Democratic senator Ron Wyden spoke at the libertarian Cato Institute July 25 to seek support for his intrepid effort to revive the nation's Fourth Amendment constitutional protections against dubious federal searches.

Ron WydenWyden, at left, said he was thrilled to be able to speak to "privacy hawks" at the Cato Institute, which he described as having a rare track record of opposing unnecessary federal efforts over the past 11 years to monitor domestic phone calls and emails without a warrant establishing probable cause. The Oregon senator said he has placed a "hold" on the Senate's reauthorization of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) court system until he is able to learn more about how the Executive Branch is using its powers post-9/11.

In two related developments elsewhere on July 25, the Washington Post reported: Senate committee approves provision to plug intelligence leaks and Skype makes chats and user data more available to police.

At the Cato forum, the keynoter Wyden described how Executive Branch officials resist providing meaningful estimates of whether vast numbers of Americans, or only a few, are being monitored without warrants. Wyden is a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee. The forum featured three other privacy/civil rights experts. Wyden drew praise from them and from most speakers in the audience for seeking to revive privacy rights that most of his peers are willing to let disappear, along with their constitutional basis, for fear of seeming soft on "terror."

Update: A Few Senators Take a Stand for Civil Liberties Ahead of Surveillance Law Reauthorization, Dec. 27, 2012.

As readers here have seen, at least some Democrats in the Senate and House were willing to criticize crackdowns on civil rights during the Bush administration. But nearly all Democratic leaders are silent about the potential for abuse now that the Obama administration is in charge. Like the Bush administration, Obama officials  keep secret their electronic surveillance, storage and retrieval of phone calls and emails of the public, justified as protection against terrorism.

A similar disregard of long-standing civil rights has occurred on related issues. One is the unprecedented federal prosecution as spies of government whistleblowers who talk to the news media. The Obama administration has undertaken six such prosecutions, including its disgraceful effort to imprison former National Security Agency (NSA) executive Thomas Drake. At the forum, Drake urged Wyden to keep up his efforts. Drake, former head of NSA's most relevant program and winner of a national Ridenhauer

">Award in 2011, said during Q&A that the agency never needed to move "to the dark side" of civil rights to protect the nation against terrorists. Drake had been a leader in such programs. 

Julian Sanchez, a research fellow at Cato and prominent journalist on libertarian themes, moderated the panel. It included Pulitzer-winning New York Times reporter Eric Lichtblau and American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) Legislative Counsel Michelle Richardson. Cato posted a video of the session here, and introduced it this way:

 

 

History teaches that government spying is naturally subject to abuse without strong oversight, yet only the tiniest fraction of electronic surveillance of Americans—the tip of a vast and rapidly growing iceberg—is meaningfully visible to Congress, let alone the general public.

Under the controversial FISA (Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act) Amendments Act of 2008, set to expire at the end of the year, the National Security Agency is empowered to vacuum up the international communications of Americans under sweeping authorizations that dispense with the need for individual warrants. Despite reports of large-scale overcollection of Americans' e-mails and phone calls, including purely domestic traffic, the NSA has brazenly refused to give Congress any estimate of how many citizens' private conversations are being captured in its vast databases, and legislators have shown little willingness to demand greater transparency as they prepare to reauthorize the law. Increasingly, even ordinary criminal investigations employ off-the-books electronic surveillance techniques that circumvent federal reporting requirements.

The public is informed about the few thousand wiretaps authorized every year but remains largely in the dark about newer and far more prevalent techniques, such as the routine use of cell phones as sophisticated tracking devices.

Six years ago, Lichtblau and his Times co-author James Risen exposed massive illegal NSA surveillance of what one source estimated as NSA's monitoring of billions of American phone calls and emails. That source, now-retired AT&T technician Mark Klein, told me two years ago that no member of the Senate or House has ever dared invite him to a hearing to discuss what he discovered while working for AT&T. In frustration, Klein authored a book about it, Wiring Up the Big Brother Machine...and Fighting It.

Others with expertise such as Drake have never been invited to testify either by any oversight committee. Those committees tend to be dominated in both parties by politicians who defer to national security and military officials, and to the private contractors and campaign contributors enriched by the vast spending that has now become routine. The Obama Justice Department sought to imprison Drake for the rest of his life after he discussed non-classified documents with a newspaper reporter probing an estimated billion dollars in waste at NSA. Drake was fortunate that the Government Accountability Project's Jesselyn Radack, also present in the audience at Cato, represented him, and that his case went to a judge whose rulings paved the way for a fair trial. Authorities then in effect gave up, and settled the once-mammoth prosecution by extracting from Drake a plea bargain to a minor charge.

