Tag Archives | Whistleblowers

Assessing the Candidates: Obama’s Whistleblower War Leaves Dangerous Legacy for Future Presidents

Here’s the thing about President Obama’s war on whistleblowers: In bringing espionage charges in nine cases involving disclosures or alleged misuse of classified information, the current administration has set a floor, rather than a ceiling, on the number and types of whistleblower espionage cases a future President can bring.

And here’s another thing: With leaders of both political parties having either kept silent or cheered on the Obama administration’s unprecedented crackdown on whistleblowers, who in high position in Congress would have one shred of moral authority or credibility to challenge a future president’s excesses under the Espionage Act? On the question of keeping American citizens in the dark and of punishing whistleblowers who dare to enlighten them, we truly have bipartisan authoritarianism.

Photo: McZusatz (CC)

Photo: McZusatz (CC)

 

And then a third thing: Don’t count much on major U.S. news media for any meaningful oversight of, and opposition to, the treatment of whistleblowers under future presidents.… Read the rest

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Would Jeffrey Sterling Be in Prison If He Were White?

Last week CIA whistleblower Jeffrey Sterling went to prison. If he were white, he probably wouldn’t be there.

sterling family fund

Holly and Jeffrey Sterling. Contribute to Sterling Family Fund – click on photo.

 

Sterling was one of the CIA’s few African-American case officers, and he became the first to file a racial discrimination lawsuit against the agency. That happened shortly before the CIA fired him in late 2001. The official in Langley who did the firing face-to-face was John Brennan, now the CIA’s director and a close adviser to President Obama.

Five months ago, in court, prosecutors kept claiming that Sterling’s pursuit of the racial-bias lawsuit showed a key “motive” for providing classified information to journalist James Risen. The government’s case at the highly problematic trial was built entirely on circumstantial evidence. Lacking anything more, the prosecution hammered on ostensible motives, telling the jury that Sterling’s “anger,” “bitterness” and “selfishness” had caused him to reveal CIA secrets.… Read the rest

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A Misleading Moment of Celebration for a New Surveillance Program

The morning after final passage of the USA Freedom Act, while some foes of mass surveillance were celebrating, Thomas Drake sounded decidedly glum. The new law, he told me, is “a new spy program.” It restarts some of the worst aspects of the Patriot Act and further codifies systematic violations of Fourth Amendment rights.

[Left to right]: Whistleblowers Kirk Wiebe (NSA), Coleen Rowley (FBI), Raymond McGovern (CIA), Daniel Ellsberg (Pentagon), William Binney (NSA), Jesselyn Radack (Justice Department), and Thomas Drake (NSA)

[Left to right]: Whistleblowers Kirk Wiebe (NSA), Coleen Rowley (FBI), Raymond McGovern (CIA), Daniel Ellsberg (Pentagon), William Binney (NSA), Jesselyn Radack (Justice Department), and Thomas Drake (NSA)

Later on Wednesday, here in Oslo as part of a “Stand Up For Truth” tour, Drake warned at a public forum that “national security” has become “the new state religion.” Meanwhile, his Twitter messages were calling the USA Freedom Act an “itty-bitty step” — and a “stop/restart kabuki shell game” that “starts w/ restarting bulk collection of phone records.”

That downbeat appraisal of the USA Freedom Act should give pause to its celebrants.… Read the rest

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Don’t Grade Justice on a Warped Curve: Assessing the Case of Jeffrey Sterling

Yes, I saw the glum faces of prosecutors in the courtroom a few days ago, when the judge sentenced CIA whistleblower Jeffrey Sterling to three and a half years in prison — far from the 19 to 24 years they’d suggested would be appropriate.

Yes, I get that there was a huge gap between the punishment the government sought and what it got — a gap that can be understood as a rebuke to the dominant hard-line elements at the Justice Department.

And yes, it was a positive step when a May 13 editorial by the New York Times finally criticized the extreme prosecution of Jeffrey Sterling.

But let’s be clear: The only fair sentence for Sterling would have been no sentence at all. Or, at most, something like the recent gentle wrist-slap, with no time behind bars, for former CIA director David Petraeus, who was sentenced for providing highly classified information to his journalist lover.… Read the rest

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‘Guilty of Embarrassing Government': CIA Whistleblower Gets 42-Month Sentence

This post was originally published on Common Dreams. See more of Lauren’s posts here.

A federal court in Alexandria, Virginia sentenced former CIA officer Jeffrey Sterling to three and a half years in prison on Monday in a case that has received widespread condemnation for revealing the “rank hypocrisy” of the U.S. government’s war on whistleblowers.

In January, a jury convicted Sterling of violating the Espionage Act and leaking classified information to New York Times journalist James Risen about a botched CIA mission to provide flawed nuclear plans to Iran, known as “Operation Merlin.” He was found guilty of nine charges against him and faced as many as 24 years behind bars.

Risen refused to testify against Sterling and many say that the former intelligence official was convicted merely on circumstantial evidence.

Ahead of the sentencing, Sterling’s attorneys asked U.S. District Judge Leonie Brinkema to reconsider the proposed terms, arguing that former CIA director and retired general David Petraeus was given a plea deal and shown great leniency despite comparable charges.… Read the rest

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Whistleblowers vs. ‘Fear-Mongering’

Photo of (left to right) Kirk Wiebe, Coleen Rowley, Raymond McGovern, Daniel Ellsberg, William Binney, Jesselyn Radack, and Thomas Drake by Kathleen McClellan (@McClellanKM) via Twitter

Photo of (left to right) Kirk Wiebe, Coleen Rowley, Raymond McGovern, Daniel Ellsberg, William Binney, Jesselyn Radack, and Thomas Drake by Kathleen McClellan (@McClellanKM) via Twitter

Seven prominent national security whistleblowers Monday called for a number of wide-ranging reforms — including passage of the “Surveillance State Repeal Act,” which would repeal the USA Patriot Act — in an effort to restore the Constitutionally guaranteed 4th Amendment right to be free from government spying.

