On Saturday, Federal District Court judge Royce Lamberth denied an application to prohibit publication of the former National Security Advisor John Bolton's book in a 10-page order. The book entitled "The Room Where It Happened" is already in circulation, and reporters are literally standing in front of the courthouse reading from it. As stated in the column before the decision, Lamberth declined the injunction. However, he accused Bolton of failing to complete the classification review he had agreed with President Donald Trump. There may already be classified topics that are brought out of the book by the media. Lamberth criticized the fact that Bolton "played with national security" and said that his actions "raised serious concerns about national security," but "the damage is done". Maybe it's done for release, but the damage to Bolton can only begin. As Lamberth noted, he now faces civil and criminal liability, which is discussed in the column.
Here is the column:
In a hearing, former national security advisers are to be stopped John Bolton After the publication of his book, an angry judge Royce Lamberth appeared to raise his hands over the demands for an injunction and declared that the horse was "out of the stable". Lamberth is right and wrong. He is right that an injunction makes little sense since the administration did nothing while the book was printed and sent to warehouses and the media. Lamberth is wrong that there is no good option because there is. It would be to let Bolton sell the book, the critics of President Trump Buy it and let the federal government keep the profits.
The case is difficult because Bolton clearly violates his nondisclosure agreement, which includes a pre-release requirement. I've signed such nondisclosure agreements for my national security work for decades, and I still swallow hard every time I read the language during the review. In addition, courts tend to postpone the executive's classification claims. Bolton admits that he has not received approval because he believed, for good reason, that the administration is slowing down the process to delay the publication of the book before the election.
There are certainly all indications that Bolton did exactly what the White House hoped. The administration did nothing when thousands of copies of The Room Where It Happened were printed. So if the book contains confidential classified information, it doesn't seem credible because the secret services believed the Russians wouldn't dare break through the Barnes and Noble warehouse guarded by a single night watchman or borrow a copy from a journalist in the city.
In addition to this riddle, the book actually passed a classification test, but was suddenly subjected to a very irregular secondary test. This double check was carried out by the head of the National Security Council, Michael Ellis, who was only two months in service and declared parts of the book classified. The Department of Justice also admitted that Ellis did not have an "original classification authority" until one day after completing his review of what Bolton wrote.
None of this supports the act of a publisher's previous reluctance, even if the court accepts the classification authority. Such prior reluctance raises questions of freedom of speech, especially when the government tries to block the publication of the book because the president is unstable and disabled. It is even more problematic if the book is available to the media. The day Lamberth considered an injunction against the book, journalists like John Roberts worked with Fox News next to the White House and read it. Nobody in the courtroom was incontestable, so the solution here is to give everyone what they deserve.
Bolton will publish his book despite violating his trust in the President, his nondisclosure agreement, and federal classification laws. For this success, however, he could lose his winnings and even his freedom. When the Department of Justice was waiting for Bolton to run, he was given just enough rope to hang himself up. Given the prior disclosure of classified information, this could result in criminal prosecution under the Spy Act, although such law enforcement measures are rare and difficult. The main goal would be profit. It happened before. Navy Seal Matthew Bissonnette used the pseudonym Mark Owen to write "No Easy Day" about the raid that killed Osama Bin Laden. He had to pay the government nearly $ 7 million to avoid prosecution.
In the Frank Snepp v. US case, the Supreme Court also examined a book by a Central Intelligence Agency employee who signed his nondisclosure agreement but wrote about official activities for Vietnam. The Supreme Court ruled that Snepp would lose his profits and described the case in a way that Bolton must concern in terms of trust in the federal government. The national security advisor would be an obvious example of one of these few positions with great confidence.
The Justice Department could threaten law enforcement while satisfied with the profits. This leaves Bolton with great applause and little fortune. Republicans despise him for diving the party, and Democrats hate him for refusing to testify during impeachment. For Trump, the book will join a huge stack of reports from former executives accusing him of insanity. He responded with his usual malicious personal attack on a former top aide or cabinet member and made a White House reporter ask, "Why do you keep hiring people who you think are wackos and liars? "
Lamberth must therefore reject the injunction. Everyone will get what they want. Critics get another embarrassing inside report on the White House, Bolton gets his report, Trump can confiscate the profits, and Lamberth is the man in "the room where it happened."
Jonathan Turley is Shapiro Professor of Law of Public Interest at George Washington University. You can find his updates online at JonathanTurley.