Senior Republican Senator Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) called for the resignation of Justice Department Criminal Division head, Lanney Breuer, after Breuer denied knowing details of the controversial "Fast and Furious" operation. The Washington Post reports:
The “Fast and Furious” program was meant to track guns as they made their way south of the border to senior members of Mexican drug cartels after being bought by straw buyers. However, ATF agents rarely pursued the weapons after they were bought.
Grassley said Breuer hurt his own credibility by initially denying details of the program.
Breuer might be wise to consider Grassley's request in light of the debacle his Criminal Division made out of the failed Espionage Act prosecution against National Security Agency (NSA) whistleblower Thomas Drake.
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When the Drake indictment was handed down, Breuer wildly overstated the case against Drake in a Justice Department press release:
Our national security demands that the sort of conduct alleged here – violating the government’s trust by illegally retaining and disclosing classified information – be prosecuted and prosecuted vigorously. . .
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Tom Drake and Jesselyn Radack at the Ridenhour Prize for Truthtelling Ceremony in March 2011GAP National Security & Human Rights Director and Justice Department whistleblower Jesselyn Radack, and GAP client and National Security Agency (NSA) whistleblower Thomas Drake, have won this year's prestigious Sam Adams Award, presented annually by the Sam Adams Associates for Integrity in Intelligence (SAAII). The honor is presented to intelligence professionals who have taken stands for ethics and integrity.
The award will be presented to Radack and Drake at a free event this coming Monday, November 21, at 8:10 p.m. at the Ward Circle Building, Room 2, at American University. Speakers at the ceremony include FBI whistleblower Coleen Rowley (a previous winner of the award), retired Col. Larry Wilkerson (another winner), American University Nuclear Studies Institute professor Peter Kuznick, and veteran CIA analyst and activist Ray McGovern.
Department of Justice (DOJ) whistleblower Jesselyn Radack is a former ethics adviser who disclosed that the FBI committed ethical violations in its interrogation of "American Taliban" John Walker Lindh, such as interrogating Lindh without an attorney present. She also exposed that the DOJ attempted to suppress that information, and former Attorney General John Ashcroft made misleading public statements about the case. The Lindh case was the first major terrorism prosecution after 9/11. Since her ordeal, Radack has been a champion of whistleblowers, recently serving as counsel to Drake on whistleblower issues during the government's failed attempt to prosecute him under the Espionage Act.
Apparently the government has learned nothing from the spectacular collapse of the ill-fated criminal prosecution of National Security Agency (NSA) whistleblower Thomas Drake. Drake was charged with 10 felony counts, all of which the government abandoned days before trial when the prosecution's case fell apart in the face of adverse court rulings and overwhelmingly negative media coverage (such as in The New Yorker and 60 Minutes). Drake pleaded to a minor misdemeanor, and, at sentencing, a federal judge lambasted the prosecution, calling delays in the case "unconscionable" and saying that the government put Drake through "four years of hell."
Despite the Justice Department's glaring defeat in the Drake case, the government is refusing to make amends with the whistleblowers it so egregiously mistreated. A front-page top-of-the-fold Baltimore Sun story reports that Drake and four other whistleblowers filed a lawsuit seeking to recoup property that the government seized in retaliatory raids back in 2007. Drake said the request is simple:
We'd like our stuff back.
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The Sun reports:
The court motion filed by Drake and the four others is brief and cites a federal rule governing property seizures. It says the computers are being held in an FBI storage facility on Beltsville Drive in Calverton. "When asked why they have not returned the property," the court motion says, "the FBI responds that it has been waiting for months for the NSA to provide the FBI with its policy regarding this matter."
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According to a new intelligence community report to Congress, the number of people who held security clearances for access to classified information last year exceeded 4.2 million. A favorite new tactic of the government with which to retaliate against whistleblowers is to pull their security clearances. Ironically, it is pulling the clearances not of the newly-minted holders of such clearances, but of people who have proven their worthiness of such clearances by holding them for decades.
Peter Van Buren, a veteran State Department foreign service officer, is the latest casualty of this punitive trend. The government suspended his top-secret security clearance – which he has held for 23 years – over LINKING (not LEAKING) to a WikiLeaks document on his blog and . . . surprise, surprise . . . publishing a book critical of the government.
As a whistleblower attorney, this has happened to numerous clients who have held security clearances for decades, are just a few years away from retirement, but dare to say something critical of the government. Not only do they lose their pension, but the loss of their security clearance renders them unemployed and unemployable in the intelligence community.
