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Thanks, Mr. Snowden, America Needed To Know


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#1 Zharkov

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Posted 21 February 2015 - 05:56 PM

Bus-ThankYouSnowden.jpg?resize=584%2C389

Russian Researchers Expose 'NSA's Secret Weapon'

Outrage at program that enables America to spy on EVERY home computer in the world is uncovered

By Reuters Reporter and Chris Spargo

The National Security Agency has figured out how to hide spying software deep within hard drives, allowing them to monitor and eavesdrop on the majority of the world’s computers – even when they are not connected to the internet.

The Moscow-based security software maker Kaspersky Lab said it has found personal computers in 30 countries infected with one or more of the spying programs, with the most infections seen in Iran, followed by Russia, Pakistan, Afghanistan, China, Mali, Syria, Yemen and Algeria.

The targets included government and military institutions, telecommunication companies, banks, energy companies, nuclear researchers, media, and Islamic activists.
Kaspersky said it found personal computers in 30 countries infected with one or more of the spying programs

Kaspersky said it found personal computers in 30 countries infected with one or more of the spying programs.

 

Computer Hard Drives – All We can do is Destroy Them!

It now appears that the hard drive companies had better get off their ass and publicly state they work with the NSA or bring suit for interception of their products that threatens their business and identify the carriers who are involved with the NSA. The NSA’s Office of Tailored Access Operations (TAO) has been already exposed as operating a covert interception scheme of deliveries of new computer equipment. Der Spiegel in December 2013, citing a top secret document revealing this practice.

PC World has now weighed in. They have bluntly stated that destroying your hard drive is the only way to stop this super-advanced malware. We need a new manufacturer outside the USA to provide certified SSD drives for we cannot trust the main manufacturers until they stand up to be counted. The NSA is wiping out the technology industry in leaps and bounds. Yes – thank you Snowden. There are far too few people willing to stand up for what is right selling all of us down the river. Nobody thinks for a millisecond what kind of world they are leaving their child. In 20 years from, you will have to give a DNA sample to get on a plane and passports will be issued domestically restricting movement until you have paid your taxes if we will still earn money or are we just slaves entirely by then.

Every politician who has defended the NSA and called Snowden a traitor, is a traitor to everything the United States ever stood for.

 

This is about national security and that is the economy first. You do not destroy the economy hunting your own citizens for loose change and then undermine the very technology that the world trusted. This is outrageous and any politician who does not get it should be removed from office if not imprisoned as a traitor. California – please split up into 7 states and give the worst of the lot your favorite crook. You have done the nation a great disservice sending this ruthless woman to Washington.

 

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Reprinted from Armstrong Economics.
 


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#2 Zharkov

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Posted 23 February 2015 - 03:07 PM

"The disclosures that Edward Snowden revealed don't only expose a threat to our privacy but to our democracy itself," Poitras, who also co-produced the film, said during her acceptance speech.

 

"When the most important decisions being made affecting all of us are made in secret, we lose our ability to check the powers that control."

Poitras currently lives in Berlin and has said she does not feel she could continue her work if she remained in the United States.

 

She was apparently placed on the Homeland Security Department's terror watch list and was repeatedly detained at airports in the years after the September 11 attacks.

http://www.nationalj...entary-20150222


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#3 Zharkov

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Posted 23 February 2015 - 03:54 PM

Americans are the most spied upon people in world history.

Top NSA officials previously said that we’ve got a “police state” … like J. Edgar Hoover – or the Stasi – on “super steroids”.

Spying by the NSA is also worse than in Nazi Germany:

    The tyrants in Nazi Germany, Stalinist Russia and Stasi Eastern Europe would have liked to easedrop on every communication and every transaction of every citizen.  But in the world before the internet, smart phones, electronic medical records and digital credit card transactions, much of what happened behind closed doors remained private.

Indeed, a former lieutenant colonel for the East German Stasi said the NSA’s spy capabilities would have been “a dream come true” for the Stasi.

NSA contractor Edward Snowden said in 2013 that NSA spying was worse than in Orwell’s book 1984. (See update below).

We noted at the time that the NSA is spying on us through our computers, phones, cars, buses, streetlights, at airports and on the street, via mobile scanners and drones, through our smart meters, and in many other ways.

