The emerging details of these and other cases show just how wide a net the Obama administration has cast in its investigations into disclosures of government secrets, querying hundreds of officials across the federal government and even some of their foreign counterparts.
The result has been an unprecedented six prosecutions and many more inquiries using aggressive legal and technical tactics. A vast majority of those questioned were cleared of any leaking…
Some officials are now declining to take calls from certain reporters, concerned that any contact may lead to investigation. Some complain of being taken from their offices to endure uncomfortable questioning. And the government officials typically must pay for lawyers themselves, unlike reporters for large news organizations whose companies provide legal representation.
“For every reporter that is dealing with this, there are hundreds of national security officials who feel under siege — without benefit of a corporate legal department or a media megaphone for support,” said a former Obama administration official. “There are lots of people in the government spending lots of money on legal fees.”
Caught up in a public relations crisis, White House officials have drawn open a few curtains, revealing once-secret documents and answering queries that they would ordinarily have dismissed with an eye roll.
But the sharing has been selective and done under duress. It has come in fits and starts to an administration that promised to be the most open in American history.
Many allies of the president think that with this burst of sunshine he has arrested the run of bad news and taken charge of the “narrative.” Even in some Obama-friendly quarters, though, the sharing is seen as too little and too late, and all the more disappointing for the high hopes Obama had set for transparency at the outset of his presidency…
The White House has struggled to “give accurate information on a timely basis,” said Martha Joynt Kumar, a political science professor at Towson University who studies the White House and its relationship with media.
“At times it seems that being a Luddite may be the safest way to do serious national security reporting in a climate where there appears to be an intensifying war on serious journalism,” Mr. Scahill wrote in an e-mail.
Noah Shachtman, editor of Wired.com’s Danger Room blog, said that sources had told him to stay away in the recent climate of leak prosecutions…
Josh Meyer, director of education and outreach at the Medill National Security Journalism Initiative at Northwestern University and a writer for Quartz, said that in the 30 years he has lived on and off in Washington, he has never found journalists to be so skittish about being under the government’s watchful eye.
“It’s so bad that there’s a gallows humor that has sort of emerged out of this,” Mr. Meyer said. “You see journalists at parties, and you joke about ‘How is the investigation going?’ ” People just assume they’re being investigated, and it’s not a good feeling.”
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) on Sunday called for a special prosecutor to investigate both the IRS’s targeting of conservative groups and the Justice Department’s investigations of reporters.
Graham, appearing on “Fox News Sunday,” said that the IRS scandal illustrated a culture of revenge that permeates President Obama’s administration.
The Justice Department’s push to obtain emails from James Rosen, a Fox News reporter, was “clearly an overreach,” Graham said.
“James Rosen is a lot of things, but a criminal co-conspirator he is not,” Graham added. “We’re beginning to criminalize journalism, and I think that should worry us all.”
Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) on Sunday said that Attorney General Eric Holder should not be in charge of investigating the Justice Department’s (DOJ) seizure of communication records of journalists who reported on classified information.
“You cannot investigate yourself,” said Coburn on CBS’s “Face the Nation.” “I think it’s a total conflict of interest.”…
“It doesn’t mean you shouldn’t investigate it,” Coburn said. “And it shouldn’t mean we shouldn’t be tough on that. But allowing the very person that authorized the two things that we are aware today to investigate whether or not he did that appropriately is inappropriate.
“I think we need to separate it from the attorney general, since the decisions were made by him or under him,” Coburn continued. “There’s an inherent conflict of interest in me judging whether or not I did something and reporting to the president.”
So if everybody hates Eric, what’s holding him up? Normally, inconvenient officials are blithely given the heave-ho, and there’s still ample room under the Obama bus for another body or four. It’s also customary for cabinet officials to depart after the first term (see: Clinton, Hillary) as part of a general reshuffling. But not Holder.
The reason is simple: Holder is the id to the president’s massive ego, busily helping to bring about the president’s wish for the “fundamental transformation” of America from his post at Justice. Along with super-ego Valerie Jarrett, Obama’s chief consigliere and all-around Madame Defarge, he’s likely to be among the last to go…
Where Clinton’s appointment was a marriage of convenience, and other cabinet members political picks, Holder shares the president’s mind on issues and speaks as Obama himself would.
Holder is, in short, the perfect apparatchik. And so he survives, trading punches with pesky congressmen and absorbing blows meant for the boss. For Obama to fire him would be like firing himself — and we all know that’s the last thing the president wants to do.
“Right,” said Blair, the former Director of National Intelligence. “And they have been directed, the ones that I knew about, mostly against the U.S. government employees who were talking with reporters which is where I think they should be directed. I know of no institution in America better able to defend itself than the press. So I think that will work out okay. But what I think is that the leaking at the top of this administration … is what sets the tone for those below. And I think that most of the — most of what administration spokesmen should talk about with reporters should be talked about on the record, with their names attached to it. To set an example so that those further down the line don’t think that leaking is the way it’s done, the way it should be done.”