June NSA Trial Looms, Obama DOJ Crusades Against Critics
By Andrew Kreig / Project Director
The Obama administration’s shocking crackdown on government whistleblowers became more prominent last week with the New Yorker Magazine’s publication of a hard-hitting article about the plight of former National Security Agency officer Thomas Drake. CBS News weighed in also, with a May 22 report questioning why authorities accuse Drake of violating the Espionage Act, obstructing justice and lying to federal agents. The trial is scheduled to begin June 13.
Drake’s supporters raised his profile further May 18 by releasing a video of his acceptance speech for the annual Ridenhour “Truth-Telling Prize.” His speech accused the Obama Justice Department of instilling fear amongst government employees who might consider informing the public about official waste and other misconduct, including criminal violations. Drake said:
Truth-tellers, such as myself, are those who are simply doing their jobs and honoring their oaths to serve their nation under the law of the land. We are dedicated to the proposition that government service is of, for, by the people. We emphatically do not serve in order to manipulate on behalf of the powerful, nor to conceal unlawful, illegal or embarrassing secrets from the public, because truth does matter.
In January, our Justice Integrity Project broke on OpEd News, “Whistleblower Says: Obama's DOJ Declares War on Whistleblowers,” about the Obama crackdown on critics of government waste and misconduct. The column quoted four of the country’s most prominent recent internal government critics (aside from Drake) as describing why they thought the Obama administration was worse than the Bush administration in punishing critics.
One of them, Dana Jill Simpson, confirmed her view last week. She is the Alabama attorney who stepped forward in 2007 to provide sworn evidence on how her fellow Republicans were framing Democratic former Gov. Don Siegelman on corruption charges for political reasons traceable to the White House. But she now sees the Obama administration as worse, in part because it has left key malefactors in office, failed to investigate well-documented official wrongdoing, and active seeks to imprison critics, often (as in the Drake case) under a claim of national security. “Obama,” she reiterated to me in a phone interview this week, “has undertaken an all-out war on whistleblowers.”
The New Yorker article about Drake released last week was authored by Jane Mayer, a specialist in national security issues. The CBS 60 Minutes report was by Scott Pelley, the news division's top young star. Together, the reports constitute s landmark in mainstream commentary about such topics. Mayer reported the government’s allegation that Drake leaked government secrets to an unnamed newspaper reporter, identified as Siobhan Gorman of the Baltimore Sun, who wrote a prize-winning series about waste and questionable legal practices in counterterrorism programs. Drake faces up to 35 years in prison if convicted. His trial is in Baltimore’s federal court.
In contrast to the Obama administration’s effort to imprison Drake, a group named for the late Vietnam veteran Ron Ridenhour honored the defendant at the National Press Club in Washington, DC. Ridenhour helped alert the world during the Vietnam War to the notorious My Lai Massacre, the U.S. Army's mass murder in 1968 of hundreds of unarmed civilians. At left, Drake receives the prize, presented by a previous award-winner, Jesselyn Radack. The Justice Department fired her as an ethics advisor in 2002. The Yale Law School graduate rendered a legal opinion that the FBI in 2001 improperly interrogated without Miranda rights John Walker Lindh, the so-called "American Taliban" captured during the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan. This was part of its disgraceful effort to hide from the courts the circumstances of its interrogation of Lindh, who ultimately pled guilty to reduced charges.
Separately, Bush investigators targeted Drake as a suspect in revealing its warrantless wiretapping program and suspended his security clearance. This led him to resign voluntarily from the NSA before his indictment. Among many other such situations are: the White House outing of CIA undercover operative Valerie Plame in retribution for her husband Joseph Wilson's analysis of Iraqi efforts to create weapons of mass destruction (WMD), an analysis that contradicted official themes. Another was the long-running and recently ended federal investigation of Thomas Tamm, a former lawyer in the United States Department of Justice's Office of Intelligence Policy and Review. In 2004, Tamm and other senior Justice officials fought against the widening scope of warrantless NSA surveillance.
