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Welcome to my Blog! Thanks for stopping by. I'll be posting from time to time my adventures in writing and my trials and tribulations in the publishing world, along with anything relevant in regards to current events, the U.S. Air Force, and the U.S. Intelligence community that appears in the press. Please note that anything I post is not reflective or representative of any official position of the U.S. Government, the Department of Defense, or the U.S. Air Force; only my views and opinions as a private citizen.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Is Disclosing Classified Information a Crime?

Fox News reported today that Senator Dianne Feinstein (D - California), a member of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence (SSCI), during a public committee hearing last week, apparently compromised the use of a Pakistani airbase by U.S. Predator drones. The SSCI was questioning the new Director of National Intelligence Dennis Blair about the threat assessment he had just delivered to the committee. The Fox News article quoted her as follows:

" 'Mr. Holbrooke, in Pakistan, ran into considerable concern about the use of the Predator strikes in the FATA area of Pakistan," Feinstein said to Blair, referring to Richard Holbrooke, President Obama's special envoy to Pakistan and Afghanistan. "And yet, as I understand it, these are flown out of a Pakistani base.' "

The fact that Predators were flying from a Pakistani airbase had apparently been determined to be a classified fact by the Department of Defense and presumably by both President Bush's and President Obama's administrations. As a member of the SSCI, Senator Feinstein, along with members of her professional staff, would have been required to sign non-disclosure agreements formally acknowledging that she was obligated to protect classified national security information and ensure it was not improperly disclosed to unauthorized individuals.

Had a professional member of the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD), or Intelligence Community (IC) had publicized or provided to a member of the news media this fact, they would likely have been guilty of violating U.S. Code, Title 18, Part I, Chapter 37, Section 793, paragraph D of U.S. law.

Assuming the professional member of the DoD or U.S. IC had been identified and prosecuted, the penalty under the law, as identified in 18 USC, Part I, Chapter 37, Section 793 is a fine and/or ten years imprisonment. The individual would also have had his or her security clearance rescinded immediately, and have likely had been placed on administrative leave.

If, in fact, the presence of the Predator airbase inside Pakistan was a classified fact, and that Senator Feinstein was informed that this information was classified; you would expect that she would be prosecuted for this violation of law.

I would I sincerely hope that the U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia, and the FBI Field Office, would conduct an investigation into this disclosure. However, I'm quite sure that as a sitting U.S. Senator, she will be given far more latitude for her verbal faux pas, the internal embarrassment an admittedly imperfect ally must now suffer, and her potential violation of U.S. law.

It's a shame that the more common U.S. citizen or career employee of the U.S. government would not likely receive the same treatment.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I liked your entry about the apparent leak of classified information by a Senator and put a link to it on my website, www.clearedcommuity.com.