Skip to content

Leon Panetta Flouts CIA Review Board Over $3 Million Book Deal, Moonlighting at the NSA, and Much More: FRINFORMSUM 10/23/2014

October 23, 2014
Leon Panetta holds a copy of The Washington Post reporting Osama bin Laden's death. Courtesy of the Panetta Institute

Leon Panetta holds a copy of The Washington Post reporting Osama bin Laden’s death.
Courtesy of the Panetta Institute

Former CIA director Leon Panetta, in what appears to be a violation of the secrecy agreement that requires all past and present CIA employees to submit any agency-related material that they “contemplate disclosing publicly” to the CIA’s Publications Review Board for approval, allowed his publisher to begin making copies of his memoir before it cleared the review process. Panetta was willing to challenge the agency review process over his book, Worthy Fights, which he received a $3 million book deal for, despite the fact that while serving as Secretary of Defense he “scolded” ex-SEAL Matt Bissonnette for publishing his account of the raid to kill Osama bin Laden, and said of a book written by a former CIA official against agency wishes that “CIA officers are duty-bound to observe the terms of their secrecy agreement with the agency.” Despite being “duty-bound” to secrecy, while CIA director Panetta gave his “full approval/support” to granting Hollywood filmmakers Kathryn Bigelow and Mark Boal extensive access to CIA files and personnel for their film on the raid to capture Osama bin Laden, Zero Dark Thirty, even though most of these files remain shielded from the public.

Panetta allegedly grew “so frustrated with CIA delays and demands for redactions that he appealed to CIA Director John Brennan and threatened to proceed with publication without clearance from the agency.” Panetta’s frustration likely had something to do with Publications Review Board’s nonsensical ban on “references to CIA operations, including drone strikes, even when they have been mentioned by the president and documented extensively in the news media.” For example, even though Panetta publically commented on the CIA’s lethal drone campaign while manning the agency, comments that were so extensive that the American Civil Liberties Union argued in court the program could no longer be considered a government secret, “CIA drone strikes and other operations are described only obliquely” in his memoir.

Former NSA director Alexander, seen here in a panel discussion at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) in Washington, June 2, 2014, did everything right but is going to stop doing it anyway because he might get in trouble...Photo Credit: REUTERS/YURI GRIPAS

Former NSA director Alexander, seen here in a panel discussion at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) in Washington, June 2, 2014, did everything right but is going to stop doing it anyway because he might get in trouble…Photo Credit: REUTERS/YURI GRIPAS

IronNet Cybersecurity Inc, led by the former head of the National Security Agency (NSA), Keith Alexander, has ended its moonlighting agreement with a current agency official after the Senate Intelligence Committee announced it would investigate the arrangement. The Committee specifically wanted to examine the NSA’s “internal review” of the agreement that would have allowed Patrick Dowd, the NSA’s chief technical officer, to work 20 hours a week for Alexander’s company. Alexander announced the decision to end the arrangement by saying, “While we understand we did everything right, I think there’s still enough issues out there that create problems for Dr. Dowd, for NSA, for my company.”

The Senate Intelligence Committee’s report on the CIA’s torture program does not address the oversight role of the White House and or Bush “administration lawyers in crafting the legal framework that permitted the CIA to use simulated drowning called waterboarding and other interrogation methods widely described as torture,” according to recent McClatcy reporting. Elizabeth Goitein, the co-director of the Brennan Center for Justice’s Liberty and National Security Program at the New York University Law School, said that if this is the case it is “then that’s a pretty serious indictment of the report.” The Senate report also does not recommend any new punishments or further criminal inquiries into the program.

Poland is appealing the European Court of Human Rights ruling that it violated its human rights commitments by allowing the CIA to maintain a secret “black prison” site on Polish territory as part of the CIA’s post-9/11 extraordinary rendition program. Poland continues to insist it never allowed the CIA to operate such a facility, despite the 2008 admission by CIA officials to the AP that a prison operated in Poland “from December 2002 until the fall of 2003.” Human rights groups believe more than a handful of terror suspects were held there, including Khalid Sheikh Mohammed.