Separately, authorities indicted former CIA employee Jeffrey Sterling in January on felony charges that involved contacts with a reporter. Other controversies led to the firings of NSA analyst Russell Tice, FBI translator Sibel Edmonds (now pujblisher of the Boiling Frogs website on citizen action and leader of a national security whistleblowers group) and DOJ paralegal Tamarah Grimes. Similar controversies led to the prosecutions of former NSA analyst Kenneth Ford, at right, and former CIA asset Susan Lindauer. Our Justice Integrity Project has chronicled Ford’s suspicious imprisonment on a six-year sentence for possessing confidential papers. His bizarre arrest and conviction occurred after he wrote a memo disputing the White House themes of Iraq possession of WMD capabilities. The Justice Department fired Grimes after she described irregularities in the Siegelman prosecution she witnessed as DOJ’s top full-time paralegal on that notorious prosecution. Lindauer this spring published her account in a book, Extreme Prejudice: The Terrifying Story of the Patriot Act and the Cover Ups of 9/11 and Iraq, describing her work in Iraq and Libya from 1995 to 2003, and subsequent indictment on secret charges. Her trial judge, Michael Mukasey, at left, a future Bush Attorney General, approved delays in her trial for nearly five years without trial, including a year in pre-trial jailing, because authorities said she suffered from a psychologicial problem. This was a Stalin-type tactic that prevented her from confronting witnesses. All charges were dismissed Jan. 15, 2009, five days before Obama’s inauguration. Lindauer, whom I met May 20 at the National Press Club, is a vigorous opponent of extending the Patriot Act, which a bipartisan coalition reportedly plans next week to approve for four years with scant public discussion.
As further background, we provide below excerpts and links to nearly a score of recent articles on this and related topics. Among them is the current controversy on whether the Obama administration is illegally continuing its presidentially ordered war against Libya after today’s expiration of the 60-day deadline requiring congressional action under the War Powers Resolution. Other clips provide updates on our primary focus, which is selective prosecutions of suspects targeted for destruction for largely political reasons. National security rationales for investigation using warrantless wiretaps and other unorthodox procedures facilitate many such prosecutions, including those of whistleblowers.
The criticism of Obama by whistleblowers may seem confusing, especially to those who still define him by his anti-war campaign rhetoric in 2008. The mainstream media tend to simplify discussions into a false contrast of supposedly anti-war Democrats and pro-war Republicans, with corresponding parallels on national security issues. It’s much more complicated than that.
For example, former Navy and NSA analyst Wayne Madsen, now a broadcast commentator and investigative reporter, strongly supported Obama during the 2008 election. But Madsen, who last week was a panelist at the annual Arab Media Forum in Dubai, focuses now on disclosing scandals in the administration. As a result, Madsen points to believes authorities have worked to set him up. He says, for instance, that he has learned that he and New York Times reporter James Risen are among those reporters whose work is under scrutiny by a federal grand jury based in Alexandria, VA. Also, he says someone claiming to be a reporter phoned him almost every day for a year seeking an interview, which Madsen believes was a ruse to obtain information.
On a more cerebral policy level, Salon commentator Glenn Greenwald, among others, has repeatedly reported the astonishing implications of Obama’s 2009 vow to “look forward, not backward” on questions of Bush administration abuses. Additionally, Greenwald published, “Obama Confidant's Spine-Chilling Proposal” about Obama’s White House regulatory czar Cass Sunstein, portrayed at left in his Wikipedia photo. Sunstein has long been a constitutional law scholar at the University of Chicago and Harvard University in influential circles that included the future president and future Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan. Sunstein's wife, Samatha Power, holds an important political post at the State Department. During the 2008 presidential campaign, Sunstain published a "working paper" (available here) that described the government's problem when millions of citizens believe in erroneous conspiracy theories. As potential solutions, Sunstein floated the idea that the U.S. government forbid conspiracy theories, or tax them -- or at least secretly hire government agents, who might be reporters or academics, who could infiltrate suspicious circles where bad ideas flourish and then work to thwart their spread.
For such reasons, Obama's critics fear the president not simply for his administration's prosecutions against whistleblowers. Worse, Obama and his team are creating a scholarly framework to justify monumental Executive Branch power-grabs that distort, perhaps forever, our nation's historic First Amendment and other civil rights.
