Friday, February 09, 2007
Remember a few years back when word was leaked about a National Security Agency intercept of a September 10th, 2001 al Qaeda e-mail about an attack being nigh? Reportedly, the intercepted message wasn't read until September 12th.
Here's another leak case, a CBS report about an FBI probe into whether AIPAC, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, had a source feeding them information from inside the Defense Department, and yet another, the explosive whistleblower accusation that the NSA was wiretapping Americans in America.
Two interesting things about those leaks - all great embarrassments to the Bush Administration – one is that they were true. The other is, it turns out, that the White House by its actions actually told us so.
This revelation comes courtesy of the upcoming Frontline documentary News War. Early in the first of four one-hour films, which begin on PBS Tuesday, we see an exchange between reporter Lowell Bergman and Dave Szady, former head of counterintelligence for the FBI, about the mechanics of a leak investigation.
Your office got the referral in the Valerie Plame case.
Yes. The FBI runs leak investigations when those leaks involve classified information.
How do you conduct these investigations? I mean, we read about them in the paper, but we have no idea actually what goes on.
Well, first of all, you have a victim agency, the owner of the information, those who classified it. What they have to do is file a report, which consists of 11 questions, and those questions go from was the material properly classified, was the information that was leaked accurate compared to what the actual classified information is?
The information has to be accurate?
So when the government announces a leak investigation and it comes to your office, it's confirming that the report in the newspaper, for example, or on television, was true.
Yes. Indirectly, yes.
That's one way to fact-check.
[LAUGHTER][END OF CLIP]
I'll say. So the next time you see the FBI chasing down a leak, know this. Even if the leaker is never fingered, the government surely is.
[MUSIC UP AND UNDER]