I was honored to be invited to give a keynote speech at an Intelligence Community legal conference last Wednesday, May 6. The speech was entitled Toward Greater Transparency of National Security Legal Work.
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When a journalist writes a tell-all story about a classified operation, and he suspects the story will catalyze anti-American anger, provide fuel for terrorist groups, and cause severe friction with foreign governments, the act of publication is morally fraught. When the story is based on obscenely thin sourcing and careens into conspiracy theories, the decision to publish becomes indefensible. Seymour Hersh has had a long and distinguished history as one of America’s finest investigative journalists. In recent years, he has gone a bit kooky.
A new AP-GFK poll released today finds broad swaths of the American public continue to strongly support the U.S. targeted killing program. The poll was conducted in the days immediately following President Barack Obama's announcement that the United States had mistakenly killed an American and Italian hostage in a drone strike on a suspected al Qaeda compound.
An intelligence community reader writes in with the following response to my post this morning on Dean Baquet's interview with Jack:
The issue is not [only] whether the true name and affiliation [of the covert officer] are known to the editors and reporters of the New York Times, and to the persons in their professional and social circles. It is [also] whether that true name and affiliation are known to vast number
The estimable Mark Mazzetti---the New York Times national security reporter who wrote the story over the weekend that prompted the outing-CIA-officers flap---writes in with the following note in response to
This morning, Jack published an interview he conducted yesterday with New York Times Executive Editor Dean Baquet about the paper's decision the other day to publish the names of three covert CIA officers.
Interview With Dean Baquet, Executive Editor of New York Times, on Publication Decisions About Intelligence Secrets, and More
On April 25, two days after President Obama announced that a U.S. drone strike accidentally killed two innocent hostages, Mark Mazzetti and Matt Apuzzo published a story in the New York Times about congressional and White House support for the CIA’s “targeted killing program.” A major point in the story was that some of the CIA officers who built the CIA’s drone program also led the CIA’s detention and interrogation program.
Director of National Intelligence General Counsel Bob Litt says the NYT “disgraced itself” by “publishing an article in which it purported to name three covert CIA officers.” The article in question identified the “chief of operations during the birth of the agency’s detention and interrogation program [who] then, as head of the C.I.A.
[Update: Ryan Goodman has an excellent post here noting that a January 2013 WaPo article anticipated that CIA would get a waiver for Pakistan ops, albeit not necessarily a waiver specific only to the imminent-threat-to-US-persons rule.]
Adam Entous has an important story in the Wall Street Journal tonight, one that I suspect will get a lot of attention Monday morning.
Yesterday the President acknowledged that the United States inadvertently killed an American citizen and an Italian citizen held hostage by al-Qaida. The killings, he said, took place during “a U.S.