News Releases

Left and Right Against NSA Spying and “Patriot Act” 

National Journal reports: “Paul took to the Senate floor shortly after 1 p.m. Wednesday in opposition to the National Security Agency’s collection of bulk data and ended his speech just before midnight. Section 215 of the Patriot Act, which is used to authorize that collection, will sunset June 1, sending the Senate into a tailspin as it tries to find a resolution before it leaves for a one-week recess. Fellow Kentuckian and Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has urged the Senate to pass a clean reauthorization of the program, but Paul and others have vowed to stand in the way.

“Democratic Sen. Ron Wyden, who has threatened to filibuster any extension of the Patriot Act, was the first and not all-that-unexpected Democrat to come and speak in support of Paul’s position Wednesday. But he was far from the last. Seven Democrats spoke with Paul, compared with just three Republicans.”

J. KIRK WIEBE, jkwiebe at comcast.net, @KirkWiebe
Wiebe is a retired National Security Agency whistleblower who worked at the agency for 36 years. He said today: “Almost a month ago, intelligence expert and former senior policy advisor to Congressman Rush Holt (D-NJ) Patrick Eddington of the Cato Institute wrote “The Minimalist Surveillance Reforms of USA Freedom.” Eddington’s piece about the so-called USA Freedom Action, a version of which passed the House recently, states:

Consider what this bill is not addressing:
• The “back door” searches conducted under Sec. 702 of the FISA Amendments Act.
• The expansive collection of U.S. Person data under Executive Order 12333.
• The targeting of anyone using internet anonymization technology such as Tor.
• NSA’s subversion of encryption standards, supply chain interdiction operations, and espionage and spy recruitment efforts against international standards bodies.

Said Wiebe: “In short, the USA Freedom Act does fundamentally very little in terms of significantly constraining the ability of the National Security Agency to perform bulk collection of data about anyone, U.S. citizen or otherwise.

“The tragedy of the matter lies in the fact that the government — including the legislative and executive branches of government, aided and abetted by an unchallenged FISA Court, is working in collusion to mislead the American public about the ability of the legislation to truly do what most Americans want — a Constitutional process that a) actually catches bad guys, and b) respects and enforces privacy rights under the Fourth Amendment. Both are ‘do-able’ and there is no balance — we can have both.

“The truth is, that as long as NSA enjoys collection authorities to do bulk collection under Executive Order 12333, together with no constraints on Section 702 of the FISA Amendments Act, the USA Freedom Act results in few net changes in the government’s ability to invade privacy as it deems necessary, bulk or otherwise.

“There is one more important aspect of the discussion — USA Freedom does absolutely nothing to enhance legislative or judicial oversight over the executive branch’s use of NSA’s vast intelligence production apparatus. Lots of ‘trust,’ but no ‘verify,’ which is what created the current Constitutional crisis beginning with the events of Sept. 11, 2001.”

NORM SINGLETON, norm.singleton at campaignforliberty.com, @C4Liberty
Singelton is with Campaign for Liberty, (founded by former Rep. Ron Paul) which works to “reclaim the republic and restore the Constitution.”

Singleton’s recent pieces include: “USA Freedom Act: Big Win for NSA?” and “Guess who supports USA Freedom?” which states: “Opponents of the Surveillance State should ask themselves if the USA Freedom Act reined in the surveillance state would it get such strong support from the military-surveillance-industrial complex’s favorite ‘representatives?'”

Also see Singleton’s piece “What did the USA Freedom Act Mark-Up have in Common with WrestleMania?” and other related articles here.

Ground Troops in Syria and Special Ops “Porn”

CNN produced a CGI version of the US raid in Syria, turning official claims into visual reality.

ADAM JOHNSON, ahubbardjohnson at gmail.com, @adamjohnsonnyc
Johnson just wrote the piece “White House Reveals ‘Boots on Ground’ in Syria, but Media Too Giddy Over Special Ops Porn to Notice,” which states: “The White House announced on Saturday that a team of Delta Force soldiers had gone into sovereign Syrian territory to kill an alleged ISIS  ‘commander’ and a few dozen other faceless bad guys.

