News Releases

SOTU: * Perpetuating War * Progressive Posturing

KATHY KELLY, kathy at, @voiceinwild published a piece today by Noam Chomsky: “Paris attacks show hypocrisy of West’s outrage,” which refers to “Barack Obama’s global assassination campaign targeting people suspected of perhaps intending to harm us some day, and any unfortunates who happen to be nearby” as “the most extreme terrorist campaign of modern times.”

Co-coordinator of Voices for Creative Nonviolence, Kelly was recently sentenced to three months in prison for protesting against such drone killings. She has been told to “self-report” by the court on Jan. 23.

Recently in Afghanistan, Kelly is currently in Chicago. Her most recent piece is “Inside the Uniform, Under the Hood, Longing for Change,” in which she writes: “The cartoonized versions of foreign policy handed to U.S. people, designating heroes and villains, create a dangerously under-educated public unable to engage in democratic decision-making.” She also recently wrote the piece “Drones and Discrimination: Kick the Habit.”

DAVID LINDORFF, dlindorff at

The Washington Post reports: “Obama rediscovers a progressive agenda for the State of the Union.”

Lindorff is founding editor of the online alternative newspaper ThisCantBeHappening!

He just wrote in “Taking a Meaningless Progressive Stand in Congress“: “The Democrats are showing their true colors now that they have lost control of both houses of Congress.

“Suddenly, with the assurance that they don’t have to worry about being taken seriously, the ‘party of the people’ has come forward with a proposal to levy a 0.1 percent tax on short-term stock trades, particularly on high speed trading.

“Don’t get me wrong. A stock-trade tax is a great, and long-overdue idea. In fact, such a tax, which could raise some $800 billion in revenue over a decade, should probably be bigger than just 0.1 percent, and targeted more directly at high speed trading. …

“The point is that this trading tax is something that progressives have been calling for now for years, if not longer, but while they were in a position to actually make it happen, Democrats in Congress were silent about it.”

CIA Whistleblower Trial: Historic and Underreported

Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice testified at the trial of trial of CIA whistleblower Jeffrey Sterling. Courtroom Sketch by Debra Van Poolen.

The historic trial of CIA whistleblower Jeffrey Sterling enters its second week today. Few journalists are in the courtroom.

ExposeFacts is continuing its extensive daily coverage of the trial, which is expected to end early next week when the case goes to the jury. The special coverage — The Latest — provides in-depth news and analysis at:

As the New York Times reported last week, “a coalition of government accountability groups, liberal advocates and journalism organizations released a petition calling on Mr. Holder to stop the prosecution of Mr. Sterling.” The petition, with more than 50,000 signers, is posted here.

Journalists Marcy Wheeler and Norman Solomon, who wrote about the intertwined stories of Sterling and New York Times reporter James Risen in an in-depth article for The Nation, have returned to the federal courthouse in Alexandria, Va.

Assessing the first week of the trial, Wheeler writes: “While the jury will likely neither note nor learn of them, there were details from last week’s testimony in the Jeffrey Sterling trial that resonated with two other notable cases involving the CIA: the New York Police Department’s spying on Muslims and the leak of Valerie Plame Wilson’s identity.” She observes that “the jurors are not weighing in on the selective prosecutions and discrimination involving the CIA; they will only weigh whether the government has enough evidence to find Sterling guilty of leaking details of Operation Merlin. Yet that larger context remains important for understanding the pursuit of leaks.”

In his latest article, Solomon writes that “the CIA is airing soiled threads of its dirty laundry as never before in open court. The agency seems virtually obsessed with trying to refute the negative portrayal of Operation Merlin — the CIA’s effort 15 years ago to provide a flawed nuclear weapon design to Iran — in James Risen’s 2006 book State of War.” Solomon adds that prosecution witnesses “hammered at the vital need for scrupulous rectitude from CIA officers to obey the law and regulations in handling classified materials. As you might imagine, none had anything to say about disapproval of violating laws against torture or destroying evidence of torture.”

MARCY WHEELER, emptywheel at, @emptywheel
Wheeler writes widely about the legal aspects of the “war on terror” and its effects on civil liberties. She is the “Right to Know” journalist for ExposeFacts and blogs at

NORMAN SOLOMON, solomonprogressive at
Solomon is a co-founder of and executive director of the Institute for Public Accuracy. He is the author of War Made Easy: How Presidents and Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death.

