Archive for associated press

Sliding Scale Of Justice

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Make no mistake, I'm not endorsing crime, just mystified by how we punish those who commit it.

Between the Wikileaks exposés, the Bradley/Chelsea Manning leaks or the Edward Snowden releases of classified information, we're experiencing some startling reveals. And to many, these are breaches in national security. Names of people or enough identifying information has been parsed that lives have become in danger. Thousands, perhaps millions of  US tax dollars has been blown by giving up this information.

These are national security risks for sure. Based on the 'secret' information revealed, we now face risks because the Taliban or Al-Qaeda or some other terrorist group knows they've been infiltrated. Our safeguards, our methodology, our agents or double-agents have potentially been exposed.

This is heinous and endangers us all.

A few days ago, according to the NEW YORK TIMES,

Donald Sachtleben

A former F.B.I. agent has agreed to plead guilty to leaking classified information to The Associated Press about a foiled bomb plot in Yemen last year, the Justice Department announced.

Federal investigators said they were able to identify the man, Donald Sachtleben,

Mr. Sachtleben, 55, of Carmel, Ind., who was an F.B.I. agent from 1983 until 2008 and was later hired as a contractor, has agreed to serve 43 months in prison for the leak, the Justice Department said.

Forty-three months, just over 3 1/2 years. I'm not sure how that sentence was calculated considering Bradley/Chelsea Manning, through a military judge last month was sentenced to 35 years in prison for leaking archives of documents to WikiLeaks.

But back to Sachtleben. By his revealing how we were able to foil the bombing plot, he gave away a secret plan and potentially the identity of the agent working for us. And the reporters who broke this story refused to give up their source.

DOJ went to work to find out who this leaker was and in doing so, tapped the phone records of the reporters at AP. Now that Donald Sachtleben has been revealed, the whole situation has caused quite an uproar. Mining phone data is a big issue as it goes to the heart of news reporters freedom of the press.

Yet this case took an even more obscure turn this week when the DOJ revealed the man's identity

...only after secretly obtaining A.P. reporters’ phone logs, a move that set off an uproar among journalists and members of Congress of both parties when it was disclosed in May.

The Justice Department cross-referenced his phone calls with those of the Associated Press reporters who had written a story that indicated a terrorist attempt was thwarted because of an "inside" source. That news story also let the terrorists know they had a mole on the inside.

Much has been made of the reveal, but not so much has been made of the reason the justice department had access to Sachtleben's private data to start with. His personal computer had been confiscated because he was under investigation for another crime at the time. Possession of child pornography.

Now here's the interesting thing, the part that gets me wondering which crime is worse? A man costs this country millions of dollars in cash, training, assets, time, and potential lives -- crime one; or he has possession of banned material, a non-violent offense -- crime two . Both are awful. Both are clearly criminal. Both are felonies.

So, how do we punish these offenses?

Mr. Sachtleben has separately agreed to plead guilty and serve 97 months in the pornography case.

Sachtleben has agreed to serve 43 months in prison for the leak.

So possession of pornography, in the justice department's eyes, is more than twice as bad as betraying his country -- revealing secrets and putting our whole national security at risk?

Again, I'm not saying either should go unpunished, but is the balance of justice a little askew here? This man is not accused of directly harming a child. This isn't a rape case. It's a possession case. He wasn't making or selling pornographic material. For that he gets over 8 years in prison.

Yet he puts all of our entire country's lives in jeopardy and his punishment for that seems to be a comparative wrist slap.

Should the punishment fit the crime? I could understand those sentences being reversed, but there sure seems to be some unbalanced prison stays being handed out.

Just ask Chelsea Manning.

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Cartoons of the Day- Obama Administration "Scandals"

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Mike Luckovich

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Tim Eagan

Clay Bennett editorial cartoon

Clay Bennett

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Cartoons of the Day- Scandals Part Two

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David Horsey

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Mike Smith

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Bill Day

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Cartoons of the Day- Scandal!

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Christopher Weyant

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Pat Bagley

Jeff Koterba cartoon for May 19, 2013. Scandals

Jeff Koterba

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Benghazi Smoke Screen

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Another guest post by the one and only Will Durst.

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Up until about an hour ago, most Americans thought Benghazi was the guy who palled around with John Cassavetes back in the 60s, but now it’s obvious we’re talking about the foreign policy arm of a multi- ramped tar pit the President has found himself swimming- up to his armpits. Yes, friends, it’s pity time at the White House.

After flogging the issue nonstop since September 11, the Fox News Team’s persistence finally pushed the story of the Libyan Embassy riot that resulted in the death of 4 Americans over the cliff into the public consciousness. Space available only because both Honey Boo Boo and Duck Dynasty are on hiatus.

The hue and cry from the right is demanding many questions be answered. Was the protest planned or spontaneous? Did the group that initiated the attack have any affiliation with Arab terrorists? Who altered the talking points; the CIA or the State Department? Where were the drones? Queens? Wasps? Chigger mites? How many angels can dance on the head of a bent and broken Romney/ Ryan pin? What would Cheney do?

Having taken all this in, the American people responded with what can only be characterized as even more penetrating questions such as: “Who cares? What difference does it make? Aren’t we stuffed to the gills with enough partisan gobbledy goop already? Does anyone really give an albino rat’s ass? Isn’t there a seafood buffet around here somewhere?”

The revelations have been as startling as mint jelly on lamb. Tragic violent events occurring in the Middle East? Oh no! Not that. Perpetual infighting amongst government agencies? That couldn’t happen here, could it? Republicans accusing a Democratic administration of not being patriotic enough? What are the odds?

Next you’ll tell me the Justice Department investigation of the Justice Department’s seizure of AP reporters’ phone records will lead to the Justice Department concluding that the Justice Department did nothing wrong. The public’s eyes are glazing over like a 5th grader lectured on the nutritional aspects of broccoli rabe.

Haven’t we been told for the last twenty, thirty years that Libya is a godless pit of iniquity and now they want us to heap truckloads of blame onto our own guys because someone got killed over there? After they themselves voted down additional money for embassy security? Another example of that whole “dynamite the front steps then complain what a pain it is to climb into the house on a rope ladder” school of logic.

But the GOP remains convinced they have the administration on the run, and is calling for all sorts of investigative committees and dedicated inquiry boards and pretty soon it will be special prosecutors and court rooms full of hopping kangaroos and then pointy sticks and barbed wire and dungeon doors with keys specifically designed to be thrown away. Just in time for the midterms.

And if everything goes according to plan, Hillary Clinton and her nascent 2016 Presidential run will wither and rot behind the same Benghazi charges. But the Republicans must know how tricky this sort of maneuver can be. As with all smoke screens, you have to pay real close attention to which way the wind blows, or you could easily end up choking on the same stuff you’re spreading.

Recipient of 7 consecutive nominations for Stand Up of the Year, Will Durst’s new one- man show “BoomerAging: From LSD to OMG” is presented every Tuesday, at the Marsh, San Francisco. Go to… themarsh.org or willdurst.com for more info.

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Bonus Cartoon of the Day- GOP Master Plan

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Milt Priggee

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Video- David Letterman: Top Ten Other AP Twitter Account Bulletins

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