After Wyden's speech I asked him on his way out if he had any plans to seek a Senate hearing that would call witnesses who could rectify the stonewalling he is receiving from intelligence officials on the scope of surveillance. He responded that he has no control over hearings or their witnesses.

As a follow-up, I asked whether it would not be pertinent to hear from such figures as Klein or former Qwest Communications CEO Joseph Nacchio, who argued extensively and unsuccessfully in court papers that he was selectively prosecuted by the Bush administration for securities violations as punishment for his refusal in February 2001 to cooperate without court approval of a Bush request for massive surveillance of Qwest customers. Qwest was the only one of the four "Baby Bell" giant telecom companies to resist the federal  pressure illegally to provide customer records without a court order, evidence has shown.

Dianne Feinstein

Wyden responded to me that he knows of both Klein and Nacchio, and what he called their "important" roles in the privacy/security debate. But the senator reiterated that he has no power to call any witnesses.

As an experienced politician, Wyden took a number of steps in his public comments to proceed diplomatically while also advocating his position. He confined his comments about colleagues, for example, essentially to Colorado Senator Mark Udall (D), whom Wyden praised as fighting also for a balanced view of privacy rights. Wyden did not mention any of his obstacles or opponents in the Senate. Also, he praised rank-and-file intelligence analysts, whom he described as simply trying to do their jobs and protect the country.

Under no such restrictions here, we note that the Senate Intelligence Committee is chaired by Dianne Feinstein, a Democrat of California at right. She is widely regarded as a reflexive supporter of government secrecy and vigorous intelligence-gathering. She has scant track record of using her powers to probe potential Big Brother tactics and other illegal methods used against United States citizens. Virtually all hearings by her committee are secret, for example.

Feinstein is a former mayor of San Francisco, and is thus perceived by some as a liberal. But she has long fought critics on the left, and bipartisan civil rights advocates question her motives especially on her willingness to oversee military and intelligence officials on anything but the most deferential terms.

Among the reasons frequently cited are the business interests of her husband, financier Richard Blum. Like the relatives of a number of other powerful lawmakers, Blum has been  prominent in federal contracting. Together, Feinstein and Blum are extremely wealthy. A Wikipedia entry states, "By 2005 her net worth had increased to between $43 million and $99 million....Her 347-page financial-disclosure statement – characterized by the San Francisco Chronicle as "nearly the size of a phone book" – draws clear lines between her assets and those of her husband, with many of her assets in blind trusts."

Another recent Democratic leader on the committee has been John D. Rockefeller IV of West Virginia. His namesake is regarded by one account as the richest American in history (measuring assets to Gross National Product). Rockefeller's family fortune began in oil but then diversified in a wide array of financing of industries. During World War I, it included the nation's major supplier of small arms in a program federally supervised by Samuel Bush, the great-grandfather of President George W. Bush.

Drawing on that kind of long history of bipartisan cooperation for public-private goals, Rockefeller led the way in 2008 in Senate approval of immunity from customer lawsuits for major telecom companies alleged to violate customer Fourth Amendment protections against warrantless searches. President Obama, who campaigned against such immunity, switched his position once he defeated Hillary Clinton for the Democratic nomination.

The immunity for telecom companies backed by Feinstein, Rockefeller, Obama and the vast majority of Republicans in effect thwarted the right of the public to learn from litigation what has been occurring across the nation as longstanding privacy rights are threatened by massive electronic surveillance.

Wyden said he sees some hopeful signs in recent correspondence with National Security officials. He repeated several times that he and other Senators who know classified matters on national security are typically forbidden to say anything except if the administration declassifies it. In general, he said he believes the government is over-classifying information, thus preventing discussion. But he said he has obtained approval to mention that a ranking official wrote him last week that authorities concede that the FISA court once said that the government had not acted within the spirit of the FISA law in a certain unspecified case.

Wyden said authorities providing even ballpark estimates of how many Americans or messages are under surveillance, saying it would take too much personnel time to compute. Wyden said he is not looking for a count or any other time-consuming exercise, simply a rough estimate of whether the number is high or low.

