WHISTLEBLOWERS AND LEAKERS NEWSLETTER #1, Series 2
Compiled by Dick Bennett for a Culture of Peace, Justice, and Ecology
What’s at Stake: The power of the U. S. Corporate State seems overwhelming. Corporations possess immense compensatory and conditioning power: they control public and government wealth, leadership, and organization, and opinion through reward, media, and education. On the other hand, many institutions defend the public from the depredations of the corporations: the citizens themselves through knowledge and cooperation with others, government regulators, investigative journalists, and whistleblowers.
Note on related leakers and whistleblower newsletters:
Whistleblowers Newsletters (see at end): #1 10-21-11, #2 12-12-11, #3 1-31-12, #4 9-11-12, and more (some apparently were accidentally deleted).
9 Assange and Wikileaks Newsletters (9th 7-21-11, the 10th unfinished).
Manning Newsletters #1 12-6-11- .
Snowden, #1 7-9-13
Newsletters on Assange and Wikileaks #9 7-21-11
Manning #1 12-6-11
Snowden #6, 12-4-14 (a 7th is in preparation)
Contents of Whistleblowers and Leakers Newsletter, Series 2, #1
Pro-Whistleblower Organizations (see earlier newsletters)
Air Marshall MacLean’s in Supreme Court
UNC Counselor Willingham Settlement
Whistleblowers Fight Back
Whistleblower Takes on Government: Snowden
Laura Poitras’s Film Won Academy Award
Whistleblower Takes on Corporation: Watts
Farmer Craig Watts Fights Back Against Perdue Corporation
Opposition to Whistleblowers: Corporations, Government, and
Even Journalists: Naureckas on Elite Journalists
Double Standards for Espionage
Slap on Wrist for Gen. Petraeus
Prison for Kim and Jeffrey Sterling
Amy Goodman, Democracy Now
Roots Action Petition
Gerstein on James Risen
Struggle Continues (join GAP)
USDA’s Inspectors vs. High-Speed Hog Inspection
Expose Facts Google Search, May 18, 2015
6 days ago - Even as Leonie Brinkema rejected the government's claim that Jeffrey Sterling committed 7 discrete acts of Espionage, CIA's former Directors ...
... Board · Advisory Board · Donate. You are here: Home > About ...
The Revenge of the CIA: Scapegoating Whistleblower ...
ExposeFacts Editorial Board. barbara-ehrenreich2 Barbara ...
The Invisible Man: Jeffrey Sterling, CIA Whistleblower.
ExposeFacts Advisory Board. For bios of Advisory Board ...
Why the CIA Is So Eager to Demolish Whistleblower Jeffrey ...
Air Marshal Whistleblower Wins 7-2 Supreme Court Victory
January 21, 2015
Whistleblower Protection Act Wins with an Exclamation Mark
(Washington, DC) – Today, after an 8 1/2 year legal ordeal, federal air marshal whistleblower and GAP client Robert MacLean won a Supreme Court decision affirming that his disclosures were covered by the Whistleblower Protection Act (WPA). MacLean publicly warned in 2003 that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) planned to pull federal air marshals, sworn to protect the public, from commercial aircrafts targeted for an ambitious overseas terrorist attack. The key legal issue was whether the law’s statutory free speech rights can be canceled by agency secrecy regulations.
GAP Legal Director Tom Devine, MacLean's attorney since 2010, commented:
In the Supreme Court's first case testing the Whistleblower Protection Act, freedom of speech won with an exclamation point. Federal air marshal whistleblower Robert MacLean's 7-2 victory means that, after defending his rights for more than eight years, he will have a chance to achieve justice. The only issue left is whether MacLean was reasonable to believe that the government's decision to remove air marshals from targeted flights endangered the public, since the Department of Homeland Security had planned to go AWOL in the face of a more ambitious rerun of 9/11. The ruling is a historic victory for the right of individuals to make a difference through freedom of speech.
MacLean also responded to the Court's decision. He stated:
I'm extremely honored and grateful that the Court decided on this case. Many great people from non-government organizations, the U.S. Office of Special Counsel, Congress, and the courts came together to make this happen. I believe this ruling will give other federal employees more confidence in exposing wrongdoing without breaking the law. No matter what happens, it will always be difficult for a person to risk his career when speaking out.
In late July 2003, air marshal Robert MacLean received an unrestricted text message order. The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) was eliminating coverage of long-distance flights requiring overnight hotel stays. It was a stunning development, since all air marshals in the country had just completed emergency training to stop al Qaeda plans confirmed by U.S. and foreign intelligence for a more ambitious rerun of the 9/11 attack: this time long-distance flights to multiple U.S. cities and European capitals were targeted.
