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Cultural Shift Needed on Police Militarization


by Peter Kraska

It is certainly a positive development that the White House has taken such a keen interest in this problem. And the executive order appears to include some important changes — including making it more difficult to obtain that most extreme military armament available to our local police.

However, police militarization is a 25 year long trend that has only grown in momentum over time. The restrictions on militaristic gear directed by the White House while important symbolically, will certainly not substantively impact this trend in and of itself. Police militarization at this point is as much a cultural problem as it is a material one, and reversing the cultural trend toward police militarization will require more far reaching efforts.

There are signs the Obama administration understands this to some extent, given the re-emphasis that would like to place on community policing reform efforts. But we have to remain aware that the federal government attempted to steer the police institution for the last 25 years in a community policing direction; the result: police militarization.

Peter Kraska, whose books include Militarizing the American Criminal Justice System: The Changing Roles of the Armed Forces and the Police, was consulted by the White House and has testified on this same issue in front of the U.S. Senate. 

Watch the Short Documentary “The Invisible Man: CIA Whistleblower Jeffrey Sterling”

Released May 12, 2015


CIA Officer Jeffrey Sterling Sentenced to Prison: The Latest Blow in the Government’s War on Journalism
Published by The Nation – May 12, 2015
Norman Solomon

The sentencing of former CIA officer Jeffrey Sterling on May 11 for espionage ends one phase of a long ordeal and begins another. At age 47, he has received a prison term of 42 months—three and a half years—after a series of ever more improbable milestones.

The youngest of six children raised by a single mother, Sterling was the only member of his family to go to college. He graduated from law school in 1993, worked briefly at a public defender’s office, and then entered the CIA, where he became one of the agency’s only African-American case officers. In August 2001, Sterling became the first one ever to file a lawsuit against the CIA for racial discrimination. (His suit, claiming that he was denied certain assignments because of his race, was ultimately tossed out of court on grounds that a trial would jeopardize government secrets.) Soon afterward, the agency fired him.

Sterling returned to his home state of Missouri and restarted his life. After struggling, he found a professional job and fell in love. But the good times were short-lived. One day in 2006, the FBI swooped in for a raid, seizing computers and papers at the small home that Sterling and his fiancée shared in a suburb of St. Louis. Slowly, during the next four years, without further action from the government, the menacing legal cloud seemed to disperse. But suddenly, a few days into 2011, Sterling was arrested for the first time in his life—charged with betraying his country.

The indictment included seven counts under the Espionage Act, the 1917 law that President Obama’s Justice Department has used to prosecute more whistleblowers than all other administrations combined. The key charges accused Sterling of “unauthorized disclosure of national defense information,” alleging that he gave details of a secret CIA operation to a journalist while falsely characterizing it in negative terms. The government contended that Sterling should remain in custody until trial because—with “underlying selfish and vindictive motivations”—he would try to “retaliate in the same deliberate, methodical, vindictive manner.” A judge rejected that argument and released him on bond. But Sterling’s arrest had triggered his immediate firing by Anthem Healthcare (where his work as a medical fraud investigator won a national award for uncovering $32 million in bogus charges), and suddenly even low-wage employment was out of reach. As a breadwinner, Sterling was toast. His wife, Holly, a social worker, continued to bring in a modest income as they waited for the trial.

The wait lasted four years. Most of the pre-trial legal maneuvers had to do with James Risen, the New York Times reporter whose 2006 book, State of War, had spurred the FBI leak investigation that ended with Sterling’s arrest. The book included a chapter with classified information about Operation Merlin, a CIA program that in 2000 provided Iran with flawed design information for a nuclear weapon component. Despite subpoenas and jail threats, Risen kept refusing to identify any confidential source. The government prevailed on appeal with its claim that journalists have no right to such a refusal, but—after growing pushback from press-freedom advocates and worsening optics in the court of public opinion—the Justice Department finally gave up on forcing Risen to cooperate. (For background, see Norman Solomon and Marcy Wheeler, “The Government War Against Reporter James Risen,” October 8, 2014.)