During the panel discussion afterward, Lichtblau said news reporters face increasing difficulties covering the issue for two reasons. One, he said that public interest in privacy appears to be dwindling since 2008.

Also, he said reporters and their sources are under increasing threat of federal prosecution. Lichtblau also wrote an important book in the field, Bush's Law, published in 2008. His Times colleague Risen, who authored State of War: The Secret History of CIA and the Bush Administration in 2006, faces jailing for contempt of court in a long-running effort by federal prosecutors to force him to disclose sources as they seek to convict a former CIA employee, Jeffrey Sterling.

In May, Wyden
made a speech on the Senate floor arguing that "Privacy should be the default not the exception" in national security wiretaps. In it, he said,

Bad Internet policy is increasingly premised on false choices…there is no sound policy reason to sacrifice the privacy rights of law abiding American citizens in the name of cyber-security". With the recent passage of CISPA in the House of Representatives and the Senate moving to consider another cyber-security bill, Senator Wyden took to the Senate floor to affirm his commitment to opposing any bill that asks Americans to make the false choice between secure networks and personal privacy.

For now, his is a lonely perspective. Wyden joked that he hears that the Senate approval rating may be as low as eight percent. But, he said, he rarely encounters even that eight percent.

"One of the reasons people are so unhappy with government," he concluded, is that officials constantly mislead the public. When the American people find out, he predicted, "they are going to be really angry."


 
Contact the author Andrew Kreig or comment
 

Related News Coverage

FireDogLake, A Few Senators Take a Stand for Civil Liberties Ahead of Surveillance Law Reauthorization, Kevin Gosztola, Dec. 27, 2012. A surveillance law that granted the government expanded authority to collect the communications of foreign persons outside the United States four years ago is set to expire in four days unless reauthorized. On Thursday, senators concerned about how the law has been interpreted in secret and how these secret interpretations permit the collection or interception of Americans’ communications put forward amendments to the reauthorization and were permitted to engage in what passes for debate in Congress these days.  The US Senate has known for months that it had to meet a deadline to reauthorize the FISA Amendments Act and the reauthorization was ready in September for debate being squeezed in today. In fact, it was not a guarantee that the Senate would even allow amendments to the reauthorization that might call for additional oversight or greater privacy protections. But Sens. Ron Wyden (left), Jeff Merkley, Rand Paul, Mark Udall and a few others pushed back and convinced Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to allow time for debate.

Privacy Cases

Washington Post, Skype makes chats and user data more available to police, Craig Timberg and Ellen Nakashima, July 25, 2012. Skype, the online phone service long favored by political dissidents, criminals and others eager to communicate beyond the reach of governments, has expanded its cooperation with law enforcement authorities to make online chats and other user information available to police, said industry and government officials familiar with the changes. Surveillance of the audio and video feeds remains impractical — even when courts issue warrants, say industry officials with direct knowledge of the matter. But that barrier could eventually vanish as Skype becomes one of the world’s most popular forms of telecommunication. Privacy on the Web: In recent years, lawmakers and advocacy groups have made increased efforts to protects users’ privacy online. Here are some cases that helped stoke the debate about tracking and privacy on the Web. The changes to online chats, which are written messages conveyed almost instantaneously between users, result in part from technical upgrades to Skype that were instituted to address outages and other stability issues since Microsoft bought the company last year.

Boston Phoenix, Our AWOL Security State: Where are they when we need them? Harvey Silverglate, July 25, 2012. James Holmes's Aurora rampage serves to illustrate how the Feds, so preoccupied with inventing "terrorist" plots, fail to notice — much less stop — real criminals operating right under their noses. The Feds are good at inventing "terrorist" plots starring a cast of innocuous, big-talking, disgruntled misfits. They appear less skilled at gathering accessible information, such as records of lawful but suspicious weapons sales in gun stores and unusually large online ammunition purchases. They are incompetent at noticing — much less stopping — real terrorists operating right under the noses of officialdom. Cynics on the left have used this opportunity to demand gun control. A more sensible and less constitutionally dubious response to this tragedy would be the enactment of universal reporting requirements that allow for the aggregation of data tracking lawful purchases of ammunition and weapons. (The need for effective collection and centralization of information was the main recommendation of the 9/11 commission report, released in 2004. Little has improved.) Instead of conjuring fake terrorist plots, our national security apparatus should be analyzing available data to uncover real crimes before they unfold.

