In the USA...Steubenville rape protest draws hundreds as city responds to cover-up allegations
By Arturo Garcia
Saturday, January 5, 2013 20:53 EST
Hundreds of demonstrators converged on Steubenville, Ohio on Saturday to demand justice for the 16-year-old victim of an alleged rape in August, in a case that has garnered national attention.
WTRF-TV reported that protesters at the “Occupy Steubenville” included visitors from as far away as California and New York, and even overseas.
Several of the demonstrators wore masks or carried signs bearing the likeness of Guy Fawlkes, the symbol of the “Anonymous” hacker collective. An affiliated group, KnightSec, brought the case further to light after releasing video and other evidence it said was swept under the rug for the sake of protecting the town’s high school football program, including mockery of the victim.
The Columbus Dispatch reported that two 16-year-old members of the team will stand trial on Feb. 13 in connection with the attack on the girl.
“There are good officers on the police force, there are good sheriffs deputies, and there are good kids on the football team,” one rallygoer told WTOV-TV. “But there’s an injustice here. There are lies and injustice and coverups. If you want to do something about it from this point on, start teaching your children to respect life.”
Among the speakers at the event were several sexual assault survivors, as well as Jefferson County Sheriff Fred Abdalla, who, according to The Atlantic Wire, went from saying he was “coming after” the hacker group to addressing Saturday’s rally.
“I’m trying to convince you that I’m not the bad guy,” Abdalla said amid boos from the crowd. “You’ve already got your mind made up.”
CNN reported that city officials launched their own website to counter what they call a misrepresentation of the facts of the case.
“City leaders know that many people outside Eastern Ohio are interested in this matter and people from other states and countries may not be familiar with some basic facts about the background of the case,” a statement on the site said. “This site is not designed to be a forum for how the Juvenile Court ought to rule in this matter.”
Watch WTRF’s report from “Occupy Steubenville,” aired Saturday, below.http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q8811Hk0KQw
Click these links for complete information on this whole story: http://localleaks.blogs.ru/
January 5, 2013G.O.P. Begins Soul-Searching After Tax Vote
By MICHAEL D. SHEAR and JIM RUTENBERG
WASHINGTON — When Republican leaders in Congress agreed to raise taxes on the wealthy last week, it left the increasingly fractured and feuding party unified on perhaps only one point: that it is at a major crossroads.
From Mitt Romney’s loss on Election Day through the recent tax fight that shattered party discipline in the House of Representatives, Republicans have seen the foundations of their political strategy called into question, stirring a newly urgent debate about how to reshape and redefine their party.
At issue immediately is whether that can be achieved through a shift in tactics and tone, or will instead require a deeper rethinking of the party’s longtime positions on bedrock issues like guns and immigration. President Obama intends to test the willingness of Republicans to bend on those issues in the first months of his new term, when he plans to push for stricter gun control and a comprehensive immigration overhaul.
The coming legislative battles are certain to expose even more division in the party. And with establishment Republicans and Tea Party activists at times speaking as if they are from different parties altogether, concern is spreading throughout the ranks that things could get worse before they get better.
“The Republican Party can’t stay exactly where it is and stick its head in the sand and ignore the fact that the country is changing,” said Ralph Reed, the founder of the Faith and Freedom Coalition and onetime leader of the Christian Coalition. “On the other hand, if the party were to retreat on core, pro-family stands and its positions on fiscal responsibility and taxes, it could very quickly find itself without a strong demographic support base.”
Having lost the popular vote in five of the last six presidential elections, Republicans now face a country that is increasingly younger, multiethnic and skeptical of Republican positions on some social issues. The party’s deficit-cutting agenda relies heavily on reducing taxes for the wealthy, which irks middle-class voters, and cutting spending on government programs, like Social Security and Medicare, that are popular with many voters.
Generational change is also robbing the party of some of its most effective political positions. Same-sex marriage, which less than a decade ago was an issue that reliably drove conservative voters to the polls in favor of Republicans, appears to be losing its potency with an electorate increasingly comfortable with gay unions.
None other than Newt Gingrich, a former House speaker who promised to fight for a constitutional ban against same-sex marriage during the Republican presidential primaries, now says his party must come to terms with the country’s rapidly shifting views on the subject.
“Walking around and pretending it doesn’t exist just means you’re going to become irrelevant,” Mr. Gingrich said in an interview.
Prominent Republicans insist that if the party’s disparate factions can come together around a set of economic, social and foreign policy principles in the coming years, they stand a good chance of retaking the presidency, making gains in Congress and repairing some of the damage done through several years of bitter primary battles and divisive legislative bickering.
“Republicans will get their mojo back when they define themselves as the party of economic growth and upward mobility,” said Gov. Mitch Daniels of Indiana, a Republican who will become the president of Purdue University next week. Mr. Daniels said new lawmakers and governors — many of whom are minorities and women — would reshape the Republican Party.
“The party, with all its problems — and I’m not disputing them — has a really large and interesting crop of new faces,” he said. “Ultimately, parties tend to be defined by their most visible personalities.”
Republicans have already demonstrated success in midterm elections, when fewer people vote, and in state elections for governorships and legislatures. In North Carolina, Pat McCrory, a Republican former mayor of Charlotte, was sworn in as governor on Saturday after waging a campaign that emphasized pragmatism over ideology.
“My message remained a Republican message,” Mr. McCrory said, suggesting that national Republicans could learn a lesson from state politicians. “But I did it with a tone of problem solving. I did it with a tone of cooperation. I didn’t run one negative ad.”
But a changed tone alone may not do enough to smooth over the very real disagreements in the Republican Party. And it is not clear how the intraparty combatants can meet in the middle. For example, while some Republicans argued that the tax vote last week enshrined almost all of the Bush-era tax cuts into permanent law and should be seen as a victory, harder-line fiscal conservatives called it a shameful departure from the party’s two decades of successful opposition to tax increases.
Clashes between Tea Party supporters in the House and Speaker John A. Boehner during the budget battles last year led a dozen of them to withhold their votes for speaker last week.