MacLean protested to his supervisor, and then an investigator within the DHS Office of Inspector General. Both agreed but said there was nothing he could do and should stay quiet. MacLean would not give up and he reached Congress through the media as a confidential source. Numerous senators immediately called press conferences to express outrage and threatened hearings about abandoning the public during an enemy attack. Within 24 hours, the agency reversed itself and reinstated protection, saying the order was a "mistake." Air marshal coverage was restored, and the hijacking was prevented.
Three years later, the agency identified MacLean as the whistleblower, and fired him for endangering the nation by violating agency secrecy regulations, after it retroactively labeled the text message as "Sensitive Security Information" on grounds that its release was "detrimental to aviation security." GAP represented MacLean first at the Merit Systems Protection Board, where he lost, and then the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, where he prevailed unanimously twice. The court upheld the supremacy of statutory free speech rights over agency secrecy rules, and ruled even statutory bans on public disclosures must be specific so employees have clear notice. Undaunted, the Department of Justice continued its war on whistleblowers by appealing to the Supreme Court, which accepted the case.
The Hogan and Lovell law firm’s Neal Katyal and a team of highly-skilled lawyers joined with GAP in defending MacLean. Katyal was President Obama's former acting Solicitor General. Before the current victory, he had argued 21 Supreme Court cases (16 at the Department of Justice) and won them all. MacLean also received impressive solidarity through friend-of-the-court briefs from Congress, the Office of Special Counsel, national security professionals, airline consumer groups, a federal union, and good government organizations. None were filed supporting the government.
Chief Justice John Roberts wrote the 7-2 majority opinion, which was based on two key issues to interpret the WPA's relevant limits. 5 USC 2302(b)(8)(A) does not protect public disclosures that are "specifically prohibited by law." The government argued that Department of Homeland Security (DHS) secrecy regulations qualified as prohibitions by "law" that override free speech rights passed by Congress.
The majority ruling unequivocally rejected that claim, which would have made agency compliance voluntary for statutory free speech rights: "[T]he question here is whether a disclosure specifically prohibited by regulation also is specifically prohibited by law under section 2302(b)(8)(A). The answer is no." (emphasis in decision) The Court explained that Congress used the term "law, rule or regulation" nine times in section 2302 and only used the word "law" one time, indicating they did not mean the same thing. The Court emphasized that the contrasting language was even used in the same sentence that the government relied on when seeking to cancel MacLean's rights.
The government also argued that these particular regulations should qualify as law, because Congress required DHS to issue appropriate secrecy rules. But the Court noted, "Outside of this case, however, the government was unable to find a single example of the word 'law' being used in this way. Not a single dictionary definition, not a single statute, not a single case."
The Court agreed that the government’s translation would defeat the Whistleblower Protection Act's purpose.
The government's second major argument was that the Aviation Transportation Security Act (ATSA) itself was a specific statutory prohibition, because it ordered agency regulations to bar disclosures that the Transportation Security Administration chief believed would be "detrimental to the security of transportation." The Court’s majority said the ATSA did not prohibit anything itself by ordering DHS to act. The impact is that Congress cannot relinquish its responsibility by delegating to agencies if it wants to cancel Whistleblower Protection Act free speech rights.
While agreeing that regulations cannot be statutory prohibitions, Justice Sonia Sotomayor joined by Justice Anthony Kennedy dissented on grounds that the ATSA is a statutory prohibition. Neither the majority nor the dissent commented on the basis of MacLean's victories at the Federal Circuit Court of Appeals. Those rulings held that the phrase "detrimental to the security of transportation" is not sufficiently specific for clear notice to government employees whether they can blow the whistle publicly. As a result, the Federal Circuit's ruling on that key issue remains the law of the land.
The survival of the Whistleblower Protection Act was at stake in this case. After today's victory, freedom of speech is alive, well and stronger than ever.
- See more at: http://whistleblower.org/press/air-marshal-whistleblower-wins-7-2-supreme-court-victory#sthash.qlc9vMTJ.dpuf
UNC 'fake classes' whistleblower to get $335K in settlement
Updated 5:44 PM ET, Tue March 17, 2015
Mary Willingham sued UNC, saying she was retaliated against after speaking out about fake classes.
(CNN)The University of North Carolina will pay whistleblower Mary Willingham $335,000 to settle her lawsuit with the university, following the largest academic fraud scandal in NCAA history.
