Patterico's Pontifications


Leaker of NSA Eavesdropping Program Revealed: Shocka! He’s a Big Bush-Hater

Filed under: Crime,General,Scum,Terrorism — Patterico @ 11:43 pm

At Newsweek, Michael Isikoff has a long article that reveals who tipped off the New York Times on the NSA’s Secret Surveillance Program: a guy named Thomas Tamm. Isikoff’s article is titled:

As you can see from the picture, it’s not hard to guess how Newsweek answers that question.

But, speaking as someone who believes the NSA surveillance program was probably illegal –but who recognizes that there are legitimate arguments to the contrary — I think he’s a criminal. And Isikoff’s story reinforces my view strongly. Because the article (together with other research I have done on Tamm, set forth below) shows him to be an anti-Bush partisan who didn’t even know the details of the program, but notified reporters in part because of an anti-Bush bias, and a disagreement with other actions by the Bush Administration, some of which were indisputably legal. Isikoff tells us:

Tamm concedes he was also motivated in part by his anger at other Bush-administration policies at the Justice Department, including its aggressive pursuit of death-penalty cases and the legal justifications for “enhanced” interrogation techniques that many believe are tantamount to torture.

So he was motivated to disclose a secret program in part because of a perfectly legal aggressive approach to the death penalty that he just happened to disagree with. Hmmm.

But even if his motives were bad, at least he was disclosing something that he knew to be illegal . . . right? Wrong. For all he knew, the program was perfectly legal — because he didn’t really know anything about it:

But, he insists, he divulged no “sources and methods” that might compromise national security when he spoke to the Times. He told reporters Eric Lichtblau and James Risen nothing about the operational details of the NSA program because he didn’t know them, he says. He had never been “read into,” or briefed, on the details of the program. All he knew was that a domestic surveillance program existed, and it “didn’t smell right.”

Of course, for all he knew, it would “smell right” if he knew the details — but he felt comfortable ignoring his oath to his country because something that he didn’t know the details of just “didn’t smell right.”

Tamm first notified New York Times reporter Eric Lichtblau in the spring of 2004. He wanted the story to come out and help defeat Bush in the presidential race:

Tamm grew frustrated when the story did not immediately appear. He was hoping, he says, that Lichtblau and his partner Risen (with whom he also met) would figure out on their own what the program was really all about and break it before the 2004 election. He was, by this time, “pissed off” at the Bush administration, he says. He contributed $300 to the Democratic National Committee in September 2004, according to campaign finance records.

After the FBI started an investigation into who had leaked the information, Tamm stonewalled the lead agent, and began screwing up at work. He resigned in late 2006 and “began blogging about the Justice Department for liberal Web sites.”

Exactly what is meant by that, Isikoff does not explain. Politico gives a summary of some possibilities, which I’ll expand on in the extended entry.


What Happened to “Tell Zell”?

Filed under: Dog Trainer — Patterico @ 9:09 pm

On October 8, 2008, Kevin Roderick of L.A. Observed wrote:

Tell Zell, the blog that claims it is written anonymously by a Times staffer, has only updated twice in the past month and has yet to mention this week’s new wave of buyouts and threatened layoffs that socked the battered LAT newsroom in the gut. Sources tell me Times bosses have been mightily interested in discovering who writes Tell Zell and have a watch list of suspects — but really, does the most troubled newspaper in the U.S. over the past couple of years have time to worry about stuff like that?

I don’t know the answer, but I do notice that Tell Zell has not updated since Kevin wrote that, nor does Kevin appear to have mentioned the site since.

I wonder what happened . . .

Minnesota Senate Update

Filed under: Politics — DRJ @ 7:56 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

Powerline has an update on the Minnesota Senate race:

“So the board now brings Minnesota to the verge of a Florida-style fiasco. The treatment of rejected absentee ballots may vary throughout the state, subject to no uniform standard. Many counties have refused to sort rejected absentee ballots in the “recommended” manner. No standard for including previously rejected absentee ballots has ever been provided. It is not part of the recount process contemplated by the statute.”

Bush vs Gore seemed like a once-in-a-lifetime case. Now, just 8 years later, it may be precedent in another election with national implications.

There’s more:

“Going back to the board’s treatment of the “missing” 133 Minneapolis ballots, I am struck by the confidence exhibited on Monday by the Franken campaign regarding the board’s disposition of the issue. The confidence can only have derived from the Franken campaign’s communications with Secretary of State Ritichie [sic] out of public view. Franken’s placidity in the face of the city’s decision to abandon the search for the ballots is otherwise inexplicable.”

In case you wondered, Mark Ritchie is a Democrat and reportedly a former community organizer and ACORN ally.


Debating Guantanamo After Bush

Filed under: Politics,Terrorism,War — DRJ @ 5:37 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

Joe Katzman at Winds Of Change discusses a recent Wall Street Journal article that notes the media is more open to articles on the pros and cons of Guantanamo, presumably because the cloudy lens of Bush hatred is no longer around to blur the issue. As a result, they wonder if Obama can lead a reasoned debate on national security in general and GTMO in particular:

“[Harvard law professor Jack Goldsmith] notes that Mr. Obama is in a position to end the acrimony and strike a prudent way forward. “The single best thing about the election of Obama,” he says, “may be that we now have a chance to view the terror threat without the distorting lens of Bush hatred.”

The WSJ concludes the problem with GTMO isn’t the place, it’s the people who are held there. Perhaps Obama agrees since he and his transition team have recently embraced a more nuanced view of national security and GTMO than his position during the campaign.

Still, I wonder if a consensus is possible if the electorate has moved as far to the left – at least temporarily – as it seems. I doubt those on the anti-war left will debate the need for high-stress interrogation techniques or long-term GTMO detentions in times of war anymore than anti-abortion advocates on the right will debate the need for abortion as an necessary method of contraception. In other words, if your philosophy is absolutely anti-abortion or anti-war, can you pragmatically debate the limits and usefulness of abortion or war?

The media may be willing to follow Obama’s lead but that doesn’t mean the left will, too. The question is — How many anti-war true believers are there on the left?

H/T Instapundit.

Outsourcing L.A. Times Criticism to My Readers

Filed under: Dog Trainer — Patterico @ 2:13 pm

Reader Joshua D. challenges readers to guess the sub-head of this article about Bush’s visit to Iraq:

1. During a farewell trip to the country, where 30 years of oppression have given way to a fledgling democracy, the president says, “The war is not over.”

2. During a farewell trip to the country, where al Qaeda in Iraq was marginalized through joint U.S. and Iraqi efforts, the president says, “The war is not over.”

3. During a farewell trip to the country, where 4,060 U.S. troops have died, the president meets with top Iraqi leaders and says, “The war is not over.”

The answer just might surprise you:


A Special Comment . . . with Footwear

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 12:45 pm

Via Hot Air, it’s an Iraqi journalist who is almost as crazed with Bush-hatred as Keith Olbermann:

As the journalist is swarmed by the people in attendance, I believe you can hear him scream in Arabic: “Don’t tase me, bro!”

Nice reflexes on Bush’s part, by the way.

Fellow Iraqi journalists defended the journalist, saying that his shoe-throwing tendencies would not interfere with his ability to put together an objective news story about Bush. “This is not evidence of anti-Bush bias,” one said. “As journalists, we are able to put our personal feelings aside. We are professionals.”

Pictures from Our 2008 Vacations, 2: The Bear

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 12:24 pm

Black bear, Sequoia National Park, August 31, 2008

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