Wired, NSA: It Would Violate Your Privacy to Say if We Spied on You, Spencer Ackerman, June 18, 2012. The surveillance experts at the National Security Agency won’t tell two powerful United States Senators how many Americans have had their communications picked up by the agency as part of its sweeping new counterterrorism powers. The reason: it would violate your privacy to say so. That claim comes in a short letter sent Monday to civil libertarian Senators Ron Wyden and Mark Udall. The two members of the Senate’s intelligence oversight committee asked the NSA a simple question last month: under the broad powers granted in 2008′s expansion of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, how many persons inside the United States have been spied upon by the NSA?

Press and Due Process Issues

Updated:

FireDogLake, Senate Proposals Are Less About ‘Leaks,’ More About Shutting Down Whistleblowers, Kevin Gosztola Tuesday July 31, 2012. Anti-leaks proposals approved by the Senate Intelligence Committee as part of an intelligence authorization bill on July 24 became public yesterday. Politicians claim the proposals are a response to “leaks” on cyber warfare against Iran, Obama’s “kill list” and a CIA underwear bomb plot sting operation in Yemen. They supposedly would prevent “unauthorized disclosures” of “classified information” from people who are not authorized to “leak.” But, the truth is this obscures the reality, which is that hysteria over leaks has created a politically manufactured crisis of which politicians like Sen. Dianne Feinstein are taking advantage to enact measures that in their totality would function like an Official Secrets Act.  The proposals show the Senate Intelligence Committee wants to not only criminalize those who disclose information in order to cause harm to the national security of the United States but also seeks to criminalize those who do so with the sole intent to make the information public. The measures go beyond the Espionage Act. In pieces, a kind of state secrets statute would be in force if they were signed into law.

Legal Schnauzer, U.S. Judge Releases a Timely Opinion That Shows Siegelman Defendants Were Unlawfully Convicted, Roger Shuler, July 27, 2012. A federal judge in Alabama released an opinion this week that adds to the mountain of evidence showing defendants in the Don Siegelman case were unlawfully convicted, based on murky law and improper jury instructions. U.S. District Judge Myron Thompson is intimately familiar with public-corruption cases; he oversaw the trial and re-trial in the Alabama bingo case that resulted in zero convictions. In fact, Thompson's opinion, dated July 24, 2012, was issued in his role as the judge in United States v. Milton E. McGregor, et al, as the bingo case is officially known. But Thompson's words have implications that go way beyond bingo issues -- and way beyond Alabama, for that matter. For one, Thompson shows that the U.S. Supreme Court and Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals have failed miserably in their duty to ensure that the law is applied consistently. Two, Thompson shows that Siegelman and codefendant Richard Scrushy were convicted of phantom "crimes." Three, Thompson proposes a jury instruction that should clarify the law for judges, prosecutors, defendants, and the public.  Meanwhile, lives are being ruined because of incompetence in the federal judiciary regarding public-corruption cases--and Thompson's opinion comes at a critical time. Siegelman is set to be resentenced in Montgomery on August 3. With clearly compromised trial judge and Bush appointee Mark Fuller still at the controls, the former Democratic governor almost certainly is headed back to prison. Scrushy, meanwhile, has completed his sentence and was released from federal custody this week.

Associated Press / Montgomery Advertiser, Alabama gambling trial judge wants bribery clarity, Phillip Rawls, July 26, 2012. The judge who presided over Alabama's two gambling corruption trials said the U.S. Supreme Court needs to clear up when a campaign contribution constitutes a bribe. U.S. District Judge Myron Thompson issued an opinion saying that even though the trials ended with total acquittals for the eight defendants, he wanted to "highlight a murky field of federal law." He wrote that there is "considerable confusion" about how federal corruption laws apply to campaign contributions, and a precise definition of bribery would help.
 