“Per usual, the media would retell the narrative based entirely on Pentagon and White House action movie prose. Just as with the bin Laden raid narrative — that later turned out to be mostly false — this tale involved some unbelievably compelling details: ‘rescuing a Yazidi slave,’ ‘hand-to-hand combat,’ ‘women and children as human shields,’ ‘precise fire’ (that, of course, avoided these women and children), and a body count, ’40 extremists,’ that would make Jack Bauer blush.

“To the New York Times‘ credit, it did issue one of the most passive-aggressive ‘we could not independently verify these claims’ disclaimers in journalistic history:

“A Defense Department official said Islamic State fighters who defended their building and Abu Sayyaf tried to use women and children as shields, but that the Delta Force commandos ‘used very precise fire’ and ‘separated the women and children.’ The official said the operation involved close ‘hand-to-hand fighting.’ (The accounts of the raid came from military and government officials and could not be immediately verified through independent sources.)

“No, of course they couldn’t!

“Obviously, this is one of the limits of reporting on secret events in far-off, opaque war zones. Nonetheless, given that the last such politically loaded raid, on the bin Laden ‘compound’ in Pakistan, turned out to be full of White House lies — to say nothing of Seymour Hersh’s recent, high-profile allegations that the entire thing was staged — you’d think a bit of skepticism would be in order. But, in a world of mass information asymmetry, the government’s word on these matters is treated as the authoritative one until proven otherwise.

“This routine problem, however, is not the real journalistic crime here. The real issue is that the White House just admitted it has American ground troops engaged in combat missions in Syria — and no one seemed to notice, much less care.”

As Anti Nuclear Weapons Activists Released, 91 Nations Pressing Abolition

nuclear siteThe program “Democracy Now” reports today: “Three peace activists who infiltrated a nuclear weapons site have been freed from prison after their convictions were overturned. In 2012, the self-described Transform Now Plowshares broke into the Y-12 nuclear facility in Oak Ridge, Tennessee. Known as the ‘Fort Knox of Uranium,’ the complex holds enough uranium to make 10,000 nuclear bombs.” See the program’s interview with two of the activists here.

Talks are now going on at the United Nations on the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

GREG MELLO, gmello at lasg.org, @TrishABQ
Mello is executive director of the Los Alamos Study Group and is a leading expert on nuclear weapons. He said today: “This was an impactful, brave action that resonates across the political spectrum in different ways.” See Mello’s “Forget the Rest” blog.

ALICE SLATER,  aslater at rcn.com
Slater is with the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation and the Abolition 2000 coordinating committee. She said today: “The bravery of Plowshares activists, risking their freedom to bring public attention to the need to finally get rid of the massive U.S. arsenal of nuclear weapons, is a cause to reflect on the current UN meeting of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. This 45-year-old treaty, which since 1995 reviews the progress of the nuclear weapons states every five years to ‘pursue negotiation in good faith’ for nuclear disarmament will end its four week session this Friday and the nuclear powers are continuing to object to any meaningful progress to eliminate their nuclear weapons.”

“In the past two years however, there has been a series of conferences in Norway, Mexico, and Australia, supported by the vibrant new grassroots International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) to make known the catastrophic humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapons. At last December’s Vienna meeting, the Austrian government pledged to work for nuclear disarmament and to ‘fill the legal gap’ that would specifically ban the use or possession of nuclear weapons. There’s no doubt that the ICAN campaign and the humanitarian initiative which started in Norway, and then went on to Mexico and Austria has shaken things up at the NPT. There’s a new impatience with the nuclear weapons states’ commitment to a ‘step by step’ approach to nuclear disarmament on a never ending treadmill stairway that leads nowhere. Indeed the U.S. announcement of its intention to spend one trillion over the next THIRTY years for new bomb factories in Kansas City and Oak Ridge, delivery systems and nuclear bombs is obscene and indicates a total lack of good faith to honor its NPT promise for nuclear disarmament. Other nuclear weapons states are also ‘modernizing’ their arsenals.