To be sure, these disputes are seldom discussed in mainstream political discourse. So, we provide an extensive appendix below to illustrate this week’s significant developments and the looming drama of Drake’s trial next month. Drake, in his award-acceptance speech, said:
The government made my cooperation with official investigations a criminal act. It is now apparently a federal crime to report illegalities, malfeasance, fraud, waste and abuse perpetrated by our own government. The government is making whistleblowing a crime. They are making dissent a crime, especially when it embarrasses the government and calls the government to account. What is the difference between my situation and that of the Chinese artist who was detained when trying to leave his country because Chinese authorities deemed him a threat to national security?
More generally, Mayer closed her New Yorker article by quoting Mark Klein, the former AT&T technician who exposed how the NSA was working with AT&T (and presumably other carriers) illegally to intercept, monitor and store in searchable databases billions of American consumer emails and phone calls. Klein has told me he had great difficult persuading any news organization to cover the story because of their fears of antagonizing authorities on a so-called national security issue. Ultimately, the New York Times published it in 2005, but at least partly because Risen, the Times reporter, was planning to disclose the story in a book In frustration, Klein himself published a book, Wiring up the Big Brother Machine….and Fighting It. Regarding Drake, Klein told Mayer:
I think it’s outrageous. The Bush people have been let off. The telecom companies got immunity. The only people Obama has prosecuted are the whistle-blowers.
Editor's note:The column was updated after publication late May 20, most notably to include references to the CBS broadcast May 22.
Below are significant articles on legal reform and related political, security and media factors. The articles, including a strong representation from independent blogs and other media, contain a sample of news. See the full article by clicking the link.
Recent National Security, Surveillance, Patriot Act, Espionage Act and War Powers Cases
New Yorker, The Secret Sharer: Is Thomas Drake an Enemy of the State? Jane Mayer, May 23, 2011. Thomas Drake, a former senior executive at the National Security Agency, faces some of the gravest charges that can be brought against an American citizen. The aim of this scheme, the indictment says, was to leak government secrets to an unnamed newspaper reporter, who is identifiable as Siobhan Gorman, of the Baltimore Sun. Gorman wrote a prize-winning series of articles for the Sun about financial waste, bureaucratic dysfunction, and dubious legal practices in N.S.A. counterterrorism programs.
Wayne Madsen Report (WMR), 60 Minutes on NSA corruption and incompetence. Report follows WMR report by six years, Wayne Madsen, May 24, 2011. (Subscription-only service here.) CBS "60 Minutes" reported on May 22 on former National Security Agency (NSA) official Thomas Drake's charges of high-level corruption and incompetence within the eavesdropping agency. WMR is re-publishing our report on NSA, which includes a reference to "Thinthread," the first-ever report in the media on this system.
WMR, NSA and selling the nation's prized secrets to contractors, Wayne Madsen, June 1, 2005.
In August 1, 2001, just five and a half weeks before the 911 attacks, NSA awarded Computer Sciences Corporation (CSC) a more than $2 billion, ten-year contract known as GROUNDBREAKER. The contract was never popular with NSA's career professionals. CSC had originally gained access to NSA through a "buy in" project called BREAKTHROUGH, a mere $20 million contract awarded in 1998 that permitted CSC to operate and maintain NSA computer systems. When General Michael V. Hayden took over as NSA Director in 1999, the floodgates for outside contractors were opened and a resulting deluge saw most of NSA's support personnel being converted to contractors working for GROUNDBREAKER's Eagle Alliance (nicknamed the "Evil Alliance" by NSA government personnel), a consortium led by CSC....Thanks to some very patriotic and loyal Americans inside NSA, this author is now in possession of an internal NSA contract document from November 2002 that shows how GROUNDBREAKER and TRAILBLAZER have allowed the Eagle Alliance and other contractors to gain access to and even virtual control over some of the most sensitive systems within the U.S. intelligence community.
