A former Defense Intelligence Agency analyst is going to federal prison for as long as 30 months for leaking classified intelligence to his girlfriend at NBC News.
Is it a precursor to what may become of former FBI Director James Comey if he ever faces the courts for his leaking to the media and lying?
In a news release, the Department of Justice says that Henry Kyle Frese held a Top Secret//Sensitive Compartmented Information intelligence security clearance. He lived with his girlfriend in the D.C. area and gave her leaked materials to help with her job. He even retweeted her stories on Twitter, according to the DOJ.
The Washington Examiner reported that the defense attorney for Frese says the 31-year-old analyst leaked the intelligence information to help out his girlfriend, whose career at NBC was stalling out.
He shared the information with his girlfriend, Amanda Macias, a national security reporter at CNBC, according to court documents. Macias, who was not named in the indictment, published eight stories related to the leaked information, prosecutors said. She was the first to report that China had installed missiles and missile systems in the South China Sea.
In messages between the two, Macias also asked Frese to speak to a colleague, NBC News reporter Courtney Kube. Frese told Macias he would if it helped her career “progress.”
The leaks of intelligence went to the two reporters and included top-secret information on Chinese and Russian weapons systems.
Two Reporters Worked for NBC News
The DOJ did not name the two reporters, but as The Washington Examiner reported, the stories described by the feds match the intelligence in stories by Macias and Kube.
Macias is still reporting on national security for CNBC.
The special tunnel has been installed at the president's residence in Novo-Ogaryovo.
Anyone entering the residence has to pass through the chamber that uses a fine mist of disinfectant solution that covers clothing and exposed areas of the body. https://t.co/2TahroK9Ap
— Amanda Macias (@amanda_m_macias) June 17, 2020
There was no tweet issued for her possibly erstwhile boyfriend’s sentencing today for leaking intelligence.
Kube’s star continues rising at MSNBC.
During my exclusive interview with Secretary Esper Tuesday he said he ordered the Army to conduct an investigation into the DC National Guard helicopters flying low over the city Monday night: https://t.co/KycKDGspY7 https://t.co/dwyjmP5xMo
— Courtney Kube (@ckubeNBC) June 5, 2020
There was no mention of Frese’s sentencing on her Twitter timeline today, either.
NBC Game of Phones With Intelligence Analyst
The DOJ says Frese used DIA computers to search for items the journalists wanted. They did not relate to the work he was performing for the U.S. government.
Several days after the April 27, 2018, Twitter exchange, Frese searched on a classified United States government computer system for terms related to the topics contained in Intelligence Report 1.
A few hours after searching for terms related to the topic of Intelligence Report l, Frese spoke by telephone with Journalist 1, and several hours later he spoke by telephone with Journalist 2.
It was an elaborate game of telephone.
Immediately after the call with Journalist 2, Journalist 1 called Frese. During at least one of the calls with Journalist 1 and Journalist 2, Frese orally passed Top Secret NDI derived from Intelligence Report 1.
Approximately 30 minutes after Frese spoke with the two journalists, Journalist 1 published an article (Article 1) which contained Top Secret NDI, orally communicated by Frese and derived from Intelligence Report 1 classified at the Top Secret//SCI level.
And he spiffed the reporters with leaked classified materials at least 30 times.
On at least 30 separate occasions in 2018, Frese conducted searches on classified government systems for information regarding the classified topics he discussed with Journalists 1 and 2. On multiple occasions in 2018 and 2019, Frese conducted searches on classified government systems because of specific requests for information from Journalists 1 and 2.
Is Comey Watching Story of NBC Intelligence Leak?
The U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, G. Zachary Terwilliger, said in a DOJ news release that Frese betrayed his oath and caused harm to innocent people.
“Frese’s choice to betray his oath to his country had real consequences and caused actual harm to the safety of this country and its citizens.
National Security Assistant Attorney General John Demers said, “When this information was published, it was shared with all of our nation’s adversaries, creating a risk of exceptionally grave harm to the security of this country.”
Prosecutors asked for a nine-year sentence but the judge set the term at 2-1/2 years.
Can anything happen to the reporters leaking the information they knew was classified? It’s unlikely.
According to a 2017 paper from the Congressional Research Service, and reported by NPR, “the question is far from settled as a matter of federal law, as is the closely related concern of how well they can protect their confidential sources.”
Julian Assange published millions of documents that he knew were classified. He’s been in hiding ever since.
The New York Times published the Pentagon Papers, outing the Kennedy and Johnson administrations’ reasons for and assessments of the Vietnam War. No one ever went to jail for publishing those. In fact, it set the template for what we have now. The leaker was prosecuted. The reporters were not. The Nixon administration went to court to get their publication stopped and lost.
The upshot is that the guy who takes the oath takes the fall. That’s the message the DOJ is sending.
It does make you wonder, however, about what ultimately will happen with leakers James Comey and other FBI officials who did the same thing.