“That’s why the Austrian initiative to gather nations on a pledge ‘to fill the legal gap’ and let the non-nuclear weapons states take the lead in banning the bomb is so promising. As of today, thanks to campaigners all over the world and at the NPT in New York, 91 countries have signed the Austrian pledge with one more week to go until the NPT ends this Friday. Yesterday, the Austrian Ambassador announced that since so many countries are joining in, it will be now known as the Humanitarian Pledge as it has grown beyond a mere Austrian initiative; see: www.icanw.org/pledge. The next big gathering will be the 70th Anniversary of the catastrophic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki this in Japan.”

“See the extraordinary speech given by South Africa this week [], calling the nuclear weapons states to account for holding the world hostage for their ‘security’ that selfishly serves to put everyone else on the planet as well as all life on earth itself, at risk of nuclear catastrophe.”

Slater also noted a recent story from WikiLeaks: “Trident whistleblower: nuclear ‘disaster waiting to happen’.” See also in the Guardian: “Fallon urged to act on whistleblower’s claims about Trident nuclear subs.”

Background: The U.S. obligation to disarm under the NPT has been acknowledged by former Secretary of Defense McNamara (the U.S. signed the treaty during the Johnson administration, in which McNamara served). In 2005, he told the Institute for Public Accuracy: “The NPT was signed by a president. It was submitted to the Senate; it was ratified by the Senate. It is today the law of the land. The U.S. government is not adhering to Article VI of the NPT and we show no signs of planning to adhere to its requirements to move forward with the elimination — not reduction, but elimination — of nuclear weapons. That was the agreement, these other countries would not develop nuclear weapons and the nuclear powers would move to elimination. We are violating that.” In 2009, McNamara wrote the piece “Apocalypse Soon.”

Military Policing: “First Step” by Administration

The New York Times reports: “President Obama on Monday will ban the federal provision of some types of military-style equipment to local police departments and sharply restrict the availability of others, administration officials said.”

A PDF of the White House recommendations is here. The announcement, scheduled for 3:05 ET will be streamed here.

A leading expert on police militarization, Peter Kraska, just wrote the short piece “Cultural Shift Needed on Police Militarization” for IPA.

MICHAEL SHANK, michael.john.shank at gmail.com, @michael_shank
Adjunct faculty member at the School for Conflict Analysis and Resolution at George Mason University who has worked extensively on police militarization, Shank said today: “The White House is sending the right message to the Fergusons and Baltimores of America: our cops shouldn’t look like, feel like or act like soldiers. The Obama administration’s plan to scale back substantially on federally-funded military gear gifts to U.S. police forces is the right response to America’s increasingly militarized municipalities. Congress should set this in stone before the next administration reverses it. But while the White House prohibits tank-type ‘tracked’ weaponized vehicles, police can still get ‘wheeled’ armored or tactical vehicles. That means MRAPs can remain on American main streets, and the Ferguson military fights of the future may still be federally-funded.”

JUSTIN HANSFORD, jhansfor at slu.edu, @blackstarjus
Assistant professor at the University of St. Louis School of Law, Justin said today: “This seems like a step in the right direction. But remember, neither Mike Brown, Freddie Gray, nor Eric Garner were killed with grenade launchers or tanks. Racial targeting and anti-black police violence can survive demilitarization. At the base, the danger is that this is a way to ‘deracialize’ the debate, and make it about anything other than race.

“But even so, militarization plays a role in the eagerness police have to use force in black communities, and the use of militarized tactics in SWAT raids of the type that killed Ayanna Jones in Detroit. It limits police officers’ ability to relate to people as individuals, or to find ways to resolve conflicts without resorting to force. Currently, many American police see minority communities not as citizens but as enemies and targets. Militarization makes it worse.”

Here is Hansford’s testimony before the President’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing.

