Neither Journalists Nor Leaks Put Lives at Risk; Trump Is the Danger

We journalists can breathe a half-sigh of relief—Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein says the Department of Justice’s effort to plug the leakiest White House ever will not target journalists:

“We’re after the leakers, not the journalists,” he said on “Fox News Sunday.” “We don’t prosecute journalists for doing their jobs.”

But Rosenstein would not rule out potentially charging journalists in the future altogether, saying reporters could face charges if they deliberately violated the law.

“Generally speaking, reporters who publish information are not committing a crime, but there might be a circumstance in which they do,” he said. “I wouldn’t rule it out if there were a case where the reporter was purposefully violating the law” [Pete Schroeder, “U.S. Justice Department Not Looking to Charge Journalists for Leaks: Official,” Reuters, 2017.08.06].

As I said, half-sigh. Rosenstein is leaving the door open to throwing some book at journalists, if DOJ can find one that applies. In announcing the crackdown (plug-up?) on leaks Friday, Attorney General Jeff Sessions did say the Department of Justice is reviewing the rules for subpoenaing journalists to give up their confidential sources before their leaks kill someone:

I have listened to career investigators and prosecutors about how to most successfully investigate and prosecute these matters. At their suggestion, one of the things we are doing is reviewing policies affecting media subpoenas. We respect the important role that the press plays and will give them respect, but it is not unlimited. They cannot place lives at risk with impunity. We must balance their role with protecting our national security and the lives of those who serve in our intelligence community, the armed forces, and all law abiding Americans [Attorney General Jeff Sessions, remarks, Department of Justice, 2017.08.04].

Whoa—placing lives at risk? I know that you have to come up with a pretty stark harm to justify overruling the First Amendment, but, as we used to say in high school policy debate, where’s the death on the flow? I scan this list of early Trump leaks (towels, lack of economic knowledge, fear of stairs…) and this more recent list of twelve major leaks (the rude call to Australia, Trump’s disclosure of classified info to the Russian, the Comey memo…) and see no leak that caused any deaths or seems to have the potential to directly cause any deaths. (I welcome the national security experts in the audience to connects any dots they can between leaks and death.)

Jeh Johnson, Obama’s DOD general counsel and then Homeland Security chief, says Trump’s inability to keep information from leaking is bad enough to warrant serious DOJ intervention. But he also warns that going after journalists will be legally problematic:

JOHN DICKERSON: …Give me your assessment of what Attorney General Sessions has said about going after leaks. Is he drawing the line in the right place? And what does he need to balance?

JEH JOHNSON: The leaks right now are really bad. I’ve never seen it this bad. There should be a concerted effort to identify and go after leakers. The one note of caution I’d give the attorney general is what I tell younger lawyers: bad facts make bad law. So before you decide to take on journalists, reporters, and perhaps subpoena their sources, be aware that the courts are going to get involved, and that has the potential for making bad law in this area [Face the Nation, transcript, 2017.08.06 ].

Trump is the danger
I am the danger… now shut your mouth!

The press is not the problem. The man at the top is. Trump sold voters his false TV image as a confident manager. Trump’s unpredictable, unstructured management style has produced the chaos we expected—in this case, an inability to hire and inspire loyalty. It’s not liberals keeping Trump from doing his job. Trump himself is doing such a bad job that the people closest to him, the people who see most immediately how bad he’s doing, believe “it is their job to save America from this President.”

Far from putting lives at risk, leakers may be saving lives by revealing Trump’s poor performance and hastening his removal from office.

50 Responses to Neither Journalists Nor Leaks Put Lives at Risk; Trump Is the Danger

  1. . . . and you believe what you wrote. . .

  2. I believe that Rosenstein, Sessions, and Johnson all said the things they are quoted as saying.

    I believe the First Amendment protects journalists from revealing their confidential sources to the government.

    I believe that Sessions is trying to put “death on the flow” in a case where there are no demonstrable deaths on the flow.

    I believe Johnson, the journalist who posted the article to which my first hyperlink in the original post leads, and other journalists [I’m up to three sources to lazy old Sarg’s zero] have referred to the number of leaks coming from the Trump White House as unusually high.

