I have a very skeptical and cautious view of of the US intelligence community (IC), like Charlie Pierce at Esquire Politics, for very good reasons: I’d watched as revelation after revelation demonstrated how badly the activities of what was originally supposed to be an information-gathering system turned into a covert-operating, coup-engineering, assassination-arranging, Constitution-shredding, self-perpetuating behemoth. …
Sep 11 2019
Mar 13 2018
Donald Trump has fired Secretary of State Rex Tillerson naming current CIA Director Mike Pompeo to replace him. Trump named current Deputy CIA Director Gina Haspel to replace Pompeo. Tillerson and the rest of the world found out about the firing in a tweet from Trump this morning Tillerson did not speak to Trump and …
Feb 02 2018
While much of the news media has been transfixed by the Nunes memo, the news that the Director of the CIA, Mike Pompeo, had met with Russian spy chiefs here in the US last week. One of those chiefs, Sergei Naryshkin, head of Russia’s foreign intelligence service, the SVR, was behind the Russian interference of …
Dec 07 2017
It’s been fairly evident that Donald Trump loves conspiracy theories. His claims about the existence of a “deep state” of longtime government officials to undermine him and his administration has come up frequently in his statements. Of course, there is no evidence that this “deep state” even exists except in Trump’s paranoid mind. Unfortunately, he …
Nov 13 2015
The fact that the Bush administration ignored warnings that Al Qaeda and Osama bin Laden were plotting a massive attack on the United States was evident from the August 6, 2001 Presidential Daily Briefing. What wasn’t apparent is just how horrific the warnings from the CIA were. ‘The Attacks Will Be Spectacular’ An exclusive look …
May 20 2015
There are those of who knew that the Bush administration was lying about the intelligence that led up to the 2003 invasion of Iraq. As Rolling Stones‘s Matt Taibbi put it, the invasion was as much a joke then as it is now and he calls out the media for their hypocritical “hounding of Jeb Bush” over his really stupid answers about his brother’s war. They seem to have forgotten their own complicity in the banging of the war drums.
So presidential hopeful Jeb Bush is taking a pounding for face-planting a question about his brother’s invasion of Iraq. Apparently, our national media priests want accountability from leaders on this issue. [..]
We can call this the “None of us pundits would have been wrong about Iraq if it wasn’t for Judith Miller” line of questioning. This rhetoric goes something like this: since we invaded, the war has gone epically FUBAR, so it’s obvious now that it was a mistake, and so we can mock you for not admitting as much.
But because of Judith Miller, it wasn’t obvious even to all of us geniuses back then, which is why virtually every media outlet to the right of Democracy Now! (MSNBC included, as old friend Alex Pareene wittily pointed out) got it wrong for years on end, back when this issue actually mattered.
Go back up a few paragraphs and look at that list of media outlets. All of them – the Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times obviously, the Chicago Tribune – they were all card-carrying Iraq war cheerleaders.
I get that many of the individual writers involved in bashing Jeb this week were not the same writers who whored for the Bush administration back in the day. [..]
But the individuals aren’t the issue. It’s the general notion that the Iraq War issue was some kind of tough intellectual call that we all needed hindsight to sort out. It wasn’t, and we didn’t.
It was obvious even back then, to anyone who made the faintest effort to look at the situation honestly, that the invasion was doomed, wrong, and a joke. [..]
The Iraq invasion was always an insane exercise in brainless jingoism that could only be intellectually justified after accepting a series of ludicrous suppositions. [..]
That’s why the lambasting of Jeb Bush by all of these media voices grinds a little. At least plenty of Republicans sincerely thought the war was a good idea. But I know a lot of my colleagues in the media saw through the war from day one.
The bulk of them hid behind the morons in our business, people like Tom Friedman and David Brooks and Jeffrey “I trusted the Germans” Goldberg, frontline pundits who were pushed forward to do the dirty work, the hardcore pom-pom stuff.
Many others, particularly the editors, quietly sat by and let lie after lie spill onto their papers’ pages, telling themselves that this wasn’t wrong or a mistake until years later, when we found out for sure the WMD thing was a canard.
Hundred of thousands of people have died because none of these people in the media had the courage to stand up to the Bush administration’s lies. Thousands are still dying and will continue to die at the hands of the militants the Iraq war unleashed and at the hands of the Obama and future US administrations under the guise of another lie, the Global War on Terror. The MSM continues to justify the invasion and this slaughter with the parade of pundits, both neo-con and neo-liberal, who refuse to mention their own complicity.