In a significant reversal from the stance President Obama took as a Senator, the White House may reaffirm a Bush-era interpretation of a torture treaty arguing that its obligations do not apply to US actions abroad, and that the US is not obligated “to bar cruelty outside its borders.” The administration will be forced to declare a position on the treaty before it sends a delegation to Geneva to appear before the Committee Against Torture next month. Debate surrounding the limitations of the torture treaty trace back to a leaked 2005 Department of Justice memo addressed to then White House counsel Alberto R. Gonzales “that narrowly interpreted a statute banning torture. The memo’s focus on determining exactly what constituted torture was puzzling because the treaty made cruelty short of torture illegal, too. The mystery was solved when Mr. Gonzales revealed that Justice Department lawyers had concluded that the treaty’s cruelty ban did not protect noncitizens in American custody abroad.”

Bradlee and WaPo publisher Katharine Graham leave the U.S. District Court in D.C. on June 21, 1971. The newspaper got the go-ahead to print the Pentagon Papers. AP photo

Bradlee and WaPo publisher Katharine Graham leave the U.S. District Court in D.C. on June 21, 1971. The newspaper got the go-ahead to print the Pentagon Papers. AP photo

Ben Bradlee, former editor of the Washington Post who directed the paper’s Watergate coverage and ran the Pentagon Papers, died at the age of 93. Years after former solicitor general Erwin Griswold argued before the Supreme Court that publishing the Pentagon Papers could harm national security, a case the government lost 6-3, Griswold admitted, “I have never seen any trace of a threat to the national security from the publication.”

The FOIA Advisory Committee, established by the second Open Government National Action Plan and charged to improve FOIA administration, met for the second time earlier this week. The committee is comprised of ten government officials and ten non-government experts, including the Archive’s FOIA Coordinator Nate Jones, and discussed fee issues, a FOIA litigation review, and proactive disclosures. Unredacted will post a more thorough analysis of this second meeting next week.

Arhivist Jeff Richelson’s latest posting for the Nuclear Vault examines documents detailing the origins and functions of the NSA’s Defense Special Missile and Aerospace Center (DEFSMAC), which was created to cover Soviet missile launches and now tracks missile launches worldwide 24/7. DEFSMAC, “little known to the public,” provides alerts on missile launches ranging from Chinese ICBMs to Iraqi short-range ballistic missiles during the first Gulf War.

nytHolzerSunday’s issue of T: The New York Times Style Magazine features a spectacular orange page designed by the artist Jenny Holzer showcasing the National Security Archive. The Times asked Holzer and 14 other prominent artists to produce a page apiece in an “Advertisements for Myself” series. Holzer devoted her page to a Malevich-style block of orange color with only the words “The National Security Archive” and URLs for the Archive’s main Web site and online donation site.

Today’s #tbt document pick, chosen with Leon Panetta’s lucrative book deal and support for the makers of Zero Dark Thirty in mind, is a June 15, 2011, email from Assistant Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs Doug Wilson to Deputy National Security Advisor for Strategic Communications Benjamin Rhodes assuring Rhodes that the ZD30 project had the “full knowledge and full approval/support” of CIA Director Leon Panetta. As Nate Jones notes, “The U.S. government’s recalcitrance over releasing information directly to the public about the twenty-first century’s most important intelligence search and military raid, and its decision instead to grant the film’s producers exclusive and unprecedented access to classified information about the operation, means that for the time being – for bad or good – Hollywood has become the public’s ‘account of record’ for Operation Neptune Spear.” Today’s #tbt pick is part of a collection of emails and memos released in response to a Judicial Watch FOIA request, and collectively detail ZD30 filmmakers’ privileged access to “CIA Deputy Director Mike Morell, DOD Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence Michael Vickers, and five CIA and military operatives involved in the raid.”

Screen Shot 2014-10-23 at 8.53.46 AM

Happy FOIA-ing!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: