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.

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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.

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Antiwar.com’s Scott Horton discusses foreign policy disasters with Jacob Hornberger, president of the Future of Freedom Foundation.

In 2010, the Obama Administration endorsed, then immediately condemned the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) calls for a nuclear-free Middle East, realizing after the agreement that Israel is the only nuclear-armed state in the Middle East.

Fast-forward five years, and there still hasn’t been a meeting on the matter. The big obstacle is that Israel, which is not a signatory to the NPT, is willing to attend the talks but not willing to even broach the subject of disarmament, citing the fact that they’re never publicly admitted to their significant arsenal in the first place.

Israel, of course, is blaming the Arabs for all this, saying the lack of talks underscores the fact that the Arab states, none of whom is a nuclear power to begin with, is even willing to sit down and talk with the nuclear-armed Israelis.

Israel’s status at the meeting did indeed loom large, and was a big part of why the talks never took place, though it was the fact that there was no hope of getting the only nuclear-armed nation to disarm that really soured most nations on the talks, figuring there was no point in the absence of that as at least a speculative goal.

Indeed, all these same nations routinely work with Israel on efforts to detect illegal underground nuclear testing as part of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty. In that case, unlike this one, there was hope of actually accomplishing thing, however.

And that’s been the fatal flaw in the push for a nuclear-free Middle East from the moment the US ill-conceivedly endorsed it way back in 2010. They believe it’s “unfair” to single out Israel for disarmament, but Israel is the only state in the region with such arms to begin with, meaning efforts to orchestrate such talks always boil down to Israel insisting it is being mistreated and the US agreeing.

 

If all of us rolled down our car windows at 5 pm on weekdays, we would hear a single great voice booming out across the land as if God himself were thundering from the heavens. In reality it would be countless car radios beaming out in unison “All Things Considered,” sometimes known as “Small Things Considered,” so stunted is its coverage of the news. Such jokes abound, “Boring Edition” at morning commute time, with the whole operation labeled “National Propaganda Radio” or “National Pentagon Radio.” My contribution: “National Pablum Radio.”

But NPR is no joking matter; it reaches over 20 million listeners a week. (Rush claims to reach 15 million, 25% less, and even this is apparently, but not surprisingly, hard to verify.) By comparison, the Wall Street Journal has a daily circulation of somewhat over 2 million, The New York Times a little under 2 million and USA Today about 1.6 million. So NPR has enormous reach and influence in the constellation of the mainstream media. Its drive time “news” programs , “Morning Edition” and “All Things Considered,“ carried by almost all of its 900 member stations are its most popular fare. How could it be otherwise? The listeners are hermetically sealed in their cars for hours each day at these times.

NPR’s coverage of foreign affairs and of the wars of the U.S. Empire is especially nefarious. FAIR and other organizations dutifully and routinely plod through NPR coverage to document bias, an eminently worthwhile project. But such reports come too late to help immunize the average listener. We need a quick and easy way of seeing through the fog of NPR. Fortunately there is such a way: If we simply stop and think with some care about what we are hearing, we will discover it is the grinding day upon day repetition of imperial propaganda. The key is active skepticism, and we badly need to cultivate it in ourselves and our friends.

Let’s take a recent feature as an example. On April 22, Robert Siegal of Small Things Considered went for deep analysis of the situation in Yemen and the Middle East. He interviewed Nicholas Burns, a “professor” now at the Kennedy School of Imperialism (often mislabeled as the School of Government) at Dear Old Harvard. One might think Burns a non-government source, a good professor seeking the truth. Not so. Burns, before he was put out to pasture in that graveyard of Has Beens in Cambridge, “served” in the State Department at the highest levels under Bush I, the Clintons and Bush II. (At the very end of the feature Siegal hastily adds that Burns is “formerly of the State Department.”)

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Seven prominent national security whistleblowers Monday called for a number of wide-ranging reforms – including passage of the “Surveillance State Repeal Act,” which would repeal the USA Patriot Act – in an effort to restore the Constitutionally guaranteed 4th Amendment right to be free from government spying.

Several of the whistleblowers also said that the recent lenient sentence of probation and a fine for General David Petraeus – for his providing of classified information to his mistress Paula Broadwell – underscores the double standard of justice at work in the area of classified information handling.

Speakers said Petraeus’s favorable treatment should become the standard applied to defendants who are actual national security whistleblowers, such as Chelsea Manning, Edward Snowden and Jeffrey Sterling (who has denied guilt but who nevertheless faces sentencing May 11 for an Espionage Act conviction for allegedly providing classified information to New York Times reporter James Risen).

In a news conference sponsored by the ExposeFacts project of the Institute for Public Accuracy at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., speakers included William Binney, former high-level National Security Agency (NSA) official; Thomas Drake, former NSA senior executive; Daniel Ellsberg, former U.S. military analyst and the Pentagon Papers whistleblower; Ray McGovern, formerly CIA analyst who chaired the National Intelligence Estimates in the 1980s; Jesselyn Radack, former Justice Department trial attorney and ethics adviser, and now director of National Security and Human Rights at the Government Accountability Project; Coleen Rowley, attorney and former FBI special agent; J. Kirk Wiebe, 32-year former employee at the NSA.

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