Day By Day

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

The Bureaucratic War On Bush: redux

I have made frequent references in this blog to the beltway bureaucrats, both military and civilian, who have been waging an unrelenting war of leaks and obstruction against the Bush administration. The reason? Bush is the first president in recent history to seriously attempt to bring Washington's "permanent government" to heel and to make them subject to direction by the elected representatives of the people of the United States.

Over the years I have had many conversations with high-level bureaucrats and, to a man/woman, they have evinced disdain for popular opinion and resentment against "politicians" who might from time to time interfere in their affairs. Never were these complaints against political interference more strongly voiced than during the early years of the Bush administration, and I frequently heard expressions of nostalgia for the Clinton years during which, supposedly, the politicians listened to and heeded the opinions of the professionals -- in other words, didn't try to interfere with the operations of the bureaucracy.

The MSM has been remarkably silent on the subject of bureaucratic warfare. This is because they benefit from the leaking tactics deployed in that struggle. But from time to time stories appear, such as this one in the New York Sun

A lack of cooperation from one or more intelligence agencies led the FBI to abandon several recent criminal investigations into leaks of classified information to the press, records obtained by The New York Sun indicate.

In January 2005, a top FBI official asked the Justice Department to close three pending leak inquiries because the "victim agency" repeatedly refused to assist the probes. The FBI's contact at the agency "has been uncooperative with the investigating field office and on numerous occasions failed to return phone calls or provide the case agent with requested documents pertinent to the investigation," the memo said, adding that the agency "cancelled personnel interviews, security briefings and meetings at the last minute and failed to reschedule for another time."

"None of the cases can proceed without the cooperation of the substantive unit at the victim agency, therefore the FBI considers all logical leads covered," the FBI official wrote. Within days or weeks, the cases were closed.

As former federal prosecutor Joseph DiGenova comments:

"Stopping a leak investigation, assuming it's a serious leak, just because the victim agency won't cooperate is the most absurd thing I've ever heard in my life," Mr. diGenova said. "A grand jury subpoena should issue….It seems to me there should be some sort of Congressional investigation of those instances."

The disclosed records also suggest that many investigations into leaks of top-secret data are abandoned without pursuing some obvious, if intrusive, investigative techniques, such as seeking testimony or phone records from members of the press. Other components of the Justice Department have recently used those tactics in less sensitive cases, such as leaks about planned federal raids of Islamic charities and about a grand jury investigating steroid use in baseball.

"There is a stunning lack of balance in the way all these cases are approached," Mr. diGenova said. The FBI files were released in response to a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit brought in July by this reporter. In November, a federal judge in San Francisco, citing the intense public interest in leak investigations, ordered the government to answer the requests within 30 days. The judge, Maxine Chesney, recently extended the deadline to April for some of the agencies involved.

Read the whole thing here.

Shameful, shameful!

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