    I believe that an unusual number of leaks from within the White House, an organization over which the President has complete hiring and firing control, signals a failure on the part of leadership to build a strong team and inspire loyalty through respectable performance of his job.

    I stand ready for your or anyone else’s evidence-based refutation.

  3. Roger Cornelius

    Trump is self leaking.
    Immediately following Trump’s victory over Clinton he was granted access to daily national security briefings. It was widely reported that President Obama didn’t want Trump to have access to some of the most sensitive information because of his big mouth.
    President Obama needn’t had worried, Trump was to lazy to attend the briefings and didn’t want to read them anyway.
    Remember Nixon’s Plumbers Unit? Nixon attempted to use the national security scare to plug leaks and misdirect the Watergate investigation. If I recall correctly this was one of the many reasons Nixon was forced to resign.
    If the Trump administration and his justice department want to challenge journalist, by all means do it. It will be one more lawsuit involving Trump.

  4. Roger, any chance the leaking is a false-flag operation? Consider that none of the leaks have been really destructive info for national security. Consider that Trump figures he can shoot someone on Fifth Avenue and not lose his base, so he can handle a certain amount of the inside gossip that’s been in most of the leaks. Maybe Bannon is creating the illusion of some evil deep-state Fifth Column undermining the White House so Sessions and Trump can justify a real witch hunt and an assault on the press, all dressed up in protecting national security (much like the Patriot Act).

    You know I don’t go for tinfoil hats. The apparent threat to journalists via Sessions’s exaggeration of the threat is bad enough. But could Trump be orchestrating leaks to stoke outrage and justify worse actions?

  5. Roger Cornelius

    Cory, that could be a strong possibility, I’m wavering between something of that nature or that Trump just can’t keep his big mouth shut.
    Like I said, Trump is self leaking, he insists on using an unsecure cell phone so there is no telling what he is texting to reporters or who he is talking to.

  6. Porter Lansing

    This is an example of what is now called a “leak”. A leak is sensitive, vital and potentially harmful classified information. This is just “inside baseball”. Trumps over-inflated ego is the problem, not journalism.
    As Roger noted above (paraphrased)… “Even a single page of bullet points on the country seems to tax the president’s AD/HD impaired attention span on any subject, said senior White House officials. ‘I call the president the two-minute man,’ said one Trump confidant. ‘The president has patience for only about a half-page of information.’ …

  7. mike from iowa

    OldPrivate- you’ve lost yer stripes for ever changing spots- how many bodies piles up around the world after yer wingnut buds in the dumbass dubya white house outed covert CIA agent Valerie Plame as retribution against her hubby showing Bush was lying about yellow cake U?

    The only leak so far that might be fatal was when Drumpf spilled his guts about Israeli infiltrators in ISIS to the Russians right in front of gawd and all you little gawd almighties.

  8. Porter Lansing

    OlSarge … Have you ever been in South Dakota? What is your connection to South Dakota? Are you a paid operative of a PAC?

  9. Donald Pay

    Trump is the executive producer of his Presidency, and the show is about to get cancelled.

    When he was running The Apprentice, he had editors. They would edit out his bouts of dementia and ranting. His kids were there to add some sanity and keep him in line when he was about to “fire” someone. Without the editors, we would have only seen the rants, because he would never get around to fire anyone.

    The President is looney tunes. He has been the chief leaker of classified information, directly to the Kremlin. Setting the kids up in positions where they have access to classified information despite violating the laws, is not only leaking, it’s treason.

    I’ve seen dementia up close. Some things people with dementia say and do are funny, and you can’t help but laugh. But it’s serious business when the demented have power, because they have lost control of some executive functions and the ability to control impulses. Trump has gotta go.

  10. mike from iowa

    He also went after the media for not supporting all the good stuff he has done, like……….?

    Drumpf sez his vacay/no vacay was planned for repairs in the WH including a leak in the ceiling. Now we know where the leaks are coming from.

  11. mike from Iwacko~ You may want to read the news before “still” claiming Valarie was disclosed by Scooter. . .

    Porter~ I’ll be in Sturgis tonight. I was at the Windmill an hour ago with someone with a badge from Lawrence County. I had lunch with one of the governor’s buddies today. I wish I got a check from a PAC. I think I live here. Do you know something I don’t?

