Obama Cracks Down on Classified Leaks

The Obama administration is quietly ratcheting up its campaign against national-security leaks with a series of moves that are surprising intelligence-community veterans. One recent example: a memo, signed by National Intelligence Director Dennis Blair before his departure last month, that will require Justice Department prosecutors to make quick decisions about charging federal employees suspected of disclosing classified info.

Obama Plugs Leaks Bush-Style

Expected criminal charges related to a Fox News story last June are only the latest example of a wide-ranging Obama administration crackdown against leakers—an enforcement campaign that may exceed similar efforts under President George W. Bush, according to some media groups.

Awlaki: The New Bin Laden?

With the release of a provocative new video to justify killings of American civilians, Yemen-based cleric Anwar Al-Awlaki seems on the verge of becoming the new Osama bin Laden—an avowed enemy terrorist who frustrates the best efforts of U.S. intelligence agencies to find him. Two U.S. counterterrorism experts who have analyzed the video say it's significant in several respects. For one thing, it dramatically illustrates his growing importance to Al Qaeda as an international symbol of...

Is the Flow of U.S. Weapons to Mexican Drug Cartels Increasing Under Obama?

The Mexican military has discovered a major training camp run by the notorious Zetas drug cartel and stocked with an arsenal of military weapons, including 140 semi automatic assault rifles and 10,000 rounds of ammunition—all of them believed to be purchased in the United States, U.S. law enforcement officials tell Declassified.

U.S. Weighs Official 'Terrorist Organization' Status for the Pakistani Taliban

In light of evidence that the group known as the Pakistani Taliban was behind the attempted May 1 Times Square bombing, the Obama administration is "actively considering" designating it as a "foreign  terrorist organization" in the next few weeks—a move that would allow the U.S. government to freeze any assets belonging to the group and make it a federal crime to assist it, officials said Tuesday. But the disclosure, first made by State Department spokesman P. J. Crowley, immediately...

Hidden Benefit for Obama: Kagan's Selection Boosts Administration's Chances in Major Terror Cases

Whatever her merits as the next Supreme Court justice, Elena Kagan's selection provides a hidden benefit for President Obama's national-security team: it significantly boosts its chances of prevailing in controversial claims to the court involving the war on terrorism.The reason: Kagan will inevitably have to recuse herself from an array of cases where she has already signed off on positions staked out by the Obama administration relating to the detention of terror suspects and the...

Will the BP Oil Spill Kill Offshore Drilling?

BP has been trying hard to burnish its public image in recent years after being hit with a pair of environmental disasters, including a fatal refinery explosion in Texas and a pipeline leak in Alaska. One major step was to announce, in 2007, that it had hired a high-powered advisory board that included former EPA director Christine Todd Whitman, former Senate majority leader Tom Daschle, and Leon Panetta, who were each paid $120,000 a year. (Panetta left when he became President Obama's CIA...

How BP Works Washington

How British oil giant BP used all the political muscle money can buy to fend off regulators and influence investigations into corporate neglect.

U.S. Officials Skeptical About Shahzad's Claims That He Acted Alone

Attorney General Eric Holder told reporters Tuesday that accused New York City terror bomber Faisal Shahzad had provided "useful" intelligence to authorities after he was escorted off an airplane at John F. Kennedy Airport last night and questioned by FBI agents. But some U.S. law-enforcement and intelligence officials are skeptical about precisely how cooperative the suspect, Shahzad, has been, Declassified has learned. While reportedly admitting that he had been trained in bombmaking during...

The White House Drug Czar's Diminished Status

These have been tough times for White House drug czar R. Gil Kerlikowske. After spending much of his first year in office crafting a new anti-drug strategy, he had hoped to unveil it two months ago with President Obama. But Kerlikowske couldn't get on Obama's schedule. When he pressed, chief of staff Rahm Emanuel directed him to Vice President Joe Biden, say two Kerlikowske advisers who asked not to be identified talking about an internal matter. But after agreeing to a joint announcement,...