Up Date: 5/22/2015 19:30 EDT In an exclusive web interview with Democracy Now!‘s Amy Goodman and Nareem Shaikh, Matt Taibbi discussed his article and the complicity of journalists and the mainstream media in the run up to the Iraq war.
Transcript can be read here
Mar 23 2015
There is a double standard when it comes to the Obama administration prosecuting individuals for leaking information under the Espionage Act of 1917. If you’re a general in the US military leaking information to a reprter or head of the CIA having an affair, it’s fairly safe to say that you won’t be prosecuted for espionage. The sweetheart deal that was given former CIA director and retired General David Petraeus is a prime example, not a day in jail and he is still in good graces with the White House. I guess when you know where all the bodies are buried you can get away with anything. But that doesn’t excuse the Obama administrations fervor for prosecution the whistleblowers who outed crimes and constitutional violations.
Obama’s war on whistleblowers leaves administration insiders unscathed
By Spencer Ackerman and Ed Pilkington, The Guardian
Five key political players enjoy ‘virtual impunity’ – while four lower-level figures are in prison or facing time
Since Barack Obama entered the White House in 2009, his government has waged a war against whistleblowers and official leakers. On his watch, there have been eight prosecutions under the 1917 Espionage Act – more than double those under all previous presidents combined.
And yet other apparent leaks have gone entirely unpunished or have been treated, as in the case of General David Petraeus, as misdemeanors. As Abbe Lowell, lawyer for one of the Espionage Act eight, Stephen Kim, has argued in a letter to the Department of Justice, low-level officials who lack the political connections to fight back have had the book thrown at them, while high-level figures have been allowed to leak with “virtual impunity”.
Lawyers for CIA Leaker Cite Selective Prosecution After Petraeus Plea Deal
By Peter Maas, The Intercept
Lawyers for Jeffrey Sterling, a former CIA official convicted earlier this year of leaking classified information to a New York Times reporter, have requested a reconsideration of his conviction because two former generals, David Petraeus and James Cartwright, have received far more lenient treatment for what they call similar offenses. [..]
In January, Sterling was convicted by a jury on nine criminal counts, including violations of the Espionage Act, for leaking classified information to Times reporter James Risen about a CIA effort to undermine Iran’s nuclear program. Sterling is to be sentenced in April and faces a maximum sentence of decades in jail. In a statement after the verdict was announced, Attorney General Eric Holder called the guilty verdict a “just and appropriate outcome.”
But the government is coming under increasing criticism for its uneven prosecution of leakers.
Earlier this month, Petraeus, who led U.S. forces in Iraq and Afghanistan and was the director of the CIA, reached an agreement with prosecutors in which he pleaded guilty to a single misdemeanor charge of mishandling classified information when he gave his lover and authorized biographer, Paula Broadwell, eight notebooks filled with highly-classified information about military plans and secret programs, covert agent names, and confidential discussions he had with senior officials including President Obama. Petraeus, who resigned from the CIA when his affair with Broadwell was revealed, also admitted to lying to the FBI, but he was not charged for that. The plea agreement calls for two years probation and a $40,000 fine but no jail time.
No charges have been filed against Cartwright even though it has been reported that federal prosecutors believe he leaked highly classified information to Times reporter David Sanger about a joint effort by the U.S. and Israel to cripple Iran’s nuclear centrifuges through a cyber-attack with a computer worm called Stuxnet. According to The Washington Post, the FBI has interviewed Cartwright on at least two occasions but has stopped short of indicting him.
National Security & Human Rights director Jesselyn Radack, who is also the lawyer for whistleblowers Edward Snowden, Thomas Drake and John Kiriakou, spoke with Democracy Now!‘s Amy Goodman and Aaron Maté about the White House’s double standard.
The full transcript can be read here
It’s OK if you’re a white general and know where all the bodies are.
Mar 05 2015
Former Director of the CIA and four star general David H, Patraeus has reached a plea deal with the Department of Justice for passing classified information to his mistress in exchange for sexual favors. He will plea to one misdemeanor count of unauthorized removal and retention of classified material and a $40,000 fine. No jail time.
This is what he handed his girlfriend:
The Justice Department and Federal Bureau of Investigation alleged back in 2012 that Petraeus gave secret information to Paula Broadwell, but the seriousness of the information wasn’t clear until now.
While he was commander of coalition forces in Afghanistan, Petraeus “maintained bound, five-by-eight inch notebooks that contained his daily schedule and classified and unclassified notes he took during official meetings, conferences and briefings,” the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of North Carolina writes in a statement of fact regarding the case.