ExposeFacts is a project of IPA.

“Reclaim King’s Legacy”

10299540_1078395345520577_3655077423957234100_nCAT BROOKS, onyxcat333 at
Brooks is an organizer with the ONYX Organizing Committee. With other groups, they are launching “96 hours of action as part of national call to ‘Reclaim King’s Legacy.’” They are based in Oakland and San Francisco. Similar protests are planned in other cities. See from The Real News: “Baltimore Activists Participate in National Day of Action Against Police Brutality.”

The group states: “We will join thousands around the country responding to a call from Ferguson Action to reclaim Dr. King’s legacy of militant direct action in opposition to economic violence as well as police violence and discrimination. This weekend’s events culminate in a Jobs and Economy March for the People on Monday, Jan. 19, beginning at 11 a.m. at Oscar Grant Plaza.

“Monday, we will connect the dots between police violence and economic violence with a march at 11 a.m. from Fruitvale Station, where Oscar Grant III was murdered by BART police, in solidarity with Ferguson, New York, Cleveland, Sanford, Salt Lake City, and countless others who too have lost young black men to police terror. …

“The upcoming 96 hours of direct action across the Bay Area will highlight the unjust economic and political structures that King fought fiercely to defeat. Thousands will unify, regardless of skin color, religion, or creed, as we reclaim King’s legacy and act, in tandem, against police and economic violence; two primary tools of white supremacy. Actions will take place throughout the city, at BART stations, community meetings and street corners and come in the form of shut downs, guerrilla theater, teach-ins and concerts. Monday, we march through the neighborhoods where systematic and state sanctioned murder of black, brown, and poor people occur most.”

The group notes quotes from Martin Luther King Jr: “Actually, we who engage in nonviolent direct action are not the creators of tension. We merely bring to the surface the hidden tension that is already alive. We bring it out in the open, where it can be seen and dealt with.” (1963)

“We must rapidly begin the shift from a thing-oriented society to a person-oriented society. When machines and computers, profit motives and property rights, are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, extreme materialism, and militarism are incapable of being conquered.” (1967)

See IPA news release “MLK vs. Obama.”

See from The Real News: “The Radicalization of Martin Luther King.”

Condoleezza Rice Testifying at Sterling CIA Whistleblower Trial on WMD Claims


Courtroom Sketch by Debra Van Poolen

Today, former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is scheduled to testify at the trial of CIA whistleblower Jeffrey Sterling. Coverage of the trial can be tracked at:

On Wednesday, CIA officials testified against Sterling while behind a wall.

Rice appears on the cover of New York Times reporter James Risen’s book, State of War, which the government alleges Sterling was a source for.

MARCY WHEELER, emptywheel at, @emptywheel
Wheeler writes widely about the legal aspects of the “war on terror” and its effects on civil liberties. She is the “Right to Know” journalist for ExposeFacts and blogs at She has been covering the Sterling trial at the U.S. District Court in Alexandria, Va. for

She tweeted Wednesday: “Remember, Condi Rice asked not JUST that NYT not publish @JamesRisen‘s Merlin story, but that NYT stop him from reporting on it.” See her piece: “Condi Rice Asked Jill Abramson to Stop Jim Risen from Reporting on Merlin.”

Wheeler’s most recent pieces include: “The Sterling Trial: Merlin Meets Curveball,” “Jeffrey Sterling: The Government’s Circumstantial Case,” “Operation Merlin: The Russian’s Case Officers” and “Government Declares a Monopoly on the Right to Call James Risen as a Witness.”

GARETH PORTER, porter.gareth50 at, @GarethPorter
In the courtroom this afternoon, Porter is an investigative journalist and author of the just-released book Manufactured Crisis: The Untold Story of the Iran Nuclear Scare. He recently wrote the piece “Four Ways the West Got the Iran Nuclear Issue Wrong.”

RAY McGOVERN, rrmcgovern at
In the courtroom this afternoon, McGovern was a CIA analyst for 27 years and now serves on the Steering Group of Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity. He works with Tell the Word, a publishing arm of the ecumenical Church of the Saviour in inner-city Washington.

He said today: “A huge screen between us and judge, jury, prosecution and defense loomed before us as a 12-foot-tall metaphor for the smoke and mirrors we could hear but not see Wednesday at the first “public” day of Sterling’s trial on ten felony charges. Thus, it seems altogether fitting and proper, I suppose, that ‘mushroom-cloud’ Condoleezza Rice is expected to blow into court today to testify for the prosecution team.”

