If leaking classified information is all right for an FBI director and his deputy, why could it end up getting Henry Kyle Frese up to 10 years in prison?
Frese, 31, is a former Defense Intelligence Agency employee pled guilty on Thursday “to charges related to his disclosure of classified national defense information (NDI) to two journalists in 2018 and 2019,” according to a Department of Justice news release.
The press release said that Frese had transmitted classified information about defense capabilities to two journalists on dozens of occasions, in addition to passing information to an overseas consultant.
“Frese violated the trust placed in him by the American people when he disclosed sensitive national security information for personal gain,” Assistant Attorney General for National Security John C. Demers said in the release.
“He alerted our country’s adversaries to sensitive national defense information, putting the nation’s security at risk. The government takes these breaches seriously and will use all the resources at our disposal to apprehend and prosecute those who jeopardize the safety of this country and its citizens.”
“Mr. Frese violated his sworn oath to protect the American people and uphold the Constitution of the United States by using his access to the United States’ most sensitive information and steal state secrets for nothing more than personal gain,” Robert Wells, acting assistant director of the FBI Counterintelligence Division, said in the release.
“The men and women of the FBI who investigated this case swore the same oath but unlike Mr. Frese, they chose to uphold it. I am proud of the work they did to hold Mr. Frese accountable for his actions.”
Interesting. Did they work at holding this man accountable for his actions?
So many questions. pic.twitter.com/66KaR52Kk8
— James Comey (@Comey) March 24, 2019
Former FBI Director James Comey is free and easy to spend as much time as he wants taking pictures out in nature and then attaching cryptic captions to them. Yet, if we reach back in the memory bank, Comey was the one who got Robert Mueller appointed as special counsel by leaking a memo with classified information through a friend to The New York Times.
Former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe isn’t getting teenager-y on social media, but he’s still in the news thanks to the fact that the Department of Justice decided earlier this month that it wouldn’t pursue charges against him for misleading the Bureau over an unauthorized leak.
As journalist and pundit Sara Carter pointed out, there seem to be two sets of rules for leakers who are causes célèbre for the media and the left, and those ordinary leakers who illegally pass on classified information. Mind you, both of classes of leakers are doing the same thing — but everyone pretends they don’t.
“[Inspector General Michael] Horowitz’s report on Comey was scathing and he referred the former director of the bureau to the DOJ for criminal prosecution, however, the Justice Department declined prosecution,” Carter wrote in a Friday piece.
The Horowitz report said this: “Former Director Comey failed to live up to this responsibility. By not safeguarding sensitive information obtained during the course of his FBI employment, and by using it to create public pressure for official action, Comey set a dangerous example for the over 35,000 current FBI employees — and the many thousands more former FBI employees — who similarly have access to or knowledge of non-public information.”
Carter similarly noted the official line on McCabe: “Horowitz referred McCabe in 2018 and wrote another damning report stating that the former deputy director of the bureau, who authorized the [Mueller] probe into President Trump, had lied under oath to investigators three times and another time when he was not under oath. McCabe also leaked information regarding the FBI’s investigation into Hillary Clinton to the Wall Street Journal. But nothing happened.
“In fact, he was given his letter of freedom from the DOJ last week, despite lying and leaking. Shouldn’t senior level officials like McCabe and Comey be held to higher standards?”
So many questions.
In fact, as former federal prosecutor Andrew McCarthy points out at National Review, McCabe lied to the FBI multiple times about authorizing a leak to The Wall Street Journal through his counsel, Lisa Page, about the existence of a probe into the Clinton Foundation. He also lied to Comey, who wanted the investigation kept mum during the 2016 election cycle, about authorizing it. He then lied to investigators about whether he lied to Comey about it. In short, he lied a lot — or “lacked candor,” as the FBI put it.
The leak itself was about personal aggrandizement, according to Horowitz’s report, “to advance his personal interests” by looking as if he were standing up to the Obama DOJ’s preference that the probe be dropped.
“McCabe’s disclosure was an attempt to make himself look good by making senior department leadership … look bad,” the inspector general’s report found.
McCarthy says that missteps with the DOJ were partially responsible for the fact McCabe wasn’t prosecuted.
“There have been rumblings that the McCabe investigation was botched. Kamil Shields, a prosecutor who reportedly grew frustrated by her supervisors’ inordinate delays in making decisions about the McCabe probe, ultimately left the Justice Department to take a private-practice job,” McCarthy wrote in the Feb. 15 piece.
“Another prosecutor, David Kent, quit last summer as DOJ dithered over the decision on whether to prosecute. Things became so drawn out that the investigating grand jury’s term lapsed.”
McCarthy also noted the attorney overseeing the probe, Jesse Liu, has been on the outs at the DOJ. While she reportedly thought McCabe should be charged, McCarthy notes “the DOJ may have harbored doubts about her judgment.”
At least there was a question with McCabe. With Comey, there was never really any question.
Meanwhile, Frese — remember him? — “faces a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison when sentenced on June 18, 2020, at 9:30 am,” the DOJ’s news release states. “Actual sentences for federal crimes are typically less than the maximum penalties. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after taking into account the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.”
None of that, meanwhile, will ever be taken into account for two of the biggest leakers in Washington history. That’s not because they were whistleblowers. It’s not because they did nothing wrong. It could be because of botched investigations.
This is not to excuse anything Frese or any other lawbreaker might have done. What it does do is show the real problem.
At the heart of stories like this is the brutal reality that in too many cases, those at the top make their own rules. Going by the book is for the plebes.
Truth and Accuracy
We are committed to truth and accuracy in all of our journalism. Read our editorial standards.