The notebooks had black covers with Petraeus’s business card taped on the front of each of them.
All eight books “collectively contained classified information regarding the identifies of covert officers, war strategy, intelligence capabilities and mechanisms, diplomatic discussions, quotes and deliberative discussions from high-level National Security Council meetings… and discussions with the president of the United States.”
The books also contained “national defense information, including top secret/SCI and code word information,” according to the court papers. In other words: These weren’t just ordinary secrets. This was highly, highly classified material.
Besides lying to the FBI twice, this man compromised lives of undercover operatives, the troops operating in the field and national security and all he gets is a slap on the wrist. Pater Maas, writing at The Intercept, says that this deal reveals a two tiered justice system for leaks. He cites the penalties handed down to other defendants who did far less than the general:
For instance, last year, after a five-year standoff with federal prosecutors, Stephen Kim, a former State Department official, pleaded guilty to one count of violating the Espionage Act when he discussed a classified report about North Korea with Fox News reporter James Rosen in 2009. Kim did not hand over a copy of the report – he just discussed it, and nothing else – and the report was subsequently described in court documents as a “nothing burger” in terms of its sensitivity. Kim is currently in prison on a 13-month sentence. [..]
In 2013, former CIA agent John Kiriakou pleaded guilty to violating the Intelligence Identities Protection Act by disclosing the name of a covert CIA officer to a freelance reporter; he was sentenced to 30 months in jail. Kiriakou’s felony conviction and considerable jail sentence – for leaking one name that was not published – stands in contrast to Petraeus pleading guilty to a misdemeanor without jail time for leaking multiple names as well as a range of other highly-sensitive information. [..]
In 2013, Army Private Chelsea Manning, formerly known as Bradley Manning, pleaded guilty to violating the Espionage Act by leaking thousands of documents to Wikileaks, and she was sentenced to 35 years in prison. Manning received a harsh sentence even though then-Defense Secretary Robert Gates said in 2010 that the leaks had only “modest” consequences.
In an interview at The Guardian, Pentagon Papers leaker, Daniel Ellsberg commented on Edward Snowden and former CIA analyst Jeffery Sterling:
The factual charges against [Edward Snowden] are not more serious, as violations of the classification regulations and non-disclosure agreements, than those Petraeus has admitted to, which are actually quite spectacular. [..]
Jeffrey Sterling, a former CIA officer, was also just convicted of leaking classified information to New York Times journalist James Risen last month, “having first revealed it to Congress, as I did”, according to Ellsberg. Sterling was convicted of felony counts under the Espionage Act, and faces sentencing at the end of April. Ellsberg says Sterling’s “violations of security regulations were in no way more serious than what Petraeus has now admitted to”, and that, while it’s too late to do anything about his conviction, the judge should take the Petraeus plea bargain into account at his sentencing.
“If disclosing the identities of covert agents to an unauthorized person and storing them in several unauthorized locations deserves a charge with a maximum sentence of one year,” Ellsberg said, “then Edward Snowden should face not more than that same one count.”
As in the past when those in power violate the law and lie to congress and the FBI there are little to no consequences. So much for the Obama administration’s respect for the rule of law.
Feb 10 2015
After serving 23 months in federal prison for exposing the Bush administration’s torture program, former CIA analyst John Kiriakou told Democracy Now!‘s Amy Goodman he would do it again and called for the prosecution of CIA officers who tortured prisoners.
In 2007, Kiriakou became the first CIA official to publicly confirm and detail the agency’s use of waterboarding. In January 2013, he was sentenced to two-and-a-half years in prison. Under a plea deal, Kiriakou admitted to a single count of violating the Intelligence Identities Protection Act by revealing the identity of a covert officer involved in the torture program to a freelance reporter, who did not publish it. In return, prosecutors dropped charges brought under the Espionage Act. Kiriakou is the only official to be jailed for any reason relating to CIA torture. Supporters say he was unfairly targeted in the Obama administration’s crackdown on government whistleblowers. A father of five, Kiriakou spent 14 years at the CIA as an analyst and case officer, leading the team that found high-ranking al-Qaeda member Abu Zubaydah in 2002. [..]
In a wide-ranging interview, Kiriakou says, “I would do it all over again,” after seeing the outlawing of torture after he came forward. Kiriakou also responds to the details of the partially released Senate Committee Report on the CIA’s use of torture; argues NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden did a “great national service,” but will not get a fair trial if he returns to the United States; and describes the conditions inside FCI Loretto, the federal prison where he served his sentence and saw prisoners die with “terrifying frequency” from lack of proper medical care.
Transcript can be read here