On Monday, Judge Leonie Brinkema sentenced Jeffrey Sterling to 42 months in prison for leaking information about a dubious CIA plot to deal nuclear blueprints to Iran to New York Times journalist James Risen.
Given how circumstantial the case against Sterling was – consisting largely of metadata – not to mention the hand slap David Petraeus got weeks ago for leaking far more sensitive information and then lying about it to the FBI, that’s a tough sentence.
But given the government’s call, in sentencing memoranda, that Sterling spend up to 24 years in prison, it was, as Government Accountability Project lawyer Jesselyn Raddack said, the least worst outcome.
The sentence should also be seen as a rebuke to the government and its frenzied claims about secrecy, most notably the claim they made in this case that leaking information to a journalist is worse than leaking it directly to our adversaries.
Washington DC is presently the converging point for some of the world’s most oppressive regimes. On May 13th and 14th, President Obama is hosting a billionaire conglomerate known as the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), which consists of the Middle Eastern countries of Kuwait, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, UAE and Oman. The cozy US-GCC relationship exemplifies the twisted nature of US foreign policy, especially in regards to one particular monarchy: Saudi Arabia.
Saudi Arabia has been accused of human rights violations against its own citizens, including political activists, journalists, and women. The Saudi king has decided to skip the GCC summit, leaving the ministers of the interior and defense to take his place, because he opposes the US efforts to reach a diplomatic solution to the nuclear program of its rival, Iran.
The Saudi monarchy has been using its military and financial might to impose its will throughout the Middle East. It is financially bolstering the repressive regime of Egyptian dictator Abdel Fattah el-Sisi in Egypt, who came to power in a coup. Saudi tanks brutally crushed Shiite protests in Bahrain. Years after the first invasion, Saudi forces continue to dominate Bahrain. The Saudi devotion to Wahhabism, a radical sect of Islam, has been responsible in exporting extremism around the globe, including 15 of the 19 9/11 hijackers.
…was carried out by cops, on this day, 20 years ago. Will Grigg tells the story.
“Philadelphia was the only U.S. city to be bombed from the air during the Cold War, and the perpetrator of that attack was not the Soviet Union, the Weather Underground, or some other offshoot of the Soviet-inspired “Tricontinental Movement.” The perpetrators of this act of mass terrorism was the Philadelphia PD – with the indispensable help of the FBI and the US military.”
“Eleven people were killed as a result of the bombing. Six of them – including five children — were cut down by gunfire as they fled the burning building.”
“As we retired that evening, the local television news carried accounts of the firebombing – which commanded less attention than another debacle that took place on the same day, the introduction of the “New Coke” in an event at Lafayette Park.
The Coca-Cola Company’s ill-advised decision to alter the formula of its toxic soft drink caused a paroxysm of national outrage on the part of a public that reacted to the Philadelphia fire-bombing with stolid indifference. Those who tampered with that product faced accountability. Jobs were lost, reputations were ruined, and corporate policies were changed. Nothing of the sort befell those responsible for a military assault on an urban neighborhood that left nearly a dozen people dead and hundreds of people homeless.
Coca-Cola’s decision to change its recipe was national news, as was the company’s chastened decision to rescind that change. The fire-bombing of West Philly received perfunctory notice in the State-aligned media, and was quickly forgotten by a materially sated population.
As Commissioner Sambor said in his overture to the holocaust on Osage Avenue, “This is America” – or, in any case, what we’ve allowed it to become.””
Read the whole essay.
For the first time since his indictment in December 2010, whistleblower Jeffrey Sterling’s voice can be heard – in this short documentary film, released May 12, 2015. (Produced by ExposeFacts. Directed by Judith Ehrlich.)
Former CIA officer Jeffrey Sterling was a whistleblower who was then targeted by the U.S. legal system for retaliation, which now includes a 42-month prison sentence. His real “crime” was going to the Senate Intelligence Committee to report on a dubious and dangerous covert operation that involved giving doctored nuclear-bomb blueprints to Iran.
Though Sterling’s action was “within proper channels,” the move made Sterling a dead duck inside the CIA, which doesn’t want any of its employees to do that – and it appears neither do the members of the congressional “overlook” committees who would prefer not to know such things. So, when the account of the Iran scam appeared in James Risen’s 2006 book, State of War, the CIA and the Justice Department went after Sterling although the leak might well have come from someone on the Senate committee or elsewhere, not Sterling.
The CIA was especially outraged because Risen’s account made the spy agency look like a bunch of clowns. Someone was going to have to pay for causing the embarrassment and that person became Sterling, who was convicted in what amounted to an entirely circumstantial case under the 1917 Espionage Act, which was meant to apply to spies giving information to foreign governments, not to U.S. government officials providing facts to American journalists to share with the American people.
William Pfaff died on April 30, 2015. His death is nothing less than a serious loss to the shrinking number of American daily newspaper columnists who question and contest American Exceptionalism and its “unnecessary and unwinnable” wars.
Pfaff was the singular heir of American writers who preceded him in condemning our historic addiction to war. And the more he criticized the U.S. for shooting first and thinking later, the fewer America dailies printed his columns. The New York Times, which owns the International Herald-Tribune where his work regularly appeared, rarely if ever published his piercing anti-interventionist columns. He was, after all, an outspoken opponent of the Iraq invasion when the paper went overboard in favor of the war. His few daily newspaper outlets were limited essentially to Newsday and the Chicago Tribune though liberal journals like the New York Review of Books, William Shawn’s New Yorker, which printed some seventy of his pieces, and Commonweal, the liberal Catholic magazine, welcomed him.