Three Sides To Every Coin, Rep. Loudermilk Edition

As President Trump tries to distract the media kittens with a laser pointer aimed the leaks from the intelligence community, it’s important to keep a couple of facts in mind, and bring perspective on the debate. It’s not a question of the “leaks” story vs. the “Flynn” story -they’re both important stories, each deserving of their own public airing. Let’s look at the “leaks” story first. 

The deep state in Washington, DC, right now.

We all agree that government has to have some secrets -some things that are not publicly known, kept under wraps in order to keep the nation and its people safe.  Georgia’s Congressman Barry Loudermilk (R-Cassville) supports this, and as a former Air Force intelligence officer, he has more than a little expertise in this regard. 

Rep. Loudermilk told the AJC “…that the more burning question was the fact that American intelligence officials were leaking information to the media.

The second-term lawmaker, who worked in intelligence for a portion of his eight-year stint in the Air Force, said the leakers should be “hunted down, fully investigated and sent to jail for a very, very long time.”

“This is very potentially a treasonous act within our intelligence community,” Loudermilk said in an interview Wednesday. “… These are the types of things that happen in Third World countries, in banana republics.”

As statements go, that’s pretty nuance-free, and I don’t think Rep. Loudermilk would be selected to serve as a juror should any of the leakers every face trial.  But 

there’s another side to this debate. What to do if the leakers believed they were acting in the best interest of the country? A person expressing that viewpoint was also named Barry Loudermilk -who was a candidate in 2013 when he said this about Edward Snowden to the AJC:

You’ve got to ask, is he a traitor or is he a patriot?” said Loudermilk, who answered his own question. He compared Snowden to this country’s Founding Fathers.

“They met the definition of both. [Snowden] is kind of in that position. Has he violated the laws of the United States? Has he divulged secrets? Yeah, but the secrets he divulged are activities that the government should not be doing,” said Loudermilk, an Air Force veteran who monitored snooping U.S. satellites over the Soviet Union and China in the 1990s.

Loudermilk declared the collection of data – and more importantly, the storage of that information – as “chilling.”

Until the transcripts of the conversations between Lt. Gen. Flynn and Ambassador Kislyak are released, we can’t really know if the current set of leaks is comparable to what Snowden revealed. Snowden was revealing the existence of a massive government surveillance program, and the current leaks (most likely from the Justice Department, or a Trump administration official with access to DOJ briefings) were aimed at a single American citizen, who supposedly enjoyed 4th Amendment protections when this happened. 

We may not be completely through the looking glass, but we are definitely in a wilderness of mirrors. Every question has at least two answers, and I contacted Rep. Loudermilks office  to get a third. Are leakers good, or bad?  His response: “Whistleblowers who expose unlawful acts by the government to protect the American citizens are upholding their oath to the Constitution, but leakers whose actions violate the constitution and undermine our national security for political purposes should be held accountable.”  

That what one Georgia Congressman says. Feel free to leave your own opinions below.

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FreeDuck
FreeDuck

Generally speaking, I prefer transparency unless the leak is likely to pose a direct risk to American lives. Not knowing who leaked or why, I’ll hold off on forming a strong opinion about Flynn. But (totally not based on anything) my sense is that it got leaked to the public only after it became clear that the administration wasn’t going to do anything about it. Without a transcript, it’s hard to know why someone thought this was so important.

NoParty4Me
NoParty4Me

***AS SEEN ON THE INTERNET***
“Call me crazy , but I think possible treason should be investigated as thoroughly as a blow job.”

xdog
xdog

Everything leaks to the press, especially when it’s connected to possible criminal or unconstitutional activity. imo Loudermilk’s just bent in this case that it’s his party in the news. Having said that, I’m very alarmed at suggestions that state security people might be trying to take Trump down or are showing him their muscle to teach him a lesson. That’s scary as hell. That’s not the way things are supposed to work. But these are weird times. Flynn is a loon, and an incompetent one, prone to beliefs like HRC and other donks running a child sex-slave ring out of… Read more »

augusta52
augusta52

Well, there is a certain level of hypocrisy…Trump complains about his private calls to foreign leaders being leaked, yet it is OK for our intelligence agencies to “drop in” on the private phone calls of even our allies, like the embarrassing revelations about snooping in on the calls of Germany’s Angela Merkel. And “national security” is always a good excuse to hide disclosure of unethical activities, you know, like maybe plots to take out Fidel Castro? Makes it easier to understand Trump’s response to Bill O’Reilly concerning Putin being a killer, Trump basically saying it isn’t as if our government… Read more »

bethebalance
bethebalance

Kind of a broad stroke with this comment, but I can’t imagine it wise to take on the intelligence community, who are likely to stick together, with a deep bench of personnel willing and able to covertly leak a range of sensitive information- including personal information- and who are arguably holding the most powerful reins on information.

