Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Former Appellate Defense Attorney For Cadet Webster Smith Named To Probe National Security Leaks.

U.S. attorney for Washington, D.C., Ronald Machen, was named by attorney General Eric Holder to oversee investigations into leaks of classified information that have roiled Congress and led to calls for a special prosecutor. His decision came hours after President Barack Obama denounced the notion that the White House was engaging in politically motivated leaks and declared that he had “zero tolerance” for such national security breaches. On December 23, 2009, President Barack Obama nominated Machen to serve as the United States Attorney for the District of Columbia. He was confirmed by the United States Senate on February 11, 2010. Machen grew up in Detroit, Michigan.He attended Stanford University, where he was a walk-on wide receiver for the Stanford Cardinal football team. Machen graduated from Stanford in 1991 with bachelor degrees in economics and political science. He earned his Juris Doctor from Harvard Law School in 1994. After graduating Harvard, Machen served as a law clerk to the Honorable Damon J. Keith, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit. He was the Appellate Defense Attorney for Coast Guard Cadet Webster Smith, who was the first Coast Guard cadet ever to be court-martialed. The case was appealed all the way to the U. S. Supreme Court. Sen. John Cornyn said Machen, a contributor to Barack Obama's presidential campaign, was too politically partisan to handle the leak probes. Holder praised Ronald Machen, who represented Coast Guard Cadet Webster Smith, in his appeal of his court-martial conviction for sexual assault, as experienced and highly respected. "We have a man who have shown independence, an ability to be thorough and who has the guts to ask tough questions," Holder told the committee. "And the charge that I've given him is to follow the leads wherever they are, whether it is _ wherever it is in the executive branch or some other component of government. I have great faith in his abilities." At a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing, Sens. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., and Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, said they want the attorney general to appoint a special counsel to look into the leaks, rather than Holder's choices, U.S. Attorneys Ron Machen and Rod Rosenstein, who hold political appointments. Graham and Grassley were referring to a procedure by which a special counsel appointed from outside the Justice Department conducts the leak investigations. In recent days, lawmakers from both parties have deplored what they called a cascade of leaks of sensitive national security secrets disclosed in news reports. House members and senators have complained about reports of a U.S.-led cyberattack on Iran’s nuclear program, stories about Obama’s involvement in authorizing deadly drone strikes and reports that the U.S. infiltrated an Al Qaeda-linked terrorist group plotting an attack on a U.S. airliner. Holder did not specify which leaks were being investigated. Government officials usually decline to do so because such a statement could confirm the accuracy of the classified information that was published. “The unauthorized disclosure of classified information can compromise the security of this country and all Americans, and it will not be tolerated,” Holder said in his statement. “The Justice Department takes seriously cases in which government employees and contractors entrusted with classified information are suspected of willfully disclosing such classified information to those not entitled to it, and we will do so in these cases as well.” Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) said he and Holder had discussed the appointment of the prosecutors, whom he praised as “strong, capable, independent.” House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers (R-Mich.) said the investigation must be fair and thorough. “These U.S. attorneys will need to have the ability to follow the investigation wherever it may lead,” he said. “I look forward to hearing how they will be independent from the chain of command.”

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