The federal courtroom in northern Virginia where Holly and Jeffrey Sterling returned for the sentencing on May 11 was the scene of a disturbing, though scantly reported, simulation of justice in late January. At the outset, covering the trial, I noted that “prospective jurors made routine references to ‘three-letter agencies’ and alphabet-soup categories of security clearances.” Steeped in a local atmosphere of deference to mega-employers like the CIA and Pentagon along with numerous big contracting firms nearby, “the jury pool was bound to please the prosecution.”

To read more click here.

On Jeffrey Sterling: From the Filmmaker of “Invisible Man”

by Judith Ehrlich

This is a story with shocking elements. While most of us don’t quite understand what metadata is exactly, this case reminds us it’s time to get a grip on that. In fact Jeffrey Sterling was convicted in large part on the basis of metadata — not the content of his communication. That is, they don’t have to know what he said, just that he talked to or emailed  the New York Times reporter who leaked news of Operation Merlin to which Jeffrey was assigned while a CIA case officer. And that metadata, the where, when and whom is not protected as the conversation might be.

The most shocking element of this story is that  Jeffrey Sterling seems to be punished because he “pulled on Superman’s cape” first with a racial discrimination suit they were able to squash and then by reporting what he considered a dangerous CIA operation to the proper government channels for hearing such a concern.

I wanted to make a film that captured this couple’s deep commitment and belief in one another in the face of a decade of Kafkaesque uncertainty at the hands of the CIA. Ellsberg followed the same initial trajectory as Sterling, going to Congress with his concerns about the Vietnam War and being ignored by the oversight committees. CIA veteran Ray McGovern calls them “overlook committees.”

I was thrilled to collaborate with Norman Solomon and Expose Facts to reach an audience with this story that exposes deep problems in our justice system.

Judith Ehrlich is director of the just-released short doc “The Invisible Man: CIA Whistleblower Jeffrey Sterling.” Her past films include “The Most Dangerous Man in America: Daniel Ellsberg and the Pentagon Papers.”

News Conference: Whistleblowers Weigh In on Policy

April 27, 2015 at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C.

William Binney (NSA), Thomas Drake (NSA), Daniel Ellsberg (Pentagon Papers), Raymond McGovern (CIA), Jesselyn Radack (Justice Department), Coleen Rowley (FBI) and Kirk Wiebe (NSA) spoke at this news conference, sponsored by, a project of the Institute for Public Accuracy.

See: “Whistleblowers vs. ‘Fear-Mongering’.”

Netanyahu Victory Opens Door for One-State Solution

Netanyahu Victory Opens Door for One-State Solution
by Francis Boyle

Just before the election, Israel Prime Minister Netanyahu ruled out the creation of a Palestinian State, which means that he repudiated the two-state solution to the dispute between the Israelis and the Palestinians.

This has been the pronounced objective of American foreign policy since the Madrid Conference and the Middle East Peace Negotiations in 1991 held under the auspices of the United States government and with the full support of the international community.

If implemented, Netanyahu’s decision will leave the Palestinians no alternative but to pursue the creation of one-state of Palestine that will include what is known today as Palestine, Israel and Jerusalem and where a majority of its citizens will be Palestinians.

Before the Palestinian Declaration of Independence of 15 November 1988, the position of the Palestine National Council and the Palestine Liberation Organization was that there should be only one, democratic and secular state for the entire mandate for Palestine, which would include Israel within it.

It was PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat himself who encouraged the Palestine National Council to accept the two-state solution in the Palestinian Declaration of Independence of 15 November 1988. After 27 years of fruitlessly trying to pursue a two-state solution, it is now time for the Palestine National Council and the PLO to reconsider their options.

Professor Francis A. Boyle, University of Illinois College of Law, served as Legal Adviser to the PLO and Chairman Yasser Arafat on the 15 November 1988 Palestinian Declaration of Independence and as legal adviser to the Palestinian delegation to the Middle East peace negotiations and its chair Dr. Haidar Abdul Shaffi from 1991 to 1993. His books include Palestine, Palestinians, and International Law (2003) and The Palestinian Right of Return under International Law (2011).