SHAHID BUTTAR, media at bordc.org, @bordc, @sheeyahshee
Executive director of the Bill of Rights Defense Committee, Buttar said today: “Today’s announcement is among the Obama administration’s first attempts to address police violence and misconduct after more than six years in office. While long overdue, it includes at least three welcome and important policies: (1) limits on the military force structure available to local police, (2) new requirements for approval by local elected officials, ensuring community accountability, and (3) transparency requirements governing over 20 police departments that will publicly report data about the demographic impacts of at least some police activities.

“These measures are among the recommendations that the Bill of Rights Defense Committee has long proposed. Others in the Justice Department’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing report — like the recommendation for nationwide transparency along the lines adopted by some cities — will require action beyond today’s announcement in order to become real.

“Two big questions remain. First, will communities whose outrage forced the administration’s hand remain vocal enough to drive the implementation of today’s welcome rhetoric into policy? Second, can a change in federal policy this late in an administration secure a meaningful change in local police culture before the White House changes hands in less than 22 months?”

It’s Not Diplomacy, It’s an Arms Fair

WILLIAM HARTUNG, whartung at ciponline.org
Hartung is the director of the Arms and Security Project at the Center for International Policy and a senior advisor to the Security Assistance Monitor. He just wrote the piece “It’s Not Diplomacy, It’s an Arms Fair,” about the White House “summit” with leaders from Arabian Peninsula monarchies which states: “In its first five years in office, the Obama administration entered into formal agreements to transfer over $64 billion in arms and defense services to Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) member states, with about three-quarters of that total going to Saudi Arabia. And new offers worth nearly $15 billion have been made to Riyadh in 2014 and 2015. Items on offer to GCC states have included fighter aircraft, attack helicopters, radar planes, refueling aircraft, air-to-air missiles, armored vehicles, artillery, small arms and ammunition, cluster bombs, and missile defense systems.”

A representative of Doctors Without Boarders has a piece in the Washington Post on Thursday: “The Saudi-led blockade is devastating Yemen.”

Earlier this week, AP reported: “Iran’s navy said Tuesday it will protect an aid ship traveling to Yemen.” (On Thursday, CNN stated: “Five Iranian boats fired shots across the bow of a Singapore flagged cargo vessel in the Persian Gulf on Thursday in an attempt to potentially stop the ship, a U.S. official told CNN.”)

ROBERT NAIMAN, naiman at justforeignpolicy.org, @naiman
Policy director of Just Foreign Policy, Naiman recently traveled to Iran to participate in the aid boat. He recently wrote the piece: “Is Saudi Arabia Now the Israel of the Gulf?

CALEB MAUPIN, calebmaupin at gmail.com
Maupin is a journalist and activist who is on the boat.

Operation Merlin: Did CIA Seek to “Plant a Nuclear Gun” on Iran and Iraq?

New York Times editorial today titled “Overkill on a CIA Leak Case” is critical of aspects of the government’s prosecution of CIA whistleblower Jeffrey Sterling who was sentenced to 42 months on Monday.

But the Times claims that what Sterling did was disclose “details about a covert operation involving a former Russian scientist and CIA informant who gave Iran intentionally faulty schematics in an attempt to forestall the country’s nuclear capabilities.”

However, some evidence exposed in the course of the Sterling trail indicates that the intention of the operation — known as Operation Merlin, after the former Russian scientist’s code name — was not to forestall Iran’s nuclear weapons capabilities.

Rather, the analysis indicates that ultimately, the main purpose of the program may have been to give Iran — and Iraq — nuclear weapons information that could then be used as a pretext to attack those countries for having such information.

DAVID SWANSON, david at davidswanson.org, @davidcnswanson
Swanson’s books include War is a Lie. He just wrote the piece “In Convicting Jeff Sterling, CIA Revealed More Than It Accused Him of Revealing,” which analyzes a secret cable that was made public in the course of the Sterling trial. Swanson writes: “During the course of Sterling’s trial, the CIA itself made public a bigger story than the one it pinned on Sterling. The CIA revealed, unintentionally no doubt, that just after the nuclear weapons plans had been dropped off for the Iranians, the CIA had proposed to the same asset that he next approach the Iraqi government for the same purpose.”

