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Is John Deutch the Right Person to Comment

on screw-ups by the US government mishandling secret material and posting information it shouldn't be posting online?

I can't possibly be the only person who finds it weird that the New York Times's story about the mistake the US government made in posting a confidential report on nukes in the US quotes former CIA director John Deutch to the effect that "screwups happen" with confidential information? Yet makes no mention at all of Deutch's own phenomenol screw-ups in keeping CIA files on an unprotected computer at his home, among numerous other security breaches -- breaches noteworthy mostly for the attitude of genial contempt with which Deutch held the secrets of his own agency? Says the Times:

"These screw-ups happen," said John M. Deutch, a former director of central intelligence and deputy secretary of defense who is now a professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. "It's going further than I would have gone but doesn't look like a serious breach."

Here is the CIA Inspector General's report from 1998.

"Going further than I would have gone"? I think I will chalk this up to a sublimely dry sense of humor on the part of some editor at the NYT and leave it at that. One can only admire the supreme editorial self-confidence that allows a newspaper to deliver the punch-line entirely by indirection -- tacit, as it were.

Ilya Somin:
I wish I could defend my fellow Amherst College graduate on this. But sadly, there really isn't any excuse for what he did.
6.2.2009 11:07pm
Kenneth Anderson:
I sound a little more censorious in that post that I meant to - mostly I was just impressed with the NYT's tacit joke.
6.2.2009 11:18pm
ChrisTS (mail):
KA: I agree: I thought the Times reporter was being very clever.

Hey, stuff happens, ya know?
6.2.2009 11:20pm
Malvolio:
I guess he's some sort of expert in the area, like Kevin Mitnick or Frank Abagnale.
6.2.2009 11:32pm
Bill Poser (mail) (www):
As far as I can see, all of the problems described in the Inspector General's report concern Deutsch's use of computers, and that is all I have heard of elsewhere. What are the "numerous other security breaches"?
6.2.2009 11:54pm
Kenneth Anderson:
Numerous breaches of computer security would be more precise. However, as I more or less recall, there was another issue related to Deutch refusing to allow the special CIA secure communications chamber to be installed in his home that would permit phone conversations on a secure basis, or something like that. As I recall, and I haven't checked, he thought it would make too much of a mess in his house.
6.3.2009 12:03am
drunkdriver:
Tune in next week: a story about mangled reporting, will feature Walter Duranty quotes about how "inaccuracies happen" in otherwise prize-winning journalism.
6.3.2009 12:16am
zuch (mail) (www):
Wouldn't it be fair to say that if anyone knows that "screwups happen", Deutsch would know. FWIW, he was my old P.Chem prof way back, and one to be avoided in my opinion, but I'll grant perhaps his expertise here.

Cheers,
6.3.2009 12:35am
Kanuni:
Ken Anderson,

I hadn't heard, but you're absolutely right. The room is called a SCIF—more details in NYTimes below.

NY Times ARticle

The CIA frequently has a tumultuous time with its heads—the former DCIs (Director of Central Intelligence) now just the DCIA (Director of the CIA). Believe it or not, President Bush (the original!) remains wildly popular as someone who in a very short tenure as DCI turned around agency morale. Many like Deutch and Goss are...remembered less fondly. To a large degree I think the chiefs are seen as outsiders who will have their day in the spotlight and then be gone...like most government agencies i suppose.
6.3.2009 12:35am
Fugle:
The NYT should have asked Sandy Berger.
6.3.2009 12:48am
Magic Dog (mail):
Maybe some of you should ask your hero George the War Criminal Bush about his and Cheney's deliberate blowing of the cover of an active CIA agent. But hey, if Republicans are traitors it's okay by you.
6.3.2009 3:14am
geokstr (mail):
Who better than the NY Times to be nonchalant about the accidental release of confidential and even top-secret information? After all, it's their bread and butter, and some of it ain't even so accidental.
6.3.2009 8:48am
wfjag:
Perhaps they should have asked the President about e-security issues:


Exclusive: Barack Obama's Sensitive Blackberry Messages To Be Released*Wednesday, June 03, 2009
The President's Blackberry has been hacked!

www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,524879,00.html

What I was taught: "If it's online or transmitted, it ain't secure."
6.3.2009 10:10am
geokstr (mail):

Magic Dog:
Maybe some of you should ask your hero George the War Criminal Bush about his and Cheney's deliberate blowing of the cover of an active CIA agent. But hey, if Republicans are traitors it's okay by you.