McGovern recently wrote the piece “Crime and CIA Embarrassments” and spoke along with Norman Solomon and David Swanson at a news conference Wednesday outside the courthouse. [YouTube video]

NORMAN SOLOMON, solomonprogressive at, @xposefacts, @normansolomon
In the courtroom this afternoon, Solomon, who is available for a limited number of interviews, has been covering the Sterling trial for His recent pieces on the trial include: “The Revenge of the CIA: Scapegoating Whistleblower Jeffrey Sterling” and “Sterling Trial Opens in Security-State Matrix.” Solomon is executive director of the Institute for Public Accuracy and co-founder of RootsAction, which has a petition regarding the Sterling prosecution at The petition now has more than 54,000 signatures.

ExposeFacts is a project of IPA.

Sterling Trial Underway: Crime and CIA Embarrassments

The trial of CIA whistleblower Jeffrey Sterling is underway. Coverage of the trial can be tracked at:

RAY McGOVERN, rrmcgovern at
McGovern works with Tell the Word, a publishing arm of the ecumenical Church of the Saviour in inner-city Washington. He was a CIA analyst for 27 years, and now serves on the Steering Group of Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity.

He just wrote the piece “Crime and CIA Embarrassments,” which states: “I confess to being naïve. From what I had read about ‘Operation Merlin,’ a harebrained scheme to sabotage Iran’s nuclear program, I was convinced that the CIA would be determined to avoid calling more attention to it. Or, by extension, to author James Risen’s continuing revelations — in his new book Pay Any Price — of unconscionable incompetence by our intrepid spies. ‘Merlin’ was exposed in an earlier Risen book, State of War.

“How wrong I was! The decision by the CIA and hired hands at the Justice Department to prosecute former CIA official Jeffrey Sterling reflects, rather, a clear determination to give priority to deterring potential whistleblowers privy to information extremely embarrassing to the government. I repeat, embarrassing to the government, not detrimental to the national security.

“As for risk of extreme embarrassment once U.S. citizens got additional insight into the dumb schemes of amateur intelligence operators, the government presumably thinks it can depend on mainstream media to treat bungling by our sophomore spies ‘with discretion.’

“In short, the prosecution of Jeffrey Sterling seems to have little to do with exposing secrets, but everything to do with hiding the kind of gross misfeasance that — truth be told — does constitute a real and present danger to our national security.

“Similarly, one might think the government would be embarrassed when it became more widely known that Jeffrey Sterling did go to Senate Intelligence Committee staffers to tell them of this unconscionably stupid covert action (which involved delivering flawed nuclear weapons blueprints to Iran in 2000 with the goal of sabotaging any bomb-building plans, but the flaws were apparently detected and the real data inadvertently exposed genuine nuclear-weapons secrets).

“Sterling’s efforts to go through channels had zero results. One need not be a cynic to conclude that the government apparently sees an overweening, countervailing positive in demonstrating to potential whistleblowers (if further evidence were needed) that going to congressional ‘overseers’ is a feckless exercise and only serves to get you in a peck of trouble. When Risen included a section about Operation Merlin in State of War, Sterling became the chief suspect and now faces 10 felony counts, including seven under the Espionage Act.

“In this light, is there not supreme irony in former Senate Intelligence Committee chair Dianne Feinstein’s plea that former CIA Director David Petraeus not be prosecuted for sharing classified information with his biographer/mistress because he has ‘suffered enough?’ …

“A cruelly different standard applies to Jeffrey Sterling, who is alleged to have let the American people in on the secret of a reckless covert action.”

NORMAN SOLOMON, solomonprogressive at, @xposefacts
MARCY WHEELER, emptywheel at, @emptywheel
Available for a limited number of interviews, Solomon and Wheeler are covering the Sterling trial from the U.S. District Court in Alexandria, Va. for Solomon is executive director of the Institute for Public Accuracy and co-founder of RootsAction.

Wheeler writes widely about the legal aspects of the “war on terror” and its effects on civil liberties. She is the “Right to Know” journalist for ExposeFacts and blogs at She just wrote the piece “Jeffrey Sterling: The Government’s Circumstantial Case.”

ExposeFacts is a project of IPA.

