Read more »
Recent news coverage of prosecutor William Welch's leadership of the Justice Department's war on whistleblowers reveals that his overzealous and shady tactics were not restricted to his handling of the botched prosecution of late-Senator Ted Stevens, a case that landed Welch and his team in a pile of -- still ongoing -- criminal investigations.
Welch's tactics, at best idiosyncratic and ineffective and at worst unethical, expose the government's retaliatory motive in pursuing criminal convictions for whistleblowers, and betray weaknesses in the government's cases.
Three months ago, journalist Michael Isikoff noted the disturbing "Double Standard" in White House Leak Inquiries. But now it's not just the Executive Branch. Josh Gerstein of Politico just published an article on how a judge ruled that the Justice Department can keep secret names of its own lawyers who leak classified information.
Read more »
It is indisputable that the Obama, via the Holder Justice Department, has brought more "leak" prosecutions than any presidential Administration, ever.
To add hypocrisy to the injury of selective and malicious prosecutions of Shamai Liebowitz, Thomas Drake, Stephen Kim, and Jeffrey Sterling -- the Justice Department's own attorneys are immune from the "war on leaks."
U.S. District Court Judge Maxine Chesney ruled last week that the Justice Department does not have to disclose the identities of two lawyers who were found by the Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR) to have intentionally disclosed classified information to the media in 1996.
This is rank hypocrisy and the putrid stench is overwhelming.
Read more »
The strength of government's unyielding animus toward whistleblowers is no more evident than in the latest statements from disgraced prosecutor William Welch, who is "redeeming" himself amidst prosecutorial misconduct allegations stemming from the botched case against late-senator Ted Stevens by prosecuting whistleblowers like Thomas Drake under the Espionage Act.
Politico reported Welch's latest swill filed in the case against ex-CIA official Jeffery Sterling:
"The defendant’s unauthorized disclosures...may be viewed as more pernicious than the typical espionage case where a spy sells classified information for money,"
In other words, disclosing information of public interest to the public is worse the selling nuclear secrets to a foreign enemy. The idea that whistleblowers are somehow more dangerous than spies is both laughable in its absurdity and tragic as it represents the level of vindictiveness the government harbors against whistleblowers.
Former CIA officer Jeffrey Sterling was charged under the famously ambiguous Espionage Act for "leaking" classified information to a reporter. This gives Obama, the "transparency" president, the dubious distinction of bringing the most "leak prosecutions" of any administration, ever.
Nowhere in the Washington Post article on this latest witch-hunt does the word "whistleblower" appear. But that's what he is.
Yet another indictment under the Espionage Act. Of a whistleblower. By disgraced prosecutor William Welch, who himself is still under criminal investigation for botching the prosecution of late-Senator Ted Stevens.
There's a lot that the MSM gets wrong in the articles this morning, so let me clarify what I can.
Read more »
First, as to Mr. Sterling, who worked for the CIA for nearly 10 years, he was the only black officer assigned to the Iran Task Force in January 1995 and the first black case officer to file a racial discrimination suit against the CIA. After the CIA spent your taxpayer dollars training him in Farsi and having him log long hours on the Iranian Desk, CIA officials considered him a liability because of his skin color, telling him he couldn't be a good spy because
you kind of stick out as a big black guy.
The Washington Post, to its credit, has a new blockbuster article, "Monitoring America," that is part of its larger "Top Secret America" series.
In frightening detail, it dissects the vast domestic localized intelligence apparatus being used to collect, store and analyze information about Americans, most of whom have not been accused of any crime.
In July, the Post described the secrecy state our nation has turned into, which is so large, unwieldly and secretive that no how knows its cost, how many people it employs, or how many programs it has.
Today's revelations are worse. Every state and local law enforcement agency feeds information to a vast, top-secret repository at the FBI, which stores the identities and profiles of those who are not known criminals or terrorists, but appear to have been "acting suspiciously" to a traffic cop or even a neighbor.
Read more »
The Nationwide Suspicious Activity Reporting Initiative (SAR)--in government-speak, the "Guardian database"--will ideally help the search for terrorists within our country because, as Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano notes:
The old view that "if we fight the terrorists abroad, we won't have to fight then here" is just that--the old view.
Read more »
On Friday, the White House Office of Management and Budget issued a memo forbidding unauthorized federal employees from accessing WikiLeaks from their government or personal home computers.