And across the country, deeply conservative organizations angry about the concession on tax increases are pledging more, not fewer, primary challenges to Republicans they believe are straying too far from the party’s orthodoxy on taxes, guns, energy, immigration, spending and abortion.
“The gloves are off,” said Everett Wilkinson, a founder of the Tea Party movement in Florida. “We’re going to challenge a lot of the G.O.P. going forward,” he added, both in primaries and general elections.
Moderate Republicans are bracing for the challenges. Steven C. LaTourette, who retired from his Ohio Congressional seat at the end of the year and will become the president of the Republican Main Street Partnership, said his group would raise money to defend middle-of-the-road Republicans against the more conservative groups.
“There has to be an acceptance within the party of people who have nonidentical views on every issue,” Mr. LaTourette said. “You can’t be a national party unless you invite in and are accepting of members with different visions. You can’t treat them as pariahs.”
As the new year begins, some of the party’s leaders in Washington are searching for ways to address the philosophical divide and the structural changes in the country that have caused such problems.
Some are talking about the need to find a positive vision and agenda that represents conservative values but still speaks more directly to the concerns of a broad section of voters — and manages to sell that vision through leaders who can convince voters that the party wants to move forward and not back.
Former Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison, a Texas Republican who retired this year, said Republicans must shift their focus away from issues like abortion, same-sex marriage, gun rights and immigration.
“The combination of our fiscal responsibility message and the social issue message did not bring together a majority” in the presidential election, she said. “It’s not so much coming to the middle. It’s letting people have various views on personal issues and not requiring complete fealty to all of those issues in a way that will drive people off.”
Other leaders have urgently ordered top-to-bottom reviews to determine how the party lost touch with the most important and fastest-growing voting blocs, including women and Hispanics, and how it can win them over by the 2014 midterm elections.
It is now accepted in the party that it has failed to keep up with Democrats in the competition for ascendant voting blocs of Hispanics, African-Americans, Asians and young people. Although exit polls showed that Mr. Romney won nearly 60 percent of the white vote, Mr. Obama won more than 70 percent of Asians and Hispanics and more than 90 percent of black voters.
“If there’s one conclusion that’s going to come out of this process, it’s that we have to be much more granular in our approach to partners in the community like African-Americans, Hispanics and Asians,” said Reince Priebus, the Republican National Committee chairman, who is overseeing one of the most ambitious review efforts.
Michael D. Shear reported from Washington, and Jim Rutenberg from New York.
January 5, 2013Obama and Republicans Gear Up for Next Fiscal Fight
By ANNIE LOWREY
WASHINGTON — In dueling weekly addresses, the White House and Republicans drew lines in the sand for their next fiscal showdown, which could be as soon as next month, when a Congressional fight is expected on raising the nation’s borrowing limit.
Democrats have warned Republican leaders not to use the debt authorization for political leverage. In his weekly address, President Obama again said he would not trade spending cuts for an increase in the debt limit.
“One thing I will not compromise over is whether or not Congress should pay the tab for a bill they’ve already racked up,” he said. “If Congress refuses to give the United States the ability to pay its bills on time, the consequences for the entire global economy could be catastrophic.”
Mr. Obama also repeated his new demand that future spending cuts be met with commensurate tax increases. “Spending cuts must be balanced with more reforms to our tax code,” he said. “The wealthiest individuals and the biggest corporations shouldn’t be able to take advantage of loopholes and deductions that aren’t available to most Americans.”
A similar standoff over raising the debt limit in 2011 led Standard & Poor’s for the first time to downgrade its rating of United States Treasury debt by one notch, suggesting a higher risk of default. The impasse caused a slump in the market, and analysts fear that another one could cause yet more damage.
Many Republicans have said they do not plan to lift the country’s statutory borrowing limit unless Democrats agree to significant spending cuts, particularly to entitlement programs like Social Security and Medicare.
In the Republican address, Representative Dave Camp of Michigan, the chairman of the powerful Ways and Means Committee, argued that Congress needed to focus on cutting spending and simplifying the tax code.
“Many of our Democrat colleagues just don’t seem to get it,” he said. “Throughout the fiscal cliff discussions, the president and the Democrats who control Washington repeatedly refused to take any meaningful steps to make Washington live within its means. That position is irresponsible and fails to acknowledge what every family in America already knows: when you have no more money in your account and your credit cards are maxed out, then the spending must stop.”
Just after the new year, Congress agreed to raise taxes on the wealthiest Americans and delay for two months significant cuts to the discretionary budget, brokering the deal to avoid the worst of the tax increases and spending cuts known collectively as the “fiscal cliff.” But the deal, which will cut the deficit by an estimated $650 billion over 10 years, is far smaller than the trillions of dollars in deficit reduction initially sought by negotiators.
It also left several issues for the 113th Congress to resolve, including raising the debt ceiling, trying to defuse some of the mandated discretionary-spending cuts and averting a government shutdown. Those will come to a head in February and March. If Congress fails to lift the ceiling, a cash management crisis will result, as the Treasury will lack the money to pay all the country’s bills on time.
The wonders of unregulated capitalism ........
January 5, 2013Health Insurers Raise Some Rates by Double Digits
By REED ABELSON
Health insurance companies across the country are seeking and winning double-digit increases in premiums for some customers, even though one of the biggest objectives of the Obama administration’s health care law was to stem the rapid rise in insurance costs for consumers.
Particularly vulnerable to the high rates are small businesses and people who do not have employer-provided insurance and must buy it on their own.
In California, Aetna is proposing rate increases of as much as 22 percent, Anthem Blue Cross 26 percent and Blue Shield of California 20 percent for some of those policy holders, according to the insurers’ filings with the state for 2013. These rate requests are all the more striking after a 39 percent rise sought by Anthem Blue Cross in 2010 helped give impetus to the law, known as the Affordable Care Act, which was passed the same year and will not be fully in effect until 2014.
In other states, like Florida and Ohio, insurers have been able to raise rates by at least 20 percent for some policy holders. The rate increases can amount to several hundred dollars a month.
The proposed increases compare with about 4 percent for families with employer-based policies.
Under the health care law, regulators are now required to review any request for a rate increase of 10 percent or more; the requests are posted on a federal Web site, healthcare.gov, along with regulators’ evaluations.