Hypocrisy in Paris on Freedom of Expression

The piece “These ‘staunch defenders’ of the free press are attending today’s solidarity rally in Paris” by Daniel Wickham features a string of tweets noting the hypocrisy of many of the officials who took part in the Paris march on Sunday, including figures from Saudi Arabia, Israel, Jordan and Bahrain. The following are able to speak about the record regarding freedom of expression and human rights of some of these officials.

MARYAM ALKHAWAJA, maryam.alkhawaja at, @maryamalkhawaja
Among the marchers were the Saudi ambassador to France and foreign minister of Bahrain. Maryam al-Khawaja is co-director of the Gulf Center for Human Rights. Their recent statements include: “Saudi Arabia: Human rights defender Raif Badawi lashed in public,” “Saudi Arabia: Prominent human rights lawyer Waleed Abu Al-Khair’s sentence increased to 15 years in prison,” “Saudi Arabia: Maysaa Al-Amodi and Lujain Al-Hathlol to appear before the Terrorism Court for driving a car” and “Bahrain: Human rights defender Mohammed Al-Maskati sentenced to 6 months in prison.” Maryam al-Khawaja’s father is Abdulhadi al-Khawaja, is in jail in Bahrain for his pro-democracy work — designated a prisoner of conscience by Amnesty International. Last month her sister, Zainab al-Khawaja, was sentenced to three years in prison for tearing up a picture of the king.

REEM KHALIFA, reemkhalifa17 at, @Reem_Khalifa
A journalist in Bahrain, Khalifa said today: “We have 12 freelance photojournalists in jail. Only three of them were convicted — one is serving 10 years. Many were tortured. The camera is a tool that the government of Bahrain fears. In 2011 publisher Karim Fakhrawi was tortured until death. In 2012, Ahmed Ismail was killed by a gun while he was filming. … Human rights defender Nabeel Rajab, who was in jail for posting a tweet criticized the prime minister and minister of interior. Now after spending two years in jail, Rajab was released and he is facing another trial and verdict to come on Jan. 20.” Also see: “Hussain Jawad Case Presents Bahrain With Key Test on Speech” by Brian Dooley of Human Rights First.

ALI ABUNIMAH, aliabunimah at, @AliAbunimah
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Mahmoud Abbas, chairman of the Palestine Liberation Organization, were prominently featured forming a line along with French President François Hollande and German Chancellor Angela Merkel. See: “Netanyahu crashes Paris unity march, French gov’t fumes.”

Available for a limited number of interviews, Abunimah is co-founder of the Electronic Intifada website and author of the book One Country: A Bold Proposal to End the Israeli-Palestinian Impasse. He recently wrote “Israel world’s second most lethal country for journalists in 2014, watchdog says,” which states: “The Committee to Protect Journalists puts the number of Palestinian reporters and media workers killed during the Israeli assault on Gaza [last year] at at least 15.”

Abunimah also just wrote the piece “Israel moves quickly to exploit Paris attacks,” which states: “While Netanyahu was certainly playing to a domestic audience, his presence in Paris is also part of Israel’s swift move to capitalize on the horror in France on a number of fronts: to attack the Palestinians, to sharpen the dangerous discourse of a ‘war of civilizations’ and to speed up the population transfer of Jews from Europe.”

PETE MOORE, pwm10 at
Also prominently in the “first row” of the march was King Abdullah of Jordan with his wife Queen Rania. Professor of political science at Case Western Reserve University, Moore is author of Doing Business in the Middle East: Politics and Economic Crisis in Jordan and Kuwait.

Daniel Wickham notes that Jordan “last year sentenced a Palestinian journalist to 15 years in prison with hard labor.” Also see: “Jordan puts Brotherhood politician on trial over UAE comments.”

See piece by Jordanian analyst Hisham Bustani: “Before 2012, it was the virtue of the ultra-brave to publicly criticize the king and the royal family: they usually spoke with evident hints and innuendo, but without going the full route to directly uttering the name of the king. Criticizing the king and the royal family was simply not tolerated under Jordanian law, and it is still punishable by one to three years in prison. The law incriminating this sort of criticism has perhaps the world’s most absurd name for any legislation: literally, the ‘Law on elongating one’s tongue about the monarch’!”

CIA Whistleblower Trial: Petition and ExposeFacts Coverage

Jeffrey Sterling

As the trial of Jeffrey Sterling got underway today, a coalition of press freedom and whistleblower support organizations released a petition with more than 50,000 signers, urging the government to drop all charges against him.

