Sunday, December 14, 2008

Tamm Exposed

Newsweek has officially outed former FBI lawyer Thomas Tamm as the leaker who spilled the NSA surveillance program to the NY Times. This was rumored last year. More history here and here.

Reporter Michael Isikoff sets up the moment of apparent treason:
Tamm had been eyeing the phone booths on his way to work in the morning. Now, as he slipped through the parade of midday subway riders, his heart was pounding, his body trembling. Tamm felt like a spy. After looking around to make sure nobody was watching, he picked up a phone and called The New York Times.
Almost as if Risen or Lichtblau's names were written on the wall of the phone booth (hey, there were a lot of leaks around that time). The story actually claims he 'googled' their contact numbers but couldn't find one for Seymour Hersch. Isikoff also goes on to mention what appears to be new details about the 'program' but don't worry, AQ probably stopped reading Newsweek after the Koran flushing story.

The bigger question is whether Tamm acted alone. Many on the right have long speculated that someone very high up in the Senate/House food chain might have been involved with the leaks for political reasons (they occurred around the same time as the Plame mess and before the 2004 election). Indeed, the story mentions that Tamm reached out to a former colleague:
Tamm—who had no knowledge of the separate rebellion within the ranks of the Justice Department—decided independently to get in touch with Sandra Wilkinson, a former colleague of his on the Capital Case Unit who had been detailed to work on the Senate Judiciary Committee.
According to the story Wilkinson was a dead end. But is that all? According to Ken Timmerman's book "Shadow Warriors" (which documents Bush administration betrayal from inside) the FBI was investigating a "senior member of the Senate Intelligence Committee" (page 253). Who were the senior Democrat members of the Senate Intel Cmte in 2004?
* John Rockefeller
* Carl Levin
Supposedly the only members 'read-in' on 'the program' were the first and second guys. Thing is, Newsweek said Tamm went to a Judiciary Committee staffer. So, who were the Democrats on the 107th Congress version of the Senate Judiciary Cmte?
* Patrick Leahy
* Joseph Biden
* Richard Durbin
* Maria Cantwell
* John Edwards
* Russ Feingold
* Diane Feinstein
* Edward Kennedy
* Herb Kohl
* Chuck Schumer
It would appear that Edwards, Feinstein, and Durbin were on both the Judiciary and Intelligence Committees at that time but none of them should have known about 'the program'. One has to wonder if the FBI is, or ever was, investigating this. We do know Tamm was not an undecided voter in 2004:
He was, by this time, "pissed off" at the Bush administration, he says. He contributed $300 to the Democratic National Committee in September 2004, according to campaign finance records.
Whether his play was an act of conscience or a stunt to help get Kerry elected is hard to say without evidence. A lot of insiders were working against the administration around that time, perhaps even Powell and Armitage, and most probably believed their actions were righteous. But the bottom line is, the coup failed.

Maybe Tamm is hopeful that by going public he can thwart the FBI investigation as a sympathetic team Obama arrives, which might free him up to write a book and recover legal fees. Only time will tell. Another terrorist attack could change things in a hurry. But it's interesting that Newsweek used a question mark in the secondary title of their story, asking whether Tamm is a hero or criminal, then proceeded to list very few instances that would support the latter other than this comment by Francis Fragos Townsend:
"There are legal processes in place [for whistle-blowers' complaints]. This is one where I'm a hawk. It offends me, and I find it incredibly dangerous."
Tamm understands but has "few regrets". Perhaps one might be the outcome of the 2004 election?


Debbie said...

Very interesting. I'm always fascinated by the motives behind acts like this. Seems they are always a little murky and never really get the results they hope for.

He wants to write a book to cover his legal expenses, now that's really original.

Look at that list of folks, what a lefty crowd.

Nice article.

Debbie Hamilton
Right Truth

A.C. McCloud said...

Not sure he wants to write a book or not, just speculating. They all do at some point.

Speaking of books, can't wait to read Rove's book.

Debbie said...

Submitted to Watcher of Weasels.