Thursday, January 6, 2011

State of War Against Whistleblowers Accelerates Under the Obama Administration

Jeffrey Sterling, who once tried to sue the CIA for race based discrimination, has been arrested today, for "leaking" State Secrets to NYT's journalist, James Risen, who published a story about the unlawful Bush wiretaps, and who's book, State of War proved to be a huge embarrassment to the CIA.

The indictment alleges that Sterling took a number of steps to facilitate the disclosure of the classified information, including:

*stealing classified documents and other information from the CIA and unlawfully retaining those documents without the authority of the CIA;

*communicating by telephone, via e-mail and in person with the author in order to arrange for the disclosure of or to disclose classified information to the author;

*meeting with the author in person to orally disclose classified information to the author and to provide documents containing classified information to the author for review or use;

*characterizing the classified information in a false and misleading manner as a means of inducing the author to write and publish a story premised on that false and misleading information;

*deceiving and attempting to deceive the CIA into believing that he was a former employee adhering to his secrecy and non-disclosure agreements; and

*deliberately choosing to disclose the classified information to a member of the media, knowing that such an individual would not reveal his identity, thereby concealing and perpetrating the scheme.

The court has determined he is a danger to the community, and he is being held over the weekend. His attorney is in VA.

The indictment alleged that Sterling, retaliating for the CIA's refusal to settle on favorable terms his discrimination claims, disclosed information about the program.

It said he discussed the information with the reporter in early 2003 and later in connection with a book published in January 2006.

The Justice Department did not identify the reporter.

But the dates and other details in the indictment make clear it involved New York Times reporter James Risen, whose 2006 book "State of War" revealed details of the CIA's intelligence activities involving Iran.

The source familiar with the case confirmed that the reporter in the indictment was Risen.

Sterling's case against the CIA for race based discrimination was dismissed based on the Governments claim that trying the case would pose a risk that State Secrets would be revealed. The Government's case against Sterling today claimes he leaked the classified info in retaliation against the CIA.
A federal judge granted the government’s request and immediately dismissed Sterling’s civil rights case under the state secrets doctrine. The Fourth US Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed.

“We recognize that our decision places … a burden on Sterling that he alone must bear,” the Fourth Circuit said in an August 2005 decision. But the court concluded: “There is no way for Sterling to prove employment discrimination without exposing at least some classified details of the covert employment that gives context to his claim.”

Sterling’s prosecution will likely involve disclosure of some of the same highly sensitive information that prompted the government’s earlier invocation of the state secrets privilege.,,20137092,00.html
Sterling, 34, is convinced his career at the Central Intelligence Agency was derailed by racial discrimination—and last summer he became the first black case officer to sue on those grounds. Two months later he was fired. "I wasn't good enough for them," he says, "based not on my abilities but on my color." The CIA vehemently denies Sterling's allegations. Says spokesman Bill Harlow: "We have zero tolerance for discrimination here." On April 17 the agency moved to have the suit dismissed, arguing it was a threat to national security. "This is a very important case," says former CIA agent Robert Baer, author of a book about the agency. "The last thing the agency wants is to be labeled racist."

Sterling joined the CIA in 1993 and two years later became a case officer in the Iran Task Force. (He was the only black among its more than 20 professionals.) To prepare, he spent a year studying Farsi, the language of Iran. Sent to Bonn in 1997 to recruit Iranians as agents, he grew frustrated when he wasn't given new prospects to recruit. Perplexed, he returned to Langley and confronted his supervisors. "I asked why I wasn't receiving any assignments. They said, "Well, you kind of stick out as a big black guy,'" Sterling recalls. "They said, 'You bring unwanted attention to where you're assigned.' Everyone in management agreed I was too conspicuous. And I said, 'Well, when did you realize that I was black?'"
In other cases, Stephen Kim, a foreign policy analyst who worked at the U.S. State Department, was charged in August with leaking a top-secret intelligence report to a news reporter last year.

Also last year, a former high-ranking official at the National Security Agency was charged with illegally possessing classified information that he allegedly gave to a reporter at the Baltimore Sun newspaper.

Obama has backtracked on his campaign rhetoric, and now demonstrates he will not tolerate Wistkeblowers on his watch!
When a candidate for President in 2008, Senator Barack Obama said, "Government whistleblowers are part of a healthy democracy and must be protected from reprisal." Obama was referring to the Bush Administration's use of phone companies to illegally spy on Americans. He said, "We only know these crimes took place because insiders blew the whistle at great personal risk...

However, as President, Obama says -- No whistleblowing on my watch! As he has on so many issues as President, Obama is taking a 180-degree turn from his comments as a candidate -- comments on which the American people relied and for which they elected him.

Now, the Obama administration's warning to Bradley Manning and to other whistleblowers is -- blow the whistle on government criminal actions and we will put you in solitary confinement before you are charged, much less go to trial. You will be treated as an "enemy combatant" in America's ongoing wars on about everything, including the truth.

Here is the New York Times take on this....
In making their case against Mr. Sterling, prosecutors provided details in the indictment of phone calls between the residences of Mr. Sterling and the reporter and quoted from e-mails sent between their accounts.

Justice Department rules say prosecutors may seek subpoenas of journalists only if the information they are seeking is essential and cannot be obtained another way, and the attorney general must personally sign off after balancing the public’s interest in the news against the public’s interest in effective law enforcement.

A Justice Department spokesman declined to comment about why Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. approved seeking a subpoena of Mr. Risen in light of the fact that prosecutors could obtain an indictment of Mr. Sterling without it.

Jeffrey Sterling represents the fith persecution of Whistleblowers by Obama.
The record number of leak prosecutions in the Obama Administration now include Mr. Sterling, former FBI linguist Shamai Leibowitz, former NSA official Thomas A. Drake, Army private Bradley Manning, and former State Department contractor Stephen Kim.

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