The review process not only reveals the sharp disparity in the rates themselves, it also demonstrates the striking difference between places like New York, one of the 37 states where legislatures have given regulators some authority to deny or roll back rates deemed excessive, and California, which is among the states that do not have that ability.
New York, for example, recently used its sweeping powers to hold rate increases for 2013 in the individual and small group markets to under 10 percent. California can review rate requests for technical errors but cannot deny rate increases.
The double-digit requests in some states are being made despite evidence that overall health care costs appear to have slowed in recent years, increasing in the single digits annually as many people put off treatment because of the weak economy. PricewaterhouseCoopers estimates that costs may increase just 7.5 percent next year, well below the rate increases being sought by some insurers. But the companies counter that medical costs for some policy holders are rising much faster than the average, suggesting they are in a sicker population. Federal regulators contend that premiums would be higher still without the law, which also sets limits on profits and administrative costs and provides for rebates if insurers exceed those limits.
Critics, like Dave Jones, the California insurance commissioner and one of two health plan regulators in that state, said that without a federal provision giving all regulators the ability to deny excessive rate increases, some insurance companies can raise rates as much as they did before the law was enacted.
“This is business as usual,” Mr. Jones said. “It’s a huge loophole in the Affordable Care Act,” he said.
While Mr. Jones has not yet weighed in on the insurers’ most recent requests, he is pushing for a state law that will give him that authority. Without legislative action, the state can only question the basis for the high rates, sometimes resulting in the insurer withdrawing or modifying the proposed rate increase.
The California insurers say they have no choice but to raise premiums if their underlying medical costs have increased. “We need these rates to even come reasonably close to covering the expenses of this population,” said Tom Epstein, a spokesman for Blue Shield of California. The insurer is requesting a range of increases, which average about 12 percent for 2013.
Although rates paid by employers are more closely tracked than rates for individuals and small businesses, policy experts say the law has probably kept at least some rates lower than they otherwise would have been.
“There’s no question that review of rates makes a difference, that it results in lower rates paid by consumers and small businesses,” said Larry Levitt, an executive at the Kaiser Family Foundation, which estimated in an October report that rate review was responsible for lowering premiums for one out of every five filings.
Federal officials say the law has resulted in significant savings. “The health care law includes new tools to hold insurers accountable for premium hikes and give rebates to consumers,” said Brian Cook, a spokesman for Medicare, which is helping to oversee the insurance reforms.
“Insurers have already paid $1.1 billion in rebates, and rate review programs have helped save consumers an additional $1 billion in lower premiums,” he said. If insurers collect premiums and do not spend at least 80 cents out of every dollar on care for their customers, the law requires them to refund the excess.
As a result of the review process, federal officials say, rates were reduced, on average, by nearly three percentage points, according to a report issued last September.
In New York, for example, state regulators recently approved increases that were much lower than insurers initially requested for 2013, taking into account the insurers’ medical costs, how much money went to administrative expenses and profit and how exactly the companies were allocating costs among offerings. “This is critical to holding down health care costs and holding insurance companies accountable,” Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said.
While insurers in New York, on average, requested a 9.5 percent increase for individual policies, they were granted an increase of just 4.5 percent, according to the latest state averages, which have not yet been made public. In the small group market, insurers asked for an increase of 15.8 percent but received approvals averaging only 9.6 percent.
But many people elsewhere have experienced significant jumps in the premiums they pay. According to the federal analysis, 36 percent of the requests to raise rates by 10 percent or more were found to be reasonable. Insurers withdrew 12 percent of those requests, 26 percent were modified and another 26 percent were found to be unreasonable.
And, in some cases, consumer advocates say insurers have gone ahead and charged what regulators described as unreasonable rates because the state had no ability to deny the increases.
Two insurers cited by federal officials last year for raising rates excessively in nine states appear to have proceeded with their plans, said Carmen Balber, the Washington director for Consumer Watchdog, an advocacy group. While the publicity surrounding the rate requests may have drawn more attention to what the insurers were doing, regulators “weren’t getting any results by doing that,” she said.
Some consumer advocates and policy experts say the insurers may be increasing rates for fear of charging too little, and they may be less afraid of having to refund some of the money than risk losing money.
Many insurance regulators say the high rates are caused by rising health care costs. In Iowa, for example, Wellmark Blue Cross Blue Shield, a nonprofit insurer, has requested a 12 to 13 percent increase for some customers. Susan E. Voss, the state’s insurance commissioner, said there might not be any reason for regulators to deny the increase as unjustified. Last year, after looking at actuarial reviews, Ms. Voss approved a 9 percent increase requested by the same insurer.
“There’s a four-letter word called math,” Ms. Voss said, referring to the underlying medical costs that help determine what an insurer should charge in premiums. Health costs are rising, especially in Iowa, she said, where hospital mergers allow the larger systems to use their size to negotiate higher prices. “It’s justified.”
Some consumer advocates say the continued double-digit increases are a sign that the insurance industry needs to operate under new rules. Often, rates soar because insurers are operating plans that are closed to new customers, creating a pool of people with expensive medical conditions that become increasingly costly to insure.
While employers may be able to raise deductibles or co-payments as a way of reducing the cost of premiums, the insurer typically does not have that flexibility. And because insurers now take into account someone’s health, age and sex in deciding how much to charge, and whether to offer coverage at all, people with existing medical conditions are frequently unable to shop for better policies.
In many of these cases, the costs are increasing significantly, and the rates therefore cannot be determined to be unreasonable. “When you’re allowed medical underwriting and to close blocks of business, rate review will not affect this,” said Lynn Quincy, senior health policy analyst for Consumers Union.
The practice of medical underwriting — being able to consider the health of a prospective policy holder before deciding whether to offer coverage and what rate to charge — will no longer be permitted after 2014 under the health care law.
January 5, 2013In Texas, Resistance to a Renewed Call for an Annual Roundup of Legislators
By MANNY FERNANDEZ
AUSTIN, Tex. — Long before lawmakers prepared to gather at the sand-colored Capitol here on Tuesday for the opening day of the legislative session, State Representative Richard Peña Raymond had already filed a little-noticed bill to drastically change not only how they conduct business, but also how often.