Posted online at, the petition tells Attorney General Eric Holder and President Obama:

“As a whistleblower, former CIA officer Jeffrey Sterling went through channels to inform staffers of the Senate Intelligence Committee about the ill-conceived and dangerous CIA action known as Operation Merlin. The current effort to prosecute Mr. Sterling, for allegedly providing information about Operation Merlin to journalist James Risen, comes 15 years after that CIA operation took place. This prosecution serves no valid purpose.

“Moreover, this is a case that smacks of selective prosecution. Top officials, including General James Cartwright and the former CIA Director and Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, reportedly leaked classified information on far more recent and sensitive matters.

“We urge you to drop all charges against Mr. Sterling.”

Sponsors of the petition include, the Government Accountability Project, Reporters Without Borders, The Nation, the Freedom of the Press Foundation, the Center for Media and Democracy, The Progressive and ExposeFacts.

Meanwhile, ExposeFacts has launched intensive daily coverage of the Sterling trial, which is expected to last at least two weeks. The special coverage – on The Latest – will provide in-depth news and analysis throughout the trial. The coverage can be tracked at:

ExposeFacts is a project of IPA.

Forget the McDonnells: We’re Ignoring Bigger Corruption

JANINE WEDEL, jwedel at
Today’s Washington Post features Wedel’s piece “Forget the McDonnells: We’re ignoring bigger, more pernicious corruption right under our noses.” She’s an anthropologist and professor at George Mason University’s School of Policy, Government and International Affairs, is the author of the just-released Unaccountable: How Elite Power Brokers Corrupt our Finances, Freedom and Security.

The piece states: “Last week, former Virginia governor Robert McDonnell was sentenced to two years in federal prison for accepting lavish vacations, sweetheart loans, and an engraved Rolex from an executive of a dietary supplement maker. His wife will be sentenced next month.

“The pair seems like the poster children of corruption. But their bad behavior pales in comparison with the activities of those who practice what I call the ‘new corruption.’ These players — some of them big names, some of them virtual unknowns — violate our health, pocketbooks, our trust. Their actions compromise our health, pocketbooks, or security and can lead to deep and lasting inequalities.

“And their behavior is typically legal, making it next to impossible to hold them to account.

“This new corruption is practiced by elite power brokers who assume a tangle of roles in government, business, nonprofits, and media organizations. These developments have offered up many new opportunities for private players to assume public roles, with elite power brokers taking full advantage.

“They are enmeshed in the systemic unaccountability that has come to flourish over the past several decades amid privatization, deregulation, the end of the Cold War, and the digital age. These developments have offered up many new opportunities for private players to assume public roles, with elite power brokers taking full advantage. Of course, while not everyone with a jumble of roles is ethically challenged or corrupt, in today’s environment, we, the public, have an information problem. How can we know whom to trust when ‘experts’ pronounce on crucial policy issues and present themselves as impartial, while concealing that they have a dog in the fight?

“Compare the McDonnells’ shenanigans with the activities of so-called Key Opinion Leaders. These and other prominent physicians or medical researchers are paid or given perks by pharmaceutical and medical device companies to promote their products to fellow professionals (at the high end one reportedly took in upward of $7 million over five months).

“ProPublica investigators dug into the Open Payments Web site, launched in September 2014, as mandated by the 2010 Physician Payment Sunshine Act. They found that between August and December 2013, pharmaceutical and medical device companies spent $3.5 billion on 546,000 physicians and 1,360 teaching hospitals. Of that $3.5 billion, $202.6 million was spent on promotional speaking engagements, $158.2 million for consulting fees, and $25.5 million for honoraria. …

“Or consider the activities of 19 top academic economists tracked by a University of Massachusetts Amherst study. These economists promoted specific financial reform proposals in the media and advised governmental bodies such as congressional committees in the run-up to and just after the 2008 financial crisis — without disclosing their links to private financial institutions. …

“Also concerning are the players I call ‘shadow lobbyists.’ Shadow lobbyists are often former top government officials who advocate for wealthy clients. Some join top legal-lobby shops. But to skirt lobbyist registration rules, they spread their client list far and wide, so that they can say they don’t spend most of their time on just one client. Or they give their contacts and know-how to underlings who are registered. Other shadow lobbyists set up their own consulting groups.”

Attack on Charlie Hebdo

‘The sexual slaves of Boko Haram are angry: where are our benefits checks?’