Willingham is the former athletics literacy counselor who blew the whistle about the fake classes that went on for nearly 20 years at the prestigious university.
Willingham spent years fielding attacks from university officials -- including accusations that she was lying when she said that officials within the athletic department steered underprepared athletes into the fake classes to keep them eligible.
For nearly five years, UNC denied those claims, but Willingham refused to keep quiet. She first told her story to the News & Observer in Raleigh, and then to national media when the university refused to admit that the classes were well-known to faculty.
The added attention forced UNC to hire a new investigator and launch a new probe in 2014. That latest review, led by Ken Wainstein, a 19-year veteran of the U.S. Justice Department, found exactly what Willingham had always claimed -- widespread and systematic cheating.
Willingham left her job last spring after complaining that she was being retaliated against.
"The University's settlement with Mrs. Willingham resolves all of the outstanding legal issues in the case," said Rick White, associate vice chancellor of communications and public affairs. "We appreciate the efforts of the mediator to help us achieve a successful and timely conclusion to the mediation. We believe the settlement is in the best interest of the University and allows us to move forward and fully focus on other important issues."
When she sued, Willingham said she hoped to accomplish what no other investigation has done -- to subpoena documents and to depose university officials under oath. Her lawsuit never got that far.
Instead, she says she's hoping that will be accomplished by a larger class-action lawsuit filed by powerhouse attorney Michael Hausfeld on behalf of two former UNC athletes.
Devon Ramsay and Rashanda McCants both sued in January, saying they were promised an education but didn't get one because of the paper class scandal.
Hausfeld is the attorney who beat the NCAA last summer in federal court on behalf of former UCLA player Ed O'Bannon, winning a case that will forever change college sports by forcing the NCAA to eliminate the rule that forbids schools from paying players.
That lawsuit is the reason Willingham says she was OK with entering into mediation in her whistleblower suit. She shared the settlement document with CNN.
"It's about the students and not about me. I don't need it to be about me," Willingham said. "I got an education, but those students left without one, and we still have a system that doesn't work. And so I'm hopeful that (the Hausfeld lawsuit) will move forward and prove that (NCAA Division I) schools all across the country have a flawed system where a promise of an education isn't happening, and therefore these students are getting nothing."
Willingham is co-founder of Paper Class Inc., which serves as a portal and rallying point for the college sports reform movement and includes a program to give students reading help in middle school.
WHISTLEBLOWERS AND LEAKERS FIGHT BACK
"Citizen Four," Edward Snowden documentary, wins Oscar. From: The Huffington Post. Sent: Feb 22, 2015 10:00 PM [See newsletters on Snowden]
To: firstname.lastname@example.org (forwarded by Louise Mann)
"Citizen Four" won Best Documentary at the Oscars on Sunday night. Director Laura Poitras accepted the award with Glenn Greenwald by her side.
"The disclosures that Edward Snowden reveals don't only expose a threat to privacy but to democracy itself," she said "Thank you to Edward Snowden and to the many other whistleblowers."
READ THE WHOLE STORY http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/02/22/citizen-four-best-documentary_n_6716094.html?ir=Entertainment&utm_campaign=022215&utm_medium=email&utm_source=Alert-entertainment&utm_content=FullStory
FACTORY FARMER CRAIG WATTS STRIKES BACK AT THE COMPANY HE FARMS FOR
I wrote about a chicken farmer who of inviting animal-welfare activists into his barns to document the conditions under which his contract compels him to raise his birds. The farmer, Craig Watts of North Carolina, has raised chicken for Perdue Farms for two decades and has often been a top producer for them; he was not an outlier, but someone well within the corporate farming system. Yet it weighed on his conscience that even when he did his best to care for them, the birds seemed deformed and unwell. “The consumer’s being hoodwinked,” he said at the time.
The video he made with the group Compassion in World Farming has been viewed . Watts continues to raise chickens for Perdue; the company did not yank his contract. But he claims he has been subjected to a campaign of retaliation from Perdue as a result, with very frequent visits from a variety of inspectors, and so he has taken a second extraordinary step. He has filed a federal complaint claiming whistleblower protection, alleging that he was forced to violate laws that protect consumers against “adulterated or misbranded” food.
Watts was not the first chicken contract farmer to speak out — , a Maryland contract farmer, appeared in the documentary and lost her livelihood as a result — but he’s almost certainly the first to strike back.