Swanson wrote back in January: “CIA on Trial in Virginia for Planting Nuke Evidence in Iran,” which states: “The stated motivation for Operation Merlin is patent nonsense that cannot be explained by any level of incompetence or bureaucratic dysfunction or group think.

“Here’s another explanation of both Operation Merlin and of the defensiveness of the prosecution and its witnesses … at the prosecution of Jeffrey Sterling which is thus far failing to prosecute Jeffrey Sterling. This was an effort to plant nuke plans on Iran.”

RAY McGOVERN, rrmcgovern at gmail.com@raymcgovern
McGovern was a CIA analyst for 27 years and now serves on the Steering Group of Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity. McGovern was quoted Monday in U.S. News and World Report: “Jeffrey Sterling Sentenced to 42 Months for Talking to Reporter.” He just wrote the piece “Punishing Another Whistleblower,” about the Sterling case, which states: “The CIA was, of course, eager to help the Justice Department imprison Sterling as a message to other potential whistleblowers, not to divulge any secrets that might make the agency look bad. Never have I seen the agency release so much operational cable traffic to nail someone for supposedly revealing some operational secret.

“Many of the cables were redacted, but not redacted carefully enough to disguise what, in my opinion, was the real objective of the operation, which involved preparing nuclear weapons development blueprints to be given to Iran — and later possibly to Iraq.

“Those affable ‘case officers’ explained that the objective was to include serious design errors that would serve to impede progress on a workable nuclear weapon. For me, that never passed the smell test. It seemed more likely that the flawed blueprints were actually a ploy toward making a case that Iran and Iraq were secretly working on nuclear bombs.

“The thinking may have been: Why not create blueprints ‘showing’ how far along the Iranians (and possibly the Iraqis) were toward a nuclear weapon and then mount a daring clandestine collection operation to steal the blueprints back as proof of what the CIA and the White House wanted everyone to believe.

“Remember the ‘yellow-cake-uranium-from-Niger’ caper of a dozen years ago. That worked for a while until the International Atomic Energy Agency showed that the ‘evidence’ was a crude forgery. Yet the quest for learning how the caper began — and who was ultimately responsible — got lost in the byzantine strategies of George W. Bush’s White House to destroy a key whistleblower in that case, former U.S. Ambassador Joseph Wilson.”

Marcy Wheeler, who covered much of the Sterling trial for ExposeFacts.org wrote the piece “The Sterling Trial: Merlin Meets Curveball” in January. She made a series of parallels between the disinformation on Iraqi WMDs being used as a pretext for invading that country and details of Operation Merlin gleaned from the Sterling trial, for example: “On June 25, 2003, on the evening before George Tenet had to testify to Congress about why the U.S. had found no WMD in Iraq, CIA hailed the claims of an Iraqi nuclear scientist, Mahdi Obeidi, who claimed to have stashed a blueprint and working parts from an Iraqi centrifuge in a hole in his backyard since 1991. The story was riddled with internal contradictions, which didn’t stop Obeidi from having the almost unparalleled luck among Iraqi WMD scientists of settling in the vicinity of CIA headquarters. One of the oddest parts of Obeidi’s story is that the blueprints, purportedly developed in Iraq by Iraqis from German plans — which CIA briefly posted on its website, then took down — were in English.

“On April 30, 2003, less than two months before CIA would roll out those nuclear blueprints in English (and at a time when U.S. government officials were already working with Obeidi), Condoleezza Rice called New York Times‘ editors to the White House and persuaded them not to publish Risen’s story about Operation Merlin, in which (we now know) a Russian parts list rather curiously written in English were dealt to Iran back in 2000. Rice actually went further; she asked Times editor Jill Abramson to make Risen stop all reporting on this topic.”

ExposeFacts.org is a project of the Institute for Public Accuracy.