And we learned that same year that the NSA is laughing at all of us for carrying powerful spying devices around in our pockets. And see this.

A security expert said the same year:

    We have to assume that the NSA has EVERYONE who uses electronic communications under CONSTANT surveillance.

What’s happened since these statements were made?  Spying has only gotten worse.

 

The government is doing everything it can to completely destroy privacy.

Postscript:  Nothing has changed … and it will keep on getting worse and worse unless we the people stand up for our rights against those who want to take our freedom away.

Update: Bill Binney is the high-level NSA executive who created the agency’s mass surveillance program for digital information. A 32-year NSA veteran widely regarded as a “legend” within the agency, Binney was the senior technical director within the agency and managed thousands of NSA employees.

Binney tells Washington’s Blog:

    While the spying programs that we have heard about so far deal with the “who and what” and on occasion the “why” of what people on the planet are doing,

 

"Treasuremap" is the NSA/GCHQ/etc. program to acquire and follow the movements of people (objective is to follow 4 billion folks) simultaneously in near real time. So, Treasuremap gives them the “when and where” aspects of individual lives.

    All in all, this gives the participating governments (primarily the Five Eyes countries) unrestricted knowledge of individual lives.

    Current surveillance is far beyond an Orwellian state.

    Although on a much smaller scale, we need to remember that these type of activities were some of the primary “articles of impeachment” of president Nixon.

http://www.infowars....ring-right-now/


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#4 Zharkov

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Posted 23 March 2015 - 06:24 PM

US government threatened Germany over aiding Snowden
 
Although previously speculated, the United States did in fact strong arm at least one nation to prevent them from offering Edward Snowden asylum or aiding him in securing travel arrangements via their country, according to Snowden associate Glenn Greenwald.

German Vice Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel stated this week that the United States threatened to halt relaying all intelligence information with Berlin if they assisted the NSA whistleblower in any way. “They told us they would stop notifying us of plots and other intelligence matters,” Gabriel said.

Gabriel commended the work of Greenwald and other reporters as he delivered a speech regarding the journalistic efforts made concerning the Snowden leaks. The Vice Chancellor displayed regret that the former Booz Allen employee was forced to seek political shelter in “Putin’s autocratic Russia”. As the German leader elaborated that no nation was able or inclined to offer Snowden assistance, an interjecting voice from the crowd bellowed out, “Why don’t you bring him to Germany, then?”

Gabriel countered the interruption by claiming that his government would be legally bound to extradite the American refugee if he stepped foot on German soil.

At the conclusion of the address, Greenwald, who was present at the event, questioned Gabriel as to the truth about why Germany didn’t offer Snowden asylum — because under international law, once asylum status has been granted, the subject would no longer be considered a fugitive. According to The Intercept, the vice chancellor responded by saying,

    The U.S. government had aggressively threatened the Germans that if they did so, they would be “cut off” from all intelligence sharing. That would mean, if the threat were carried out, that the Americans would literally allow the German population to remain vulnerable to a brewing attack discovered by the Americans by withholding that information from their government.

This would basically mean that the U.S. was prepared to hold the people of Germany and their safety hostage in the name of pride. If for some reason Vice Chancellor Gabriel was not being truthful in his remarks, his words could be deemed a fear tactic in order to make the people of Germany believe that asylum for Snowden is a detriment to their own well-being. Either way you look at it, the people of both the United States and Germany, along with their freedoms, come out on the losing end.

This article originally appeared on Activist Post.

https://www.intellih...aiding-snowden/


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#5 Shura

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Posted 23 March 2015 - 09:09 PM

At least there are some decent people in German government who appreciate the truth.


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#6 Zharkov

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Posted 24 March 2015 - 02:41 AM

Germany is finally coming out from under the US boot on its neck, just in time to stop WW3.

Good for them.   It takes a lot of courage to challenge the US government, even with a weak girlyman like Obama running the show.


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#7 Zharkov

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Posted 04 April 2015 - 02:09 PM


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#8 Zharkov

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Posted 08 April 2015 - 01:23 PM

America's Edward Snowden Monument

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Suddenly, in the middle of the New York night, Edward Snowden's face appeared — deep in a public park.
 

