But the complexities of Kim’s case and the Rosen story, published June 11, 2009, on Fox’s Web site, shouldn’t be lost in the Snowden storm.
The story said U.S. intelligence had learned about the four steps North Korea intended to take in response to the U.N. Security Council resolution condemning Pyongyang for its recent nuclear and ballistic missile tests.
They included another nuclear test, reprocessing all the North’s spent plutonium fuel rods, escalating its uranium enrichment program and launching another intercontinental ballistic missile.
Rosen also wrote that the CIA had acquired this intelligence “through sources inside North Korea . . . [and] only learned of North Korea’s plans this week.” He never indicated his source or sources.
The FBI focused on Kim after investigating the limited number of intelligence community personnel who had contact with Rosen as well as access to the Top Secret/Sensitive Compartmented Information intelligence report that appeared to be the basis of the article.
On Kim’s government computer, investigators read Kim-Rosen e-mail exchanges dated prior to the story; they found multiple phone call toll records between the two, including several the day the story ran but prior to it appearing.
In mid-June 2010, the Justice Department delivered a search warrant to Google for Rosen’s Gmail account. It sought e-mail exchanges between Rosen and two Kim Yahoo e-mail accounts and another Gmail account; all e-mails to or from Rosen’s account on June 10 and 11, 2009, the day before and the day of the story’s appearance, along with “those sent or received from other websites” on those days.
Justice also sought Google “records or information relating to the author’s [Rosen] communication with any other source or potential source for the information disclosed in the article,” the warrant said.
In an Oct. 15, 2011, status report on the case, a government index of materials provided to Kim’s lawyer, Washington attorney Abbe Lowell, indicated 13 e-mails evidently to or from Rosen’s account had been turned over to the Kim defense team.
Here’s the mystery:
Was the 45-year-old Kim a brilliant but shy intelligence analyst who inadvertently told secrets to a probing reporter, or was he a self-promoting inside player who leaked information because he was dissatisfied with the Obama administration’s dealings with North Korea?
Why did Kim, who had been handling classified government intelligence for eight years, agree in May 2009 to use false identities when exchanging e-mails with Rosen, whom he’d met just weeks earlier?
Is Rosen a clever journalist who, as he said in a May 22, 2009, e-mail to Kim, seeking to “break some news, and expose muddle-headed policy when we see it?” Or was he seeking to pump up his reputation?