Texas is one of only four states whose legislatures convene in regular session every two years. Lawmakers in Texas meet in odd-numbered years only — as do legislators in Montana, Nevada and North Dakota — while those in the 46 other states hold legislative sessions yearly, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
Mr. Raymond’s bill would require the Texas Legislature to meet in regular session in odd-numbered years and to hold a budget session in even-numbered years. The move would mean annual meetings and budgets, an idea that has been debated for decades but has long been viewed with suspicion in a place that prizes small government, low taxes and deregulation.
“As big a budget as we have, as big a state as we are, as diverse of an economy as we have, we really should be looking at annual budgets,” said Mr. Raymond, a Democrat from Laredo and a former member of the Appropriations Committee, which writes the budget. “There’s no business in the private sector that does two-year budgets. It’s a very outdated idea.”
In Texas, the biennial sessions unfold quickly — beginning at noon on the second Tuesday in January and ending in May after a 140-day run. It is a tradition dating back 137 years, when the State Constitution was ratified and required the Legislature to meet every two years.
Although the state’s population has grown in that time to nearly 26 million people from about 1 million, Texas has held on to the biennial tradition. Several Republican lawmakers and conservative activists said it suited them, and the political culture, just fine.
They described Mr. Raymond’s bill — his third attempt to change the system since the 2009 session — as a long shot at best. Republicans control both chambers of the Legislature, and even if the bill were to pass, a constitutional amendment changing the legislative schedule to annual sessions would have to be approved by Texas voters before it could take effect.
“There’s not a single Republican who would vote for that,” said Steve Ogden, a Republican senator from Bryan who was preparing to officially retire on Tuesday after 22 years in the Legislature. “I think one of the reasons that Texas does as well as it does is because the Legislature meets as infrequently as it does. In a state that believes in limited government, I think it works well for us.”
Gov. Rick Perry, a Republican, appeared to agree with Mr. Ogden. “The governor believes we need to limit government in people’s lives, not expand it,” said Lucy Nashed, a spokeswoman for Mr. Perry. “A part-time Legislature allows lawmakers to come in and complete the business of Texans and then go out and live under the laws that they’ve passed.”
As with other state issues, the debate over biennial sessions falls along party lines. Republicans argue that meeting every other year prevents the Legislature from passing frivolous bills, forces lawmakers to focus under considerable deadline pressure and keeps part-time legislators from becoming full-time politicians.
Some Democrats and political scientists say the infrequency of the sessions increases the power of the governor and state agencies because of a lack of oversight. They also say it makes the budget process a difficult task amid ever-changing national and state economies. (This session, lawmakers will adopt a budget for the 2014 and 2015 fiscal years.)
“It’s very fast-paced and tumultuous and inefficient to have a short 140-day session every other year in a state as big and as complex as Texas,” said Calvin Jillson, a political science professor at Southern Methodist University in Dallas. “You’re trying to budget and anticipate revenues and the need for expenditures 30 months out, and that’s very difficult to do.”
Lawmakers, of course, work more often than the legislative schedule implies. Mr. Perry has used his power to call special sessions several times during his 12 years as governor. In even-numbered years, the Capitol does not shut down, but hums quietly with committee hearings. But unlike lawmakers in California, New York and other large states, Texas legislators have the populist distinction, and pay, that come from being part-timers.
Members of the House and the Senate are paid $7,200 annually. A per diem for living expenses during the sessions stands at $150 but will most likely rise to $179 through a vote this month by the Texas Ethics Commission. Legislators spend at least part of their time focused on other jobs. Many are lawyers, and others are ranchers, business consultants, insurance agents and pharmacists.
Cindy Burkett, a Republican representative from Mesquite, oversees a company that operates Subway sandwich shops. Charles Anderson, a Republican representative who is known as Doc, is a longtime veterinarian. (He planned to be at the Capitol for opening day on Tuesday and back at his practice in Waco later in the week.) Several conservatives said in effect that they want Dr. Anderson to spend as much time on his clients as he does on legislative bills.
“The California Legislature meets, I think, 30 hours a day, 9 days a week, 412 days a year, and they seem to invent new ways to cause problems for their citizens,” said Michael Quinn Sullivan, the president of Texans for Fiscal Responsibility. “The last thing Texas needs is a Legislature that meets more often.”
January 5, 2013Ex-Officer Is First From C.I.A. to Face Prison for a Leak
By SCOTT SHANE
WASHINGTON — Looking back, John C. Kiriakou admits he should have known better. But when the F.B.I. called him a year ago and invited him to stop by and “help us with a case,” he did not hesitate.
In his years as a C.I.A. operative, after all, Mr. Kiriakou had worked closely with F.B.I. agents overseas. Just months earlier, he had reported to the bureau a recruiting attempt by someone he believed to be an Asian spy.
“Anything for the F.B.I.,” Mr. Kiriakou replied.
Only an hour into what began as a relaxed chat with the two agents — the younger one who traded Pittsburgh Steelers talk with him and the senior investigator with the droopy eye — did he begin to realize just who was the target of their investigation.
Finally, the older agent leaned in close and said, by Mr. Kiriakou’s recollection, “In the interest of full disclosure, I should tell you that right now we’re executing a search warrant at your house and seizing your electronic devices.”
On Jan. 25, Mr. Kiriakou is scheduled to be sentenced to 30 months in prison as part of a plea deal in which he admitted violating the Intelligence Identities Protection Act by e-mailing the name of a covert C.I.A. officer to a freelance reporter, who did not publish it. The law was passed in 1982, aimed at radical publications that deliberately sought to out undercover agents, exposing their secret work and endangering their lives.
In more than six decades of fraught interaction between the agency and the news media, John Kiriakou is the first current or former C.I.A. officer to be convicted of disclosing classified information to a reporter.
Mr. Kiriakou, 48, earned numerous commendations in nearly 15 years at the C.I.A., some of which were spent undercover overseas chasing Al Qaeda and other terrorist groups. He led the team in 2002 that found Abu Zubaydah, a terrorist logistics specialist for Al Qaeda, and other militants whose capture in Pakistan was hailed as a notable victory after the Sept. 11 attacks.