Like with Thomas Drake, Bill Binney, Kirk Wiebe, Franz Gayl, and numerous GAP clients, these life-long public servants have had their security clearances suspended. Not necessarily revoked (because if its revoked, that can be challenged through federal court), but suspended, so that the action cannot be challenged.
In the case of Drake, Binney and Wiebe, among other "proper internal channels," they filed a Pentagon Inspector General complaint about massive fraud, waste, abuse and illegality at the National Security Agency (NSA), which the IG substantiated.
A map of YemenThe U.S. killed Anwar al-Awlaki's innocent American son like they killed al-Awlaki: without trial, without due process, and using a highly-classified but front-page-news drone strike. Before people try to justify the killing by asserting that al-Awlaki's son was not "innocent," be reminded that had the U.S. given al-Awlaki's son his constitutionally-guaranteed right to due process, he would have had a criminal trial and been presumed innocent until proven guilty. But we've reversed the usual presumption.
Al-Awlaki's family is speaking out about the U.S. killing another American member of their family. Al-Awlaki's 16-year-old son, Abdulrahman al-Awlaki, was born in Denver. His family has set up a memorial Facebook page, WaPo reported:
The pictures on the Facebook page show a smiling kid out and about in the countryside and occasionally hamming it up for the camera.
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In a still secret – yet described in detail in the New York Times – memo, the Justice Department justified assassinating American citizen al-Awlaki despite the myriad laws and the Constitution such a killing would violate. As New York Times journalist Charlie Savage pointed out, there exists
an executive order banning assassinations, a federal law [that prohibits Americans from murdering other Americans abroad], protections in the Bill of Rights [the Fourth Amendment’s guarantee that a “person” cannot be seized by the government unreasonably, and the Fifth Amendment’s guarantee that the government may not deprive a person of life “without due process of law”], and various strictures of the international laws of war...
Former Justice Department attorney Martin Lederman – a leading critic of George W. Bush's policies on torture, black sites, and rendition – was one of the authors of the legal memo justifying the assassination of American radical cleric Anwar al-Awlaki without due process. Though the memo is still secret and Obama administration officials refuse to answer for it on-the-record, the New York Times reported on the memo's content in detail based on sources who had read it. The memo's authors used a lot of the same flawed Bush-logic used to justify the programs Lederman once condemned.
My organization– the Government Accountability Project – was the first to publicly file a request for the memo under the Freedom of Information Act.
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I pointed out the flawed rationalizations for the assassination in my Kos diary Sunday:
1) Al-Alwaki was taking part in the war between the United States and al Qaeda and posed a significant threat to Americans--though he never picked up arms against the U.S.;
2) Yemeni authorities were unable or unwilling to stop him--which is contradicted by Yemen's bragging that they gave us information to geo-locate him that was precise enough for a drone attack;
3) Al-Alwaki had evolved from being a "propagandist" to playing an "operational role" in al Qaeda--an assertion made for the first time ever by Obama after we killed him;
4) he was a "co-belligerant" (another Bush term for "enemy combatant"); and, taking a page directly from John Yoo,
5) the Authorization to Use Military Force against al Qaeda that Congress enacted shortly after 9/11 allowed this because al-Awlaki was a lawful target in the armed conflict.
Josh Gerstein of Politico reported that U.S. District Court Judge Leonie Brinkema approved the Justice Department's use of the constitutionally-questionable "silent witness rule" in the Espionage Act case against former Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) official Jeffery Sterling.
The controversial "silent witness rule" is an impediment to a defendant's constitutionally-guaranteed right to a public trial. The silent witness rule allows the witness, judge, jurors and attorneys to see evidence, but requires attorneys to question witnesses about the secret evidence in a secret code. Members of the press or public attending the trial will not understand what is happening in a supposedly "public trial."
Sterling's attorneys opposed use of the silent witness rule:
. . . the silent witness rule and the other security measures that the Government seeks to use are highly prejudicial to Mr. Sterling and deprive him of his right to a fair trial and violate his confrontation rights as guaranteed by the United States Constitution.
The Justice Department also tried use the silent witness rule in the case against National Security Agency (NSA) whistleblower Thomas Drake, but the Justice Department's case collapsed in a glaring defeat before the Judge could rule on the silent witness rule motion.
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