Sara Carter reports that the FBI’s top lawyer, James A. Baker, is said to be under investigation for leaking classified material that disclosed a top-secret U.S. surveillance program built by Yahoo Inc. The leaked information formed the basis for a story in Reuters. The Reuters story described how the the software program developed by Yahoo for the U.S. government allowed the intelligence community to search Yahoo emails containing specific characters or phrases.
According to Carter, “a senior government official with close knowledge of the intelligence community” alleges that Baker opposed the Yahoo Inc. software program. In addition, according to the same official, “under Baker, many FISA warrants languished for both counterterrorism and counterintelligence investigations.”
Baker’s positions on the Yahoo software program may (or may not) be meritorious. But leaking information about that top-secret program, if that’s what happened, would place him in serious legal jeopardy.
Baker was appointed FBI general counsel by James Comey in 2014. According to Carter, he is a confidant of the former director.
Baker has a long and distinguished career working on intelligence matters. During the Bush Administration, he was counsel for intelligence policy and head of the Office of Intelligence Policy and Review. In 2006, Baker received the George H.W. Bush Award for Excellence in counterterrorism, the CIA’s highest counterterrorism award.
Unfortunately, leaking in response to policy disagreements has become a way of life in Washington. If the FBI’s general counsel indulged in this practice, it would underscore how pervasive the leak culture is and would cry out for the vigorous prosecution of this official.