While federal agencies are not hesitating to censor federal employees when it comes to WikiLeaks, the agencies fail to mention the vast over-classification of information or that WikiLeaks is not the only place to find classified information on the Internet. If the U.S. wants to stop unauthorized employees from accessing classified information, it will have to stop them from reading not only WikiLeaks, but The Washington Post, The New York Times, and countless other MSM outlets, books, and the Internet.
By singling out WikiLeaks, the U.S. is again sending the message that it is not concerned with leaks of classified information, only uncontrolled leaks of classified information.
I was just on BBC World News discussing Wikileaks, Thomas Drake, and the Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act (WPEA). It is sheer hypocrisy for the U.S. to scream literally bloody murder about Wikileaks (calling for Wikileaks' Julian Assange's execution) without giving employees a safe alternative to anonymous leaks.
Recent revelations from the ACLU that despite being given an unprecedented blank check to collect data, the NSA is still thwarting regulations and over-collecting only underscore the importance of protecting whistleblowers. As of now, Drake, who went through proper channels to blow the whistle on NSA's privacy-shredding data collection debacles, has been indicted under the Espionage Act.
The hypocrisy comes when going through the proper channels as Drake did, sticks you in the same position the Justice Department is looking to put Julian Assange in: indicted under the Espionage Act.
Read more »
When Thomas Drake saw the NSA was embarking on a wasteful multi-billion dollar data collection boondoggle with an unnecessary expense to Americans' privacy rights, Drake, being what the main-stream-media has dubbed a "classic whistle-blower," reported the waste of taxpayer money through all the proper channels: to his bosses, the Inspectors General, and to the Congressional Intelligence Committees. The thanks Drake received was a criminal indictment.
At yesterday's hearing in the government's retaliatory prosecution of Thomas Drake, a federal judge refused to grant what he generously dubbed an "usual request" from the prosecution to require Mr. Drake's defense team to turn over the names of consulting experts prior to allowing defense experts access to classified information.
If the prosecution had succeeded, it would mean that if the defense decided not to call experts, the prosecution could subpoena them and ask them in front of a jury why they were not testifying for the defense, giving the prosecution an unfair advantage.
The prosecution's utter lack of any valid reason why the prosecuting attorney specifically (as opposed to the government personnel granting the experts' security clearances) needed the defense experts' names confirmed that the attempt to get the names was a blatant -- and now failed -- attempt to use classification rules to gain improper access to the defense strategy.
Read more »
A Federal District Court-level battle of separation of powers played out at yesterday's public hearing regarding the prosecution's request.
In August 2009, the Justice Department announced that it would not prosecute CIA employees who had acted in good faith.
Now, slamming the door on accountability once again, CIA officials get a pass -- this time for destroying dozens of videotapes depicting the waterboarding of Abu Zubaydah and Abd al-Rahim al-Nashri, in secret CIA prisons. The CIA withheld the fact that the tapes existed from both the federal courts and the 9/11 Commission, which had asked the CIA for records of the interrogations.
Destroying those videotapes was such a brazen and blatant cover-up that even Bush was forced to launch a special investigation after the episode became public.
Read more »
This is the icing on the cake of unaccountable government.
In his new memoir, President Bush writes:
I have been troubled by the blowback against the intelligence community and Justice Department for their role in the surveillance and interrogation programs. . . Our intelligence officers carried out their orders with skill and courage, and they deserve our gratitude for protecting our nation. Legal officials in my administration did their best to resolve complex issues in a time of extraordinary danger to our country.
Read more »
On Thursday, President Obama issued a new executive order aimed at standardizing the process of classifying government documents. The order requires agencies to use one term only -- “Controlled Unclassified Information,” (CUI) -- to mark documents that they believe should be protected, but not designated as “classified.” The order is also a move to curtail the abuse of CUI designations. From the New York Times:
“The fact that a document is marked Controlled Unclassified Information could not be used as a basis for withholding it from Congress, a court, or from a member of the public who has requested access to it under the Freedom of Information Act. Instead, an independent determination would have to be made about whether to release it.”
Currently, several federal agencies use their own, specialized system of over 117 (!) different markings in order to categorize information. Aside from creating a “confusing patchwork” of markings, this system allows agencies to conceal -- often under the cloak of national security -- many types of information from the public. This includes information, many groups have seen, that would reveal important government misconduct without generating national security risks.