 AM PST by kc2theline (Support our troops and the CIC that sends them to defend us.)
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To: Thud

ping


7 posted on 12/16/2004 5:19:22 AM PST by Dark Wing
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To: dts32041

Agree with Babbin's concern and join in wanting these idiots to be held accountable.

I disagree with his seemingly naive acceptance of the conventional wisdom of exactly what is being investigated re Plame/Wilson.


8 posted on 12/16/2004 5:26:35 AM PST by cyncooper
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To: dts32041

Unlike Boy Scouts, congresscritters aren't required to be trustworthy or loyal. Neither they nor their staff members are vetted with background checks prior to being handed our nation's most sensitive, top-secret materials. They've exempted themselves from such scrutiny -- and thus we see the lack of scruples being played out as they trip over themselves to see who can get classified material to the press first.


9 posted on 12/16/2004 5:31:59 AM PST by shezza
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To: shezza

Are you saying that they don't have to get security clearances??


10 posted on 12/16/2004 7:24:40 AM PST by pepperdog
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To: dts32041

Wall. Blindfold. Cigarette.


11 posted on 12/16/2004 7:29:29 AM PST by Travis McGee (----- www.EnemiesForeignAndDomestic.com -----)
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To: Travis McGee
Wall. Blindfold. Cigarette.

No, no no, Travis! Giving out tobacco would be just so wrong...
;O)

12 posted on 12/16/2004 8:02:12 AM PST by metesky ("Brethren, leave us go amongst them." Rev. Capt. Samuel Johnston Clayton - Ward Bond- The Searchers)
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To: metesky

If they won't smoke, blow it in their faces anyway.


13 posted on 12/16/2004 8:37:59 AM PST by Travis McGee (----- www.EnemiesForeignAndDomestic.com -----)
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To: dts32041
A Congressional source told me that Frist was doing precisely nothing to help the administration deal with what may be the most serious violation of security laws in the Senate in years. What is Frist thinking?

Clearly, what Frist is "thinking" about is the Shelby and Plame affairs. You can't ignore violations of espionage laws by Republicans, and then selectively prosecute Democrats for their "whistle-blowing" rationalizations of security breaches. When Shelby or the Plame exposer (whoever that might be) are prosecuted, then Mr. Frist may have some standing to act against the offending 'Rats. Until then, we must be content to rely on the honor and good judgement of our Senators and Representatives (if such qualities apply) to keep us safe from revelations of our most closely guarded secrets.

14 posted on 12/16/2004 8:41:19 AM PST by pawdoggie
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To: pawdoggie
So go after the sick idiots. Leaky leahy should have been impeached from the senate for what he did the politicians are elitist and decimation should be practiced every four years on all politicians who have served more than two terms.
15 posted on 12/16/2004 8:46:16 AM PST by dts32041 (When did the Democratic party stop being the political arm of the KKK?)
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To: pepperdog

From what I've heard, no, they do not. Everybody else on the planet DOES in order to access sensitive material, but Congress and their staffs do not.


16 posted on 12/16/2004 8:46:58 AM PST by shezza
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To: dts32041
Why do we need to depend on Frist for getting these leakers prosecuted? What's wrong with the Justice Department and the U.S. Criminal Code?

Senators are not immune.

17 posted on 12/16/2004 9:51:55 AM PST by Gritty ("Have you killed anyone yet?"-Donald Rumsfeld's often repeated question to his Commanders)
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