First Time: Voice of CIA Whistleblower Jeffrey Sterling

invisible manFor the first time since he was indicted on Espionage Act charges more than four years ago, the voice of former CIA case officer Jeffrey Sterling is being heard by the public today in a documentary produced by ExposeFacts.org and just released by The Huffington Post. The film’s immediate audience includes hundreds of thousands of viewers of “Democracy Now,” which aired it this morning.

On Monday, Sterling was sentenced to 42 months in prison.

NORMAN SOLOMON, solomonprogressive at gmail.com
Solomon was a producer for the film on behalf of ExposeFacts, which is a project of IPA. ExposeFacts extensively covered Sterling’s trial. Solomon is IPA’s executive director.

JUDITH EHRLICH, mousethatroaredfilm at gmail.com
Ehrlich is the director of the just-released short documentary “The Invisible Man: CIA Whistleblower Jeffrey Sterling.” Her past films include the Oscar-nominated “The Most Dangerous Man in America: Daniel Ellsberg and the Pentagon Papers.” She just wrote the short piece “On Jeffrey Sterling: From the Filmmaker of ‘The Invisible Man’,” which notes: “Jeffrey Sterling was convicted in large part on the basis of metadata — not the content of his communication.”

RAY McGOVERN, rrmcgovern at gmail.com, @raymcgovern
McGovern was a CIA analyst for 27 years and now serves on the Steering Group of Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity. McGovern was quoted Monday in U.S. News and World Report: “Jeffrey Sterling Sentenced to 42 Months for Talking to Reporter.” He just wrote the piece “Punishing Another Whistleblower,” about the Sterling case.

McGovern said today: “It seems clear that the White House told the Department of Justice to make an example of Jeffrey Sterling — an example of what one can expect if s/he decides to blow the whistle….

“But the wrist-slap administered to former Gen. David Petraeus for far more egregious behavior — including lying to the FBI — made it indecorous for her [the judge] to mete out the draconian sentence, after which the Justice Department and White House were positively lusting. Plans for a draconian sentence for which DOJ had been pressing fell through and the pizzazz fizzled out of the intended deterrent effect.

“At the same time, the trial surfaced real questions. Were the CIA faulty blueprints foisted on Iran aimed at sabotaging any nuclear nuclear weapons program of Iran … and perhaps Iraq? For me that does not pass the smell test.

“Or was it something trickier still — actually too tricky by half — aimed at ‘discovering’ documentary evidence ‘showing’ how close Iran AND Iraq were to a nuclear weapon — and, of course, how much they need to be stopped.”

JESSELYN RADACK, jradack at whistleblower.org, @jesselynradack
Radack is the director of National Security & Human Rights at the Government Accountability Project. She said today: “Like all other whistleblowers prosecuted under the Espionage Act, Sterling is only guilty of embarrassing the government.

“If you’re a former CIA director like Petraeus and Panetta, you can leak with impunity or receive a slap on the wrist at most. As demonstrated by the Petraeus case, there are numerous other more appropriate ways to punish leaks. If you’re loyal to the truth rather than the CIA, you’ll be bludgeoned. While Sterling was sentenced to less jail time than the government asked for, the two-tiered system of justice is still unacceptable.

“Sterling is collateral damage in the government’s war on the media.

“Sterling is the latest casualty in the Obama administration’s unprecedented war on whistleblowers.

“The biggest leaker in the country is the United States government. They’re not doing damage assessments on their political leaks for propaganda or self-promotion purposes rather than the public interest.

“‘National security’ is not the U.S.’s reputation. If the government wants to stop being embarrassed, it should stop doing embarrassing things.”

CIA Whistleblower Sentencing Today

Nearly four months after a jury returned a guilty verdict on government charges that Jeffrey Sterling gave classified information to New York Times reporter James Risen, the former CIA officer is scheduled to be sentenced at the federal courthouse in Alexandria, Va. today.

The sentencing, by Judge Leonie Brinkema, is set for 2 pm. Immediately afterward, former CIA official Ray McGovern and former Justice Department official Jesselyn Radack will be available for comment in front of the courthouse.