Media Advisory: Whistleblowers to Speak About Surveillance and Cyber Issues

[Note: A news conference organized by the Institute for Public Accuracy and on surveillance that had been scheduled for Tuesday, Feb. 17 with NSA whistleblowers William Binney J. Kirk Wiebe has been cancelled on account of anticipated weather conditions.]

Reuters is reporting today: “President Barack Obama is set to sign an executive order on Friday aimed at encouraging companies to share more information about cybersecurity threats with the government and each other, a response to attacks like that on Sony Entertainment. … Obama will sign the order at a day-long conference on cybersecurity at Stanford University in the heart of Silicon Valley.” will be holding a news conference at the National Press Club on Tuesday featuring two prominent National Security Agency whistleblowers — William Binney and J. Kirk Wiebe — who will discuss the administration’s record on surveillance and cyber issues.

Details on the news conference:

10:00 a.m. Tuesday, Feb. 17
Murrow Room, National Press Club, Washington, D.C.

Attorney General Eric Holder will be speaking at the National Press Club later that day.

William Binney is a former high-level National Security Agency intelligence official who, after his 2001 retirement after 30 years, blew the whistle on NSA surveillance programs. His outspoken criticism of the NSA during the George W. Bush administration made him the subject of FBI investigations that included a raid on his home in 2007. Even before Edward Snowden’s NSA whistleblowing, Binney publicly revealed that NSA had access to telecommunications companies’ domestic and international billing records, and that since 9/11 the agency has intercepted some 15 to 20 trillion communications. The Snowden disclosures confirmed many of the surveillance dangers Binney — without the benefit of documents — had been warning about under both the Bush and Obama administrations. Binney has been singled out for praise by Snowden, who told the Wall Street Journal: “I have tremendous respect for Binney, who did everything he could according to the rules. We all owe him a debt of gratitude for highlighting how the Intelligence Community punishes reporting abuses within the system.”

J. Kirk Wiebe is a retired National Security Agency whistleblower who worked at the agency for 36 years. Wiebe’s colleague William Binney developed the ThinThread information processing system that, arguably, could have detected and prevented the 9/11 terrorist attacks. NSA officials, though, ignored the program in favor of Trailblazer, a program that ended in total failure with costs of billions of dollars. Wiebe and Binney blew the whistle internally on Trailblazer, but to no avail. Post 9/11, the NSA used ThinThread to illegally spy on U.S. citizens’ communications. Unable to stay at NSA any longer in good conscience, Wiebe retired in October 2001. Since retiring, Wiebe andBinney made several key public disclosures regarding NSA’s massive surveillance program.

Binney and Wiebe are on the advisory board. is a project of the Institute for Public Accuracy.

Delegation of U.S. and UK Whistleblowers in London: News Conference on “Special Surveillance Relationship” — News Advisory

Whistleblowers from four American and British “national security” agencies will hold a news conference in London on November 21 in a direct challenge to surveillance policies of the U.S. and UK governments.

The whistleblowers — from the NSA, FBI, State Department and GCHQ — will speak about the effects of their governments’ policies on freedom of the press and democracy. They are traveling as a delegation co-sponsored by the U.S.-based organizations and ExposeFacts, a project of the Institute for Public Accuracy.

The news conference is being hosted by the Foreign Press Association.

What: News Conference — Whistleblowers on “Special Surveillance Relationship”

When: Friday, November 21 at 9:30 a.m.