A 4-foot-high, 100-pound sculpted bust of the whistleblower now exiled in Russia was sneaked into Brooklyn's Fort Greene Park on Monday before dawn.
 

Animal New York, a city news website that first reported the incident, said the mysterious perpetrators were a small group of artists — admirers of the former contractor who had leaked classified information from the National Security Agency to the media.
 

The activists hoisted the bust to the top of a Revolutionary War memorial, adding his name to a column, according to Animal New York.
 

The website says the group allowed it to document installation of the statue on the condition that it not reveal the identities of the artists.
 

Snowden's artistic appearance was short-lived.
 

At daybreak, police said city parks officials ordered the sculpted Snowden removed. And by evening, his bust was being held at Brooklyn's 88th Precinct pending an investigation.
 

The idea for the tribute was conceived by two New York City-based artists, joined by a West Coast sculptor, Animal New York said.
 

In a statement to the online outlet, they said they had "updated" the memorial to American POWs who died during the Revolutionary War "to highlight those who sacrifice their safety in the fight against modern-day tyrannies. It would be a dishonor to those memorialized here to not laud those who protect the ideals they fought for, as Edward Snowden has by bringing the NSA's 4th-Amendment-violating surveillance programs to light." (AP)

 

http://news.yahoo.co...3495-slideshow/

 

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Edited by Zharkov, 08 April 2015 - 01:25 PM.

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#9 Zharkov

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Posted 06 June 2015 - 02:08 PM

Edward Snowden is a patriot and deserves freedom

By Jacob Weisberg

What is the responsibility of public servants who believe that the government is abusing its authority?

In most cases, US law encourages them to expose wrongdoing.

 

The Whistleblower Protection Act passed in 1989 protects “any disclosure” that an employee reasonably believes indicates the violation of laws or rules, “gross mismanagement, a gross waste of funds, and abuse of authority, or a substantial and specific danger to public health or safety”.

Edward Snowden’s revelation of mass surveillance by the National Security Agency, including the bulk collection of phone records, would seem to conform to all of the criteria for whistleblowing.

Did he expose violations of law? Check. Last month, a federal appeals court held that the phone records collection programme was illegal. Did he reveal abuses of authority? Check. The NSA’s inspector general has acknowledged dozens of incidents in which employees tracked phone calls and emails of former girlfriends, objects of romantic interest, or in one case an “unfaithful husband”. Did he point out gross mismanagement? Check. The mere fact that Mr Snowden was able to walk out with a treasure trove of top-secret information more or less proves the point. Did Mr Snowden bring to light the waste of public funds? Quite possibly, check again. The government has provided no evidence that the costly programme has prevented a single terrorist attack.

Unfortunately for Mr Snowden, the Whistleblower Protection Act contains a major exception: it does not apply to people who work for intelligence agencies, including the NSA. The US justice department maintains that Mr Snowden’s actions fall under a very different kind of law, the draconian and anachronistic Espionage Act of 1917. The Whistleblower Protection Act protects you as long as you believe you are doing right in leaking information about government wrongdoing to the press — even if you are wrong. The Espionage Act treats you as a traitor even if you acted with patriotic intent, as Mr Snowden convincingly claims to have done — and even if you are right.

The chasm between the government’s encouragement of some whistleblowing and its severe punishment of other whistleblowing constitutes the limbo in which Mr Snowden finds himself.

This week, he and his allies claimed moral vindication, as Congress voted to prohibit the most notorious practice he brought to light. Following recommendations made by President Barack Obama in the wake of Mr Snowden’s revelations, a coalition of Democrats and libertarian-minded Republicans that included Rand Paul, senator of Kentucky, declined to renew Section 215 of the USA Patriot Act. A court’s secret interpretation of that provision was what allowed the government to collect bulk phone records for more than a decade. In its stead, Congress passed the equally Orwellian-sounding USA Freedom Act, which ends that practice.

