September 11, 2012

Story Wars, Chapter One

Hatched by Dafydd

Word on the street is that Leon Panetta, the hyperpartisan Democratic representative now inexplicably elevated by Barack "You didn't build that" Obama to Secretary of Defense (i.e., America's penultimate military official), is beside himself with rage at the publication of a book by a former US Navy SEAL, Matt Bissonnette (writing under the pseudonym of "Mark Owen"). Panetta has made it quite clear that he's going to drop the hammer on "Owen":

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta is suggesting that a retired Navy SEAL be punished for writing a book giving an insider's account of the U.S. raid that killed terrorist leader Osama bin Laden.

Asked in a network interview if he thinks the writer should be prosecuted, Panetta replied, "I think we have to take steps to make clear to him and to the American people that we're not going to accept this kind of behavior."


Yet it's interesting that Panetta is still not willing to state with authority that "Owen" revealed any classified information whatsoever in the book; the Pentagon is still "reviewing" the situation. Either Panetta and his brass band are inordinately slow readers; or they've already read the dang book twice through, yet still can't find anything in it that shouldn't be. But they're certain that increasingly crabbed and narrow scrutiny will reveal something, anything, to justify prosecution!

The secretary stopped short of accusing the author of revealing classified information, but said Pentagon officials "are currently reviewing that book to determine exactly, you know, what is classified and what isn't, and where those lines are."

(Note that the AP news story charmingly -- or tendentiously -- refuses to print the title of the book: No Easy Day, if you're curious and want to read it yourself. I cannot recall similar MSM reticence and respect for the military's, or at least the Pentagon's tender sensibilities since... well, since the last time a whistleblower blew the whistle on a Democratic president.)

But the most Alice In Wonderland feature of this bizarre brouhaha is that we do have a public figure who has revealed reams, bushels, boxcars of undisputed, highly classified intelligence about this very same raid. And that incontinent leaker is of course Leon Panetta's boss: Barack Hussein Obama, Occupier in Chief.

President B.O. doesn't "leak" SEAL and bin Laden intel; he blasts it from a firehose. But there is a more fiercely urgent distinction between the two, from the president's perspective: When Barack Obama opens the floodgates of classified material, it's to plant a heroic, epic version of the raid that puts Himself front and center. And he clearly intends his gusher of erstwhile secrets to buttress his national-security credentials, paradoxically enough; for on the campaign trail, he thumps his chest and bleats how "he" killed bin Laden... absurdly contrasting himself favorably to the disfavored Mitt Romney, who has never killed anybody.

Given that context, it's very had not to conclude that what really torques off Secretary Panetta is that "Mark Owen" and co-author Kevin Maurer stomp all over Obama's self-serving fairy tale with the dadburned truth. This undercuts any electoral advantage the killing of bin Laden might otherwise confer on the Lightbringer and Ocean Subsider.

Obama and minions are hopping mad because No Easy Day rained on Obama's campaign parade.

AP's final paragraph is a wonder of undetected irony:

Panetta said the book, which went on sale this week, raises troubling national security questions.

"Well, I think when somebody talks about the particulars of how those operations are conducted, it tells our enemies, essentially, how we operate and what we do to go after them," he said.

Preach it, Grandmaster P.!

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, September 11, 2012, at the time of 1:40 PM


The following hissed in response by: Bart Johnson

All those who separate from DoD service, whether military or civilian, who had access to classified material, are required to sign several forms.
One of these is acknowledgement of a requirement to submit anything to be published to the Department for review before publication.
Books may not be published without

  • prior review and approval
  • for a period, normally ten years.

    The above hissed in response by: Bart Johnson [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 12, 2012 1:08 PM

    The following hissed in response by: Dafydd ab Hugh

    Bart Johnson:

    Ah, so that's why it's perfectly reasonable for Secretary Panetta to condemn "Mark Owen" for leaking probably unclass intel, while at the same time praising Barack H. Obama to the skies and working hard to reelect him.


    The above hissed in response by: Dafydd ab Hugh [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 12, 2012 1:19 PM

    The following hissed in response by: Bart Johnson

    I would never say it's reasonable, but it is legal.
    Title 18, sections in the 800 block are the defining legal definitions for the whole classification system.
    Since all authority to classify or declassify comes from the President, anything he does with classified material is, ipso facto, legal.
    Which, of course, should not be confused with "right".

    The above hissed in response by: Bart Johnson [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 14, 2012 7:29 PM

    The following hissed in response by: Beldar

    I read the book. Unless the brand names for some of the non-spec clothing used by SEALs are classified, I certainly didn't see anything that struck me as likely to endanger national security.

    There are actually only a couple of places where the author shares his (and if he's believed, most of his fellow SEALs') opinion of President Obama, and it's certainly not a flattering one. But the book has a very detailed bibliography, and while I didn't do any double-checking, my confident expectation is that everything about any of the black operations described in the book -- with the exception of the author's personal feelings about what was going on -- has already been published elsewhere, and that those bibliography entries are Defense Exhibit 1 in any hypothetical prosecution.

    The above hissed in response by: Beldar [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 17, 2012 10:10 PM

    The following hissed in response by: Beldar

    Subject, potentially, to his correction or clarification, I think Mr. Johnson was actually probably referring to 18 U.S.C. § 798, entitled "Disclosure of classified information." Its subsection (a) provides:

    Whoever knowingly and willfully communicates, furnishes, transmits, or otherwise makes available to an unauthorized person, or publishes, or uses in any manner prejudicial to the safety or interest of the United States or for the benefit of any foreign government to the detriment of the United States any classified information —
    (1) concerning the nature, preparation, or use of any code, cipher, or cryptographic system of the United States or any foreign government; or

    (2) concerning the design, construction, use, maintenance, or repair of any device, apparatus, or appliance used or prepared or planned for use by the United States or any foreign government for cryptographic or communication intelligence purposes; or

    (3) concerning the communication intelligence activities of the United States or any foreign government; or

    (4) obtained by the processes of communication intelligence from the communications of any foreign government, knowing the same to have been obtained by such processes —

    Shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than ten years, or both.

    I saw nothing in the book regarding codes or cyphers, nor regarding "cryptographic or communication intelligence" devices. That would leave the two subsections on "communications intelligence." The author describes some of what the SEALs had been told by CIA and other intelligence sources, but that's exactly the type of detail that I would expect that the author, his publisher, and their respective lawyers had already confirmed to have been earlier placed into the public domain (often by Obama Administration officials). That is to say, the cats the author identified had not only already escaped the bag, but had been belled by the government.

    That's not to say the DoJ couldn't drum up some kind of prosecution, whether under this or some other statute. With the overreach in federal laws in the last half-century, we're all of us felons of one sort of another every day if the prosecutors happen to squint just right.

    And this is, after all, the same DOJ who's trying to block the disclosure of the "name of a Navy SEAL involved in training the squad of commandos who carried out the raid that killed Osama bin Laden," even though it was already given out to the makers of the expected-to-be pro-Obama film "Zero Dark Thirty." They have no shame, and so behave shamelessly as a matter of course.

    The above hissed in response by: Beldar [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 17, 2012 10:37 PM

    The following hissed in response by: Bart Johnson

    It's been a verry long time since I read that stuff, and I don't have easy access to it (it's probably there, but I don't know where) but I think it was 18USC804 and/or 805 that deals with definitions of classified material and who has access to it.
    Anyway, I'm pretty sure that's the right neighborhood.

    The above hissed in response by: Bart Johnson [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 19, 2012 8:58 PM

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