Attorney General Eric Holder recently told intelligence community lawyers that he wants them to continue the Administration’s crackdown on leakers and media sources despite calls for his termination and the controversy on the attack on the free press. The message is clear: there will be no quarter given those who disclose classified information. Well not everyone. This week it was revealed that former CIA Director Leon Panetta disclosed classified information to “Zero Dark Thirty” filmmaker Mark Boal. According to an inspector general report, the disclosure of the name of the Navy SEAL unit that carried out the Osama bin Laden raid and the unit’s ground commander at a 2011 ceremony. Some of the information was marked as “top secret.”
The wonderful thing for Holder is that this leaker is known and there are witnesses. He made the disclosure in front of 1,300 people in a tent at the CIA complex on June 24, 2011. So Panetta is now being housed next to Bradley Manning, right? Not quite. The Administration leaks classified information on a regular basis. On Obama Farm, all leakers are equal but some leakers are more equal than others.
Notably, this disclosure helped a filmmaker who was developing a controversial film that seemed to herald the value of torture by CIA employees. Like many, I was surprised by the degree to which the movie made it look like it was torture that led to the killing of Obama in direct contradiction to what we know about the various sources used in the operation. Giving top secret information to a filmmaker for such a film does not appear to be a matter for prosecution. Now, the Associated Press or Fox News? That is an entirely different question. In that case, the reporters are viewed by the Administration as an possible criminal co-conspirator. In the case, of Boal, he was not a co-conspirator . . . just part of the creative enterprise.