He got mixed reviews at the agency, which he left in 2004 for a consulting job. Some praised his skills, first as an analyst and then as an overseas operative; others considered him a loose cannon.
Mr. Kiriakou first stumbled into the public limelight by speaking out about waterboarding on television in 2007, quickly becoming a source for national security journalists, including this reporter, who turned up in Mr. Kiriakou’s indictment last year as Journalist B. When he gave the covert officer’s name to the freelancer, he said, he was simply trying to help a writer find a potential source and had no intention or expectation that the name would ever become public. In fact, it did not surface publicly until long after Mr. Kiriakou was charged.
He is remorseful, up to a point. “I should never have provided the name,” he said on Friday in the latest of a series of interviews. “I regret doing it, and I never will do it again.”
At the same time, he argues, with the backing of some former agency colleagues, that the case — one of an unprecedented string of six prosecutions under President Obama for leaking information to the news media — was unfair and ill-advised as public policy.
His supporters are an unlikely collection of old friends, former spies, left-leaning critics of the government and conservative Christian opponents of torture. Oliver Stone sent a message of encouragement, as did several professors at Liberty University, where Mr. Kiriakou has taught. They view the case as an outrage against a man who risked his life to defend the country.
Whatever his loquaciousness with journalists, they say, he neither intended to damage national security nor did so. Some see a particular injustice in the impending imprisonment of Mr. Kiriakou, who in his first 2007 appearance on ABC News defended the agency’s resort to desperate measures but also said that he had come to believe that waterboarding was torture and should no longer be used in American interrogations.
Bruce Riedel, a retired veteran C.I.A. officer who led an Afghan war review for Mr. Obama and turned down an offer to be considered for C.I.A. director in 2009, said Mr. Kiriakou, who worked for him in the 1990s, was “an exceptionally good intelligence officer” who did not deserve to go to prison.
“To me, the irony of this whole thing is, very simply, that he’s going to be the only C.I.A. officer to go to jail over torture,” even though he publicly denounced torture, Mr. Riedel said. “It’s deeply ironic under the Democratic president who ended torture.”
John A. Rizzo, a senior C.I.A. lawyer for three decades, said that he did not believe Mr. Kiriakou set out to harm national security or endanger anyone, but that his violation was serious.
“I think he wanted to be a big shot,” Mr. Rizzo said. “I don’t think he was evil. But it’s not a trivial thing to reveal a name.”
The leak prosecutions have been lauded on Capitol Hill as a long-overdue response to a rash of dangerous disclosures and have been defended by both Mr. Obama and his attorney general, Eric H. Holder Jr. But their aides say neither man ordered the crackdown, and the cases appear to have resulted less from a conscious policy change than from the proliferation of e-mail, which makes it possible to trace the origin of some disclosures without pressuring journalists to identify confidential sources.
When Mr. Kiriakou pleaded guilty on Oct. 23 in federal court in Alexandria, Va., David H. Petraeus, then the C.I.A. director, issued a statement praising the prosecution as “an important victory for our agency, for our intelligence community, and for our country.”
“Oaths do matter,” he went on, “and there are indeed consequences for those who believe they are above the laws that protect our fellow officers and enable American intelligence agencies to operate with the requisite degree of secrecy.”
Less than three weeks later, e-mails tripped up Mr. Petraeus himself. He resigned after F.B.I. agents carrying out an unrelated investigation discovered, upon examining his private e-mail account, that he had had an extramarital affair.
Neil H. MacBride, the United States attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, hailed Mr. Kiriakou’s conviction in a statement: “The government has a vital interest in protecting the identities of those involved in covert operations. Leaks of highly sensitive, closely held and classified information compromise national security and can put individual lives in danger.”
The leak case is a devastating turn for Mr. Kiriakou, a father of five who considers himself a patriot, a proud Greek-American from Pennsylvania steel country whose grandfather, he recalls, “always talked as if F.D.R. personally admitted him to this country.” Discovering a passion for international affairs, he scrounged scholarships to go to George Washington University, where he was recruited by a professor, a former C.I.A. psychiatrist who spotted talent for the agency.
After he was charged last January, his wife, though accused of no wrongdoing, resigned under pressure from her C.I.A. job as a top Iran specialist. The family had to go on food stamps for several months before she got a new job outside the government. To make ends meet, they rented out their spacious house in Arlington, Va., and moved to a rented bungalow a third the size with their three young children (he has two older children from his first marriage).
Their financial woes were complicated by Mr. Kiriakou’s legal fees. He said he had paid his defense lawyers more than $100,000 and still owed them $500,000; the specter of additional, bankrupting legal fees, along with the risk of a far longer prison term that could separate him from his wife and children for a decade or more, prompted him to take the plea offer, he said.
Despite his distress about the charges and the havoc they have wrought for his family, he sometimes still speaks with reverence of the C.I.A. and its mission.
But the same qualities that worked well for him in his time as a risk-taking intelligence officer, trained to form a bond with potential recruits, may have been his undoing in his post-C.I.A. role as an intelligence expert sought out by reporters.
“Your job as a case officer is to recruit spies to steal secrets — plain and simple,” Mr. Kiriakou said. “You have to convince people you are their best friend. That wasn’t hard for me. I’d say half the people I recruited I could be lifelong friends with, even though some were communists, criminals and terrorists. I love people. I love getting to know them. I love hearing their stories and telling them stories.
“That’s all great if you’re a case officer,” he said. “It’s not so great, it turns out, if you’re a former case officer.”
After Mr. Kiriakou first appeared on ABC, talking with Brian Ross in some detail about waterboarding, many Washington reporters sought him out. I was among them. He was the first C.I.A. officer to speak about the procedure, considered a notorious torture method since the Inquisition but declared legal by the Justice Department in secret opinions that were later withdrawn.
While he had spent hours with Abu Zubaydah after the capture, he had not been present when Abu Zubaydah was waterboarded, a fact he made clear to me and some other interviewers. But based on what he had heard and read at the agency, he told ABC and other news organizations that Abu Zubaydah had stopped resisting after just 30 or 35 seconds of the suffocating procedure and told interrogators all he knew.
