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Thomas Tamm Was the TSP Leaker:
Earlier news reports had tagged Justice Department lawyer Thomas Tamm as a suspect in the investigation into who leaked the Terrorist Surveillance Program to the New York Times back in 2005. In the latest Newsweek, Tamm admits that he was the leaker and makes his case for why he did it. (In the small world department, Tamm and I started working at DOJ on the same day in October 1998. I remember him from the 1st day briefing. Strange.)
John Herbison (mail):
Kudos to Mr. Tamm. If only the New York Times had shown the testicular fortitude to have run the story before the miscreant adminstration was re-elected!

There is a potentially available remedy for the Bush administration's lawlessness which I have seen little discussion of, so I will throw it out here.

Paragraph 7 of Article I, § 3 of the Constitution states:
Judgment in cases of impeachment shall not extend further than to removal from office, and disqualification to hold and enjoy any office of honor, trust or profit under the United States: but the party convicted shall nevertheless be liable and subject to indictment, trial, judgment and punishment, according to law.

The expiration of the current president's term accordingly does not make impeachment moot; the House can still investigate and vote articles of impeachment, with the Senate to determine disqualification from holding federal office in the future.

This is not a mere academic question. After serving as president, John Quincy Adams served in the House of Representatives and William Howard Taft served as Chief Justice of the United States. After serving as vice-president, Richard Nixon and George H. W. Bush served as president (other than by succession to a vacancy), and Hubert Humphrey served as a U. S. Senator. Walter Mondale served as Ambassador to Japan and was nominated to run for the Senate from Minnesota when Senator Paul Wellstone died in a plane crash.

In light of suggestions that the outgoing president may issue pre-emptive pardons, here's hoping that the incoming Congress will pursue articles of impeachment as to whether President Bush has taken care that the laws be faithfully executed as to electronic surveillance, among other topics.
12.15.2008 1:52am
Mike G in Corvallis (mail):
Mr. Herbison, don't you think it would have been courteous to wait until there were at least a few on-topic comments before you tried to hijack the thread?n
12.15.2008 2:54am
Sagar:
did Tamm break any laws in leaking?
12.15.2008 2:58am
donaldk2 (mail):
President Lincoln flouted the law, and so did Andrew Jackson.

When you're at war, act like you're at war. Same thing with waterboarding, or "torture" as all the Nice-Nellies like to refer to it.

Speaking for me and my children and grandchildren I wish they had done more of it.
12.15.2008 4:21am
lonetown (mail):
I wonder how many lives he cost.
12.15.2008 5:39am
Dr. Weevil (mail) (www):
OK:
Can you clarify your last sentence (or sentence-fragment)? Do you mean "It is strange" that you happened to start work at the same place on the same day as someone now belatedly famous? Or do you mean "He seemed strange" even then, in your opinion? Either would fit the context.
12.15.2008 6:13am
Alexia:
Pathetic that nobody was held accountable for breaking the law.

And I don't care who else broke laws. It means they were wrong too.
12.15.2008 7:34am
Happyshooter:
To sum up the Newsweek article:

A lifelong democrat got mad that Boooossssh was trying cases where the bad guy could get the death penalty.

He found out about a program that was helping to protect America from terrorists, and decided to sabotage it to get back at Bush.

A friend in the senate staff didn't want to harm America, but the New York Times did.
12.15.2008 8:33am
Sarcastro (www):
Happyshooter is right. This is clearly personal, and has nothing to do with principled policy concerns.

This program so clearly helps protect America from terrorists with no downside that anyone who doesn't like it just hates Bush for no good reason.

Also, this is you, Dems: "Boooossssh!" Haha! Take that!
12.15.2008 8:37am
Richard Aubrey (mail):
If there's a case--among a large number of worthy candidates--where the actual, fundamental issue is BDS, this is in the top ten.
As Reynolds says, it's like they're not even trying to hide it any more.
12.15.2008 8:38am
ObeliskToucher:
Now that he's confessed, what are the potential consequences?
12.15.2008 8:39am
Brad Ford:
I wonder if the US Attorney's under Obama will have the guts to prosecute him for leaking classified information. Probably Not.