"The implicit position of the Obama administration and most members of Congress is that Snowden did the country a service and that he should pay for it by going to prison for the rest of his life"

Opinions differ about how significant the changes under the new legislation really are. Mr Snowden, writing from his Russian exile, calls it a “historic victory”. Others argue that it merely shifts the burden of data collection to the telecoms companies, a mostly symbolic change. Many other surveillance programmes that threaten privacy and civil liberties were not addressed by this week’s action and remain in place.

But henceforth, NSA policies face limits set by elected representatives of an informed public. Thanks to Mr Snowden, Americans know that the government is monitoring their electronic communications.

Civil libertarians can object to the new policy, but they can no longer claim that it operates without the consent of the governed. Mr Obama’s legacy now includes the repudiation of the most abhorrent and illiberal policies adopted by his predecessor in the wake of the September 11 2001 attacks: torture and the mass surveillance of phone records.

What this week’s debate did not come any closer to resolving is the status of Mr Snowden. The justice department demands that he return to face criminal charges. The implicit position of the Obama administration, as well as most members of Congress, is that Mr Snowden did the country an important service and that he should pay for it by going to prison for the rest of his life.

Mr Snowden quite reasonably refuses to return on these terms. He says he is willing to stand trial and face the consequences, but wants to be able to present a public interest defence — impossible under an Espionage Act prosecution.

Rather than leaving Mr Snowden’s status as a problem for his successor, Mr Obama should make resolving his case part of his presidential legacy as well. His justice department could offer Mr Snowden a plea bargain, under which he would not serve prison time in exchange for his co-operation. Or the government could charge Mr Snowden under the standard laws covering disclosures of classified information by government officials. This would allow him to return from his Moscow purgatory and make his whistleblower defence.

Mr Snowden clearly broke the law in revealing government secrets. But he did so for valid reasons and with an outcome that now has the endorsement of both the legislative and executive branches. That is reason enough for Mr Obama to show him mercy.

(The writer is chairman and editor-in-chief of The Slate Group and author of ‘The Bush Tragedy’)

http://www.ft.com/cm...144feabdc0.html


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#10 Zharkov

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Posted 21 June 2015 - 05:01 PM

THIS IS HOW it ended for Jeffrey Sterling:

A former covert officer for the Central Intelligence Agency, Sterling sat down in a federal courtroom with a lawyer on either side, looking up at a judge who would announce in a few moments whether he would go to prison for the next 20 years. A few feet away, three prosecutors waited expectantly, hoping that more than a decade of investigation by the FBI would conclude with a severe sentence for a man who committed an “unconscionable” crime, as one of them told the judge.

In Sterling’s blind spot, behind his left shoulder, his wife tried not to sob so loudly that the judge would hear. A social worker, she had been interrogated by FBI agents, her modest home was searched, she had been made to testify before a grand jury, and she had given up her hopes for an ordinary life — a child or two rather than the miscarriages she had, a husband who could hold a job, a life that was not under surveillance, and friends who were free of harassment from government agents asking for information about her and her husband.

One of Sterling’s lawyers stood up to ask for leniency. Sterling was a good person, the lawyer said, not a traitor. He was the first in his family to graduate from college. After leaving the CIA, he worked as a healthcare investigator and won awards for uncovering millions of dollars in fraud. He loved his wife. He did not cause any harm and did not deserve to be locked up until he was an old man for talking to a New York Times reporter about a classified program that he believed had gone awry. Please let the sentence be fair, the lawyer said.

It was time for Sterling to say a few words. His lawyers followed him to the lectern, standing a half step behind, as though to steady him if he wavered. A tall man with a low voice, Sterling thanked the court for its efforts to conduct the trial and thanked the judge for delaying its start so he could attend the funeral of one of his brothers. He did not say whether, as the jury had decided, he was guilty of what they had convicted him for — violating the Espionage Act and other laws related to disclosing classified information.

Sterling’s battle against the government had begun more than 15 years earlier, when he was still at the CIA. After he lodged a racial discrimination complaint, he was fired by the agency and filed two federal lawsuits against it, one for retaliation and discrimination, another for obstructing the publication of his autobiography. He also spoke as a whistleblower to Congress. Soon, his savings ran out and he became all but homeless, driving around the country, lost in despair. He eventually returned to his hometown near St. Louis and rebuilt his life, finding the woman who became his wife and landing a job he thrived at.

