About Frank Snepp

FRANK SNEPP

Peabody-Award winning investigative journalist and broadcaster; best-selling author; former interrogator, counter-intelligence operative and chief strategy analyst for the CIA in Vietnam; ex-CIA whistleblower; named defendant in a landmark U.S. Supreme Court ruling on free speech and national security; expert commentator on the Vietnam war, national security, and the First Amendment.

Frank Snepp, a graduate of Columbia’s School of Internal Affairs, is a former, highly decorated CIA agent whose best-seller about his experiences in Vietnam, “Decent Interval,” triggered a landmark First Amendment/national security decision by the U.S. Supreme Court. His second book, “Irreparable Harm,” details those experiences. He was part of the four-person team for ABC News World News Tonight that broke the Iran Contra scandal and served as a national security consultant to the Manuel Noriega defense team. In his first year as staff investigative producer for NBC4, he reported, produced and wrote an expose about dangerous local methane issues, which won a Peabody Award, the highest award in broadcast journalism.

“Decent Interval,” his celebrated best-seller about the fall of Saigon, tells of his eyewitness experiences as interrogator, operative and chief strategy analyst at the CIA Station, Vietnam, and as one of the last agency officers to be choppered off the roof of the U.S. embassy in April 1975.
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Think Obama should be tougher? Then think about Nixon.

President Nixon prided himself on his tough-guy image and his reputation for strategic risk-taking. (AP)

President Nixon prided himself on his tough-guy image and his reputation for strategic risk-taking. (AP)

Those who fault President Obama for not being belligerent enough toward Russia and Iran — or assertive enough in dealing with the crises in Iraq, Gaza, Syria and Afghanistan — would do well to remember how poorly the feckless bravado of President Nixon served us and our allies in Vietnam.

Nixon prided himself on his tough-guy image and his reputation for strategic risk-taking. He learned the dubious art of brinkmanship as Dwight Eisenhower’s vice president during the height of the Cold War. And, as he later acknowledged, he came to admire Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev for his simple ability to “scare the hell out of everybody.”

Once Nixon became president and was faced with the daunting task of forcing the North Vietnamese to negotiate — even as U.S. forces withdrew from Vietnam and U.S. antiwar sentiment peaked — he began trying to “scare the hell out of everybody” to gain leverage against Hanoi.

“I call it the madman theory,” Nixon told his aide H.R. Haldeman. “I want the North Vietnamese to believe I’ve reached the point where I might do anything to stop the war.”

His calculated displays of rashness included invading Cambodia, making a jaw-dropping opening to China and initiating the “Christmas bombing” of Hanoi in late 1972.

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Profiteering from Compromised Security: the Snowden Dividend

By Frank Snepp - Posted April 13, 2014

Luke Harding’s new book, “The Snowden Files,” shamelessly recycles many of the Top Secret NSA revelations first reported in his own newspaper, the Guardian, by Glenn Greenwald, his former colleague and Ed Snowden’s favorite press contact.

Harding rushed his twice-told tale into print last February in an apparent effort to gain a march on Greenwald who is preparing to publish his own Snowden tell-all a few weeks from now.

Besides stealing part of Greenwald’s own stolen thunder, the Harding tome serves to remind us there is no honor among thieves, especially when they’re vying to cash in on the biggest secrets heist in the history of U.S. intelligence.

Not that Greenwald suffered pre-emption easily. On February 10, he tried to nudge “Files” out of the headlines by planting a new Snowden bombshell on an “investigative” website he’d just launched with the Nation’s Jeremy Scahill and freelancer Laura Poitras.

That web exclusive – co-authored by Scahill – dealt with NSA’s alleged involvement in U.S. assassination plots. Never mind that the essence of the story had been surfaced months before by The Washington Post, in two reports based on Snowden documents in its possession. Greenwald apparently has no reservations about beating a dead horse if it will help him preserve his monopoly of the lucrative Snowden franchise.

He and Poitras staked a claim to this money machine last June when Snowden met with them and another Guardian reporter in Hong Kong and handed them most if not all of the secrets he’d lifted from his former employer, the NSA. Greenwald then worked with Harding and others at the newspaper to make the most of this bonanza. The Guardian owned a good chunk of the Snowden story until Greenwald quit in October, taking the leaker’s remaining stash with him for use on the new website, as if it were now his property.

Harding’s book may well be the Guardian’s way of sticking it to the guy who heisted the heist.

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Owner of LA Staples Center Faces Trial in Toddler’s Death

Six months after AEG Live was found “not liable” in the Michael Jackson wrongful death lawsuit, another AEG subsidiary, which owns and operates the Staples arena in downtown Los Angeles, faces a legal showdown over a fatal accident there.