FireDogLake, Did Thomas Drake Include Privacy Concerns in His Complaints to DOD’s Inspector General? Emptywheel, May 23, 2011. The government argued that Drake couldn’t claim to be a whistleblower because, by 2007, the issues at hand were resolved. They’re arguing both that any whistleblower claims would be mooted because Turbulence, Trailblazer’s successor, integrated “significant portions” of ThinThread, and that the debate was “over” by 2007, when Drake was (according to the indictment) serving as a source for Baltimore Sun reporter Siobhan Gorman.
CBS 60 Minutes, The Espionage Act: Why Tom Drake was indicted: Former NSA whistleblower charged under Espionage Act talks to "60 Minutes" just weeks before his trial begins, Scott Pelley, May 22, 2011. Nearly two years before 9/11, America's largest intelligence agency had recordings of three of the al Qaeda hijackers plotting an attack. But the information, obtained by the National Security Agency, wasn't analyzed in a way that could uncover the plot. Inside the super-secret NSA, several analysts and managers believed the agency had a powerful tool that might have had a chance to head off 9/11. But it wasn't used. One of those agency insiders was Thomas Drake, who thought taxpayer money was being wasted on useless intelligence gathering projects while promising technology was ignored.
OpEd News, June Trial Looms As Obama DOJ Crusades Against Critics, Andrew Kreig
May 21, 2011. The Obama administration's shocking crackdown on government whistleblowers became more prominent this week with the New Yorker Magazine's publication of a hard-hitting article about the plight and June trial of former National Security Agency officer Thomas Drake.
Carson’s Corner, Andrew Kreig Interviewed by host Bob Carson on New Jersey Politics and Corruption Investigations, May 21 & 22, 2011.
Justice Integrity Project, June NSA Trial Looms As Obama DOJ Crusades Against Critics, Andrew Kreig
May 20, 2011. The Obama administration’s shocking crackdown on government whistleblowers became more prominent this week with the New Yorker Magazine’s publication of a hard-hitting article about the plight and June trial of former National Security Agency officer Thomas Drake.
Minnesota Lawyer, Unraveling Petters' Ponzi scheme will take many lawyers a long time, Patrick Thornton, May 20, 2011. In some legal circles in Minnesota, lawyers joke that it's harder to find abankruptcy lawyer who is not involved in the Tom Petters bankruptcy case than one who is.
Change.org, Why Thomas Drake is Not an Enemy of the State, Jesselyn Radack, May 19, 2011. Former National Security Agency (NSA) senior official Thomas Drake, left, is a whistleblower. Through legal and proper channels Drake disclosed massive corruption, gross waste and mismanagement to tune of billions of taxpayer dollars, and, worse, widespread illegal domestic surveillance at the NSA. When president Obama first took office, he applauded whistleblowers as "often the best source of information about waste, fraud, and abuse in government.” He said that "such acts of courage and patriotism . . . should be encouraged rather than stifled."
McClatchy Newspapers, FBI lab reports on anthrax attacks suggest another miscue, Greg Gordon, May 19, 2011. Buried in FBI laboratory reports about the anthrax mail attacks that killed five people in 2001 is data suggesting that a chemical may have been added to try to heighten the powder's potency, a move that some experts say exceeded the expertise of the presumed killer.Constitution Project, Letter to President Obama, May 18, 2011. We, the undersigned members of The Constitution Project’s bipartisan War Powers Committee, are writing to express our grave concerns over your decision to conduct military action in Libya without prior congressional approval and to urge you to seek such approval in the event you plan to continue military operations there.
Washington Post, Libya deadline poses a dilemma for Obama, Editorial Board, May 19, 2011. Friday marks the 60th day in which the United States has been involved in the U.N.-sanctioned military operation in Libya. The two-month anniversary confronts the Obama administration with a difficult question: Will it obey the law — specifically the War Powers Resolution? The administration seems not even to have tried to secure Congress’s buy-in before the Friday deadline. Rather than dodge compliance, the president should seek congressional authorization next week, once both chambers are back in session.
Washington Post, Panetta warns CIA employees against bin Laden leaks, Greg Miller, May 19, 2011. CIA Director Leon E. Panetta, right, warned agency employees not to reveal secrets about the raid on Osama bin Laden’s compound earlier this month, saying in a memo sent to employees Wednesday that disclosures could jeopardize future operations.
