Michael Isikoff


Backstage at the ultimate Washington drama.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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 with...

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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 official who asked not to...

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.

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.