Of course, that is why he waited until now to out himself.
12.15.2008 8:53am
Sara:
"A lifelong democrat"

It is, of course, derangement syndrom when you're so partisan you cannot get the facts straight. The guy was the head of a young Republican chapter.
12.15.2008 9:02am
Bpbatista (mail):
This guy is a traitor. It would be ironic justice if he or his family were killed in a terrorist attack that he helped escape detection.
12.15.2008 9:33am
JosephSlater (mail):
I note with some sadness that it is now clear that Orin Kerr has pal'ed around with terrorist-supporters. I'm not saying that Orin himself supports terrorists, necessarily, or at least there isn't clear and convincing evidence of that, yet. But all these shady connections do create some possible/plausible/real/extremely damning concerns.
12.15.2008 9:49am
R Nebblesworth:
If the NSA can't listen to our troop's phone-sex calls, the terrorists have won. Who knows how many lives were saved by intercept operators who bravely listened to "good phone sex or some pillow talk" between our fellow Americans?
12.15.2008 9:49am
Bob from Ohio (mail):
Francis Townshend is right of course. There are procedures that Tamm could have followed.

One thing he could have done was went to a senior Democrat in Congress. Intelligence Committee for instance

There are other things. He could have even went to a FISA court judge.

He choose not to do so. So, his struggles are his own fault. He choose to put his career and family at risk so his whining now is a bit rich.

He wanted it both ways. Civil disobedience and whistle blowing but no downside. Does not work that way.
12.15.2008 10:32am
Dave N (mail):
I have no sympathy for this guy. If you are entrusted with classified information, particularly in a national security setting, it is not up to YOU to decide that you disagree with the government and want to spill your guts to a newspaper. And I don't give a damn what justification you think you have.

There are plenty of other ways to blow the whistle.
12.15.2008 10:34am
Richard Nieporent (mail):
There is the office of the Inspector General that he could have contacted before going to the press. You would hope that someone who is so concerned about illegalities would follow the law. But I guess that is asking too much.
12.15.2008 10:43am
Richard Aubrey (mail):
Since the O admin will be doing the same sort of thing, it might be prudent for them to prosecute this guy.
12.15.2008 10:58am
jukeboxgrad (mail):
happy:

A friend in the senate staff didn't want to harm America, but the New York Times did.


Naturally. And NYT's desire "to harm America" is demonstrated by the fact that they failed to publish the story prior to the election, even though they had the story prior to the election. I guess they figured the best way "to harm America" was to help Bush get reelected.

Which makes perfect sense, since Bush actually said this:

Our enemies are innovative and resourceful, and so are we. They never stop thinking about new ways to harm our country and our people, and neither do we.
12.15.2008 11:16am
jukeboxgrad (mail):
dave n:

If you are entrusted with classified information, particularly in a national security setting, it is not up to YOU to decide that you disagree with the government and want to spill your guts to a newspaper.


Hopefully we would see similar outrage when the "classified information" is the identity of a covert agent.
12.15.2008 11:19am
Patrick216:
[Deleted by Ok on civility grounds]
12.15.2008 11:24am
Richard Aubrey (mail):
[Deleted by Ok on civility grounds]
12.15.2008 11:25am
Sarcastro (www):
[Deleted by Ok on civility grounds]
12.15.2008 11:32am
Connecticut Lawyer (mail):
I sincerely hope that Mr. Tamm is blacklisted and can't find work anywhere as a lawyer. Who would ever trust him with their confidences? He clearly would sell anyone out to suit his own interests.
12.15.2008 11:35am
jukeboxgrad (mail):
aubrey:

Plame wasn't [covert].


Hmm, let's see. Hayden. Appointed by the Bush administration. Said Plame was covert. Fitzgerald. Appointed by the Bush administration. Said Plame was covert.

I think I see your point: Bush appointees can't be trusted.

Armitage outed her


Certain people like to say that Armitage was 'the' leaker. This falsely implies he was the only one. Armitage was one of four known leakers. The others are Libby, Rove and Fleischer.
12.15.2008 11:37am
John Moore (www):
Tamm is not only a blatant law violator, but is also anti-Democratic. His actions intentionally undermined the war efforts of a democratically elected executive, violating laws enacted by the democratically enacted congress. His actions are antithetical to the functioning of democracy.

Throw the book at him.

Likewise, the behavior of the New York Times was inexcusable (so what's new?). It is not up to them (or Tamm) to determine the legality of the program, nor the potential damage of the revelations.

This illustrates a reason for us to have new definitions of war to handle the current situation. This wartime betrayal deserves wartime punishment.