His new life was torn apart when FBI agents came to his workplace in 2011, placing him in handcuffs and parading him past his colleagues. A few days later, still in jail, he was fired because he had not shown up for work. The drama ended in a wood-paneled courtroom in Alexandria, Virginia on a warm afternoon in May, after Sterling finished his brief statement to the judge.

Sterling’s case has drawn attention primarily for two reasons: it was part of the Obama Administration’s controversial crackdown on leakers and whistleblowers, and prosecutors had tried to force the Times reporter, James Risen, to divulge the name of his source, whom the government believed was Sterling. The case, known as United States of America v. Jeffrey Alexander Sterling, was treated mainly as a freedom-of-the-press issue, with Risen as the heroic centerpiece. Lost in the judicial briefs about the First Amendment was the black man in the middle.

This is Sterling’s story.

DURING HIS LAST year of law school in St. Louis, Sterling was reading a newspaper between classes. He noticed an advertisement that showed a man standing at the edge of a body of water and looking at the horizon in an inspirational way. See the world, the ad said. Serve your country. Join the CIA.

It got him.

As a teenager, Sterling had become fascinated with the rest of the world. When he arrived home from high school, he would watch the MacNeil/Lehrer Report on PBS. Attending a racially mixed high school, he didn’t fit in. He remembers being called an Oreo, black on the outside and white on the inside, because his interests didn’t coincide with some people’s concept of what a black kid should do or think or say. Within hours of reading the CIA ad he began working on his application.

His first day at Langley — what people at the agency call their “EOD,” or Entrance On Duty — was May 13, 1993. He was told to park behind the main building and enter through the back doors used by most employees. But Sterling made a detour around the long sides of the building to walk through the grand entrance — the one with the shiny CIA emblem on the marble floor, where you walk by a wall that has stars for each CIA officer killed in the line of duty.

“That was a thrill,” he told me. “I actually did that for the first few days. It meant that much to me, to be able to walk in that front door knowing that I was part of something special. I was so proud of it.”

I met Sterling in April, at his home in O’Fallon, on the outskirts of St. Louis. It had been three months since the jury convicted him, and he was waiting for the hearing at which he would find out whether he would receive the term recommended under federal sentencing guidelines — between 19 to 24 years in prison. He was surprisingly tranquil, occasionally stroking his gray-flecked goatee as he talked about his long fight with the government. Other than discussing his case in a short documentary directed by Judith Ehrlich and produced by Norman Solomon, Sterling has not talked publicly about it. The Justice Department, asked to respond to his account, refused to provide any comment.

IT DID NOT take long, apparently, for the color of Sterling’s skin to set him apart at the CIA.

Once he had completed the agency’s version of basic spy training, Sterling was assigned to the Iran Task Force and dispatched to language school to learn Farsi. In 1997, just before he was to leave for his first overseas post in Germany, he was told that somebody else was going instead.

“We’re concerned that you would stick out as a big black guy speaking Farsi,” Sterling recalls his supervisor saying.

Shocked, he responded, “Well, when did you figure out I was black?”

The agency did not have a good record on diversity. At the time, all of its directors, deputy directors and chiefs of espionage operations had been white men. In 1995, the agency had agreed to pay $990,000 to settle a class-action lawsuit filed by female case officers who accused the agency of sex discrimination. The agency promised to do better on both racial and gender diversity — but it wasn’t, as far as Sterling could tell.

“I seriously considered leaving the agency,” he told me. “But I believed in what I would be able to do. I believed in the career I could have there.”

A few months later, he accepted a different overseas assignment. Shortly before he was to leave, a supervisor said he would instead go to the position in Germany that he had previously been turned down for, because the officer they were planning to send had pulled out. Sterling, a proud man, said he didn’t want to take a position for which he had been deemed second-best.

“You either go where we want or you’re going nowhere,” Sterling says he was told.

He went.

“I was like, OK, I can deal with this, I at least have an assignment,” Sterling told me. “I’ll prove to them how I’m a great case officer.”