  12. Judith Miller ~ She concluded that her testimony that Libby had told her Plame worked at the CIA was wrong. “Had I helped convict an innocent man?”

  13. Donald refers to the CineMontage October 2016 story about Apprentice editing. Media observer Andy Denhart noticed the heavy voice-over editing in the show back in its first season in October 2004.

  14. Don’t worry about where OldSarg is or what money he gets. Focus on the fact that instead of responding with a logical, evidentiary refutation, he totally detoured to mention Scooter Libby and Valerie Plame. Utterly irrelevant.

  15. And no, that’s not an invitation to tell me why Libby and Plame are relevant. Even if one could assert such relevance, the statements I made in the original post, which OldSarg tried to lazily brand as incredible, would remain unrefuted.

  16. Porter Lansing

    I never worry, Cory. I’ve got him right where I want him. :)

  17. Only place I want him is on topic.

  18. Cory, I didn’t bring up Valarie. Your Iowa boy did: “yer wingnut buds in the dumbass dubya white house outed covert CIA agent Valerie Plame”~Michelle from Iowa.

  19. oldsarg explained in detail. Explains why facts mean little to the cult.

  20. mike from iowa

    OldPrivate, where exactly did I accuse Libby of outing Plame? Maybe you should learn to read before you jump. And you didn’t answer the bodies ?, either.

  21. Get this! “Remarkably, research shows teen who identify as lesbian have significantly higher pregnancy rates than their heterosexual peers. I know what you’re thinking, but it’s true. It’s also true for teen gay males: they are substantially more likely to impregnate their sexual partners than are heterosexual males.” ~

    Maybe since they are all having sex with partners of a different sex than they “think” they are attracted to its actually a chosen lifestyle as opposed to being genetically chosen. . .

  22. Do you see the lame bravado of the claim of being with “dining with a lawman and being with “one of the governor’s buddies” like that is important. The cult does not thrive on actual events, they can only thrive on embellishing what they think are matters of importance. Real journalists frighten them because they are full aware that truth conquers fear, so real news is the cult’s Achilles heel.

    One time many years ago, there was a plumber based out of Mitchell, South Dakota. The bullcrap that he spewed was very entertaining. Once, during a lunch break, some of the workers were discussing bowling averages. This feller was not to be out done and told the assembled that his average was 300. Every hunting story, gun story and all the rest of the drivel to include his profession that he had spoke of, vanished with that one statement. The cult always awakens sometimes even before they drink the spiked kool-aid.

  23. You are all so angry. . . Ok, lets make a truce. I will not tease you guys if you promise to not call me names.

  24. Porter Lansing

    You’ll get what you want, Cory. I’m the Huckleberry. She’s the daisy.

  25. See! There he goes. I can’t even be nice to Portly.

  26. Roger Cornelius

    How is OldSarg’s post at 17:48 relevant to the topic at hand?

  27. Roger, cult followers are so frightened of journalistic truth, they will do anything to change the subject. Cultists need their messiah to tell them what is right and what is wrong so that is why they even have their own real news on their God’s facebook page. Be thankful that Jim Jones did not have facebook.

  28. Roger Cornelius

    jerry, the study in your link is fascinating.
    I’d suggest OldSarg read it but it is lengthy and we know how Trump republicans dislike reading anything of substance.
    Even before Trump was inaugurated mental health professionals were examining his psychosis, he seems to have every mental health illness known to the profession. That is or should be alarming to every American.
    C’mon Donald, the first step in any recovery on mental illness is acknowledging you have a problem.

  29. When the content of your posts are so irrelevant does it really matter what I post? It’s not as if you guys really have any relation to “journalist truth”. Most of you are not “journalist” though most of you wish to be considered so. . . Actually, I think most of us would get along pretty well if we were to actually meet. I don’t mind being kidded and teased.

  30. “U.S. Army refuses to take Confederate general names off Brooklyn streets” Oops. . .

  31. Roger Cornelius

    Dementia much, OldSarg?

  32. Thank you sir, it really explains oldsarg to a T in so many ways. Alarming to those of us who do not follow cult instincts Roger.

  33. Sometimes I wonder.

  34. wander

  35. See Roger, this is how they want to get away from the journalism the exposes them as a cult, like we give a care what the army does or does not do in street naming. I don’t care what the cult in Pringle, South Dakota names its streets either. We need journalists now more than ever to continue to shine the light on what the cult and its messiah are up to.