In a blistering reversal of earlier lower court rulings, a California appeals panel has ordered LA Arena Company to answer charges of negligence and unlawful business practices in the death of toddler Lucas Tang, who fell out skybox at Staples four years ago.

Alleged deficiencies in the front-row safety barriers, including their low height, figured in the family’s appeal.

“The company always knew that the barriers were constructed in a dangerous way,” Scott Wellman, an attorney for the Tang family said. “Their own witnesses testified that people would stand or sit on them. And still no one at Staples did anything to make them safer.”

In her first public interview, the victim’s mother, Hoai Mi Nguyen, expressed hope that the case might have the positive result of forcing changes in safety procedures at public venues everywhere. “The past has happened and there’s nothing we can do to bring Lucas back,” she said. “If this case is what it takes to prevent [similar accidents], I don’t want this to happen again to anyone else.”

Neither AEG’s spokesperson nor LA Arena’s attorneys responded to requests for comment.

LA Arena and AEG live, the promotion company exonerated in the Jackson lawsuit, are both offshoots of the Anschutz Entertainment Group, the sports and special-event giant. AEG recently won a contract to run the city-owned Los Angeles Convention Center, based in part on its record in managing Staples and the adjacent LA Live theater complex.

Jackson died at his Los Angeles home from medical complications in June 2009 while preparing for a concert tour arranged by AEG Live. A jury rejected his family’s claim that the promoter had hired a doctor-caretaker whom it knew to be incompetent.

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Other Articles Worldwide

 

Edward Snowden’s Weasel Ways

http://www.latimes.com/opinion/commentary/la-oe-snepp-snowden-nsa-20140131,0,2997528.story#tugs_story_display

latimes.com Op-Ed

“Edward Snowden’s Weasel Ways”

By Frank Snepp, January 31, 2014

Granting Edward Snowden clemency, as many have urged, would send a terrible message to other potential whistle-blowers. Yes, he may have sparked an important national privacy debate, but he did so through reprehensible actions that harmed national security.

If that’s a harsh verdict, I have earned the right to it. In terms of sheer media hype, I was the Snowden of my day, a disaffected ex-spy who, in the late 1970s and early ’80s, rocked the security community by publishing a memoir about intelligence failures I’d witnessed as a CIA officer during the last years of the Vietnam War. I did so only after the agency backhanded my repeated requests for an in-house review of our mistakes and refused to help me or anyone else rescue Vietnamese allies abandoned during the evacuation of Saigon.

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No Integrity Award for Edward Snowden

“No Integrity Award, No Pardon for Edward Snowden”

By Frank Snepp (Posted January 2, 2014)

When I read recently that a group of CIA whistleblowers had traveled to Moscow to present Edward Snowden with their annual “integrity” award – his first public trophy for binge-leaking — I could only marvel at their audacity. The award is dedicated to the memory of the late, great CIA whistleblower Sam Adams and is supposedly reserved for insurgents of similar character. The current nominee doesn’t come close. The same reformist lobby is now invoking Sam’s name as part of an equally ill-considered campaign to win a Presidential pardon for Snowden, and The New York Times has recently seconded this appeal. If Sam were alive to pass judgment on it, he would give it a resolute thumbs down.

I know this with an insider’s certainty. Not only were Sam and I close colleagues in the CIA; we followed the same unwritten rulebook in exposing the wrongs and failings of our own spymasters, and suffered massive recriminations without turning tail. The last person either of us would embrace as a spiritual comrade is the mercurial young flight risk from the NSA.
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Snowden and a Muzzled Free Press

“Snowden and a Muzzled Free Press”

By Frank Snepp, Posted CNN.com, July 3, 2013

The conservative Republican Rep. Peter King of New York recently uncorked the genie that journalists fear most, by calling for a crackdown on anyone who gives air time to Edward Snowden and like-minded leakers. To most of my journalist colleagues, this seems to violate the most basic tenets of press freedom. But as I discovered from my own bout with the U.S. Supreme Court, the First Amendment can be a fickle friend for anyone who dares defy the guardians of “official secrecy.”

The continued hemorrhaging of some of our most closely held intelligence could make the administration an ally of King’s, particularly if Snowden keeps lobbing headline-grabbers from some hideaway abroad. Attorney General Eric Holder has already shown his colors by prosecuting more leak cases under the espionage statutes than any of his predecessors, and by making reporters’ phone and e-mail records fair game in related investigations.

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