Watts is being represented by the , part of the nonprofit , which filed on his behalf this morning with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, within the US Department of Labor. The complaint and cover letter are . The cover letter sums up the issue (“Complainant” is Watts and “Respondent” is Perdue):
Complainant has observed an increase in the number of chicks placed on his farm carrying bacterial infections. As a result, Complainant believes that Respondent has not adequately controlled sanitation in its hatcheries to prevent birds from developing infections while at the hatchery, and is not culling sick birds from flocks at the hatchery with sufficient care to prevent the introduction and spread of diseases among the flocks placed on his farm. Additionally, Complainant believes that because Respondent crowds too many birds into each house, the birds do not have adequate room to move around freely, causing them trample each other to access water and food, which in turn leads to scratches and increased risk of infection. Moreover, Respondent prohibits Complainant from administering antibiotics and other medications to sick birds, and Respondent has refused to administer drugs to the birds when Complainant has sought help dealing with apparent outbreaks of disease among flocks placed on his farm.
Watts and his attorneys claim protection under the recent Food Safety Modernization Act, which added whistleblower “employee protection” provisions to the thicket of laws that govern food safety in the United States.
It’s notable that, in the complaint, Watts doesn’t ask for much: He doesn’t seek punitive damages, for instance, just attorneys’ fees and legal costs. Mostly what he asks is to continue to farm. After he went public, that the conditions in the video were the result of his poor farming practices; Watts says the first inspectors’ visits were within hours of the video going live, and continued “almost daily” since then, 23 times in the past two months. According to him, he was put on a “performance improvement plan,” and the complaint asks for that to be reversed, and for an end to any “retaliatory increased inspections.”
This is a lot of legalese, but the key facts are these: Most of the meat we eat in the US is raised in conditions that most consumers cannot see. This farmer felt those conditions were injurious to animals and bad for eaters. He opened the doors on his small corner of the industry in the hopes of changing it, and he wants to keep those doors open. Whistleblower protection might help him do that. I reached Watts quickly by phone, and he said: “I want there to be some avenue for farmers to be protected, so that they don’t have to be walking around on eggshells. Hopefully this is it.”
Because the complaint was just posted, Perdue has not yet commented, but I will ask them for comment and update this post when they do.
OPPOSITION TO WHISTLEBLOWERS
Mar, 27, 2015
What Have Whistleblowers Done for Elite Journalists Lately? By Jim Naureckas 6 Comments [This appeared in Extra! May 2015 as “Why Elite Journalists Hate Whistleblowers.”]
David Gregory asks Glenn Greenwald to explain his lack of imprisonment.
To the extent that you have aided and abetted Snowden, even in his current movements, why shouldn’t you, Mr. Greenwald, be charged with a crime?
Meet the Press host David Gregory’s question to journalist Glenn Greenwald (6/23/13; FAIR Blog, 6/24/13) sums up much of the elite media’s attitude toward whistleblowers–or what the Washington Post‘s David Ignatius refers to as “malcontents and self-appointed do-gooders who may get security clearances.”
This attitude is documented and questioned in a piece by John Hanrahan, a former Washington Post reporter who later headed the Fund for Investigative Journalism, that appeared on the pro-whistleblower Expose Facts site (3/24/15) and was reposted as “Journalists Who Hate Whistleblowers” by Consortium News (3/25/15).
Near the end of his piece, Hanrahan asks a series of questions:
Why do these stars of the news media so readily brush off concerns about our dangerous warfare/surveillance state revealed by Snowden, Manning and the others? Why do they cheer on the government’s crackdown on unauthorized leaks and tell us surveillance and the diminishment of our civil liberties is really for our own good in a scary world — rather than side with the Bill of Rights and the handful of other journalists and whistleblowers who expose secrets that people in a free society should have the right to know?
Though Hanrahan’s questions are rhetorical–their point, which I certainly agree with, is that journalists should not brush off concerns about the surveillance state and should side with the Bill of Rights–they do have answers.
The short one is that elite journalists work for elite news outlets that are designed to bolster power rather than challenge it. They are overwhelmingly huge for-profit multinational corporations, whose boards are packed with industrial magnates and whose business model is based on rounding up consumers so that they can be persuaded to buy the products of corporate advertisers. These are hardly institutions that are likely to hire and promote people who are hoping to undermine the system that has enriched them so mightily.
One of the most important things that corporate media do to shore up power is to define “news” as things that people in power want you to know but haven’t told you yet. This sets up information as a kind of currency that the powerful dole out to those who cooperate with them–that is, the elite journalists that Hanrahan is talking about. They make their living by receiving bits of information from the powerful–whether it’s a preview of Barack Obama’s next foreign policy address or details of the upcoming iPhone–and delivering them to you, the audience.