  36. The Left and PETA: Contrary to popular belief, female cows produce milk only when they’re pregnant or nursing. They make milk for the same reason that human women do: to feed their babies. Cows who are imprisoned on dairy farms are forcibly impregnated through artificial insemination again and again on rape racks. Rape racks. All for your milk, cheese, and yogurt…
    The mothers are not allowed to nurse their babies. Instead, their infants are stolen from them, usually within hours of birth. Male calves, who are considered worthless to the dairy industry, are often sold for veal. Otherwise, they’re raised to be killed for beef. Females are typically fed a milk replacement and eventually sentenced to the same sad fate as their mothers.

  37. Fake delusional cult work. Anything to change the subject of the light of journalism shining on the cult.

  38. Douglas Wiken

    I suspect the “leaks” which mostly have nothing to do with any threat to national defense are a priority only because they expose Trump’s lies and lies about his lies. There must still be some people in government who resent or despise lying by a President or any other leader in power. Trump’s lies are the reason people leak and why journalists will be trailing him like puppies after milk.

  39. Douglas is back on point! No one has shown me one leak that, per Sessions’s claim, has harmed national security.

  40. OldSarg, I don’t have to defend my claim to journalism—the courts (including a South Dakota circuit court), various observers, and common practice have already done so (and perhaps have established that “Is a blogger a journalist?” is the wrong question). Sessions has to defend his claim that violations of law and national security have taken place that would justify abridging the First Amendment, and you, Old Sarg, need to move beyond your lazy insult and make a point on Sessions’s problem.

  41. trump’s approval rating for all of his leaking, is running about the same as O.J.’s
    Heads up to trump, O.J. is out of the slammer now. He is wealthy, check, so he would fit into your wheelhouse of hangers on. You can use him to replace the mooch. The Juice replaces the Mooch has a good ring to it.

  42. LEAK that Killed: Every day, Charlie Strange, the father of one of the 30 Americans who died Aug. 6, 2011, in the flash of a rocket-propelled grenade, asks himself whether his son, Michael, was set up by someone inside the Afghan government wanting revenge on Osama bin Laden’s killers — SEAL Team 6. “Somebody was leaking to the Taliban,” said Mr. Strange, whose son intercepted communications as a Navy cryptologist. “They knew. Somebody tipped them off. There were guys in a tower. Guys on the bush line. They were sitting there, waiting. And they sent our guys right into the middle.”

  43. “Did Hillary’s Email Get Ambassador Stevens Killed?” The last Hillary Clinton email dump includes one that gives away the location of U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens, who was murdered by terrorists in Benghazi. Is she responsible for his death?

  44. “He hinted darkly that the slain man had been a source in his organization’s recent publication of 30,000 internal DNC emails. The fallout from that embarrassment had led to the firing of several top Democratic Party officials.”

    Seth leaked, Seth died. . .

  45. No, OldSarg, we (including Sessions) are talking about leaks from the Trump Administration.

  46. Did Secretary of State Stanton leak information to John Wilkes Booth? Geez dude, get a grip and take your meds.

    75% of Americans like believe that the White House does not tell the truth. 75% of us know that Sessions and trump only need to look in the mirror to see who is leaking selective information and why they are doing it. trump and the rest of his cabal are doing reality tee vee just like the Apprentice. In order to keep the viewers you have, you must generate stories. It is clear from reading your Hannityisms that you have taken the bait.

  47. Roger Cornelius

    It is impossible for a Trump supporter to defend him without mentioning Hillary, Bill Clinton, or President Obama.

  48. trump contributed to Hillary and Bill Clinton and President Obama. trump had Hillary and Bill Clinton as honored guests at his weddings, so many they grew tired of the chocolate cake. If you blather on about these three then you do not have to answer about low and stagnant wages, uncertainty about healthcare and important stuff. Whining always is a winner in a looser operation.

  49. Douglas Wiken

    OldSarge is apparently claiming that Afghans leaked the Trump-Putin transcripts, etc. or why else drag that complete irrelevancy into this discussion?

  50. Mr. Wiken, good reading sir, followed by great commentary. Why indeed.