Let's assume that you are correct (only for the sake of argument), that Plame actually was a "covert" agent, and the only way she was outed was by the evil Bush/Cheney cabal, which is still in some dispute. They revealed who she was only after her husband, who has some major credibility problems of his own, decided to make himself a player in the media by publicly attacking the evil ones.

You put this on a par with the NY Times publishing things like how we were able to track Osama and his minions by their cellphones, after which they immediately stopped using cellphones, and also publishing how we were able to track terrorist funding, after which they also immediately changed their methods? What an utter lack of proportionality, perspective and context.
6.3.2009 10:24am
zuch (mail) (www):
wfjag:
Perhaps they should have asked the President about e-security issues: ...
You need to learn to read the article:
"Upon closer inspection, it turns out Kasper Hauser is not a cyber terrorist, but the name of a comedy group."
This is, after all, FauxSnooze....

Cheers,
6.3.2009 1:20pm
zuch (mail) (www):
geokstr:
Let's assume that you are correct (only for the sake of argument), that Plame actually was a "covert" agent, and the only way she was outed was by the evil Bush/Cheney cabal, which is still in some dispute. They revealed who she was only after her husband, who has some major credibility problems of his own, decided to make himself a player in the media by publicly attacking the evil ones.
Let's assume that you are correct (only for the sake or argument) on your "facts" here; her husband's "credibility problems" are not a legal excuse or justification under the IIPA. But Fitzgerald had basically determined that she was indeed "covert". And there's no doubt that both Libby and Rove outed her ... hell, they admitted it once they were cornered and knew their initial lies wouldn't hold up.
You put this on a par with the NY Times publishing things like how we were able to track Osama and his minions by their cellphones,...
This was revealed by the gummint itself ... they bragged about it. Osama bin Laden had stopped using the sat phone long before the N.Y. Times article. But yes, let's compare with outing a covert NOC agent who was working to halt WOMD proliferation....

Cheers,
6.3.2009 1:28pm
David M. Nieporent (www):
But Fitzgerald had basically determined that she was indeed "covert".
Since when do prosecutors get to determine legal facts? I've never seen such deference among liberals to the allegations of prosecutors as I have in the Libby case. Fitzgerald was a prosecutor. He can claim that she was covert until the cows come home. But he has to prove it in court to a judge or jury for that to be an established fact, and he was unable or unwilling to do so.
6.3.2009 2:19pm
deep:
Anyone able to find the report on the web?
6.3.2009 3:05pm
zuch (mail) (www):
David Nieporent:
Since when do prosecutors get to determine legal facts?
Since the court never got the chance (thanks in part due to Rove's and Libby's lies and evasions), the most authoritative person here is the prosecutor, who looked at the evidence, along with a full legal team that was able to decide whether she was "covert" (as this was a big issue as to whether any crimes had been committed). Of course, he had the help of the CIA itself, who provided a statement that she was indeed covert.

It is only RW apologists and Dubya/Ctheney sycophants that still want to deny what's patently obvious ... or who want to weasel about whether or not Wilson's acknowledged marriage to Plame as revealed in "Who's Who" [not to mention in official state records for anyone who wanted to know] was somehow magically a revelation that she was an NOC CIA agent.

No, since no one denies that she was a CIA NOC (and that we can basically take to the bank as fact), that's a prima facie case, and it's incumbent on you to show that she was not covert. Good luck to ya.

Cheers,
6.3.2009 4:08pm
David M. Nieporent (www):
Since the court never got the chance (thanks in part due to Rove's and Libby's lies and evasions),
I fail to see how any "lies" or "evasions" by Rove or Libby could possibly affect the court's chance to evaluate the issue of whether Plame was covert as that term is used in the IIPA. What Libby lied about was when and how he found out about her status, and who he told. None of that is relevant to the issue of her legal status.