That was grossly inaccurate — the prisoner was waterboarded some 83 times, it turned out. Mr. Kiriakou believes that he and other C.I.A. officers were deliberately misled by other agency officers who knew the truth.
Mr. Kiriakou, who has given The New York Times permission to describe previously confidential conversations, came across as friendly, courteous, disarmingly candid — and deeply ambivalent about what the C.I.A. called “enhanced interrogation techniques.”
He spoke about his career: starting as an analyst on the Middle East at headquarters in Virginia; later being stationed in Bahrain; making the unusual switch to the “operations” side of the C.I.A.; and serving stints as a counterterrorism officer under cover, first in Greece and later in Pakistan (he speaks fluent Greek and Arabic).
When terrorists blew up the Khobar Towers in Saudi Arabia in 1996, killing 19 American servicemen, the blast blew out his apartment windows in Bahrain 16 miles away across the water. Twice overseas, he had close calls with terrorists who were trying to kill Western officials.
He said he had been offered the chance to be trained in the harsh interrogation methods but turned it down. Even though he had concluded that waterboarding was indeed torture, he felt that the C.I.A.’s critics, inflamed by the new revelation that videotapes of the interrogations had been destroyed, were being unduly harsh in judging actions taken in the hectic months after Sept. 11 when more attacks seemed imminent.
“I think the second-guessing of 2002 decisions is unfair,” he said in our first conversation. “2002 was a different world than 2007. What I think is fair is having a national debate over whether we should be waterboarding.”
His feelings about waterboarding were so mixed that some 2007 news reports cast him as a critic of C.I.A. torture, while others portrayed him as a defender of the agency. Some human rights activists even suspected — wrongly, as it turned out — that the intelligence agency was orchestrating his public comments.
Mr. Kiriakou seemed shellshocked, and perhaps a little intoxicated, by the flood of publicity his remarks on ABC had received and the dozens of interview requests coming his way. We met for lunch a couple of times in Washington and spoke by phone occasionally. He recounted his experiences in Pakistan — the C.I.A. later allowed him to include much of that material in his 2009 memoir, “The Reluctant Spy” — and readily answered questions about agency lore or senior officials with whom he had worked.
But he occasionally demurred when the subject was too sensitive. I could use information he gave me “on background” — that is, without mentioning him. But we would have to agree explicitly on anything I attributed to him by name, standard ground rules for such relationships.
In 2008, when I began working on an article about the interrogation of Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, I asked him about an interrogator whose name I had heard: Deuce Martinez. He said that they had worked together to catch Abu Zubaydah, and that he would be a great source on Mr. Mohammed, the architect of the Sept. 11 attacks.
He was able to dig up the business card Mr. Martinez had given him with contact information at Mitchell Jessen and Associates, the C.I.A. contractor that helped devise the interrogation program and Mr. Martinez’s new employer.
Mr. Martinez, an analyst by training, was retired and had never served under cover; that is, he had never posed as a diplomat or a businessman while overseas. He had placed his home address, his personal e-mail address, his job as an intelligence officer and other personal details on a public Web site for the use of students at his alma mater. Abu Zubaydah had been captured six years earlier, Mr. Mohammed five years earlier; their stories were far from secret.
Mr. Martinez never agreed to talk to me. But a few e-mail exchanges with Mr. Kiriakou as I hunted for his former colleague would eventually turn up in Mr. Kiriakou’s indictment; he was charged with revealing to me that Mr. Martinez had participated in the operation to catch Abu Zubaydah, a fact that the government said was classified.
Tensions Over Secrecy
Nothing about my exchanges with Mr. Kiriakou was unusual for a reporter covering intelligence agencies, though he was certainly on the candid end of the spectrum of former C.I.A. officers. Current officials are almost always less willing to speak than retirees. And former rank-and-file officers are usually more reluctant to speak than their bosses, who are more confident in walking up to — or occasionally crossing over — the borders protecting classified information.
Why do officials talk about ostensibly secret programs? Sometimes the motive is self-aggrandizement, or to promote a personal or political agenda. But many officials talk because they feel Americans have a right to know, within limits, what the government is doing with their money and in their name.
There is wide agreement in the government that too much information is classified, and even senior officials are sometimes uncertain about what is secret.
In Senate testimony last July, for example, Michael V. Hayden, the C.I.A. director from 2006 to 2009, admitted that he was perplexed by the “dilemma” over what he was or was not permitted to say, in this case about the targeted killing of Qaeda operatives using drones — officially classified but reported in the news media every day and occasionally discussed by Mr. Obama.
“So much of that is in the public domain that right now this witness, with my experience, I am unclear what of my personal knowledge of this activity I can or cannot discuss publicly,” Mr. Hayden said. “That’s how muddled this has become.”
The trade-offs and tensions over government secrets in a democracy are nothing new. In 1971, when the Nixon administration went to court to try to stop The New York Times from publishing the Pentagon Papers, a classified history of the Vietnam War, Max Frankel, then the Washington bureau chief for The Times, filed an affidavit on how officials and reporters exchange secrets.
“Without the use of ‘secrets’ that I shall attempt to explain in this affidavit, there could be no adequate diplomatic, military and political reporting of the kind our people take for granted, either abroad or in Washington, and there could be no mature system of communication between the government and the people,” Mr. Frankel wrote 42 years ago.
Before Mr. Obama took office, prosecutions for disclosing classified information to the news media had been rare. That was a comforting fact for national security reporters and their sources, but a lamentable one for intelligence officials who complained that leaks damaged intelligence operations, endangered American operatives and their informants and strained relations with allied spy services.
By most counts, there were only three cases until recently: against Daniel Ellsberg and a colleague for leaking the Pentagon Papers in 1971; against Samuel Loring Morison, a Navy intelligence analyst, for selling classified satellite photographs to Jane’s, the military publisher, in 1985; and against Lawrence Franklin, a Defense Department official, who was charged in 2005 with passing secrets to two officials of a pro-Israel lobbying group, who shared some of them with reporters.
