Hamilton, Madison, and Jay

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Location: Mesa, Arizona, United States

Who are we? We're a married couple who has a passion for politics and current events. That's what this site is about. If you read us, you know what we stand for.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

NSA Leaker Discovered

Back in 2005 the New York Times ran a story about a top-secret government program known as the Terrorist Surveillance Program. It was run by the NSA and it intercepted communications coming from abroad from suspected terrorists. Blowing this story should have landed Bill Keller and his reporters in jail because their story did violate the espionage laws on the books. Today, as Scott Mirengoff @ PowerLine reports we now have the name of one of the people involved in that leak. Thomas Tamm is the focus of a Newsweek cover story.

From Scott:

Unfortunately, Newsweek doesn't directly address the criminal component of the question posed in the article, but it's not particularly difficult. Among other things, Tamm violated section 793 and section 798 of the espionage laws. The harder question is whether the New York Times should be prosecuted for violating these laws, a question I took up in the Standard column "Exposure."

One learns from the article that the government is conducting a criminal investigation related to the Times's disclosure of the NSA terrorist surveillance program. Tamm is, not surprisingly, a subject of the investigation. Newsweek reports that a decision on his prosecution will be made by the Obama administration.

Toward the end of the article, Newsweek quotes former DHS official Asa Hutchinson to the effect that Tamm's misconduct caused no detriment to the United States. Given his former position, his opinion might be entitled to some weight. But Hutchinson resigned from his DHS position effective March 1, 2005 to run for governor of Arkansas. The Times's story was published on December 16, 2005. Isikoff leaves these details out of his very long story and therefore withholds sufficient information for the interested reader to evaluate the credibility of Hutchinson's assertion.

I seriously doubt whether Hutchinson has sufficient knowledge to answer the question fairly, but he is any event an attorney representing Tamm. It's a shame that Newsweek didn't choose to pursue that issue in any greater depth. Doing so would shed great light on the "hero or criminal" question that Newsweek's story only pretends to address.

Mr. Tamm did disclose the existence of a classified program that was a tool in our arsenal to combat terrorism, and prevent any further attacks against the United States. To claim that what he did caused no damage to this nation is moot because no attack has occurred since September 11th. But we can chalk that up to multiple layers of security. As I said, the TSP was just one of the tools we had at our disposal.

Because we were not attacked again, does that mean that Mr. Tamm is off the hook. I think not. He still broke the law, and he should be rightly punished for that. The fact that this will play out during the Obama administration does not give us much confidence. While we cannot speak for the President-elect we know that a majority of his nutroots supporters will look at Mr. Tamm as some sort of patriot when in fact the opposite is true.



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