Throw two books at him.
12.15.2008 11:50am
John Moore (www):
Perhaps we could adopt the approach Ben detailed for harassing Bush, and use them against this guy. Let's have small and large towns with Republican DA's, and various red states, indict this guy on all sorts of charges - say, obstruction of justice. Heck, our local Sheriff Joe Arpaio no doubt already has his a tent and properly sized pink underwear just waiting for this guy. If not, I guess I'll call him up and suggest it!
12.15.2008 11:54am
Thorley Winston (mail) (www):
I agree with Patrick216, if he truly believed that there was something illegal going on and his superiors were either part of it or complicit covering it up, he has been around long enough to know the legal ways that he could allay his concerns. There was simply no justification for what he did and while he probably won’t get prosecuted under the Obama administration, he’s at least managed to ruin himself in the process.
12.15.2008 12:15pm
David Larsomn (mail):
Put him in front of a firing squad. Now.
12.15.2008 12:17pm
David Larsomn (mail):
I also recommend hanging--by the "short drop" method--for every NYT exec who had anything to do with the decision to publish this story. I'm serious.

[Ok comments: David, I remember that you also seriously wanted all of the Justices who joined Wickard v. Filburn to be charged and convicted of treason, which I assume would also mean they should have been hanged, too. Anyone else?]
12.15.2008 12:18pm
R Nebblesworth:
Yikes. Doesn't take much to bring out the eliminationists, I see.
12.15.2008 12:28pm
Brian Garst (www):
I don't believe his actions were justified or that they should be celebrated. It is simply impossible for an administration to run a foreign policy of their choosing if any staffer at any level is free to unilaterally decide to undermine them with no consequences. If he believed the law was being violated, his duty was to inform Congress, which possesses the means to actually do something about it, not the New York Times. If Congress chose not to act, he should have considered that they might understand something which he does not, and then deferred to the judgments of our elected officials who must actually answer, unlike him, to how well our nation is defended.
12.15.2008 12:29pm
Happyshooter:
It is, of course, derangement syndrom when you're so partisan you cannot get the facts straight. The guy was the head of a young Republican chapter.

The article also describes how he grew up.
12.15.2008 12:30pm
RPT (mail):
"donaldk2:

Speaking for me and my children and grandchildren I wish they had done more of it."

Because the torture and surveillance has been proven so effective.

Is the conservative consensus that the incoming President can take any actions he chooses (against them or anyone else) in secret so long as he finds some lawyer willing to write a memo rationalizing the actions? Is that the new standard?
12.15.2008 12:32pm
Whistleblower:
I'm curious if opinions change based on http://www.newsweek.com/id/174601/output/print

Tamm's supervisor stated "I assume what they are doing is illegal."

And Bob from Ohio, he went to the Senate Judiciary Committee, which declined to act.

So
12.15.2008 12:43pm
einhverfr (mail) (www):
Brian Garst:

If Congress chose not to act, he should have considered that they might understand something which he does not, and then deferred to the judgments of our elected officials who must actually answer, unlike him, to how well our nation is defended.


If you read the article, his attempts to bring the matter to Congress didn't go anywhere because people didn't want to talk about classified information. If you can't make Congress aware that there might be a problem, it is hard to meet that responsibility.

David Larsomn:

How many terrorist attacks have we suffered since 911 RPT?


In August of 2001, how many Al Qaeda attacks had we suffered in the previous 8 years?
12.15.2008 12:54pm
RPT (mail):
"David Larsonm:

How many terrorist attacks have we suffered since 911 RPT? Are you aware of a bunch that you're just not telling us about?"

What attacks have been prevented by these programs? You don't know and neither do I. Leaving aside the as yet unsolved anthrax attacks, and the attacks against US troops at various places around the world, and possible cyber-attacks attributed to others, the answer is that there have not been any additional publicized attacks on the order of 9.11 since that date. However, the record, including the somewhat incomplete 9.11 Commission Report, indicates that the only reason that attack was successful was due to massive incompetence from the top down, ignoring intelligence warnings, PDB's and so on, both before and during the attack themselves. Forget the "firewall excuse, Jamie Gorelick, etc. 9.11 should have been prevented if competent people had been in charge. The current administration was and remains incompetent in its task of protecting or governing the United States and was effective only at the protection and promotion of crony interests.
12.15.2008 12:56pm
OrinKerr:
Folks, I am closing up the comment threads on grounds that too many comments are useless and over the top. I deleted a bunch but they keep coming, so that's enough.
12.15.2008 12:59pm