Are Jay Rockefeller and Benedict Arnold Cousins?

Wednesday, March 08, 2006
Benedict Arnold committed treason for the money (10,000 pounds and a commission in the British Military).

Senator Jay Rockefeller (D – West Virginia) stands accused of leaking details of the highly secret NSA spy program to New York Times reporter James Risen.

As Seneca the Younger has previously reported, former Deputy Undersecretary of Defense Jed Babbin suspects that Rockefeller and his staff are a likely source of this NSA leak.

Rockefeller is also a suspect in leaks of national security secrets related to allegations of overseas terrorist prisons.

He is accused of leaking details of a secret "black ops" CIA satellite program last December to the Washington Post. Washington attorney Clarice Feldman has written about this in the American Thinker.

And he has been accused of a criminal violation of the Logan Act for his activities during his trip to Syria in 2002. (Watch the video of Rockefeller in his own words here.)

So, what motivates Jay Rockefeller?

Well, we do have the Rockefeller memo, from the Senate Select Intelligence Committee. If you read it carefully, it is clear that Rockefeller is motivated by base partisan politics. Then he lied about authoring it. Former Democrat Senator Zell Miller called it “the first cousin to treason.”

There’s a lot of smoke here, but is there fire? The Justice Department, FBI, NSA and CIA are currently investigating these leaks and we may know the answers soon.


Seneca the Younger said...

"Seneca the Elder"


brylun said...

Seneca, Sorry! It's fixed.

Seneca the Younger said...

Pbththth. Age jokes. ;-)

Eric Blair said...

I really hope they indict.

MeaninglessHotAir said...

The Justice Department, FBI, NSA and CIA are currently investigating these leaks and we may know the answers soon.

Don't hold your breath.

Knucklehead said...

It is long gone as a law, but see Section I of the Sedition Act of 1798 and the Espionage Act of 1917.

Haven't yet found the current federal law for espionage (criminalization of sedition has long since fallen from favor - more's the pity).

Rick Ballard said...


Brylun posted the appropriate acts here. I think that 798 may also pertain.

I disagree with MHA as to speed - all the necessary investigative teams within the JoD/FBI were already in place and have functioned together for a very long time. Indictments could come fairly qucikly, akthough I'm not at all sure that they will include Rockefeller. Yet.

Seneca the Younger said...

Eric --- Nah, it's not that serious, he just made a typo....

Seneca the Younger said...

Seriously, re indictments, don't forget Congressional immunity and Hutchinson v Proxmire. I'm not at all sure that Rockefeller isn't protected from prosecution under the Speech and Debate clause.

That doesn't mean he's immune to derision, however.

CF said...

The NYT's office is not the floor of the Senate,Seneca.
If he is involved and is for some reason not indicted, at a minumum he will lose his security clearance and be forced off the Committee.

Seneca the Younger said...

Clarice, I completely agree that he can, and should, lose his chair and clearance. This has happened before to other Senators. I just don't think he is likely to be indicted and prosecuted.

I'd settle for "unindicted co-conspirator" in Keller's indictment, though.

Knucklehead said...


I'll join cf's point here. If he is the source of leaks he's using his postion on the Senate Intelligence Committee where his is privy to classified information, he has "need to know" status based upon his position on the committee (at least that's how I imagine it works) and, therefore, he has a higher level of security clearance than would otherwise be necessary for a congresscritter.

If he's abusing his role by leaking classified material he's probably subject to prosecution. I seriously doubt they'll prosecute a US Senator. Censure, removal from the committee, loss of security clearance, but probably not prosecution.

Has a sitting US Senator ever been prosecuted for treason? Former Ohio Senator Jonathan Dayton was part of the Aaron Burr treason indictment.

I'd settle for disgracing the bastid. What's up with those WV guys? Is that state a nest of seditionist radicalism?

CF said...

Macsmind suggests the Dems folded so quickly on the NSA hearing because they are worried about the DoJ investigation.

Rick Ballard said...

The potential for indictment would seem to hinge on the committee staffers involved (assuming they were the ones who actually leaked). If one or two of them acknowledge discussing the matter with Senator(s) prior to vetting Tice and his story to Risen then I believe there might be potential for conspiracy charges.

I put the possibility for indictment of a sitting Senator pretty low but not beyond the possible. The Rockefeller memo provides a clear indication of state of mind.

brylun said...

Obviously not immune to derision, as can be seen in this post.

But as to Constitutional Speech and Debate Clause immunity, I doubt it. Hutchinson v. Proxmire says, "Newsletters and press releases, by contrast, are primarily means of informing those outside the legislative forum; they represent the views and will of a single Member. It does not disparage either their value or their importance to hold that they are not entitled to the protection of the Speech or Debate Clause." Hutchinson at p. 133.

So, it would seem if Rockefeller goes on the Senate floor and gives a speech on NSA, overseas terrorist prisons or satellites, he would be protected from prosecution by the Speech or Debate Clause.

But if he secretly goes to the New York Times or Washington Post, it would seem that behavior is more akin to a "press release" and he would not be protected from prosecution.

But what a great question!

brylun said...

Eric and Seneca, Don't I have immunity under the Speech or Debate Clause?

terrye said...

At the very least Rockefeller should lost his clearance. And what is more this should not be a partisan issue, but an ethical one. Or perhaps criminal.

Seneca the Younger said...

Censure or even expulsion. Now, if you lawyer types (are you listening Clarice? VNJAG? Brylun? This is a hint) wanted to discuss what he could be indicted for, and the whole Speech and Debate clause issue w.r.t. Hutchinson, I'd love to sit back and watch.

(I'm nothing if not subtle, eh?)

Knucklehead said...

Yeah, and while you're all at it, please speculate about whether a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee could immunize himself from potential prosecution by dumping national security secrets out into the open forum of the Senate chamber.

Rick Ballard said...


If he did so he would be in violation of the Senate's own rules and subject to Senate discipline. It would go to the Ethics Committee which has six members, evenly split. Johnson, Pryor and Salazar for the Dems, Voinovich, Roberts and Thomas for the Reps.

Ethics charges can be laid against Rockefeller by another Senator when evidence is in hand.

Mike's America said...

Good roundup on the problem with Rocky!

Still nothing on any investigation. The Mary McCarthy thing didn't shed any light on Rock's activities.

And now of course the Senate Intell Comm. is going to be front and center for the confirmation of a new Director of Central Intelligence.

I doubt anyone will want to make waves about Rocky's behavior with that sideshow going on.