Harper’s / No Comment, Congress and the War Powers, Scott Horton, May 19, 2011. Today, we can see just how serious the new Congress is about its constitutional duties. In a breathtaking abdication of constitutional responsibility, they are allowing the 60-day period under the War Powers Act to expire without taking any action, either affirmative or negative, with respect to U.S. military operations in Libya.
Salon / Unclaimed Territory, The Illegal War in Libya, Glenn Greenwald, May 19, 2011. Even for those who chose to cling to the fiction that the presidential war in Libya was authorized by the WPR, that fiction is now coming to a crashing end. Friday will mark the 60th day of the war without Congress, and there are no plans for authorization to be provided. By all appearances, the White House isn't even bothering to pretend to seek one. A handful of GOP Senators -- ones who of course showed no interest whatsoever during the Bush years in demanding presidential adherence to the law -- are now demanding a vote on Libya, but it's highly likely that the Democrats who control the Senate won't allow one. Instead, the law will simply be ignored by the President who declared, when bashing George Bush on the campaign trail to throngs of cheering progressives: "No more ignoring the law when it's inconvenient. That is not who we are."
Foreign Policy, Obama’s Unconstitutional War, Bruce Ackerman, March 24, 2011. By unilaterally going to war against Libya, Obama is bringing America closer to the imperial presidency than Bush ever did.
Legal Schnauzer, Did a GOP Conspiracy Target Both Don Siegelman and Gray Davis? Roger Shuler, May 19, 2011. The same Republican plot that sparked the Don Siegelman prosecution might also have led to the downfall of former California Governor Gray Davis. Why would Republicans target both Siegelman and Davis in 2002-03? Siegelman told Peter B. Collins that it all had to do with presidential politics. "Al Gore had decided he was not going to seek the nomination in 2004, and Gray Davis was the leading Democratic candidate for president at that time," Siegelman said. "I was a friend of Gray Davis, and I was thinking about entering presidential primaries in the South, to challenge George W. Bush.
Ridenhour Prizes, Acceptance Speech by Thomas Drake, National Security Agency whistleblower and 2011 Ridenhour Awardee, National Press Club, April 13, 2001. YouTube video released May 18, 2011. Thomas Drake was the 2011 recipient of the annual "Truth-telling Prize," in a process organized by the Nation Institute and named for the Vietnam War whistleblower who disclosed the My Lai Massacre.
Constitution Project, Letter to President Obama, May 18, 2011. We, the undersigned members of The Constitution Project’s bipartisan War Powers Committee, are writing to express our grave concerns over your decision to conduct military action in Libya without prior congressional approval and to urge you to seek such approval in the event you plan to continue military operations there.
Cato Institute, Leashing the Surveillance State: How to Reform Patriot Act Surveillance Authorities, Julian Sanchez, May 16, 2011. Congress recently approved a temporary extension of three controversial surveillance provisions of the USA Patriot Act and successor legislation, which had previously been set to expire at the end of February. In the coming weeks, lawmakers have an opportunity to review the sweeping expansion of domestic counter-terror powers since 9/11 and, with the benefit of a decade's perspective, strengthen crucial civil-liberties safeguards without unduly burdening legitimate intelligence gathering. Two of the provisions slated for sunset — roving wiretap authority and the socalled "Section 215" orders for the production of records — should be narrowed to mitigate the risk of overcollection of sensitive information about innocent Americans. A third — authority to employ the broad investigative powers of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act against "lone wolf" suspects who lack ties to any foreign terror group — does not appear to be necessary at all.
Birmingham News, Until and unless the U.S. Supreme Court rules differently, Siegelman and Scrushy remain guilty as charged of bribery, Editorial board, May 17, 2011. For those who believe in justice, last week's appeals court ruling regarding charges against former Gov. Don Siegelman and HealthSouth CEO Richard Scrushy had to be satisfying.
