The Justice Department announced Thursday that an employee of the DIA pleaded guilty to leaking classified national defense information to two journalists in 2018 and 2019, which could land him in prison for a maximum of ten years.
Leaking classified information is, of course, against the law – that is, unless you are former FBI Director James Comey or former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe. There are others too, for example a former deputy assistant director of the FBI’s international operations division, who also was called out by the DOJ’s Inspector General for allegedly leaking to reporters and accepting gifts from the media, as reported in The Washington Examiner.
Further, FBI officials altered Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act warrant applications to spy on Carter Page, a U.S. citizen, who happened to be a volunteer for President Donald Trump’s campaign. Now, years later, after multiple investigations it was discovered that those same FBI officials, Comey and McCabe, among others, signed off on the phony warrants.
Still, senior government officials in the FBI – as well as other agencies – have escaped prosecution for leaking classified information and or lying under oath. Others have not been so lucky.
Defense Intelligence Agency employee Henry Kyle Frese is one of the unlucky leakers. Frese, a 31-year-old resident of Alexandria, Virginia, is expected to be sentenced on June 18.
Frese “was entrusted with Top Secret information related to the national defense of our country. Frese violated that trust, the oath he swore to uphold, and engaged in felonious conduct at the expense of our country. This case should serve as a clear reminder to all of those similarly entrusted with National Defense Information that unilaterally disclosing such information for personal gain, or that of others, is not selfless or heroic, it is criminal,” ” said G. Zachary Terwilliger, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia.
Robert Wells, Acting Assistant Director of the FBI’s Counterintelligence Division said “Frese violated his sworn oath to protect the American people and uphold the Constitution of the United States by using his access to the United States’ most sensitive information and steal state secrets for nothing more than personal gain. The men and women of the FBI who investigated this case swore the same oath but unlike Mr. Frese, they chose to uphold it. I am proud of the work they did to hold Mr. Frese accountable for his actions.”
There is no argument that Frese should pay the price for leaking classified national security information to the press but what does it say when the DOJ refuses to prosecute former senior FBI officials, who were referred for prosecution on similar grounds. What does it say when leadership within the FBI, like Comey, sets a precedent that leaking for personal convictions won’t land you in prison. Couldn’t Frese argue that same point?
Over the past three years it appears there is one set of rules for those with friends in high places and another set of rules for those without. Last year, nearly half a dozen federal employees with the “FBI, DEA, a U.S. attorney and U.S. marshal officials were allowed to retire, do volunteer work, or keep their jobs as they escaped criminal charges that everyday Americans probably would not,” as previously reported at The Hill.
Assistant Attorney General for National Security John C. Demers said Thursday that “Frese violated the trust placed in him by the American people when he disclosed sensitive national security information for personal gain.”
Isn’t that what former FBI Director Comey did when he leaked his memos to his lawyers – actually his friends – to turn over to the New York Times with the sole purpose of getting the DOJ to appoint a Special Counsel to investigate President Donald Trump. The information, however, regarding Trump was all based on disinformation that the FBI, led by Comey, knew had never been verified.
Horowitz’s report on Comey was scathing and he referred the former director of the bureau to the DOJ for criminal prosecution, however, the Justice Department declined prosecution.
Remember here’s what Horowitz said in his report on Comey: “Former Director Comey failed to live up to this responsibility. By not safeguarding sensitive information obtained during the course of his FBI employment, and by using it to create public pressure for official action, Comey set a dangerous example for the over 35,000 current FBI employees—and the many thousands more former FBI employees—who similarly have access to or knowledge of non-public information.”
What about McCabe, and the other FBI officials called out in Horowitz’s reports, who were referred to the DOJ.
Well, in the case of McCabe, the DOJ also declined prosecution.
Horowitz referred McCabe in 2018 and wrote another damning report stating that the former deputy director of the bureau, who authorized the probe into President Trump, had lied under oath to investigators three times and another time when he was not under oath. McCabe also leaked information to regarding the FBI’s investigation into Hillary Clinton to the Wall Street Journal. But nothing happened.
In fact, he was given his letter of freedom from the DOJ last week, despite lying and leaking. Shouldn’t senior level officials like McCabe and Comey be held to higher standards?
What is the public supposed to take away from our system of justice if it is so one-sided and what does this mean when we entrust our institutions to be fair and non-partisan but then find out is everything but fair or non-partisan.
Timothy R. Slater, Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI’s Washington Field Office, said Thursday that Frese’s “disseminating ‘classified information he had pledged to protect” puts our “national defense equities in danger.”
“The US Government and the American public depend on trusted government employees to keep such information out of the hands of our adversaries, who could use it to cause us harm,” said Slater. “The FBI’s counterintelligence mission is to protect our country’s information and secrets in order to safeguard our future; and the men and women of the FBI will continue to work hard to preserve that information.”
What about protecting the actual system of government and the constitution that is there to ensure that all Americans are treated equally under the law?
What about an FBI that was so out of control that its leadership felt they could lie, leak and spy on a duly elected president with impunity.
And why is no-one at the FBI, either current employees or former, being held to the same standards as Frese?