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Justice Drops Probe Of Leaker Who Exposed Bush-Era Wiretapping

Apr 26, 2011

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"The Justice Department has dropped its long-running criminal investigation of a lawyer who publicly admitted leaking information about President George W. Bush's top-secret warrantless wiretapping program to The New York Times," Politico reports.

Thomas Tamm, as Gawker wrote back in 2008, was a Justice Department attorney and a "deeply implausible country-hurter ... [having grown] up in a family of high-profile FBI officials."

He told Newsweek in 2008 that "I thought this [secret program] was something the other branches of the government — and the public — ought to know about. So they could decide: do they want this massive spying program to be taking place? ... If somebody were to say, who am I to do that? I would say, 'I had taken an oath to uphold the Constitution.' It's stunning that somebody higher up the chain of command didn't speak up."

President Bush condemned the leak, saying it was a breach of national security.

The decision to drop the case, Politico adds, "means it is unlikely that anyone will ever be charged for the disclosures that led to the Times' Pulitzer Prize-winning story in December 2005 revealing that after the Sept. 11 attacks, Bush ordered the interception of certain phone calls and e-mail messages into and out of the U.S. without a warrant — a move many lawyers contend violated the 1978 law governing intelligence-related wiretaps."

Update at 1 p.m. ET: NPR's Carrie Johnson, who covers the Justice Department, has confirmed the news with Tamm's lawyer. She tells us that the attorney, Paul F. Kemp, "said in an e-mail that Tamm won't be prosecuted for talking about the secret program."

According to Kemp, the Justice Department told him the investigation was being dropped partly because of concerns about how a jury might react to the controversial wiretapping effort.

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