The Navy Gave Wackaloon Pizzagate Guy Jack Posobiec 'Top Secret' Clearance. Was That Smart?
Jack Posobiec is this weirdo who became a semi-big deal in the Wingnuttosphere after Donald Trump was elected, with rants about Pizzagate, screaming about Nazis at a Shakespeare play (of course he meant the Royal Shakespeare Company, not actual Nazis), and pushing the Russian disinformation campaign in the French election, which he called "#Macronleaks" -- he made that up all by himself! But he didn't exactly come out of nowhere. Before he was a rightwing "journalist," Posobiec was in the Navy -- the U.S. one -- and since he worked in naval intelligence he had a security clearance. Not just any security clearance, but one of the highest: "Top Secret, Secret Compartmentalized Information."
Posobiec finally came to national attention when Donald Trump, in a run-up to Tuesday's bonkers press conference, retweeted a "what about the blacks?" tweet by Posobiec late on Monday:
It's all pretty damned weird. Why on earth did the Navy give a security clearance to a guy who held a "Rape Melania" sign at an anti-Trump protest last November, to create a fake story about violent lefty protesters? Although the Navy suspended his security clearance in February, Posobiec is still a lieutenant in the Naval Reserve, and his clearance is "under review" -- not cancelled outright. In addition to his reserve duty, Posobiec had worked in a civilian job at the Office of Naval Intelligence (ONI) until he resigned in March of this year, complaining of a "toxic work environment."
Posobiec then worked for a while for a rightwing Canadian outfit, Rebel Media, and even got a one-day press pass at the White House. He used it to yell a question at Donald Trump about the fake Seth Rich conspiracy theory, which Trump ignored. He later left Rebel Media and is now an independent wingnut media person who organizes rallies for far-right conspiracy loons who don't say openly Nazi stuff, and who tried to make the phrase "Lady Melania" a thing, maybe as penance for that earlier stunt.
So, about that security clearance. None of the reporting we've seen so far indicates that he used it for nefarious purposes, and Posobiec insisted to NBC News that he "never conducted any of my political activities while in uniform or on government time. I never once mishandled classified information."
Well, that's as may be! A terrific piece by Adam Weinstein in Task & Purpose, a blog for veterans, offers a few more details about Posobiec's military career. A former colleague said Posobiec quit ONI "when his clearance got pulled for sharing classified information on Twitter." Weinstein couldn't get an official confirmation of the leak part from the Navy, just that the clearance was suspended and currently "under review." Posobiec again denied mishandling classified information, but did tell Weinstein in a text,
“It had to do with using my Twitter account,” he said. “I don’t know how much I can talk about… They said somebody made a complaint against me.” He doesn’t know what the complaint was about: “I’ve requested information, but no information’s been given.”
We also learn that some of Posobiec's work as an intelligence analyst included "ancillary duties as a urinalysis officer and overseeing physical fitness testing in his units." Why does pee keep coming up in any story related to Russian hacking, huh? Purity of Essence, people.
In an interview with Weinstein, Posobiec whines some more about how a decent conservative guy just can't catch an even break. Asked about that "toxic environment" that led him to leave ONI, Posobiec plays the victim card, big-league:
Some shipmates and “certain members of my chain of command” made Posobiec feel singled out over his support for Trump. “I felt very threatened, yes,” he said. “Terrified, to be honest.” He adds that he and other #MAGA fans were “persecuted” by coworkers: “They’d say ‘Trump supporters are idiots,’ knowing I was a Trump supporter right there next to them.”
We're not sure that's really persecution. After all, Posobiec is demonstrably A Idiot, so it sounds like a fair call. Posobiec claims to have filed a complaint with ONI's inspector general about being oppressed by the violence inherent in the system, but said it went nowhere. Somehow, he managed to not claim it was because the Navy hates Slavs.