Sterling recalls being the only black officer at the agency’s station in Bonn. His cover was as an Army logistics officer rather than a State Department officer, and he says this made it more difficult to gain entry to the social and political circles where foreign spies are recruited; doors that open for diplomats are closed to logistics officers. He believes his bosses thought the color of his skin meant he wouldn’t do as well as other officers, so they didn’t bother giving him a good cover.

“I couldn’t get into a janitor’s convention,” he said.

Sterling returned to the U.S. and was assigned to the counter-proliferation division at the agency’s headquarters before being dispatched to the New York station, where he says that once again he was the only black officer. Things did not go smoothly. He was given an unusual ultimatum — start recruiting three new spies, hold three meetings with each of them, or leave New York. He felt singled out, asked to do more than other officers while lacking the cover they had.

“That was the last I could take of it,” Sterling recalled. “I just said ‘No, I don’t accept this and I’m going to file a complaint.’”

He was transferred back to Langley, where he was given a closet-sized office that he and the co-worker he shared it with jokingly called “the penalty box.” He filed an internal racial discrimination complaint that didn’t succeed, and soon he was fired. John Brennan, who at the time was the agency’s deputy executive director and is currently its director, told the New York Times that “it was an unfortunate situation because Jeffrey was a talented officer and had a lot of skills we are looking for, and we wanted him to succeed. We were quite pleased with Jeffrey’s performance in a number of areas. Unfortunately, there were some areas of his work and development that needed some improvement.”

In O’Fallon, Sterling and I met at the single-story home he shares with his wife and two cats in a community of nearly identical red-and-white houses. “We’re really outside the beltway here,” he joked at one point. He has a voice that’s made for radio — deep and fluid, a bass that usually stays in the same comfortable register. He was dressed in jeans and a short-sleeved shirt, with sandals on his feet. On the wall, there was a print by Salvador Dali of two butterflies dancing in the air. His tone varied only once or twice, when his steady voice sharpened into a knife.

“I had dedicated myself to that agency,” he said, when I asked why he chose to confront the CIA rather than, as many people might have done, carry on quietly or resign without filing a lawsuit. “I couldn’t just walk away from something that was so vital to me and that I knew I was good at, proved I was good at. That was it for me … No, you are not going to treat me that way.”

IN 1972, JIM CROCE came out with a hit song, “You Don’t Mess Around with Jim,” that had several lines about the things a sensible person never does, such as spitting into the wind, pulling off the mask of the Lone Ranger, and tugging on Superman’s cape. Sterling pointed to that last bit of advice — not tugging on Superman’s cape — to describe the path he took. He challenged the CIA, and it probably wasn’t a sensible choice.

In 2001, as he was leaving the agency, he filed a federal lawsuit that said the CIA retaliated against him for making an internal discrimination complaint, and that he had indeed faced a pattern of discrimination there. The suit was dismissed by a judge after the CIA successfully argued in pre-trial motions that a trial would expose state secrets by disclosing sources and methods of intelligence-gathering. An appeals court upheld that ruling, though it noted that the dismissal “places, on behalf of the entire country, a burden on Sterling that he alone must bear” by being deprived of his right to a trial. The dismissal spared Sterling’s supervisors from testifying about their interactions with him. The government has not provided specific responses, in court or to the media, about his accusations of racial discrimination, other than to generally state that he faced none.

He tugged on the CIA’s cape in other ways. He wrote a memoir, tentatively titled Spook: An American Journey Through Black and White, and submitted chapters for pre-publication review. According to a lawsuit Sterling filed in 2003, the CIA determined that his manuscript contained classified information that should not be published, and demanded that he add information that, his suit said, was “blatantly false.” Facing a tough legal battle with a presiding judge who seemed sympathetic to the CIA, Sterling eventually agreed to drop the suit. His manuscript has not been published.

Also in 2003, Sterling met staffers from the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence to let them know his concerns about the mismanagement of a classified program he worked on at the agency. Merlin, as the program was called, involved the CIA giving Iran faulty nuclear blueprints. If the blueprints were used, Iran’s nuclear program would be delayed. The blueprints were given to the Iranians by a Russian scientist who lived in the United States, and Sterling was his CIA handler. The CIA has said the program worked well, but Sterling told the committee staffers it was botched and that the Iranians learned the blueprints were flawed; the Iranians might have gained nuclear insights from the accurate parts.