Settlement Freeze? What Settlement Freeze?

Say this much for Nir Barkat, the multimillionaire venture capitalist who serves as mayor of Jerusalem, the world's most contested city: he doesn't pull his punches. Just one day after press reports that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's government had ordered a freeze on new Jewish construction in contested East Jerusalem, Barkat offered his own blunt message to the Obama administration and special Mideast envoy George Mitchell: forget about it. "There's no freeze," Barkat told a...

Gun-Dealer Case Sheds New Light on Hutaree Antigovernment Hatred

A Michigan-based firearms dealer indicted this week on an unrelated federal gun charge had sold about a half  dozen weapons to members of the extremist Hutaree militia group that was plotting to assassinate police, a federal law-enforcement official tells Declassified.  The indictment of Walter Priest, owner of Gun Outfitters  in Adrian, Mich., has so far received no national attention. In large part, this is because there is no evidence that he was in any way involved or even...

Holder's Dilemma: Will Justice Have to Pay Money to a Terrorist Organization?

Of all the tricky decisions Attorney General Eric Holder is facing right now, here's one that has lawyers at the Justice Department really scratching their heads. All things being equal, they would love nothing more than to let stand a federal judge's recent decision that President Bush's warrantless-wiretapping program was illegal, thereby avoiding further legal skirmishes over one of the Bush administration's most divisive legacies. But unless they appeal last month's...

ATF Has No Head 15 Months Into Obama Presidency

Just last month, secretary of State Hillary Clinton flew to Mexico City and announced the Obama administration was "doing all that we can" to curb the illegal flow of U.S. weapons to Mexico's drug cartels. But 15 months after the president took office, the White House has yet to nominate a director to run the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), the agency tasked with policing weapons traffic. In fact, the acting director, Kenneth Melson, recently had to be demoted to...

Justice Charges ex-NSA Official with Leaking to Intelligence Reporter Siobhan Gorman

The Justice Department often launches investigations to ferret out government leakers, most of which end up going nowhere. But today, in a move that is likely to alarm journalists and whistleblowers alike, Attorney General Eric Holder's prosecutors announced they had at long last found an alleged culprit: they charged a former National Security Agency official with disclosing classified information to a newspaper reporter about multibillion-dollar agency computer programs that were fraught...

GOP Folds Its Cards at Holder Hearing

Attorney General Eric Holder escaped the Senate Judiciary Committee virtually unscathed on Wednesday, signaling that the political firestorm over his handling of big terrorism cases may have subsided.Only a few months ago, Republicans were practically calling for Holder's scalp, accusing him of bungling the Christmas Day bombing incident and making a wrongheaded decision to try alleged 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed in federal court in New York. But at a long-anticipated hearing before...

Ex-Marine Provided Hutaree 'Hit List' of Judges and Elected Officials and Served as Group's 'Heavy Gunner'

A former U.S. Marine rifle expert and veteran of the 1991 Persian Gulf War supplied the extremist Christian Hutaree militia with a "hit list" of federal judges and elected officials and served as the group's "heavy gunner" who was responsible for providing a "significant volume of firepower" against designated law-enforcement targets, according to a court document released by federal prosecutors. In a new court filing, federal prosecutors for the first time portray the former Marine, Michael...

Alleged Corruption Surrounds Karzai

Last fall President Obama made what may be his most agonizing decision yet, sending 30,000 more U.S. troops to Afghanistan. But now White House officials are making little secret about how exasperated they are with the erratic behavior of the country's president, Hamid Karzai. After Karzai suggested last week that he might join the Taliban if the U.S. and other Western nations keep dictating how his government should be run, Press Secretary Robert Gibbs told reporters that the president may...

Ex-Members of U.S. Military Were Members of Hutaree Militia Extremist Group

Federal investigators have discovered that two members of the extremist Michigan-based Hutaree militia group charged with plotting to assassinate law-enforcement officers are former U.S. military servicemen, including a Marine Corps corporal who was a Persian Gulf War veteran and decorated expert rifleman. Among those charged in the Hutaree case and accused of "seditious" conspiracy to wage war is Michael David Meeks. An FBI official told NEWSWEEK that Meeks is a former Marine. Marine Corps...