McGovern and Radack — as well as NSA whistleblower Kirk Wiebe — will also be available for interviews later in the day. Contact information and summaries of their backgrounds are below.

Detailed coverage of the trial, which happened in January, is posted at ExposeFacts.org, a project of the Institute for Public Accuracy. See letter from Archbishop Desmond Tutu on the case.

JESSELYN RADACK, jradack at whistleblower.org, @jesselynradack
Radack is the director of National Security & Human Rights at the Government Accountability Project (GAP), the nation’s leading whistleblower organization. Radack wrote the new Salon article “The Shocking Court Case That Proves The Government’s Shameful Petraeus Hypocrisy.”

RAY McGOVERN, rrmcgovern at gmail.com, @raymcgovern
McGovern was a CIA analyst for 27 years and now serves on the Steering Group of Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity.

J. KIRK WIEBE, jkwiebe at comcast.net, @KirkWiebe
Wiebe is a retired National Security Agency whistleblower who worked at the agency for 36 years.

Ray McGovern, a retired CIA analyst turned political activist and speaker, chaired the National Intelligence Estimates in the 1980s. He prepared the daily briefs for presidents from John F. Kennedy to George H.W. Bush. For his CIA service he received the Intelligence Commendation Medal, which he returned in 2006 in protest of the CIA’s involvement in torture. In 2003, he co-founded Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity, an organization committed to analyzing and criticizing the use of intelligence. McGovern was one of four American whistleblowers who met with Edward Snowden in Russia in 2013 to present Snowden with an award for integrity in intelligence for providing NSA documents to the press.

Jesselyn Radack is the director of National Security & Human Rights at the Government Accountability Project (GAP), the nation’s leading whistleblower organization. Her program focuses specifically on secrecy, surveillance, torture, and discrimination. She has been at the forefront of defending against the government’s unprecedented “war on whistleblowers,” which has also implicated journalists. Among her clients, she represents seven national security and intelligence community employees who have been investigated, charged or prosecuted under the Espionage Act for allegedly mishandling classified information, including Edward Snowden, Thomas Drake, and John Kiriakou. She also represents clients bringing whistleblower retaliation complaints in federal court and various administrative bodies. Previously, she served on the DC Bar Legal Ethics Committee and worked at the Justice Department for seven years, first as a trial attorney and later as a legal ethics advisor. Radack is author of TRAITOR: The Whistleblower & the “American Taliban”. Her writing has appeared in the New York Times,Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, Guardian, The Nation, Salon, and numerous academic law reviews. Radack received the Sam Adams Associates for Integrity in Intelligence Award in 2011. She was named one of Foreign Policy magazine’s “Leading Global Thinkers of 2013,” and is a 2014 Woodrow Wilson Fellow.

J. Kirk Wiebe is a retired National Security Agency whistleblower who worked at the agency for over 32 years. During his tenure there, he received the Director CIA’s Meritorious Unit Award and the NSA’s Meritorious Civilian Service Award – that Agency’s second highest distinction – for work against foreign strategic weapons systems. 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 in 2005 with costs of billions of dollars. Wiebe, together with colleagues William Binney, Diane Roark (former HPSCI senior staffer), and Ed Loomis (former NSA computer systems analyst) blew the whistle on NSA mismanagement and waste of billions of dollars on Trailblazer in a complaint to the Department of Defense Inspector General (DoD IG), 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, along with colleagues Binney and Loomis retired in October 2001. Since retiring, Wiebe has made several key public disclosures regarding NSA’s massive surveillance program subverting the U.S. Constitution.

The Clintons and Their Banker Friends

NOMI PRINS, via Jaime Leifer, jaime.leifer at publicaffairsbooks.com, @nomiprins
Prins’ latest book is All the Presidents’ Bankers: The Hidden Alliances that Drive American Power, just out in paperback. Her piece, “The Clintons and Their Banker Friends, The Wall Street Connection (1992-2016),” was just published by TomDispatch.com.

