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FINALLY: JUSTICE DEPT. OPENS NSA LEAK PROBE

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By Michelle Malkin  •  December 30, 2005 11:02 AM

***scroll for updates…leaks leading to both NYTimes’ NSA story and WashPost secret CIA prison story are under investigation…***

It’s about time. Via Breitbart/AP:

The Justice Department has opened an investigation into the leak of classified information about President Bush’s secret domestic spying program, Justice officials said Friday. The officials, who requested anonymity because of the sensitivity of the probe, said the inquiry will focus on disclosures to The New York Times about warrantless surveillance conducted by the National Security Agency since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

Fox News reporting that the White House is expected to comment on the probe. Stay tuned.

1157am. A bit more added to the AP story:

Catherine Mathis, a spokeswoman for The Times, said the paper will not comment on the investigation.

Guess Risen must be saving it for the book.

130pm. The Washington Post story based on leaks about secret CIA prisons is being investigated, too:

The Justice Department has opened an investigation into the disclosure of classified information about a domestic surveillance program authorized by President Bush after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks, officials said today.

Justice prosecutors will examine whether classified information was unlawfully disclosed to the New York Times, which reported two weeks ago that the National Security Agency had been conducting electronic surveillance on U.S. citizens and residents without court-approved warrants.

The probe is the latest in a series of controversial investigations into leaks of classified information during the Bush administration, including the disclosure of a CIA agent’s identity that has resulted in criminal charges against former vice presidential adviser I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby.

The Justice Department has also opened a probe into whether classified information was illegally disclosed to The Washington Post, which reported on a network of secret CIA prisons in Eastern Europe and elsewhere.

AJ Strata and Stop the ACLU are tracking the story. Mac Ranger has an inside source. Flopping Aces reports on Beltway Buzz.

***

Random thoughts:

1) Won’t be long before we start hearing the Bush-haters at the Times and elsewhere moaning about how this probe is a waste of time/distraction from the important business of Congress/politically motivated(!).

2) Look for the Plamegate apologists to argue that the NSA leaks were “good” leaks, justified in the name of safeguarding civil liberties and the national interest, and should therefore be exempt from criminal prosecution.

By contrast, they argue that disclosures about Valerie Plame were “bad” leaks worthy of pulling out all prosecutorial stops–though no one has been charged with leaking classified info, and even if they did, the adverse effects on national security are infinitesimal compared to the damage done by the NYT/NSA leaks.

The law, may I remind the Bush-bashers, does not grant an exception based on leakers’ motives. See Scott Johnson’s analysis of the statutory language here.

3) The chickens will be coming home to roost at the Times, which crusaded loudly for a special prosecutor in Plamegate. Any bets on how long it will take for Eric Lichtblau and James Risen to roll over? I’d guess a few weeks after Risen’s book launch.

***
Previous:

Sorry, NYTimes: America is OK with NSA

The NYTimes vs. America
CAIR and the MSM: Abetting terrorism
How to stop dangerous press leaks
The NYTimes strikes again
NSA: The legal question
Does George Will live in September 10 America?
Satellite spying on America: Where’s the outrage?
Eavesdropping for me but not for thee

NSA and the law: What the Times didn’t print

Bush takes on the press
Red alert: Chicken Littles on the loose

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Categories: Arlen Specter, CAIR