Washington DC is filled to overflowing with classified information, classified information which continues to regularly appear in the media from the New York Times to the Washington Post to the Internet news sites. It is an epidemic.
It is a crime (Sec 793 of the Espionage Act lays it out) to reveal classified information.
1. Reveal national defense information to someone who is not cleared to receive it — gets you a fine plus up to 10 years in prison.
2. If you “steal” that information, you get 10 years and a fine.
3. If the information is classified and pertinent to US or foreign communications intel activities – means and methods – yep, 10 years and a fine.
4. If you obtain access to classified info by means of computer access without authorization or beyond the authorization you hold, you get 10 years plus a fine.
5. If you disclose the identity of a covert agent (of any part of the government), directly or indirectly, you get 15 years plus a fine.
6. If you lie to the FBI or obstruct a criminal investigation about classified information, you can be sentenced from 5 to 20 years in prison.
This is some serious stuff; and, yet, it happens all the time.
Leakers, why now, Big Red Car?
The reason this is important has to do with a case which was revealed yesterday in which one James A Wolfe, a 29-year veteran of classified document stewardship for the Senate Intelligence Committee as its Director of Security. Here are the troubling facts:
1. Wolfe is a Deep State operator with three decades of experience at an extremely sensitive location in the intel racket. He saw every document ever run by the Senate Intelligence Committee.
He, literally, received every document from all the intel agencies and transmitted them to the Senators as well as oversaw their physical security.
2. He was indicted for making false statements to the FBI in regard to contact he’d had with members of the press. The lies were told in the context of a leak investigation. No question there were leaks. The investigation tried to pinpoint the identity of the leakers.
3. At the other end of the leak investigation was one Ali Watkins, New York Times reporter formerly with BuzzFeed, Politoco, HuffPo, and McClatchy. She was in the leak reporting business for years with four different entities who play fast pitch ball. She climbed the ladder from cub reporter at McClatchy to THE National Security Reporter for the New York Times. Well played, Ali babe.
4. Turns out Wolfe and Watkins had a 3-year romantic liaison and that he initially denied the romance to the FBI. Ahhh, isn’t love grand?
When the FBI confronted Wolfe with pictures of him and Watkins, he said, “Oh, that Ali Watkins. Sure, I know her. Been sleeping with her for three years.”
BTW, he is 58 and she is 26, so I am certain it was true love, no? You don’t think she was trading sex for info? Nah, it was true love.
5. Watkins is a big deal because there are specific stories which can be traced that she wrote. Clearly, the source of those stories could have been Wolfe and a bit of pillow talk.
6. There are two other reporters involved, but Watkins is the big one. The FBI has seized her digital records – cell phone, text, emails. Initially, this was done without her knowledge. What they found is disturbing — an enormous volume of contact in a timely manner before and after breaking important stories.
As you can imagine, the media is aghast with the notion that a reporter’s sources are being scrutinized.
Ali Watkins is in a lot more trouble than just a “source disclosure” issue. She knew that info was classified. She knew her bunkmate was breaking the law (conspiracy for those following at home). She is in big trouble.
It doesn’t stop with her. She was a NYT employee. They knew what was going on.
She had been working Wolfe man BEFORE she went to work with the NYT. Arguably, they hired her because of the quality of her sources.
7. It gets worse — they were communicating using encrypted apps. Why does one use encrypted apps? Haha, you’re smart, aren’t you?
There were clandestine face-to-face meetings between Wolfe and other reporters. We are talking tens of thousands of text messages and hundreds of meetings. This was no small thing.
Big deal, Big Red Car?
It is sort of a big deal because the classified Wolfe was spoon feeding to Watkins (well, between rolls in the hay) was Mueller stuff. They outed Carter Page, he of the FISA warrants which justified the entire Mueller thang.
This is a big deal, y’all.
What’s going to happen, Big Red Car?
Hard to say, but there is some interesting background. Let me share a bit.
1. Stephen Jin-Woo Kim was sentenced to 13 months in prison after pleading guilty to sharing classified info on North Korea with a Fox news reporter. After the plea deal, a lot of people called the actual info a “nothing burger.”
2. Gen David Petreaus was sentenced to two years probation and a $100,000 fine for mishandling classified materials in conjunction with a girlfriend, Paula Broadwell, writing a bio of him.
This was a very serious transgression as the info which was made available to Broadwell (West Pointer and reserve officer) included code words identifying secret programs, covert officer identities, and war strategy. None of the info ever became public which is an important distinction.
3. Jeffrey Sterling, former CIA officer, was sentenced on Monday to 42 months in prison for leaking classified info to a NYT reporter. He went to trial and lost on nine charges.
Sterling’s leaks were made to NYT reporter James Risen who used them in a book he wrote called “State of War.”
The prosecution charged that Sterling’s leaks and Risen’s subsequent publication of them caused the US to abandon a covert program targeting Iran’s nuclear program.
4. James Kiriakou, former CIA officer and self-styled whistleblower, pled guilty to revealing the identity of an undercover CIA operative and was sentenced to 30 months in prison. He tried to package his defense as an attempt to reveal US waterboarding, sort of whistleblower lite. The CIA operative whose name he revealed to a reporter was involved in waterboarding.
Bottom line it, Big Red Car
Here’s the bottom line.
This case is a real world, Mueller investigation example of leaking to the NYT. Hell, they revealed the identity of Carter Page, the guy at the center of all those FISA warrants. This isn’t chopped liver.
Let me say what everyone is reluctant to say — Ali Watkins was trading sexual splendor for leaks. It doesn’t get any more raw than that. She was turning tricks for leaks and her name isn’t even Stormy.
Trading a shot of leg for info is the way the NYT rolls. Bit of reverse #MeToo, no?
James A Wolfe is as well connected as a man could be in the intel racket. He was the number one document guy at the Senate Intel Committee. He’d been in the intel racket for three decades. He had the highest security clearance a man can get.
Somebody — a few people — need to go to jail. It is time to set an example on the issue of leaking.
Failing to punish those involved just ensures there will be more leaks.