Whistleblowers like Chelsea Manning and Edward Snowden upset this economy. They don’t portion out secrets in exchange for favorable coverage–they dump out as much as they can because they believe the public has a right to know what their government is doing. They undermine the whole conceptual structure that makes being a media gatekeeper a prestigious and lucrative position because they make it obvious that most government secrecy has no purpose other than to maintain government power.
A whistleblower isn’t going to get you invited to a shindig like this. (From Politico.)
And on the most basic level, what can whistleblowers do for elite journalists? Sure, they can give you a story, or lots of stories, that will inform citizens about what their leaders are up to–but if that was your primary motivation, you wouldn’t have made it to the top of the corporate media pyramid in the first place.
Whistleblowers can’t get you a high-paying lobbying jobafter you’ve taken a buyout from your newspaper. Whistleblowers can’t invite you to the right kind of partywhere you’ll mingle with other powerful people. And whistleblowers won’t ensure that you’ll be treated as one of the Very Serious People–the kind who will never, ever have to explain to David Gregory why they’re not in jail.
David Gregory Doesn't Understand David Gregory's Snowden QuestionJune 24, 2013In "First Amendment"
Washington Post's WikiLeaks/Snowden/Greenwald Conspiracy TheoryJuly 9, 2013In "Surveillance"
What Do You Call Edward Snowden?August 16, 2013In "CBS"
PROSECUTIONS NOT EVEN HANDED
Gen. Petraeus, Stephen Kim, Jeffrey Sterling
DOUBLE STANDARDS FOR LEAK PROSECUTIONS UNDER
GENERAL PETRAEUS—TWO YEARS PROBATION
For Immediate Release
Tuesday, March 3, 2015 - 4:45pm
Andrew Harman, GAP Communications Director (815) 295-4340
Press Statement Regarding Petraeus' Soft Plea DealWASHINGTON - Today, the Justice Department handed former CIA Director David Petraeus a friendly plea agreement, which includes a recommendation of two years probation under 18 USC Sec. 1924 for illegally disclosing classified information to his mistress. The agreement highlights the grossly unfair double standard in so-called “leak” prosecutions, as eight whistleblowers have been charged under the draconian 1917 Espionage Act since 2008.
In regard to the plea deal, GAP’s Jesselyn Radack stated:
“The government has used the Espionage Act to overzealously prosecute GAP's whistleblower clients and threaten them with decades in prison. Petraeus’ cushy plea deal makes crystal clear that the government has more than enough tools to punish leaks without resorting to the heavy-handed Espionage Act.
“The Justice Department reserves the Espionage Act for whistleblowers like GAP clients Edward Snowden, Thomas Drake and John Kiriakou, who reveal information in the public interest, while well-connected, politically powerful leakers like Petraeus, whose leaks are of no benefit to the public, are given a slap on the wrist, or a promotion and a book deal. This selective and vindicate enforcement of the law has no place in a democratic justice system.”Former GAP client John Kiriakou, who was prosecuted under the Espionage Act in 2012, echoed Radack’s frustrations, stating:
“I don’t think General Petraeus should have been prosecuted under the Espionage Act, just as I don’t think I should have been prosecuted under the Espionage Act. Yet only one of us was. Both Petraeus and I disclosed undercover identities (or confirmed one in my case) that were never published. I spent two years in prison; he gets two years probation."Similarly, GAP client Thomas Drake, who was indicted under the Espionage Act in 2010, said:
“General Petraus willingly and knowingly removed, retained and disclosed highly classified information to someone not authorized to receive it. This action served no public good. I used every internal channel available to me as a whistleblower, and revealed only unclassified information evidencing massive waste, fraud, abuse and illegality to the tune of $4 billion. Yet I was charged with ten felony counts, five under the Espionage Act, and was labeled an enemy of the state, while General Petraus received a slap on the wrist. The government’s message is clear – whistleblowing in the public interest will be punished, while disclosing classified information devoid of public value will get you a pass.”The Government Accountability Project (GAP) is a 30-year-old nonprofit public interest group that promotes government and corporate accountability by advancing occupational free speech, defending whistleblowers, and empowering citizen activists. We pursue this mission through our Nuclear Safety, International Reform, Corporate Accountability, Food & Drug Safety, and Federal Employee/National Security programs. GAP is the nation's leading whistleblower protection organization.