Thus Mr. Obama has presided over twice as many such cases as all his predecessors combined, though at least two of the six prosecutions since 2009 resulted from investigations begun under President George W. Bush. An outcry over a series of revelations last year — about American cyberattacks on Iran, a double agent who infiltrated the Qaeda branch in Yemen and procedures for targeted killings — prompted Mr. Holder to begin new leak investigations that have not yet produced any charges.
The resulting chill on officials’ willingness to talk is deplored by journalists and advocates of open government; without leaks, they note, Americans might never have learned about the C.I.A.’s interrogation methods or the National Security Agency’s warrantless wiretapping. But for supporters of greater secrecy, the chill is precisely the goal.
Revealing a Name
From court documents and interviews, it is possible to piece together how the case against Mr. Kiriakou took shape. When he first spoke on ABC in 2007, the C.I.A. sent the Justice Department a “crimes report” — a routine step to alert law enforcement officials to an apparent unauthorized disclosure of classified information. At least half a dozen more referrals went to Justice as he continued to grant interviews covering similar ground.
Shortly after he became a minor media star, Mr. Kiriakou lost his job in business intelligence at Deloitte, the global consulting firm he joined after leaving the C.I.A. He had also begun working with Hollywood filmmakers — visiting Afghanistan, for instance, before advising the producers of “The Kite Runner” that its young male actors should probably be relocated outside the country for their own safety. He was working with a veteran journalist, Michael Ruby, on his memoir and battling the agency’s Publications Review Board, as many C.I.A. authors have, over what he was permitted to write about and what was off limits.
Mr. Rizzo, then a top C.I.A. lawyer, said he recalled some colleagues being upset that Mr. Kiriakou had begun speaking so openly about the interrogation program. “It was fairly brazen — a former agency officer talking on camera,” Mr. Rizzo said. “He started being quoted all over the place. He was commenting on everything.”
Of course, Mr. Kiriakou had plenty of company. More and more C.I.A. retirees were writing books, speaking to reporters or appearing on television. Mr. Rizzo himself became the subject of a Justice Department referral after he spoke to a Newsweek reporter in 2011 about drone strikes, and his own memoir, “The Company’s Man,” is scheduled for publication next year.
Mr. Rizzo said he did not believe that Mr. Kiriakou’s media appearances spurred a serious criminal investigation. “There really wasn’t a campaign against him,” he said.
Then, in 2009, officials were alarmed to discover that defense lawyers for detainees at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, had obtained names and photographs of C.I.A. interrogators and other counterterrorism officers, including some who were still under cover. It turned out that the lawyers, working under the name of the John Adams Project, wanted to call the C.I.A. officers as witnesses in future military trials, perhaps to substantiate accounts of torture or harsh treatment.
But initial fears that Al Qaeda might somehow be able to stalk their previous captors drew widespread coverage. This time there was a crimes report, Mr. Rizzo said, that was taken very seriously, both at the C.I.A. and the Justice Department.
F.B.I. agents discovered that a human rights advocate hired by the John Adams Project, John Sifton, had compiled a dossier of photographs and names of the C.I.A. officers; that Mr. Sifton had exchanged e-mails with journalists, including Matthew A. Cole, a freelancer then working on a book about a C.I.A. rendition case in Italy that had gone awry; and that Mr. Cole had exchanged e-mails with Mr. Kiriakou. The F.B.I. used search warrants to obtain access to Mr. Kiriakou’s two personal e-mail accounts.
According to court documents, F.B.I. agents discovered that in August 2008, Mr. Cole — identified as Journalist A in the charging documents — had asked Mr. Kiriakou if he knew the name of a covert officer who had a supervisory role in the rendition program, which involved capturing terrorism suspects and delivering them to prisons in other countries.
Mr. Kiriakou at first said he did not recall the name, but followed up the next day with an e-mail passing on the name and adding, “It came to me last night,” the documents show. (Mr. Sifton, Mr. Cole and federal prosecutors all declined to comment.)
In recent interviews, Mr. Kiriakou said he believed that the covert officer, whom he had last seen in 2002, had retired; in fact, the officer was then working overseas. He had no idea that the name would be passed on to the Guantánamo defense lawyers and end up in a government file, as it did, he said.
When the F.B.I. agents invited Mr. Kiriakou to their Washington office a year ago “to help with a case,” he said, they repeatedly asked him whether he had knowingly disclosed the name of a covert officer. He replied that he had no recollection of having done so; he still insists that was the truth.
“If I’d known the guy was still under cover,” Mr. Kiriakou said, “I would never have mentioned him.”
The officer’s name did not become public in the four years after Mr. Kiriakou sent it to Mr. Cole. It appeared on a whistle-blowing Web site for the first time last October; the source was not clear.
Preparing for Prison
On a chilly recent afternoon, Mr. Kiriakou, in a Steelers jersey, drove his Honda S.U.V. to pick up his son Max, 8, and his daughter Kate, 6, from school, leaving the 14-month-old Charlie at home with a baby sitter.
He and his wife had struggled with how to explain to the children that he is going away, probably in mid-February. They settled on telling the children that “Daddy lost a big fight with the F.B.I.” and would have to live elsewhere for a while. Max cried at the news, Mr. Kiriakou said. He cried again after calculating that his birthday would fall on a weekday, so it would be impossible to make the trip to prison to share the celebration with his father.
The afternoon school pickup has become his routine since he has been out of work. A stint as an investigator for the Senate Foreign Relations Committee ended before he was charged; two hedge funds that had him on retainer to provide advice on international security issues dropped him when the charges were filed.
Only Liberty University, the conservative Christian institution founded by Jerry Falwell Sr. in Lynchburg, Va., where Mr. Kiriakou was hired by former C.I.A. officers on the faculty to teach intelligence courses, actually increased the work it offered him when he got in trouble.
“They say torture is un-Christian,” Mr. Kiriakou said, who notes wryly that his fervent supporters now include both the Liberty Christians and an array of left-wing activists.
Last summer, Mr. Kiriakou was teaching a practical course on surveillance and countersurveillance to a group of Liberty students in Washington and had them trail him on foot on the eastern edge of Georgetown, he said. After several passes, the students excitedly told him that they had detected several cars that were also following him — his usual F.B.I. minders, he figured.