WBRC-TV, Don Siegelman apologizes to Ala. in Fox Business Network interview, Staff report, July 27, 2012. Former Alabama Governor Don Siegelman apologized to Alabama for his bribery conviction in an interview with Neil Cavuto on Fox Business Network last night. "I would like to apologize to the people of Alabama for the embarrassment that this has caused them, and of course to my family. This process has been going on for a long time and has been both personally and financially devastating," he said in the beginning of the interview. Siegelman faces a re-sentencing in a week, on August 3. He told Cavuto it's a frightening prospect to think about going back to federal prison. The former governor also said he and Richard Scrushy, also convicted on bribery charges, never had a conversation about a bribe. Siegelman agreed with Cavuto that federal bribery laws are still unclear and contends that anyone contributing to the presidential campaign and given an ambassadorship could also be prosecuted.
 
Washington Post, Senate committee approves provision to plug intelligence leaks, Greg Miller, July 25, 2012. Lawmakers who oversee the nation’s spy agencies moved this week to curb leaks of classified information by approving legislation that would further restrict intelligence officials’ ability to talk to news organizations or work for them after leaving their government jobs. The provisions, which the Senate intelligence committee passed on Tuesday, represent the broadest anti-leak measures proposed in response to stories this year that exposed details of top-secret programs and terrorism threats.
 
Huffington Post, 'Reporter's Privilege' Under Fire From Obama Administration Amid Broader War On Leaks, Dan Froomkin and Michael Calderone, May 18, 2012. The Obama administration Friday morning continued its headlong attack on the right of reporters to protect their confidential sources in leak investigations. Before a panel of the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals, a Department of Justice lawyer argued that New York Times reporter James Risen should be forced to testify in the trial of former CIA agent Jeffrey Sterling, who is charged with leaking classified information to Risen about a botched plot against the Iranian government. Rather than arguing the specifics of the case, DOJ appellate lawyer Robert A. Parker asserted that there is no reporter's privilege when a journalist receives an illegal leak of national security secrets. When Judge Robert Gregory asked Parker to explain why the public's interest in a free press was outweighed by the specific circumstances in this case, Parker declined. "I don’t think there would be a balancing test because there's no privilege in the first place," Parker said. "The salient point is that Risen is the only eyewitness to this crime."  Gregory told Parker that the Supreme Court's Branzburg v. Hayes decision -- which Parker cited as precedent for forcing journalists to testify when they had witnessed a crime -- involved the witnessing of a different crime, "not the disclosure itself."  Parker said what Risen did was "analogous" to a journalist receiving drugs from a confidential source, and then refusing to testify about it.  "You think so?" Gregory asked, clearly unconvinced.

New York Times, Appeals Panel Weighs Question on Press Rights, Charlie Savage, May 18, 2012. At least two members of a three-judge federal appeals court panel appeared to express some skepticism on Friday about prosecutors’ request that they overturn a district judge’s order protecting a journalist from being forced to identify his confidential sources in the trial of a former Central Intelligence Agency officer. Nearly an hour of oral arguments here before the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit concluded with no definitive answer as to how the court will rule about whether the journalist, James Risen, can be forced to testify in a high-profile leak case that has raised a significant test of the First Amendment. One judge, Roger Gregory, sharply criticized prosecutors’ contention that the Constitution offers no special protection to a reporter who is a witness to a particular type of crime: the unauthorized disclosure of government secrets to that very reporter by an official.
 
TruthDig /OpEd News, A Victory for All of Us, Chris Hedges, May 18, 2012. In January, attorneys Carl Mayer and Bruce Afran asked me to be the lead plaintiff in a lawsuit against President Barack Obama and Defense Secretary Leon Panetta that challenged the harsh provisions of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). None of us thought we would win. But every once in a while the gods smile on the damned.  U.S. District Judge Katherine Forrest, in a 68-page opinion, ruled Wednesday that Section 1021 of the NDAA was unconstitutional. It was a stunning and monumental victory. With her ruling she returned us to a country where -- as it was before Obama signed this act into law Dec. 31 -- the government cannot strip a U.S. citizen of due process or use the military to arrest him or her and then hold him or her in military prison indefinitely.
 
Salon, Federal court enjoins NDAA, Glenn Greenwald, May 16, 2012.  A federal district judge, the newly-appointed Katherine Forrest of the Southern District of New York, issued an amazing ruling: one which preliminarily enjoins enforcement of the highly controversial indefinite provisions of the National Defense Authorization Act, enacted by Congress and signed into law by President Obama last December. This afternoon’s ruling came as part of a lawsuit brought by seven dissident plaintiffs — including Chris Hedges, Dan Ellsberg, Noam Chomsky, and Birgitta Jonsdottir — alleging that the NDAA violates ”both their free speech and associational rights guaranteed by the First Amendment as well as due process rights guaranteed by the Fifth Amendment of the United States Constitution.”
 