The Daily Beast, meanwhile, explains that even if Posobiec didn't use information from his naval intelligence work in his "reporting," his mucking around with the Russian-sourced disinformation campaign against Emmanuel Macron in May was a big no-no for a Naval Reserve officer with a security clearance, even a suspended one:
“A clearance holder who has a full-time job in a non-Governmental capacity is still bound by the rules and restrictions that come with holding a security clearance,” national security attorney Brad Moss told The Daily Beast. “Mr. Posobiec cannot ‘turn on’ and ‘turn off’ his obligation to the U.S. Government, even as a Reservist.”
That obligation would include not promoting #MacronLeaks, the Wikileaks-led effort to release 20,000 emails from the presidential campaign of Emmanuel Macron before the French election, Moss said.
“As a matter of policy, clearance holders are not supposed to be accessing WikiLeaks or particularly viewing leaked classified documentation to which they were not otherwise already authorized access,” he said.
Posobiec, missing the point entirely, which is a theme with this guy, said that he thought this Moss guy was wrong, since he only works in an administrative job and doesn't handle classified material. Which has zero to do with his violating policy on accessing and passing on WikiLeaks stuff. He tweeted at least three links to WikiLeaks, and that alone violated Defense Department policy for anyone in the U.S. military, which as a reservist, Posobiec still is.
We also learn that Posobiec is really, really good at changing the subject and whining. Malcolm Nance, the former Navy guy and intelligence expert who's always on MSNBC, ripped Posobiec and other rightwing fake newsers for being
"a danger because these people are literally a fifth column for Russian intelligence. They have weaponized their contributions and conspiracy theories in the culture war.
“How he can hold a Top Secret clearance working actively in the intelligence community as a known factor in the information operations of the alt-right, which is essentially a war on media reality itself, shows that he quite possibly is one of the greatest security dangers to whatever organization he’s working on.”
For good measure, Nance added that Posobiec is a "disgrace to the uniform" and asked the Navy to "explain how the fuck he still has access to classified information." So that's some pretty good quotage! And how did Posobiec reply? By accusing Nance of hating on him because Posobiec married a woman who was born in the former USSR, so Nance and other critics who think his security clearance is hinky are a bunch of "xenophobic racists" and haters. We swear we are not making this up:
It’s disgusting and offensive that he would say something like that about a fellow Navy veteran. There are many people in the military who have wives that are not born in this country and no one is calling their service into question[.]
It's an old dodge for Posobiec, who also Twitterwhined he was being racismed by Reuters over his #MacronLeaks "journalism":
Tanya Tay is his wife, and no, the Reuters article about Posobiec's White House pass doesn't mention he's a Slav or call him a Russian agent. It didn't have to -- the mainstream media just HATES Slavs.
So how worried should we be that Jack Posobiec had a security clearance at the start of his career as a wingnut media semi-star? Nobody's shown that he's definitely misused information from his Navy job, but there's a strong case to be made that he violated Pentagon rules by accessing and promoting WikiLeaks. Whether he'll face disciplinary action remains to be seen. The biggest question this story raises is why the Navy isn't screening out delusional people from getting security clearances in the first place.
And how is Jack Posobiec handling all the media attention to his security clearance? Naturally, he's taken to Twitter to call Malcolm Nance a total fraud and a lying liar, and to hint that he advocated terrorism.
Nance didn't claim to have been a Ranger; he said "I was there" in reference to Iraq, not in the Rangers, and he said it in a (dumb) thread started by Posobiec's wingnut buddy Mike Cernovich claiming H.R. McMaster "fears" Cernovich. And the tweet about Trump Tower in Istanbul is a prediction (however inartfully phrased, as they say), not advocacy.
So here's something else to be concerned about: If Jack Posobiec did much intelligence analysis beyond piss testing, we should be concerned about the quality of whatever conclusions he reached with that mighty mind of his.
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Doktor Zoom's real name is Marty Kelley, and he lives in the wilds of Boise, Idaho. He is not a medical doctor, but does have a real PhD in Rhetoric. You should definitely donate some money to this little mommyblog where he has finally found acceptance and cat pictures. He is on maternity leave until 2033. Here is his Twitter, also. His quest to avoid prolixity is not going so great.