Washington Post, House Intelligence chief calls on attorney general to stop investigating CIA interrogators, Associated Press, May 17, 2011. House Intelligence chairman Mike Rogers says the Justice Department should stop investigating CIA interrogators for alleged abuse of detainees under the Bush administration. Rogers says the interrogators’ work helped lead to the killing of terror mastermind Osama bin Laden. In a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder, obtained by The Associated Press, the Michigan Republican says the interrogation program was a “vital part of the chain” that led to the successful raid on bin Laden’s hideout in Pakistan two weeks ago. The Justice Department on Tuesday said “no comment.”
Boiling Frogs, When It Comes To Whistleblowers Obama Worse Than Nixon & Far Worse Than Bush, Sibel Edmonds, right, May 16, 2011. Obama, prior to his election, during his ‘change’ campaign, had pledged his support for protecting national security whistleblowers, and had done so on record. As with the rest of his promises it didn’t take him long to switch positions on this front. In fact, he has broken the record among all US presidents, one that puts him in US history as the worst president when it comes to whistleblowers, truth-telling and transparency. Think Bradley Manning. Think Jeffrey Sterling. Think James Risen. Think Pentagon’s Fahrenheit 451 revisited- burning Lt Col Anthony Shaffer’s books. Think the Grand Jury on Wikileaks. And of course, think Thomas Drake.
American Prospect, SCOTUS Rejects Extraordinary Rendition Case, Adam Serwer, May 16, 2011. On the surface, Mohamed et al v. Jeppesen Dataplan, Inc. was about whether or not the government could invoke the states-secrets doctrine in order to dismiss an entire case on the grounds that it would expose government secrets and harm national security. The Jeppesen case was really about accountability for torture. The five plaintiffs in the case said they had been rendered to third countries where they were tortured as part of the Bush administration's extraordinary rendition program. They were suing the private companies that the government had contracted to help facilitate transportation. By refusing to take this case, the Supreme Court let stand a previous 9th Circuit ruling in favor of the government. Decisions to hear a case only require four votes -- which means at least one of the four Democratic nominees to the court joined their conservative colleagues to prevent this case from being heard.
Salon / Unclaimed Territory, Jane Mayer on the Obama war on whistle-blowers, Glenn Greenwald, May 16, 2011. In a just released, lengthy New Yorker article, Jane Mayer -- with the diligence and thoroughness she used to expose the Bush torture regime -- examines a topic I've written about many times here: the Obama administration's unprecedented war on whistleblowers generally, and its persecution of NSA whistleblower Thomas Drake in particular (Drake exposed massive waste, excess and perhaps illegality in numerous NSA programs). Mayer's article is what I'd describe as the must-read magazine article of the month, and I encourage everyone to read it in its entirety, but I just want to highlight a few passages.
Washington Post, Activist who supports soldier in WikiLeaks case sues U.S. over seizure of laptop, Ellen Nakashima, May 13, 2011. The co-founder of a group advocating for an Army private accused of leaking classified material to the anti-secrecy Web site WikiLeaks is suing the U.S. government for unlawfully seizing his computer and copying its contents to aid a criminal investigation of the site. Computer scientist David House’s laptop was taken in November at an international airport by two Department of Homeland Security agents without a hint that it contained evidence of wrongdoing, but rather because House was a vocal supporter of Pfc. Bradley Manning, the accused leaker, the American Civil Liberties Union alleged in a complaint to be filed Friday in U.S. District Court in Boston.
FireDogLake, Chat with David House About New ACLU Lawsuit, Jane Hamsher, May 13, 2011. The ACLU has filed suit on behalf of FDL blogger David House, the friend of Bradley Manning who had his laptop seized by Homeland Security agents last November. The harassment of House and others is part of a pattern of government abuse of power, designed to threaten and intimidate its critics. Everyone who values their right to free speech should be concerned about the government actions that the suit addresses. David joins us in the comments to talk about the suit.
Justice Integrity Project, Reform Needed After Court Drops Two Siegelman Charges, Andrew Kreig, May 12, 2011. A federal appeals court in Atlanta May 10 reversed two bribery convictions of former Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman and businessman Richard Scrushy but upheld the rest of their 2006 corruption convictions in what our Project has long denounced as the nation’s most notorious political frame-up. The ruling by the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals sending the case back to the district court for resentencing is yet another reason for the public to demand a thorough investigation of the case.