In fact, I fail to see how their "lies" or "evasions" are relevant at all; that just seems like "evasion" on your part. Fitzgerald had sufficient evidence of the facts to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Libby lied. In other words, Libby's lies didn't deprive the court of any chance of anything at all; all the facts were present. (Rove, you may not have noticed, was not convicted of anything, despite the deranged fantasies of Wilson/Plame.)

the most authoritative person here is the prosecutor, who looked at the evidence, along with a full legal team that was able to decide whether she was "covert" (as this was a big issue as to whether any crimes had been committed).
First I've heard that a prosecutor is ever deemed "authoritative" on the question of the defendant's guilt on a particular issue for which the defendant was never charged nor convicted.
Of course, he had the help of the CIA itself, who provided a statement that she was indeed covert.
Then it seems particularly ludicrous for you to try to claim, as you did above, that Libby's lies deprived the court of the ability to determine this fact. Nonetheless, the CIA is not a legal finder-of-fact either; it is up to a judge or jury to make the determination, and no judge or jury ever did, because Fitzgerald was unable or unwilling to prove it to them. (It's amazing how blog commentators can be so certain of something Fitzgerald apparently didn't think he could prove, despite "looking at the evidence" and a "full legal team.")

No, since no one denies that she was a CIA NOC (and that we can basically take to the bank as fact), that's a prima facie case, and it's incumbent on you to show that she was not covert. Good luck to ya.
Since Fitzgerald failed to prove it, that's a prima facie case that she was not, in fact, covert as that term is used in the IIPA, and it's incumbent on you to prove otherwise, if you can. But since Fitzgerald couldn't, somehow I don't think you'll be up to that challenge.
6.3.2009 4:28pm
zuch (mail) (www):
David Nieporent:
[zuch]: Since the court never got the chance (thanks in part due to Rove's and Libby's lies and evasions),...
I fail to see how any "lies" or "evasions" by Rove or Libby could possibly affect the court's chance to evaluate the issue of whether Plame was covert as that term is used in the IIPA.
Because they never got a chance to reach a verdict on that. That's pretty obvious. Stop being obtuse, please. As Fitzgerald indicated, the dissembling and refusal to co-operate by Rove, Libby, et al. (not to mention Dubya himself and Ctheney) made it impossible to determine whether any laws (such as the IIPA) were broken by their actions. That's why Libby got charged with (and convicted of) OOJ. Because no one ended up tried for any IIPA or other secrecy laws violations, there was no court "determination" as to the element of her covertness. But only those deliberately disingenuous continue to claim that she was not covert. That really is the very definition of a NOC. With diplomatic cover, there's a wink and a nod that they're "legit" ... until they get caught with "activities incompatible with their diplomatic mission" and asked to leave ... but people know that a good number of such people are spies. But even such people can be, for IIA purposes, "covert", even if this is in ame only. For NOCs, they face severe penalties (up to and including the death sentence) if exposed as CIA agents. This is why this act of "outing" was so unconscionable. And those that excuse it are nearly as reprehensible.

Answer me this: Was Plame a NOC? Yes or no.
Rove, you may not have noticed, was not convicted of anything, despite the deranged fantasies of Wilson/Plame.
That's because he quickly changed his story once it became clear that his original lies were going to be exposed.

BTW, what were the "deranged fantasies of Wilson/Plame? Be specific now.
[zuch]: Of course, he had the help of the CIA itself, who provided a statement that she was indeed covert.
Then it seems particularly ludicrous for you to try to claim, as you did above, that Libby's lies deprived the court of the ability to determine this fact.
Read for comprehension. I never said such a thing. Fitzgerald had no problems determining this fact (no matter how much Dubya apologists deny it) because the CIA told him so. If you have a more authoritative source than the CIA, out with it. Or are you just one of those 'Murkah Haters that thinks the CIA lies?
Since Fitzgerald failed to prove it, that's a prima facie case that she was not, in fact, covert...
You have a very unique definition of "prima facie". And why you think Fitzgerald's inability to convince a jury of something he never tried to convince them of (because he never got a chance) is some kind of proof of the fact in question is beyond me.

Your actions reveal your character, David. You need to look in a mirror.