Where: Foreign Press Association, Award House, 7-11 St Matthew Street, London SW1P 2JT

Who: Speakers will include:
* Katharine Gun, GCHQ whistleblower
* Matthew Hoh, State Department whistleblower
* Coleen Rowley, FBI whistleblower
* J. Kirk Wiebe, NSA whistleblower
* Norman Solomon, coordinator of


Katharine Gun is a former translator for GCHQ. In 2003, she leaked to the Observer a top-secret memorandum concerning an NSA operation to bug the United Nations offices of six countries regarded as swing votes that could determine whether the U.N. Security Council approved the invasion of Iraq. After the Observer article appeared, Gun confessed to her GCHQ superiors and was subsequently charged with violating the Official Secrets Act. The case was dropped after the prosecution declined to offer any evidence. For her whistleblowing, Gun was given the 2003 Sam Adams award by the Sam Adams Associates for Integrity in Intelligence. Daniel Ellsberg called Katharine Gun’s leak “the most important and courageous leak I have ever seen.” He added: “No one else — including myself — has ever done what Gun did: tell secret truths at personal risk, before an imminent war, in time, possibly, to avert it.”

Matthew Hoh, a senior fellow at the Center for International Policy, previously directed the Afghanistan Study Group, a collection of foreign and public policy experts and professionals advocating for a change in U.S. policy in Afghanistan. Prior to that, Hoh served with the U.S. Marine Corps in Iraq and on U.S. Embassy teams in both Afghanistan and Iraq. During his service in Afghanistan, five months into his year-long contract in 2009, he resigned and became the highest-ranking U.S. official to publicly renounce U.S. policy in Afghanistan. Hoh was awarded The Ridenhour Prize for Truth-Telling in 2010.

Coleen Rowley, an attorney and former FBI special agent and division counsel whose May 2002 memo to the FBI Director exposed some of the agency’s pre-9/11 failures, was one of three whistleblowers named as Time magazine’s “Persons of the Year” in 2002. In February 2003, Rowley again wrote to the FBI Director questioning him and other Bush administration officials about the reliability of supposed evidence being used to justify the impending U.S invasion of Iraq. Under sharp criticism for her comments, Rowley stepped down from her legal position to go back to being an FBI Special Agent. She retired from the FBI in 2004 after 24 years with the agency.

Norman Solomon is the coordinator of, a new project for whistleblowing and independent journalism in the United States. ExposeFacts is part of the Washington-based Institute for Public Accuracy, where Solomon is executive director. He is the author of a dozen books on media and public policy including War Made Easy: How Presidents and Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death. Solomon is co-founder of, an online action group that currently has close to half a million active online members.

J. Kirk Wiebe is a retired National Security Agency whistleblower who worked at the agency for 36 years. Wiebe’s colleague William Binney developed the ThinThread information processing system that, arguably, could have detected and prevented the 9/11 terrorist attacks. NSA officials, though, ignored the program in favor of Trailblazer, a program that ended in total failure with costs of billions of dollars. Wiebe and Binney blew the whistle internally on Trailblazer, but to no avail. Post 9/11, the NSA used ThinThread to illegally spy on U.S. citizens’ communications. Unable to stay at NSA any longer in good conscience, Wiebe retired in October 2001. Since retiring, Wiebe and Binney made several key public disclosures regarding NSA’s massive surveillance program.

Katharine Gun, Matthew Hoh, Coleen Rowley and Kirk Wiebe are on the advisory board of Norman Solomon is on the ExposeFacts editorial board.

In Response to the Government’s Lynching of James Risen

By Russ Tice
former intelligence analyst and operations officer, NSA.

220px-Russ_Tice_2009Of the information about NSA’s illegal and unconstitutional domestic spying on U.S. citizens that James Risen was informed of by his sources, he only published a fraction. Technical details, such as the type of platforms used, in NSA’s criminal acts were withheld by Mr. Risen even when he was urged to print much more of the details involved.

When he was told that he himself was a target of NSA’s illegal spying, he did not want to believe the government would go that far against a member of the press. When he was cautioned that his traditional means of communications were compromised and covert measures of security were needed, he believed the concern was overly protective and silly. When it was pointed out to him that face-to-face meetings in public venues were crawling with FBI agents determined to listen in, he was dismissive. When he was informed that NSA’s domestic spying was en masse and included word-for-word content of everyday citizens, he struggled to accept this. When it appeared that he had only one source of information for specifics of NSA’s criminality, he chose to omit the information from his publications. It has been a sharp learning curve for Jim Risen, but by having numerous grand juries and two administrations relentlessly hounding him, he has learned how deeply the government’s malevolence descends. But there was always one steadfast assertion he wound not compromise, Jim Risen assured his sources, from the very start of their first encounter, that he would never divulge their identities nor what information they provided him with.