Several of the whistleblowers also said that the recent lenient sentence of probation and a fine for General David Petraeus — for his providing of classified information to his mistress Paula Broadwell — underscores the double standard of justice at work in the area of classified information handling.

Speakers said Petraeus’s favorable treatment should become the standard applied to defendants who are actual national security whistleblowers, such as Chelsea Manning, Edward Snowden and Jeffrey Sterling (who has denied guilt but who nevertheless faces sentencing May 11 for an Espionage Act conviction for allegedly providing classified information to New York Times reporter James Risen).… Read the rest

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Chelsea Manning: The Conscience of America

"Chelsea Manning is the conscience of America; a great light cast into a darkness that has been veiling the soul of this nation," writes Hayase. (Photo: Verigogen/flickr/cc)

“Chelsea Manning is the conscience of America; a great light cast into a darkness that has been veiling the soul of this nation,” writes Hayase. (Photo: Verigogen/flickr/cc)

Nozomi Hayase writes at Common Dreams:

April 5th marks the five year anniversary of WikiLeaks publication of the Collateral Murder Video. The footage of a secret US military video depicted an Apache helicopter killing Iraqi civilians, including two Reuters journalists. It provided an uncensored view of modern war for the world to see. The light that shone in the darkness was the conscience of a young woman. Chelsea Manning (formally Bradley Manning) is now serving 35 years behind bars for her great public service.

After witnessing Manning confess to her role as WikiLeaks whistleblower at the court-martial proceeding in Fort Meade, Maryland, attorney and President Emeritus of the Center for Constitutional Rights, Michael Ratner said that locking her up “for even a day is to lock up the conscience of our nation”.

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Journalists Who Hate Whistleblowers

Ahmad Hammoud (CC BY 2.0)

Ahmad Hammoud (CC BY 2.0)

Via John Hanrahan at Consortium News:

A disturbing trend in mainstream U.S. media is how many “star” journalists side with the government in its persecution of whistleblowers – and even disdain fellow reporters who expose secret wrongdoing, an attitude that is destroying what’s left of American democracy, as John Hanrahan explains.

By John Hanrahan

Following the late January guilty verdicts in the espionage trial of former CIA officer Jeffrey Sterling, more proof emerged — if any more were needed — that many elite mainstream journalists abhor whistleblowers and think they should go to prison when they divulge classified information.

One would think that a business that has relied on confidential informants for some of the major investigative stories of this and the previous century would applaud whistleblowers who risk everything on behalf of the people’s right to know what their government is doing in the shadows.

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Jailed Whistleblower Chelsea Manning Wins Battle to Receive Hormone Therapy

Pfc. Chelsea Manning in this undated file photo provided by the U.S. Army. Defense Department officials say hormone treatment for gender reassignment has been approved for Chelsea Manning, the former intelligence analyst convicted of espionage for sending classified documents to the WikiLeaks website. (Photo: U.S. Army/File)

Pfc. Chelsea Manning in this undated file photo provided by the U.S. Army. Defense Department officials say hormone treatment for gender reassignment has been approved for Chelsea Manning, the former intelligence analyst convicted of espionage for sending classified documents to the WikiLeaks website. (Photo: U.S. Army/File)

Jon Queally writes at Common Dreams:

Chelsea Manning, the U.S. Army whistleblower who leaked thousands of internal military and State Department documents to help expose wrongdoing by the U.S. government, will receive the hormone treatment she has been fighting to receive since she was first sent to Ft. Leavenworth prison in 2013.

Manning is serving a 35-year sentence for releasing, among other materials, video footage of U.S. soldiers gunning down civilians from a helicopter in Iraq in 2007. Following her conviction, Manning came out publicly as transgender and soon upon her arrival at Ft. Leavenworth requested that she been given the hormone therapy which the medical community officially agrees is essential to her health and well-being.

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Are You Living with a Terrorist?

The cover of an internal National Counterterrorism Center report which includes a rating system designed to analyze the proclivity of individuals to become radical extremists. (Image: screenshot)

The cover of an internal National Counterterrorism Center report which includes a rating system designed to analyze the proclivity of individuals to become radical extremists. (Image: screenshot)

Jon Queally writes at Common Dreams:

A government document obtained by journalists at The Intercept reveals the National Counterterrorism Center developed a complex set of criteria to help determine if individuals in the U.S. may be more vulnerable than others to the allure of violent extremism and created a “rating system” that would help law enforcement agents rank such prospects.

Posting the complete NCTC document (link/pdf)—which was marked “Unclassified” but also “For Official Use Only” (FOUO)—to their website on Monday, The Intercept reports:

The rating system, part of a 36-page document dated May 2014 and titled “Countering Violent Extremism: A Guide for Practitioners and Analysts,” suggests that police, social workers and educators rate individuals on a scale of one to five in categories such as: “Expressions of Hopelessness, Futility,” “Talk of Harming Self or Others,” and “Connection to Group Identity (Race, Nationality, Religion, Ethnicity).” The ranking system is supposed to alert government officials to individuals at risk of turning to radical violence, and to families or communities at risk of incubating extremist ideologies.

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