Mahmood was an editorial cartoonist for Dawn, a leading national newspaper in Pakistan. He is now internationally syndicated with the New York Times Syndicate. He said today: “I knew Stephane Charbonnier [Charlie Hebdo's editor]. I first met him in Paris at a exhibition of my work. Three other cartoonists were killed in this cowardly act at the Paris office of Charlie Hebdo. While right-wing groups stir up Islamophobia in Europe, the Muslim populations are stumbling in denial over the escalating role of their own extremists. Muslims need to be more at ease and informed about their faith. Nowhere in the Koran does it say to kill sacrilegious cartoonists. A real tragedy.” Time magazine reports “Mosques Attacked in France Following Charlie Hebdo Attack.”

RANIA KHALEK, raniakhalek at, @RaniaKhalek
An independent journalist and author of Dispatches from the Underclass, Khalek’s Twitter feed has scrutinized many prevailing assumptions about the attack on Charlie Hebdo: “There is something truly alarming about the celebration of #CharieHebdo as a beacon of satire and western culture. … Pointing out the virulent racism & bigotry in #CharlieHebdo doesn’t justify yesterday’s massacre. Ignoring it is dishonest. … Here’s the racist trash ppl are praising: ‘The sexual slaves of Boko Haram are angry: where are our benefits checks?‘ … Remember when [Sen.] Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) celebrated expunging killed Gaza journos from Newseum’s fallen list? Today he values freedom.”

Khalek also noted that AP is reporting about one of the suspects: “Cherif Kouachi was convicted in 2008 of terrorism charges for helping funnel fighters to Iraq’s insurgency, and sentenced to 18 months in prison. During his 2008 trial, he told the court he was motivated by his outrage at television images of torture of Iraqi inmates at the U.S. prison at Abu Ghraib.”

For background, see from the Paris-based journalist Diana Johnstone on CounterPunch: “What to Say When You Have Nothing to Say?” — which notes double standards in who Charlie Hebdo satirizes or attacks; noting that in 2002, its then-editor Philippe Val fired the cartoonist Siné “on grounds of ‘anti-Semitism.’” See also from the website Qantara from 2012: “Provocation as a Marketing Strategy.”

Editor of the media watch group FAIR’s magazine Extra!, Jim Naureckas writes in “Remembering Victims of Terror — and Forgetting Some Others:” “Here’s ‘former CIA deputy director and CBS News senior security consultant’ Mike Morell (CBS Morning News, 1/7/15) giving his expert commentary on the Charlie Hebdo massacre: ‘This is the worst terrorist attack in Europe since the attacks in London in July of 2005. We haven’t lost this many people since that attack.’

“So apparently Morell doesn’t remember the bloodbath in Norway in July 2011, when Anders Breivik killed eight people by bombing government buildings in Oslo and then murdered 59 others, mostly teenagers, at a youth camp associated with the Labour Party. This was actually a deadlier attack then the London bombings, which killed 56.”

California State University professor As’ad AbuKhalil writes at his Angry Arab blog: “Western policies in Syria have produced, and will continue to produce, terrorist organizations the likes of which we have not seen since the creation of Al-Qa’idah. The enthusiastic policies of arming and sponsoring ‘rebel groups in Syria’ are responsible for the proliferation of fanatical terrorist groups which will terrorize those countries that had sponsored them.

“The source of all those terrorist groups is known: Gulf regimes and their Western sponsors. They have been indulging those regimes from the days of the Cold War. I was on the side of the left and progressive forces during the Cold War, while you — in the West — were on the side of those speaking the language of Jihad and…oil.”

Prosecution of CIA Whistleblower Sterling

Jeffrey Sterling

The trial of CIA whistleblower Jeffrey Sterling is set to begin on Monday, Jan. 12.

NORMAN SOLOMON, solomonprogressive at, @xposefacts
Solomon is with, which will be providing daily in-depth coverage of the trail of CIA whistleblower Jeffrey Sterling, with a team of journalists in the courtroom throughout the trial in U.S. District Court in Alexandria, Va. On Monday, New York Times reporter James Risen testified at a pre-trial hearing.

Solomon just wrote the piece “Why Jeffrey Sterling Deserves Support as a CIA Whistleblower,” which states: “The trial of former CIA officer Jeffrey Sterling, set to begin in mid-January, is shaping up as a major battle in the U.S. government’s siege against whistleblowing. With its use of the Espionage Act to intimidate and prosecute people for leaks in ‘national security’ realms, the Obama administration is determined to keep hiding important facts that the public has a vital right to know.