Washington Post, No charges for man who leaked surveillance program, Nedra Pickler, April 26, 2011. The Justice Department has dropped its investigation into a former department attorney who tipped off the media about the Bush administration’s warrantless eavesdropping program. The department informed Thomas Tamm’s attorneys that he will not be prosecuted for the leak that then-President George W. Bush called a breach of national security.Tamm has said he called The New York Times about the program because it “didn’t smell right” and he thought the public had a right to know. The Times won the Pulitzer Prize for its 2005 story exposing the program designed to catch terrorists by eavesdropping on international phone calls and emails of U.S. residents without court warrants.
Wired / Threat Level, Appeals Court Strengthens Warrantless Searches at Border, David Kravets April 4, 2011. The authorities may seize laptops, cameras and other digital devices at the U.S. border without a warrant, and scour through them for days hundreds of miles away, a federal appeals court ruled. The 2-1 decision Wednesday by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals comes as the government is increasingly invoking its broad, warrantless search-and-seizure powers at the U.S. border to probe the digital lives of travelers. Under the “border search exception” of United States law, international travelers, including U.S. citizens, can be searched without a warrant as they enter the country. Under the Obama administration, law enforcement agents have aggressively used this power to search travelers’ laptops, sometimes copying the hard drive before returning the computer to its owner.
Washington Post, Former CIA officer Jeffrey A. Sterling charged in leak probe, Greg Miller, Jan. 6, 2011.A former CIA officer involved in spying efforts against Iran was arrested Thursday on charges of leaking classified information to a reporter, continuing the Obama administration's unprecedented crackdown on the flow of government secrets to the media. Jeffrey A. Sterling, 43, of O'Fallon, Mo., was charged with 10 felony counts, including obstruction of justice and unauthorized disclosure of national defense information.
KNOW: The Magazine For Paralegals, From Justice Dream Job to Nightmare…Tamarah Grimes, Justice Department Paralegal…Why This Whistleblower Was Dissed & Dismissed, Sept. 11, 2009. As federal prosecutors prepared in 2006 for the corruption trial of Alabama’s former Gov. Don Siegelman, Justice Department paralegal Tamarah Grimes, right, thought she was progressing well in her career. Indeed, she was the government’s top in-house paralegal in one of the country’s most important federal prosecutions, which targeted an iconic former governor along with one of their state’s richest businessmen. But just a year later, the prosecution’s all-out effort to convict Siegelman and HealthSouth CEO Richard Scrushy brought Grimes to a career crisis. In July 2007, Grimes stepped forward to allege that her colleagues had violated basic legal protections to ensure a fair trial.
Harvard Law and University of Chicago Law School Working Papers, Conspiracy Theories, Cass R. Sunstein & Adrian Vermeule, Jan. 15, 2008. Abstract: Many millions of people hold conspiracy theories; they believe that powerful people have worked together in order to withhold the truth about some important practice or some terrible event. A recent example is the belief, widespread in some parts of the world, that the attacks of 9/11 were carried out not by Al Qaeda, but by Israel or the United States. Those who subscribe to conspiracy theories may create serious risks, including risks of violence, and the existence of such theories raises significant challenges for policy and law. The first challenge is to understand the mechanisms by which conspiracy theories prosper; the second challenge is to understand how such theories might be undermined....Because those who hold conspiracy theories typically suffer from a crippled epistemology, in accordance with which it is rational to hold such theories, the best response consists in cognitive infiltration of extremist groups. Various policy dilemmas, such as the question whether it is better for government to rebut conspiracy theories or to ignore them, are explored in this light.
ABC News, NSA Whistleblower Alleges Illegal Spying, Brian Ross, Jan. 10, 2006. Russell Tice, left, a longtime insider at the National Security Agency, is now a whistleblower the agency would like to keep quiet. For 20 years, Tice worked in the shadows as he helped the United States spy on other people's conversations around the world. But now, Tice is prepared to tell Congress all he knows about the alleged wrongdoing in these programs run by the Defense Department and the NSA in the post-9/11 efforts to go after terrorists.