Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Briefly Noted

If many USG employees are perceiving a recent increase in the level of security-related concerns about blogging, today's news reports about the 2009 espionage case of Shamai K. Leibowitz might go some way toward explaining that uptick.

From the New York Times, Leak Offers Look at Efforts by U.S. to Spy on Israel:

Mr. Silverstein, 59, [who received classified information from Leibowitz] writes a blog called Tikun Olam, named after a Hebrew phrase that he said means “repairing the world.” The blog gives a liberal perspective on Israel and Israeli-American relations. He said he had decided to speak out to make clear that Mr. Leibowitz, though charged under the Espionage Act, was acting out of noble motives. The Espionage Act has been used by the Justice Department in nearly all prosecutions of government employees for disclosing classified information to the news media, including the record-setting five such cases under President Obama.

Mr. Silverstein said he got to know Mr. Leibowitz, a lawyer with a history of political activism, after noticing that he, too, had a liberal-minded blog, called Pursuing Justice. The men shared a concern about repercussions from a possible Israeli airstrike on nuclear facilities in Iran. From his F.B.I. work from January to August of 2009, Mr. Leibowitz also believed that Israeli diplomats’ efforts to influence Congress and shape American public opinion were excessive and improper, Mr. Silverstein said.

After Leibowitz shared his concerns with Silverstein, he then went too far and began to share classified information as well. Leibowitz was subsequently convicted of espionage, and he now resides in a Federal Bureau of Prisons halfway house.

The fact that an espionage case began with a connection made in the blogosphere, while it is not directly pertinent to the administration of routine restrictions on social networking, is just the sort of thing that can work its way down the counterintelligence food chain until it morphs into a knee jerk reaction against employee blogging in general.


Anonymous said...

Hola TSB! We're back from our road trip so how about getting us the skinny on the Iraq drawdown to 3000 troops when you can get the real story. And weren't you going to post some more photos of your trip to the great historic places? Tnx! gwb

Consul-At-Arms said...

Great. Just great. Could explain how/why several excellent FSO web logs have recently "gone dark."

TSB said...


I hate to inflict my vacation photos on people. Anyway, I'm back on travel again (to the Persian Gulf) for a while, so maybe I'm take some new happy snaps.

Anonymous said...

Great news TSB! I'm glad it's not Syria. After this trip you should get that November trip to the Caribbean
hot spots! gwb