PM
PM

A couple of things here; the National Security Adviser works for the President – he does not answer to the VP, or the legislative body. No VP has the same security level of clearance as the President or the National Security Adviser, and a few others at the ‘eschelon’ level. The dozen or so folks at that level did not read the VP in on the text of the conversation that was recorded by the NSA and given to the FBI counter terrorism compartment. That level of clearance had the transcripts, had reviewed the transcripts, discussed the transcripts with POTUS,… Read more »

Dave Bearse
Dave Bearse

So what legal authority was required for citizen Flynn to disclose the contents of personal phone calls to the Congressman VP elect?

Amazingly, Sally Yates was among the dozen with that level of security clearance, or one of the dozen leaked.

Noway2016
Noway2016

Pence was sitting Governor, not Congressman.

PM
PM

Dave Bearse- VP Pence had not been sworn in as VP when he asked Flynn and was still Gov. of a State on the day Pence asked Flynn the question.
Pence asked the question January 13th, and did not become VP until January 21st. On January 13th Gov. Pence had the same security clearances as a Gov. Deal.
You are correct – due to her position Mrs. Yates did have the clearance and quite possibly aware of the NSA transcripts through the FBI counter terrorism cell that provides the verbal and written briefings.

Benevolus
Benevolus

On Dec. 29 Trump said “It’s time for our country to move on to bigger and better things. Nevertheless, in the interest of our country and its great people, I will meet with leaders of the intelligence community next week in order to be updated on the facts of this situation.”

So that likely would not have been a very productive meeting, with Trump not having been sworn in and all yet.

Benevolus
Benevolus

OK I’ve just been reading about this and I believe your premise is incorrect. Pence was getting classified briefings in December. There seems to be no specific connection between getting sworn in and getting clearance. and Pence would have whatever clearance the President thought he should have. It’s even possible that by custom the POTUS-elect and VPOTUS elect are treated the same as the incumbents- no clearance necessary at all. Also, Flynn was not the “National Security Advisor” at the time, he was a private citizen. So Flynn would have had no reason to lie based on clearance issues. Presumably… Read more »

PM
PM

Benevolus – Not all clearances are the same level. There is a difference in receiving a security brief, and a clearance that allows one to have a more secure brief. The fact that Pence had to ask Flynn about the call on January 13th shows that Pence did not have the security clearance level to be included in the relative transcripts and audios of the conversation discussed in the briefing December 31st. There is a direct connection to the position and the level of clearance, but everyone that receives a specific clearance classification is vetted for that level of classification… Read more »

Andrew C. Pope
Andrew C. Pope

If the words on the call weren’t the issue, why did Flynn also lie to FBI counter-intel investigators that had the same clearance level and access to the transcripts?

PM
PM

Andrew – please point me to a source that says General Flynn lied to FBI counter-intelligence. FBI counter-intelligence does not do that type of ground pound investigation so I am assuming you are saying you believe the FBI at the Sally Yates/James Comey level investigated what Flynn said. I question the logic of the assertion that the FBI questioned a man that not only said the words, but had seen the NSA transcripts & listened to his own conversation. I can believe the FBI questioned General Flynn on background. Perhaps you are saying he lied on background – I’d like… Read more »

Noway2016
Noway2016

PM, you seems to know a lot about clearances. Where does that knowledge come from? I’m assuming you were gov’t at some point and had one yourself. Just curious.

Benevolus
Benevolus

You are going through an awful lot of convoluted logic to defend Flynn, but the question still remains; why didn’t he just say to Pence- I am not permitted to discuss that?