Cheers,
6.3.2009 5:53pm
New Pseudonym:
Please ignore the trolls.
@zuch
@Magic Dog
6.3.2009 6:45pm
David M. Nieporent (www):
Because they never got a chance to reach a verdict on that. That's pretty obvious. Stop being obtuse, please. As Fitzgerald indicated, the dissembling and refusal to co-operate by Rove, Libby, et al. (not to mention Dubya himself and Ctheney) made it impossible to determine whether any laws (such as the IIPA) were broken by their actions.
Again, that doesn't make any sense. Our justice system does not depend on people confessing to determine whether or not a crime was actually committed. The fact that a prosecutor made excuses for his inability to convict someone of a crime does not constitute evidence that in fact that person is guilty of a crime.
That's why Libby got charged with (and convicted of) OOJ. Because no one ended up tried for any IIPA or other secrecy laws violations, there was no court "determination" as to the element of her covertness.
Exactly! Now you're finally getting it! And why wouldn't people be tried for that? Either Fitzgerald was lazy, or he knew he couldn't prove it. I think the latter is more likely than the former.
But only those deliberately disingenuous continue to claim that she was not covert.
Your certainty is matched only by your lack of actual, established evidence. And neither the claims of the prosecutor nor name calling is a substitute for that evidence. [Snip a rambling comment about NOC, which is at best tangential to the discussion; the IIPA defines "covert agent" specifically; it's that definition which need be satisfied, rather than a layman's definition of NOC.]
Answer me this: Was Plame a NOC? Yes or no.
I believe that it is undisputed that at some point in time she was. Is that the legal question? No. Does "NOC" = "covert agent under the IIPA"? No.

Rove, you may not have noticed, was not convicted of anything, despite the deranged fantasies of Wilson/Plame.

That's because he quickly changed his story once it became clear that his original lies were going to be exposed.
No, it's not because of that at all. You seem unable to comprehend the difference between obstructing the investigation of a crime, and the underlying crime. If he had broken the IIPA, "changing his story" would not have helped him; it would have hurt him.

BTW, what were the "deranged fantasies of Wilson/Plame? Be specific now.
He claimed Rove had broken the law and that he wanted Rove "frog-marched" out of the White House in handcuffs.

Then it seems particularly ludicrous for you to try to claim, as you did above, that Libby's lies deprived the court of the ability to determine this fact.

Read for comprehension. I never said such a thing. Fitzgerald had no problems determining this fact (no matter how much Dubya apologists deny it) because the CIA told him so.
You certainly did say such a thing. You said that Fitzgerald couldn't establish the fact "in part due to Rove's and Libby's lies and evasions)." But now you claim that Fitzgerald "had no problems determining this fact because the CIA told him." Which is it?

And once more, I'll explain this fact to you: neither a prosecutor nor the CIA gets to make legal determinations. The CIA can say that they categorized her position to be classified. They can say -- just as you can, or the NYT editorial board can, or anybody else can -- that in their opinion, she met the statutory definition of "covert agent." But only a court has the authority to authoritatively interpret the law and make such a determination. Fitzgerald chose not to try to prove that Plame was. The most logical reason why a prosecutor would say something in a press release but not to a jury is because he knew he couldn't actually prove it.
6.3.2009 10:35pm
NickM (mail) (www):
David - you're right, but you're also forgetting the hole in his argument he's desperately trying to pretend is irrelevant - you must know someone has covert status before revealing that they work for the CIA is criminal.

In this case, Valerie Plame had a desk job at Langley. Lots of people in DC knew that, and anyone with any common sense would have assumed that she's not a covert agent. Someone would have to be a mental midget to give NOC status to a person already widely known to be a CIA employee.

Unfortunately, the CIA was then being run by the same fools who put people like Larry "Whitey tape" Johnson and Ray "The Jews did it" McGovern into key intelligence positions, and they decided that it would be a good idea to set up a new non-official cover for Valeria Plame. Worse, her cover had previously been blown by Aldrich Ames, so every hostile intelligence agency around the world would have had her picture in its databases.

Nick
6.3.2009 11:11pm
David M. Nieporent (www):
Just to be clear, Nick, I am not saying that she wasn't covert as that term is used in the IIPA. I'm simply stating that the mere fact that Fitzgerald claims she was doesn't make it so, and it's passing strange that liberals suddenly abandon innocent-until-proven-guilty and treat the unproven assertions of a prosecutor as given truth.
6.4.2009 11:34am

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