“After fleeting coverage of Sterling’s indictment four years ago, news media have done little to illuminate his case — while occasionally reporting on the refusal of New York Times reporter James Risen to testify about whether Sterling was a source for his 2006 book State of War.

“Risen’s unwavering stand for the confidentiality of sources is admirable. At the same time, Sterling — who faces 10 felony counts that include seven under the Espionage Act — is no less deserving of support.

“The relentless prosecution of Sterling targets potential whistleblowers with a key implicit message: Do not reveal any ‘national security’ secrets that make the U.S. government look seriously incompetent, vicious, mendacious or dangerous. Don’t even think about it. …

“With so much at stake, the new petition ‘Blowing the Whistle on Government Recklessness Is a Public Service, Not a Crime‘ has gained more than 30,000 signers in recent weeks, urging the government to drop all charges against Sterling. The initial sponsors include ExposeFacts, the Freedom of the Press Foundation, the Government Accountability Project, The Nation, The Progressive / Center for Media and Democracy, Reporters Without Borders and” Solomon is executive director of the Institute for Public Accuracy and co-founder of RootsAction. See the petition here.

ExposeFacts is a project of IPA.

MARCY WHEELER, emptywheel at, @emptywheel
Wheeler writes widely about the legal aspects of the “war on terror” and its effects on civil liberties. She is the “Right to Know” journalist for ExposeFacts and blogs at She just wrote the piece “The Jeffrey Sterling Trial: A Preview,” which states: “The allegations consist of three charges (1-3) for which the government will have to prove this material was ‘defense information.’ They consist of four charges (4-7) for which the government will have to prove the information Sterling allegedly leaked had been protected by the CIA and that Sterling knew and intended the leak of it to hurt the U.S. They consist of two picayune charges (8 and 9) dealing with the distribution of Risen’s book. And they consist of one charge (10) premised on Sterling destroying an email that referenced past discussions about Iran, but which itself contained no classified information.

“The government has a great deal of what thus far appears to be circumstantial evidence — notably, lots of email and phone calls between the two — showing that Sterling spoke to Risen, and spoke to Risen about Iran’s nuclear abilities. The focus of the case will be on whether those communications offer enough evidence that Sterling is the person who provided Risen the most sensitive information that appeared in the chapter of his book. Given the course of Monday’s dry run of Risen’s testimony, Sterling’s lawyers will surely emphasize that Risen has discussed ‘sources,’ plural, and the government had previously represented to Judge Leonie Brinkema that they themselves believed they could not prove Sterling’s guilt unless Risen named his sources. That is, Sterling’s team will now try to use the government’s decision not to press Risen for testimony to attack their case. But the government only has to prove that Sterling leaked this stuff, not that he was the primary or only person to have leaked this stuff.

“In addition, the government will call a series of witnesses — including his former colleagues at the CIA, congressional staffers, and possibly even Sterling’s former civil attorney Mark Zaid — to lay out how Sterling responded negatively to his Equal Opportunity challenges between 2002 and 2003. They’ll do so to establish what they claim to be Sterling’s motive: to retaliate because CIA had successfully denied Sterling any compensation for what he claims was unequal treatment because he is African American. …

“The government may also call Condoleezza Rice, who — as National Security Adviser — successfully convinced the Times not to publish a Risen story on Operation Merlin in 2003 because it was too sensitive; the government maintains this would prove that the information was closely held national security information. The government had wanted to introduce the talking points she used to make that case, but Judge Brinkema ruled the government could only do so if they called Rice as a witness.”

For background, see article by Norman Solomon and Marcy Wheeler in The Nation, “The Government War Against Reporter James Risen” — which quotes Pentagon Papers whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg: “Sterling’s ordeal comes from a strategy to frighten potential whistleblowers, whether he was the source of this leak or not. The aim is to punish troublemakers with harassment, threats, indictments, years in court and likely prison — even if they’ve only gone through official channels to register accusations about their superiors and agency. That is, by the way, a practical warning to would-be whistleblowers who would prefer to ‘follow the rules.’ But in any case, whoever were the actual sources to the press of information about criminal violations of the Fourth Amendment, in the NSA case, or of reckless incompetence, in the CIA case, they did a great public service.”

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