Intel roundup: NGA, Espionage Act, Torture memo

[Updated below]

This week has been quite interesting on the intelligence front.

Tim Shorrock has a nice summary of his talk to the Government Accountability Project on “National Security Secrecy and Surveillance.” Shorrock is the author of Spies for Hire, the best book I’ve read about the intel contracting industry (and has a central chapter on the GEOINT event where he pays particular attention to the NGA). The GAP discussion also featured Steve Aftergood of  Secrecy News, and Thomas Drake the former NSA employee who was (unsuccessfully) prosecuted by the US government for leaking classified documents. Also speaking was Jessylyn Radek the lawyer who represented Drake, and Jameel Jaffer of the ACLU. There’s apparently video of the event which I’ll link when it comes out.

Also this week came the indictment of John Kiriakou, following his charge earlier in the year. Kiriakou is being prosecuted under the Espionage Act, which was passed in 1917. Speaking of Secrecy News, they have a summary of some of the obstacles the government faces in prosecuting him.

Finally, how about this? The National Security Archive filed a FOIA request for the “Zelikow Memo” and it was released by the Department of State last week. As the NSA describe it is the:

internal memo from the Department’s then-counselor opposing Justice Department authorization for “enhanced interrogation techniques” by the CIA. All copies of the memo (Document 1), which reflect strong internal disagreement within the George W. Bush administration over the constitutionality of such techniques, were thought to have been destroyed. But the State Department located a copy and declassified it in response to a Freedom of Information Act request by the National Security Archive.

Their associated blog entry has further contextual details as well as a “Torture Archive” which has “the complete and growing, fully indexed collection of every publicly available document about torture, renditions, and black sites.” A great resource for the student of the IC and war on terror.

After I posted this, I learned of this WaPo article by their intel correspondent Greg Miller on drone surveillance in Iran. As Keven Gosztola points out, there are significant “leaks” here, but presumably they won’t lead to the same kind of prosecutions under the Espionage Act that the Obama administration has pursued against others. (Expect a Glenn Greenwald column about this soon!)

By the way, the article claims the NGA was the first to spot the uranium enrichment plant at Qom.


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