Today he stands on the brink of being incarcerated for his steadfastness, by a government and its intelligence community that is determined to ensure that their crimes against the American people are not uncovered. In an environment were the mainstream media has been compromised by large corporate interests in conjunction with government contracts and regulatory favor, Jim Risen has stood above them all, even his own task masters, to exemplify the true roll that the Fourth Estate was designed to perform by our forefathers. I stand in salute to you Jim, a true “American Hero’ and patriot.

Militarization of U.S. Police: Ferguson, Mo.

By Peter Kraska

Even though I was the first academic to identify, research, and write about these trends — even I would not have predicted the extent to which the Military Model would overtake the Community Policing reform movement so rapidly. Community policing reforms came about as a corrective to the 1950-60s professional police model which created a large gulf between police and citizens. Few noticed that underlying all the CP rhetoric was a little noticed yet foretelling trend of para-militarism as found in SWAT teams. What we’re witnessing today, though, with the influence of the Dept. of Homeland Security since 9/11 — along with growing emphasis on military hardware and tactics — is the expansion of police militarization throughout entire police departments — and indeed, the entire police institution.

This expansion is having a dramatic impact on how the police perceive the public (more as enemy combatants than citizens of the community they are serving) as well as how the public perceives the police (more as an occupying force that cares only about maintaining law and order through military style tactics, hardware, and appearance). This dynamic can readily lend itself to the police using deadly force inappropriately, and to the public reacting to these incidents with outrage and complete distrust of what they perceive as an occupying force that does not have their best interest in mind. In short, the police lose all legitimacy in the eyes of the people they are serving — which only reinforces a we vs. they mentality among the police. This has been the danger inherent in this well-documented trend toward police militarization; this is the ugly reality that is playing out in Ferguson, Missouri.

Unconstitutional acts of war in Iraq

by Paul Findley

President Obama ignored the wise direction of President George Washington when he casually told the nation — and Congress — that U.S. military forces will engage in acts of war in Iraq for an extended period of weeks and maybe months. Bombing, he said in a brief statement last week, is needed here and there, but he promised there will be no U.S. boots on the ground.

Although not mentioned publicly, his close partners in this risky adventure are Britain and France, whose diplomats carved up the Middle East at the end of World War I to suit their empire interests, plus Israel, the world’s latest colonial power.

The announcement seemed almost an afterthought as the president headed for vacation in Martha’s Vineyard. He neglected to seek approval of Congress before authorizing bombardment of the military forces of ISIS, the new marauding power that suddenly gained control of much of eastern Syria and northern Iraq.

A former instructor in constitutional law, Obama ignored plain evidence that framers of the Constitution feared presidential abuse of instruments of war. They vested the power to declare war, that is, to make war, exclusively in Congress. They viewed war-making the most oppressive burden government can impose on its citizens and, in effect, declared it too important to entrust to a single person, the president.

Obama had ample time to seek congressional approval before the Capitol Hill vacation began. He chose to usurp congressional authority with U.S. bombs dropped in Iraq and thereby is guilty of impeachable offense.

It is shameful that congressional leaders failed to insist on strict compliance with the Constitution and the War Powers Resolution of 1973.
Once more, America’s government attempts nation-building in Iraq. It will be costly, and the people of Iraq have little reason to expect it will be better than our recent decade-long folly that left Iraq broken in almost every respect and its citizens outraged at the U.S. government and its Iraqi employees. This fury left many of the former employees assassinated and others sought survival by fleeing their homeland.

Findley served as a member of United States House of Representatives for 22 years. He was a key author of the War Powers Resolution and a leader in securing its enactment by overriding the veto of President Richard Nixon. He is also the author of six books. The federal building in Springfield, Ill. is named for him.