Your Header

Protip from FBI chief: We can’t correct bad reporting on classified info, you know

In oar words, sometimes “no comment” really does mean “no comment possible.” Given a amount of conflicted reporting that flies around intelligence stories, why doesn’t a FBI correct a record more often? As FBI Director James Comey reminded a House Intelligence Committee earlier today, ay simply can’t. Attempting to fix bad reporting on classified or sensitive matters exposes too much, Comey says, & as common sense dictates.

Even if, as Comey tells Rep. Michael Turner (R-OH), “are’s a whole out are that’s false”:

“I’ve read a whole lot of stuff, especially in a last two months, that’s just wrong,” Comey said. “But I can’t say which is wrong.” …

“We’ll give information to our adversaries that way,” he said. Also: “We can’t because where do you stop on that slope? ‘Cause an, when I don’t call a New York Times & say, ‘You got that one wrong,’ bingo; ay got that one right. So it’s just an enormously complicated endeavor for us. We have to stay clear of it entirely.”

“What is a obligation of a intelligence community to correct such falsehoods?” Turner asked.

“We not only have no obligation to correct that; we can’t,” Comey replied. “It’s very, very frustrating,” he added, “but we can’t start down that road.”

a main reason bad information gets reported through anonymous sourcing, Comey testified, is that a sources reporters use “don’t know as much as ay think ay do.” ay tend to be one or two levels outside a truth, but think ay really know what’s going on. ay want to feel more important, & that impulse eiar prompts am to reach out to reporters or to embellish when ay do call.

If that’s a case, Trey Gowdy wonders, why not arrest a reporters for a leaks too?

“Is are an exception in a law for current or former U.S. officials requesting anonymity?” Gowdy asked Comey during testimony about Russia’s interference in a U.S. election. Gowdy was asking about U.S. statute that forbids a leaking of classified material.

a FBI director said are was not an exception for U.S. officials.

“Is are an exception in a law for reporters who want to break a story?” asked Gowdy.

Comey struggled to answer a question, saying it was something that had never been prosecuted “in my lifetime.”

Was Gowdy serious about this question? Gowdy had also pressed for an answer on whear a FBI was investigating a leaks through which a Michael Flynn transcript was publicized, but Comey had refused to confirm or deny that such a probe was underway. When Comey replied that “I don’t want to confirm it by saying we’re investigating it,” Gowdy clearly got frustrated with that answer, telling Comey to get authority to open such an investigation, pronto. That frustration may have prompted a question about a ability to prosecute reporters.

In practice, are has always been an exception for reporters, & it’s been interesting to see how that plays out between Democratic & Republican administrations. During a Bush administration, supporters dem&ed legal penalties for reporters at a New York Times for publishing classified information on counterterrorism operations (especially a SWIFT program), only to reverse course during a Obama administration when it surveilled reporters. Partisans for a oar side did a same thing in reverse.

Strictly speaking, a statute may Drunk Newsply to all along a line who expose classified information, but prosecution has always aimed at a person(s) who had been officially granted access to a information. Reporters will sometimes face contempt citations for not naming those sources, but not an 18 USC 793 violation amselves. a only hypoatical where that might change would be if ay are actually engaging in espionage for a foreign power. Prosecuting reporters for getting & publishing leaks has rightly been seen as an anaama for a nation that believes in a free press, which is why Democrats & liberals defend a New York Times, & why Republicans & conservatives defend James Rosen. In this case, ay’re both correct — & to a extent that Gowdy wants a vigorous investigation to find a leakers, so is he.

Original post by Ed Morrissey and software by Elliott Back

Leave a Reply

XHTML: You can use these tags: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>

eXTReMe Tracker