Prins writes: “When Hillary Clinton video-announced her bid for the Oval Office, she claimed she wanted to be a ‘champion’ for the American people. Since then, she has attempted to recast herself as a populist and distance herself from some of the policies of her husband. But Bill Clinton did not become president without sharing the friendships, associations, and ideologies of the elite banking sect, nor will Hillary Clinton. Such relationships run too deep and are too longstanding.

“To grasp the dangers that the Big Six banks (JPMorgan Chase, Citigroup, Bank of America, Wells Fargo, Goldman Sachs, and Morgan Stanley) presently pose to the financial stability of our nation and the world, you need to understand their history in Washington, starting with the Clinton years of the 1990s. Alliances established then (not exclusively with Democrats, since bankers are bipartisan by nature) enabled these firms to become as politically powerful as they are today and to exert that power over an unprecedented amount of capital. Rest assured of one thing: their past and present CEOs will prove as critical in backing a Hillary Clinton presidency as they were in enabling her husband’s years in office. …

“No matter what spin is used for campaigning purposes, the idea that a critical distance can be maintained between the White House and Wall Street is naïve given the multiple channels of money and favors that flow between the two. It is even more improbable, given the history of connections that Hillary Clinton has established through her associations with key bank leaders in the early 1990s, during her time as a senator from New York, and given their contributions to the Clinton foundation while she was secretary of state. At some level, the situation couldn’t be less complicated: her path aligns with that of the country’s most powerful bankers. If she becomes president, that will remain the case.”

Left and Right Team Up to Opposing “Patriot Act” Extension

National Journal reports this morning: “A federal appeals court ruled on Thursday that the National Security Agency’s bulk collection of U.S. phone records is illegal, dealing a startling blow to the program just as Congress is weighing reforms to surveillance authorities.”

A host of groups and government surveillance whistleblowers have signed a letter stating:

“In the two years since Edward Snowden began disclosing proof of mass, warrantless surveillance of Americans and the rest of the world, surveillance proponents have had ample opportunity to provide proof of its efficacy, legality, and its necessity. They have failed to do so on every front. Instead, they have systematically misled both the public and Congress.

“Under incredible public pressure, the White House and surveillance agencies have telegraphed acquiescence to minimal reforms in exchange for extension of Section 215 via legislation that would also eviscerate numerous court challenges to lawless surveillance and provide for legal immunization and compensation of companies that provide the government with customers’ private information, even where that company knows it is unlawful.

“The sacrifices made by the USA FREEDOM Act of 2015 are unacceptable. The modest changes within this bill, in turn, fail to reform mass surveillance, of Americans and others, conducted under Section 702 of the FISA Amendments Act of 2008 and Executive Order 12333. Given intelligence agencies’eagerness to subvert any attempts by Congress to rein in massive surveillance programs by changing the legal authorities under which they operate, the modest, proposed changes are no reform at all.

“Section 215 was designed to sunset, and it is well past time that it did so. A vote for USA FREEDOM Act does too little to reform surveillance, and it does so at too great an expense. A vote against it, and against any law that reauthorizes Section 215, is the best step toward ending mass surveillance of Americans. We urge you to pursue such a path in defense of American civil liberties.”

Among the signers:

DAVID SEGAL, david at demandprogress.org, also via Mark Stanley, mark at demandprogress.org, @demandprogress
Segal is with the group Demand Progress, a “grassroots organization with 2 million affiliated activists who fight for Internet freedom, civil liberties, and government transparency and reform.”

NORM SINGLETON, norm.singleton at campaignforliberty.com, @C4Liberty
Singelton is with Campaign for Liberty, which works to “reclaim the republic and restore the Constitution.” USA Today reportedWednesday:  “A debate over the USA Patriot Act is spotlighting a split between security hawks and privacy advocates within the Republican congressional majority, and analysts say the privacy faction appears to have the upper hand.

See Singleton’s piece “What did the USA FREEDOM Act Mark-Up have in common with WrestleMania?” and other related articles here.

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