He did not have to lie to Pence, so why did he? There’s only one logical reason- he wanted Pence to have the wrong information. Why that would be the case should be the purpose of an investigation .

Noway2016
Noway2016

I still maintain it was arrogance. He’s “Trump’s Guy” and he didn’t have respect for Pence and was dismissive of Pence’s position. Too bad for him. Looking back, can you imagine anyone not truthfully answering Cheney? They’d have been drawn and quartered.

Benevolus
Benevolus

You may be right, and that should make it a short investigation! (Hello from Lisbon!)

Noway2016
Noway2016

Word is Ambassador Bolton for NSA. And Heather Nauert for State Department spokesman.

Andrew C. Pope
Andrew C. Pope

http://www.cnn.com/2017/02/16/politics/fbi-not-expected-to-pursue-charges-against-flynn/ Flynn initially told investigators sanctions were not discussed. But FBI agents challenged him, asking if he was certain that was his answer. He said he didn’t remember. The FBI interviewers believed Flynn was cooperative and provided truthful answers. Although Flynn didn’t remember all of what he talked about, they don’t believe he was intentionally misleading them, the officials say. I, admittedly, may have reached a little based on the reporting I had seen up to that point. Mea culpa. Then again, CNN is “FAKE NEWS,” so maybe I’m actually right. I will say this, CD has the capability to… Read more »

xdog
xdog

“It is my belief the words in the conversation are not the issue – but the NSA trying to preserve a new way to gather cell phone information. ” Two things, minor one first. You’ve lost me when you say the purported new way to monitor is compromised. How? Neither Flynn nor Pence is technical and no one is looking to publish operational details. The big thing I disagree with is your belief that Flynn’s words aren’t the issue. Maybe, but it’s at least conceivable that he was acting in the interests of a foreign power and an enemy. That’s… Read more »

Benevolus
Benevolus

You are incoorect about classification level of POTUS. As CIC the president automatically has whatever clearance they want and can determine clearance levels of others.

Andrew C. Pope
Andrew C. Pope

Also, Veep has the same classification level as the President, albeit with some differences about what they’re read into.

Noway2016
Noway2016

He gets to PDB, too.

NoParty4Me
NoParty4Me

“This whole Watergate thing is nothing but phoney stuff. It’s all because someone called Deep Throat leaked information illegally…I repeat, illegally. If it wasn’t for Deep Throat, Watergate wouldn’t even be an issue.”

Sound familiar? We know how that turned out.

Baker
Baker

Someone correct me if I’m wrong but… I’m pretty sure Snowden leaked waaay more than that. Some of which was quite damaging and I’m surprised Rep. Loudermilk glosses over that. From, of all places, Breitbart: “Snowden has exposed NSA efforts to spy on China, but the US does that for very good reasons and none of those stories presented any evidence the NSA was engaged in anything other than legitimate espionage activity. Snowden didn’t just give the South China Morning Post information about the NSA’s operations against Hong Kong and ‘the mainland’, i.e. China itself – self-evidently damaging US national… Read more »

Andrew C. Pope
Andrew C. Pope

The Snowden leaks were damaging to US intelligence gathering capabilities because they included detailed information on sources and methods. In other words, Snowden’s leak didn’t just say “hey, the NSA is collecting a whole bunch of data on you,” it said “the NSA is collecting a whole bunch of data and here’s exactly how they do it and here’s what they do with it.” The Snowden leak told everyone and their brother how the US gathered this type of intelligence and, as a result, gave terror groups the information they needed to build alternative avenues of communication that were less… Read more »

Noway2016
Noway2016

He’s trying to rehabilitate himself for blatantly lying about his intention to vote for Boehner.

Baker
Baker

Pulling this out just so it can sit there like a fat matzah ball in case anyone comes back along here perusing:

“For Loudermilk, as a former intelligence guy, to be upset by this and not Snowden is disappointing and screams of partisan hackery.”

Noway2016
Noway2016

Like your Spy v Spy cartoon. Amazon actually has many collections of those! Loved Mad Magazine back in the day!

augusta52
augusta52

“…none of those stories presented any evidence that NSA was engaged in anything other than legitimate espionage activity.”

As opposed, I guess, to illegitimate espionage activity? What exactly makes it “legitmate”?