When Mr. Kiriakou pleaded guilty in October to sharing the covert officer’s name, the government dropped several other charges, including the disclosure to The Times and a claim that he had lied to the C.I.A.’s Publications Review Board, though those violations remain in an official statement of facts accompanying the plea.
He expects to be sent to a minimum-security federal prison camp at rural Loretto, Pa., where his fellow residents will include corrupt officials (inmates in recent years have included a Connecticut governor and a New York state senator) and nonviolent drug offenders (the actor Michael Douglas’s son, Cameron, currently among them).
Without explanation, he said, his lawyers at Trout Cacheris, a high-end Washington criminal defense firm, recently cut his outstanding bill from more than $700,000 to $492,264.16. “We would appreciate any efforts you can make to reduce the outstanding amount,” the firm wrote to him.
But the bill keeps climbing. One recent item: $1,500 for three hours of work — a lunch arranged by one of his lawyers with Mr. Kiriakou and a local professor who spent time at Loretto for stealing government research money, so he could get a firsthand account of life inside the prison camp.
This article has been revised to reflect the following correction:
Correction: January 5, 2013
A summary that appeared with an earlier version of this article misspelled the surname of the former C.I.A. operative. He is John C. Kiriakou, not Kiriako.
January 5, 2013General Details Pentagon Tensions With Obama on Afghanistan
By MICHAEL R. GORDON
WASHINGTON — In a memoir, Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal, the former American commander in Afghanistan, writes that tensions between the White House and the Pentagon were evident in the Obama administration from its opening months in office.
The beginning of President Obama’s first term “saw the emergence of an unfortunate deficit of trust between the White House and the Department of Defense, largely arising from the decision-making process on Afghanistan,” General McChrystal writes. “The effects were costly.”
The book by General McChrystal, who was fired from his post in 2010 after an article in Rolling Stone quoted him and his staff making dismissive comments about the White House, is likely to disappoint readers who are looking for a vivid blow-by-blow account of infighting within the administration.
The book, titled “My Share of the Task: A Memoir,” does not provide an account of the White House meeting at which Mr. Obama accepted the general’s resignation. General McChrystal’s tone toward Mr. Obama is respectful, and he notes that his wife, Annie, joined the crowd at Mr. Obama’s inauguration. The book is to be released on Monday.
An advance copy of the book provides revealing glimpses of the friction over military planning and comes as Mr. Obama is weighing, and perhaps preparing to overrule, the troop requests that have been presented by the current American commander in Afghanistan, Gen. John R. Allen.
The account is all the more noteworthy since General McChrystal, who retired from the Army, remains a respected voice within the military and teaches a course on leadership at Yale.
According to the book, the tensions began before General McChrystal took command in Kabul, Afghanistan, and were set off by a request from his predecessor, Gen. David D. McKiernan, for 30,000 additional troops at the end of the Bush administration.
Instead of approving the entire request, in February 2009, Mr. Obama decided that 17,000 would be sent, adding that decisions on additional deployments would be based on further analysis.
From the White House perspective, General McChrystal writes, “this partial decision was logical.” After less than a month, the president had increased American forces in Afghanistan by 50 percent. Though Mr. Obama had cast the conflict in Afghanistan as a “war of necessity,” as a candidate he was nonetheless wary about a prolonged American military involvement there.
But the Pentagon pressed for an additional 4,000 troops, fearing that there was little time to reverse the Taliban’s gains before the August elections in Afghanistan.
“The military felt a sense of urgency, seeing little remaining time if any forces approved were to reach Afghanistan in time to improve security in advance of the elections,” he wrote.
The White House later approved the 4,000 troops, but the dispute pointed to a deeper clash of cultures over the use of force that continued after General McChrystal took command.
“Military leaders, many of whom were students of counterinsurgency, recognized the dangers of an incremental escalation, and the historical lesson that ‘trailing’ an insurgency typically condemned counterinsurgents to failure,” he writes.
In May 2009, soon before he assumed command in Kabul, General McChrystal had a “short, but cordial” meeting with Mr. Obama at which the president “offered no specific guidance,” he notes.
The next month, General McChrystal was surprised when James L. Jones, Mr. Obama’s first national security adviser, told him that the Obama administration would not consider sending more forces until the effect of arriving units could be fully evaluated.
That contradicted the guidance that General McChrystal had received from Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates that he should submit an assessment in August of the additional forces that might be required, he writes.
At an Oct. 8, 2009, video conference with Mr. Obama’s National Security Council, differences again emerged when General McChrystal outlined his goals: “Defeat the Taliban. Secure the population.”
That prompted a challenge by a Washington-based official, whom General McChrystal does not name, that the goal of defeating the Taliban seemed too ambitious and that the command in Kabul should settle instead for an effort to “degrade” the Taliban.
At the next video conference, General McChrystal presented a slide showing that his objectives had been derived from Mr. Obama’s own speeches and a White House strategy review. “But it was clear to me that the mission itself was now on the table for review and adjustment,” he wrote.
After General McChrystal determined that at least 40,000 additional forces were needed to reverse the deteriorating situation in Afghanistan, Mr. Obama provided 30,000 and said he would ask allied nations to contribute the rest.
General McChrystal acknowledges that he had concerns that Mr. Obama’s decision to announce a date for beginning the withdrawal of the additional “surge” forces might embolden the Taliban. But the general writes that he did not challenge the decision.
“If I felt like the decision to set a withdrawal date would have been fatal to the success of our mission, I’d have said so,” he writes.
General McChrystal has little to say about the episode that led to the article in Rolling Stone. He writes that the comments attributed to his team were “unacceptable” but adds that he was surprised by the tone of the article, which he had expected would show the camaraderie among the American, British, French and Afghan officers.
As the controversy over the article grew, General McChrystal did not seek advice before offering his resignation. The book does not say if he was disappointed when Mr. Obama accepted it at a brief White House meeting.
Returning to his quarters at Fort McNair after that White House meeting, he broke the news to his wife: “I told her that our life in the Army was over.”