Qatari Diplomat in "Shoe Bomb" False Alarm to Leave U.S. Soon

After setting off the biggest mobilization of U.S. counterterrorism agencies since the unsuccessful Christmas Day underpants bombing attempt, Mohammed Al-Madadi is expected to leave the United States voluntarily within the next day or so, according to a senior administration official. Still, as of Friday morning, the Qatari diplomat remained in the country, and Brown Lloyd James, the public-relations firm that represents the Qatari Embassy in Washington, said plans had not been finalized for...

Who Is Obama's Next Supreme Court Pick?

While much of Washington has been preoccupied with health care, a small group of White House lawyers has been focused on another perennially contentious issue: naming the next Supreme Court justice. Although there are no guarantees, most court watchers expect John Paul Stevens, the 89-year-old longtime liberal lion, to announce his retirement soon, perhaps as early as next month, after the court holds its last oral argument of the current session. (Update: On April 9, John Paul Stevens...

Militia Charges Show Upsurge in Hate Groups

The federal charges announced Monday against nine members of a bizarre "Christian militia" group may be one of the most dramatic examples yet of what some officials have been warning is a worrisome increase in extremist hate activity over the past two years. Members of the Michigan based group called "the Hutaree" were allegedly plotting to trigger a widespread "uprising" against the U.S. government by murdering a law-enforcement officer and then ambushing those who attended the...

Bin Laden Is 'Healthy, Giving the Orders,' Says Terror Suspect

A new FBI terrorism case provides a rare nugget of intelligence about Osama bin Laden: the Al Qaeda leader is alive, well, and personally "giving the orders" for the terror group's operations, according to comments made by an alleged American Al Qaeda operative on a secret bureau recording. The bureau's case against the alleged operative, a Chicago cab driver named Raja Lharsib Khan, has so far gotten little attention. This is likely because there is no evidence that the cabbie's alleged...

Military-Commission Trials Set for the Summer

The Pentagon is poised to rescind last year's order halting military-commission cases, a final legal step as it gears up to try accused terrorists. But there's an awkward hitch: the new trials will be held in the $12 million, high-tech courtroom at Guantánamo Bay, which will refocus the world's attention on the very prison President Obama pledged to close. "As of right now, we don't have the money or the authority" to hold the trials elsewhere, says a senior Pentagon...

Pentagon to Name New Chief for Military Commissions in Sign That Gitmo Trials May Move Forward

The White House may yet be several weeks away from announcing whether it plans to overrule Attorney General Eric Holder and order that the 9/11 conspirators be tried before military commissions rather than in civilian courts. But it's not hard to figure out which way the wind is blowing. The Pentagon is set to announce that Secretary of Defense Bob Gates has appointed a new chief judicial officer for the Office of Military Commissions, according to three Defense Department sources familiar...

Holder Taps Fitzgerald for Gitmo Photo Probe

Attorney General Eric Holder Jr. has tapped the Justice Department's most feared prosecutor, Patrick Fitzgerald, to lead a sensitive investigation into whether defense lawyers at Guantánamo Bay compromised the identities of covert CIA officers. The probe was triggered by the discovery last year of about 20 color photographs of CIA officials in the cell of Mustafa Ahmed al-Hawsawi, an alleged financier of the 9/11 attacks, say three current and former government officials who asked not to be...

A 'Sunshine Week' Special: CIA Blacks Out Letter on Iraq War Claims That Was Already Public

Redacted: The CIA's blacked-out version (left) and the original document, released in 2007 (click on image for enlarged version). This being "Sunshine Week"—a nationwide effort by public-interest groups to promote greater access to government information—President Obama took the occasion to once again officially proclaim his commitment to an "unmatched level of transparency" throughout his administration.  But somehow they never got the memo at the CIA. Responding today to a longstanding...

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