from the FAS Project on Government Secrecy
Volume 2008, Issue No. 34
April 7, 2008

Secrecy News Blog:


Last year, U.S. Navy Lt. Cmdr. Matthew Diaz was convicted of unlawfully disclosing classified information to an unauthorized person, after he provided the names of prisoners secretly held in military detention at Guantanamo Bay to a civil rights organization. He was sentenced to six months in prison and ordered discharged from the Navy.

Last week, Diaz was honored as a "truth teller" at the National Press Club in Washington, DC for the very same action.

He received the Ridenhour Award, named for the late Ron Ridenhour, who revealed the 1968 massacre of Vietnamese at My Lai.

"Lt. Cmdr. Diaz demonstrated independent judgment, fidelity to the Constitution, and uncommon courage," according to the Ridenhour Award statement.

"By disclosing the names of prisoners secretly detained at Guantanamo, he broke ranks and he violated the law, and for that he has paid a serious price. But we believe that he also demonstrated a profound loyalty to the United States and its enduring constitutional principles."

The April 3 remarks of Matthew Diaz upon receiving the Ridenhour Award may be found here:

The award ceremony and some of the background to it were described by Joe Conason in "A Truth Teller Who Deserves Justice,", April 4:

A longer treatment of the Diaz case appeared in "Naming Names at Gitmo" by Tim Golden, New York Times Magazine, October 21, 2007:

Remarkably, Diaz appears to be the first American ever convicted under the espionage statutes for disclosing classified information to another American rather than to a foreign person or government, according to a new study of espionage in America.


Financial incentives and external coercion play a diminishing role in motivating Americans to spy against the United States, according to a new Defense Department study. But divided loyalties are increasingly evident in recent espionage cases.

"Two thirds of American spies since 1990 have volunteered. Since 1990, spying has not paid well: 80% of spies received no payment for espionage, and since 2000 it appears no one was paid."

"Offenders since 1990 are more likely to be naturalized citizens, and to have foreign attachments, connections, and ties, and therefore they are more likely to be motivated to spy from divided loyalties." Even so, the majority (65%) of American spies are still native born.

The changing circumstances surrounding the practice of espionage today require revision of the existing espionage laws, the study concludes.

"Recent espionage cases involving stateless transnational groups illustrate the strain of how to sort out and apply ... ambiguities in the current [espionage] statutues."

The new study was performed for the Defense Personnel Security Research Center, with the support of the Counterintelligence Field Activity (which reportedly may soon be dismantled). A copy was obtained by Secrecy News.

See "Changes in Espionage by Americans: 1947-2007," by Katherine L. Herbig, Defense Personnel Security Research Center, March 2008:


Pending legislation to reform the use of the state secrets privilege received a wave of support last week from numerous public interest, professional and civil liberties organizations.

While the bill is opposed by the Attorney General (Secrecy News, 04/03/08), it received strong endorsements from the American Bar Association, the American Civil Liberties Union, the Brennan Center for Justice, the Center for Democracy and Technology, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, the Constitution Project and others. See their statements and responses to the Attorney General's March 31 letter on the subject here:


Prosecutors in the case of two former AIPAC lobbyists who are charged with unlawful transmission of classified information last week asked a court to prevent the former director of the Information Security Oversight Office, J. William Leonard, from testifying for the defendants (Secrecy News, 03/18/08).

Mr. Leonard, who was the government's senior classification policy authority for the past five years until his recent retirement, should not be allowed to assist the defense, prosecutors said. There are legal and ethical prohibitions against his testimony, according to the prosecution, particularly since he once had a discussion with prosecutors about the case.

"Mr. Leonard is subject to a permanent restriction on appearing as an expert witness on behalf of any other party in this matter except the United States," prosecutors argued in their March 31 motion.

The prosecution move highlights the awkward fact that several of the government's own most distinguished classification experts are siding with the defense in this case.

Another former ISOO director, Steven Garfinkel, has also been named as a potential expert witness for the defense.

Perhaps with that prospect in mind, the government motion stated that "The statutory restrictions enumerated herein may likewise apply to other expert witnesses the defense intends to present."

The government motion was first reported by the Jewish Telegraphic Agency in "Gov't: Bar Classification Czar," April 4:


Secrecy News is written by Steven Aftergood and published by the Federation of American Scientists.

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