Justice Integrity Project, Press Club Forum Probes 'Obama's War On Leaks,' Andrew Kreig, May 2, 2012.  The nation’s two leading press clubs convened experts on national security May 1 in Washington for a gripping, historically important assessment of the Obama administration’s shocking prosecutions of government news sources. The administration took office on promises to protect whistle-blowers. But it has since repeatedly cracked down on leakers, citing the Espionage Act in six recent cases as a basis for criminal prosecution. New York Times reporter James Risen, who has broken some of the most important national security stories of the decade, was one of the panelists at the National Press Club, which organized the forum at its headquarters in cooperation with the New York-based Overseas Press Club. Risen has undergone years of financially damaging federal investigation and potential imprisonment for refusing to reveal his government sources.

American Civil Liberties Union, Sens. Wyden and Udall Weigh in on ACLU Patriot Act FOIA Case, Jameel Jaffer, March 15, 2012. "Contrary to core principles of American democracy." That's how two U.S. senators describe the Justice Department's refusal to release a secret legal interpretation of the Patriot Act. Last year, we filed a request under the Freedom of Information Act for records about the government's use and interpretation of one of the Patriot Act's most controversial provisions: Section 215. Some members of the Senate Intelligence Committee had suggested that the provision was being abused. "When the American people find out how their government has secretly interpreted the Patriot Act," Colorado Sen. Mark Udall said, "they will be stunned and they will be angry."  This afternoon, Sen. Udall and Oregon Sen. Ron Wyden sent a letter to the attorney general commenting on our lawsuit and on a related but narrower FOIA suit filed by The New York Times. The letter is worth reading in its entirety, but here's a particularly crucial passage:

We believe most Americans would be stunned to learn the details of how these secret court opinions have interpreted section 215 of the Patriot Act. As we see it, there is now a significant gap between what most Americans think the law allows and what the government secretly claims the law allows. This is a problem, because it is impossible to have an informed public debate about what the law should say when the public doesn't know what its government thinks the law says.

Justice Integrity Project, DOJ Indictment of Former CIA Officer for Leak Raises Questions, Andrew Kreig, April 9, 2012. The Justice Department last week indicted a former CIA officer and recent author on charges of leaking to reporters the name of a covert operative, part of an Obama administration crackdown on leakers. The five-count indictment April 6 accuses John C. Kiriakou, 47, an opponent of waterboarding, of crimes in connection with the capture of an alleged al Qaeda financier, Abu Zubaydah, in Pakistan. 

Justice Integrity Project, Privacy Expert Lori Andrews Warns on Social Networks, Andrew Kreig, March 3, 2012. Our guest on my March 3 Washington Update radio show will be author Lori Andrews, discussing her latest book, I know Who You Are and I Saw What You Did: Social Networks and the Death of Privacy. She reveals the career and personal dangers of participating in such social networks as Facebook, Linked In and Twitter. Meanwhile,113former state attorneys general co-signed a petition to the U.S. Supreme Court this week urging the court to throw out the 2006 convictions of former Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman. The bipartisan petition by the former top legal officers of more than 40 states is the latest development in Siegelman's prosecution. The petition is unprecedented in Supreme Court history aside from a smaller number of signatures for two such previous petitions on Siegelman's behalf. Like a recent column by George Will, it focuses on the suspect legal basis for the prosecution, not the more scandalous aspects of the frame-up that our Justice Integrity Project, among others, has documented through the years.

James RisenJustice Integrity Project, Judge Delays Trial of Former CIA Alleged Leaker Sterling, Andrew Kreig, Oct. 17, 2011. CIA agent Jeffrey Sterling's trial scheduled to begin Oct. 17 on charges of divulging classified information has been postponed indefinitely. U.S. District Judge Leonie Brinkema delayed trial after prosecutors appealed her ruling voiding two prosecution witnesses. The legal dispute's details are confidential. Sterling argues that he is a victim of selective prosecution. He is suspected of disclosing details of confidential CIA operations involving Iran to New York Times reporter and author James Risen in advance of Risen's 2006 best-seller, State of War: The Secret History of the CIA and the Bush Administration.