STEPHEN KIM—PRISON 13 MONTHS
DEMOCRACY NOW! Amy Goodman
FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 20, 2015 PREVIOUS | NEXT
Jailed for Speaking to the Press Part 2: Peter Maass on the Case of State Dept. Expert Stephen Kim
Jailed for Speaking to the Press: How the Obama Admin Ruined Life of State Dept Expert Stephen Kim
In Part 2 of our conversation with Peter Maass, an investigative reporter at The Intercept, he continues discussing the Obama administration’s prosecution of former North Korea expert Stephen Kim for violating the Espionage Act. Kim is one of nine such cases under the Obama administration — twice as many as all previous presidents combined. The former State Department contractor was accused of discussing classified documents on North Korea with Fox News reporter James Rosen. Last year, he was sentenced to 13 months in prison. But Kim always maintained his innocence. During the year before he went to prison, he shared his story with The Intercept.
AMY GOODMAN: Here on Democracy Now!, democracynow.org, The War and Peace Report. I’m Amy Goodman. As we continue looking at the case of jailed State Department whistleblower Stephen Kim, we’re joined by Peter Maass, a senior writer at The Intercept. His new article just out today is titled "Destroyed by the Espionage Act: Stephen Kim Spoke to a Reporter. Now He’s in Jail. This is His Story."
Peter Maass, welcome back to Democracy Now! You’ve been on this story for a while now. You actually accompanied Stephen Kim on his journey to jail, where he sits right now. So what did the government say in introducing Stephen Kim to James Rosen, someone who was inexperienced in talking to reporters?
PETER MAASS: Well, he was introduced, Stephen Kim, to James Rosen by John Herzberg, who was a press liaison in the State Deparment. And there weren’t, as far as I know, kind of like precise instructions: "This is what you talk about; this is what you don’t talk about; this is, you know, the attribution," or whatever. But it was an introduction that was intended to begin a relationship where they would talk about policy. Rosen was a reporter for a major American network who wanted to know more, as all reporters do, which is good. And Stephen Kim was somebody who could inform. This was actually a very kind of exemplary act, you know? It is good for State Department press affairs officers to introduce experts to journalists, so they can talk, whether on the record or off the record, so that journalists themselves can be better informed, so that the American public could be better informed, so that maybe views that aren’t in the White House press room when the press secretary gets up to talk about the day’s news are actually filtered out and distributed to the populace. This is the kind of thing that should happen all the time. But because the government has, instead of encouraging this, charged and gotten a conviction against Stephen Kim on the Espionage Act, these sorts of encounters are going to become rarer and rarer, and we’re the poorer for it.
AMY GOODMAN: Can you talk about, ultimately, Stephen Kim’s lawyer, Abbe Lowell, famed lawyer who represented President Clinton around his impeachment, the different legal strategies he used? MORE
AMY GOODMAN: Peter Maass, thanks so much for being with us, award-winning investigative journalist, author, senior writer at The Intercept, has just published a major report headlined "Destroyed by the Espionage Act: Stephen Kim Spoke to a Reporter. Now He’s in Jail. This is His Story." We’ll link to the article and to the video that accompanies it. It was produced by the Oscar-nominated filmmaker Laura Poitras, Peter Maass and Steven Maing. The video is called The Surrender. This is Democracy Now!, democracynow.org, The War and Peace Report. I’m Amy Goodman.
JEFFREY STERLING—Prison 13 Months
Robert Greenwald, bravenewfilms
Roots Action Petition
Gerstein on James Risen
Another Whistleblower Sentenced!
8:00 AM (1 hour ago)
10:40 AM (3 hours ago)
Tense –> In a pretrial hearing for ex-CIA officer Jeffrey Sterling, who is accused of leaking secrets to the media, NYT national security reporter James Risen sparred with prosecutors — and confirmed some information that he had previously revealed — but continued to protect his sources. The Justice Department recently decided not to jail Risen for refusing to divulge the information. Josh Gerstein has the details at Politico.
NYT’s James Risen pushes back in hearing on leaks
By JOSH GERSTEIN. pOLITICO. 1/5/15 2:01 PM EST, Updated 1/5/15 2:45 PM EST
The Obama administration’s plan to defuse a First Amendment showdown with a New York Times reporter over his confidential sources was nearly derailed at a court hearing Monday when the journalist rebuffed a series of questions concerning his reporting.
But he eventually agreed to answer some of the queries, allowing the at-times tense session to get back on track and avoiding for now a major confrontation over press freedom.
Times national security writer James Risen testified for about 45 minutes in a federal courtroom in Alexandria, Virginia, where ex-CIA officer Jeffrey Sterling is set to go on trial next week on charges of leaking top-secret information that Risen published in his 2006 book “State of War.”
U.S. District Court Judge Leonie Brinkema called the pretrial hearing to determine, outside the presence of the jury, what Risen would and would not be willing to testify about in connection with Sterling’s trial.
Prosecutors, acting on orders from Attorney General Eric Holder, had already agreed not to ask Risen to identify his sources for his reporting in the book on “Operation Merlin,” a Central Intelligence Agency program aimed at undermining Iran’s nuclear program.
However, the prosecution did want Risen to testify about some basic facts relating to his reporting for the book and newspaper articles. Risen at first resisted confirming statements he’d made in previous court filings about confidentiality agreements he had with his sources and even whether he’d talked to Sterling for a 2002 article that quoted him by name.
But after Brinkema called a quick break and reminded Risen that he’d already discussed those points in submissions provided “under the penalty of perjury,” he returned to court somewhat more cooperative with prosecutors.
Risen eventually confirmed the accuracy of his prior statements.
At times, the distinctions between what the journalist would say and what he would not seemed Talmudic. However, he appeared unwilling to discuss the specifics of any agreements he had with any sources.
“As I said in my 2011 affidavit, I have used unnamed and identified sources,” Risen said under questioning by prosecutor James Trump. “When my reporting in articles or a book describes reporting gathered from unnamed sources, I had unnamed sources.”
When Trump asked Risen directly if he had confidentiality agreements with sources for the key chapter in “State of War,” the journalist simply repeated that some information came from “unidentified” sources and some from “identified” sources.
“Do you understand the question I’m asking you, sir?” Trump said brusquely, his hands shaking the legal papers he was holding at the lectern.
“I do,” Risen replied, only to repeat the same formulation for a fourth time.
At one point, Brinkema interrupted the back-and-forth between Risen and Trump in which the reporter repeatedly gave vague answers. She declared with some frustration: “It’s a simple question. … Either you had confidentiality agreements [with your sources] or you don’t.”
Risen said he didn’t interpret the question that way, and repeated much of his previous answers that some of his sources were “unidentified” and some were “identified.”
When Trump pressed Risen about whether a 2002 article contained information provided by Sterling on a nonconfidential basis, the journalist demurred.
“I decline to answer that question,” Risen said. “I don’t want to provide information that the government wants to use for a building block for a larger mosaic in this case.”
Sterling, who is free on bail pending trial, sat stoically alongside his attorneys Monday as Risen testified.
Risen did eventually confirm that the information in his book was an accurate description of what named or unnamed sources had told him. And the journalist also confirmed he’d talked to Sterling for the 2002 story, which was about a racial discrimination lawsuit the African-American CIA officer filed against the agency.
“I accurately quoted the identified sources in the story,” Risen said.
“And one of those sources is Mr. Sterling?” Trump asked.
“Yes,” Risen replied, confirming he’d had some dealings with the defendant facing 10 felony counts.
Sterling’s lawyer Edward MacMahon said Monday that he planned to ask that the case against his client be dismissed. Without more testimony from Risen, such as the location and times when he got certain classified information, the government could not meet its burden to prove the ex-CIA officer guilty, the defense lawyer argued.
It’s unclear how Brinkema will rule, but her earlier rulings have suggested she believes the government has a reasonable chance of proving its case without Risen identifying his sources or providing the missing details noted by the defense lawyer.
The judge said it would now be up to either side to decide whether it wishes to call Risen at Sterling’s trial, for which jury selection is slated to begin next Monday.
Read more: http://www.politico.com/story/2015/01/james-risen-testify-leak-case-113972.html#ixzz3O3uQeUgF
Convicted –> On Monday, a jury convicted former CIA officer Jeffrey Sterling on nine counts related to his leaking details of a secret operation to NYT reporter James Risen. AP has more. 1-26-15
Washington Post · 4 hours ago
A former CIA officer who was involved in a highly secretive operation to give faulty nuclear plans to Iran was…
Los Angeles Times · 9 hours ago
U-T San Diego · 10 hours ago
www.cnn.com · 17 hours ago
www.nytimes.com/2015/01/27/us/politics/cia-officer-in-leak-case... · 1 day ago
Jan 26, 2015 · Jeffrey A. Sterling was convicted of espionage on charges that he told a New York Times reporter about a secret operation to disrupt Iran’s nuclear program.
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Inspectors Warn Against USDA’s High-Speed Hog Inspection Program
Government Accountability Project, January 30, 2015
Today, the Government Accountability Project (GAP) is releasing evidence it has gathered from federal meat inspector whistleblowers who currently work at pork processing plants participating in a high-speed inspection pilot program. These whistleblowers voice concerns regarding the program and warn about the potential public health implications if this plan is instituted on a national level.
GAP is making publicly available affidavits from four U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) inspectors that illustrate serious concerns with the agency pilot program that increases the speed of processing lines and reduces the number of trained USDA inspection personnel in the hog plants.
Director of GAP’s Food Integrity Campaign, Amanda Hitt, stated:
The USDA already refused to listen to its own inspectors when it implemented a similar high-speed inspection program for poultry late last year. Now the agency is poised to reduce oversight and increase line speeds at plants with hogs. It’s become abundantly clear that the Department of Agriculture is not interested in listening to the food safety concerns voiced by its own staff. Since the government doesn’t wish to heed whistleblowers, we are urging pork producers to reject sub-par meat inspection that places profit before public health.
GAP has launched a Change.org petition urging Hormel, one of the largest pork producers in the United States, to abandon its use of high-speed inspection. The company owns three out of five hog plants currently participating in USDA’s pilot program.
USDA inspectors stationed at the Hormel pilot plants have informed GAP that the high-speed inspection model will lead to more contaminated and defective products on consumers’ plates. Some of the problems that inspector affidavits raise include:
employees take over the duties of government inspectors. While federal
employees (including at USDA) have whistleblower protections and can speak
on behalf of the plant workers, Hormel employees are in the private sector
and have inadequate legal safeguards. They cannot safely report food
safety problems or stop the lines without fear of retaliation.
speeds at pilot plants run up to 20 percent faster than those at plants
operating under traditional inspection. Quicker speeds make it even more
difficult for plant employees and USDA inspectors to detect contamination
employees lack adequate training and often fail to identify signs of
defects and contamination that could result in foodborne illness or
unwholesome products. Inspectors in pilot plants report a higher level of
zero-tolerance food safety hazards compared to plants operating under
- USDA inspectors are only allowed to conduct inspections on a small sample of hogs. Samples in these plants are not representative, and don’t reflect true pathogen risk.
The affidavits released today can be found at FoodWhistleblower.org/StopHighSpeedHogs.
The names of three of the inspectors, and all identifying information of the specific plants, have been redacted at the request of the inspectors. However, these affidavits have the full backing and endorsement of GAP.
Direct Quotes from USDA Inspectors
- There aren’t enough eyes on the line to monitor carcasses coming by at such high speeds. (Anonymous Inspector, Affidavit #1)
- On numerous occasions I witnessed them [company inspectors] fail to spot abscesses, lesions, fecal matter, and other defects that would render an animal unsafe or unwholesome. (Anonymous Inspector, Affidavit #1)
- When USDA loses the authority to make plant employees engage in corrective actions, the program stops working. This is what has happened at the plant where I work. (Anonymous Inspector, Affidavit #2)
- Other contamination such as hair, toenails, cystic kidneys, and bladder stems has increased under HIMP [pilot program]. Line speeds don’t make it any easier to detect contamination. Most of the time they are running so fast it is impossible to see anything on the carcass. (Anonymous Inspector, Affidavit #2)
- When HIMP was originally implemented, I had high hopes that the program would improve food safety. Over the past few years, I have learned that is not the case. Instead it seems like it is just the USDA’s way of catering to the industry instead of the consumer. (Anonymous Inspector, Affidavit #2)
- The company threatens plant employees with terminations if they see them condemning too many carcasses or carcass parts. (Anonymous Inspector, Affidavit #3)
- It seems like the USDA is doing all it can to make sure the HIMP program succeeds in this plant, even if it means betraying consumers by hiding the truth about their food. (Anonymous Inspector, Affidavit #3)
- It’s no longer meaningful for consumers to see that mark indicating that their product has been USDA-inspected. (Anonymous Inspector, Affidavit #3)
- Food safety has gone down the drain under HIMP. (Anonymous Inspector, Affidavit #3)
- Personally, I will not eat any products that bear the name of the company for which this meat is produced. I don’t think that it is wholesome or safe to consume. (Joe Ferguson, Affidavit #4)
- After working in this plant for more than ten years, I definitely do not support its expansion to the rest of the industry. (Joe Ferguson, Affidavit #4)
- See more at: http://whistleblower.org/blog/052130-inspectors-warn-against-usda%E2%80%99s-high-speed-hog-inspection-program#sthash.rsP1SAqM.dpuf
Whistleblowers Newsletters #1 10-21-11, #2 12-12-11, #3 1-31-12, #4 9-11-12, and more).
END WHISTLEBLOWERS AND LEAKERS NEWSLETTER, SERIES 2, #1, May 18, 2015