By the time he talked to the Senate staffers, Sterling had become radioactive by Washington standards. This is the usual whistleblower’s fate. He applied for jobs with the private-sector contractors that tend to eagerly recruit experts like him, and they initially seemed quite interested, Sterling recalls, but their attention vanished suddenly, presumably when they learned about his disputes with the CIA. His descent began in full. Running out of money, he sold his belongings on Craigslist, gave his cats to a woman who had a farm, and packed a few things into his car and took off.

The idea was to drive to his mother’s house in Missouri, but he wandered, parking at truck stops at night and sleeping in his car. “I had nowhere to go,” he recalled. “I had worked hard and it all fell apart.” He eventually visited friends in St. Louis who had a newborn and they made a deal — Sterling cared for their baby and lived rent-free in their house. “It was very humbling to go from being a case officer with the Central Intelligence Agency to now I’m a manny,” Sterling noted.

Then, as things do, his life turned around. In 2004 he landed a job as a healthcare investigator at WellPoint, and he also met a woman, Holly Brooke, and after a few months moved into her house. He now had a job, a life partner, a home. Everything was great until, on the morning of New Year’s Eve in 2005, the CIA’s top lawyer, John Rizzo, was woken up at home by a phone call on his secure line.

RIZZO GROGGILY ANSWERED the phone and was told by an official at the National Security Council that a book was about to be published that disclosed one of the CIA’s most sensitive intelligence programs. The book, by James Risen, was called State of War, and it described the Merlin program as perhaps “one of the most reckless operations in the modern history of the CIA.” Risen’s book did not identify who his source, or sources, were.

Rizzo, who described the day’s events in his memoir, threw on his clothes and drove into town to get the book from the NSC official, then drove to Langley to share it with senior officials who had been dragged from their homes to figure out what to do. The White House wanted to take the extraordinary step of stopping the book from being published. President Bush’s top lawyer, Harriet Miers, asked Rizzo to call Sumner Redstone, the chairman of Viacom, which owned Simon & Schuster, the book’s publisher. In the end, Rizzo didn’t call Redstone, but he made a mental note to file a crimes report with the Department of Justice; the leaker had to be found.

Within a month, two FBI agents were at Sterling’s house outside St. Louis. They claimed they were concerned that an Iranian was on the loose who might do harm to him. Sterling sensed it was a ruse; he told the FBI agents he’d be able to spot someone following him, particularly an Iranian because there were no Iranians where he lived. The agents then asked if they could come inside and Sterling refused. They had a copy of Risen’s book and asked if he knew about it.

“I was like, ‘I don’t know anything about that book. That was the first I had ever seen of that,’” Sterling told me.

This wasn’t the first time Sterling was questioned by the FBI. Risen had interviewed Sterling in 2002 and published a story about his discrimination lawsuit. The next year, Risen reported a story about the Merlin program, but it wasn’t published. Risen asked the CIA for pre-publication comment on the story and was soon summoned to the White House, along with his editor. They were told by then-National Security Adviser Condoleeza Rice that the story, if published, would reveal a valuable covert program and could cost lives. The Times decided to kill it.

The Justice Department launched a criminal investigation in 2003 and FBI agents questioned Sterling that year. However, until the agents showed up at his doorstep in 2006 with Risen’s book, Sterling thought his struggles with the government were behind him.

After that visit, Holly was subpoenaed to testify before a grand jury. She was questioned for seven hours at FBI headquarters in Washington and, she told me, the next day she spent three hours before the grand jury in Alexandria, Virginia. When she returned to St. Louis, she got a call from her lawyer, who said the FBI was coming to search her home. More than a dozen agents soon showed up to confiscate some of the couple’s belongings.

“They left and I had a meltdown,” Holly said during lunch at a pub near her home, as easy-listening rock music played in the background. “I was sobbing and crying and couldn’t understand this. I attempted to go to work the next day and I just lost it. My boss came to me and she said, ‘You need to leave. I think you are suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder.’”

Then, as mysteriously as it had intruded into their lives, the FBI’s investigation seemed to dissipate. In the fall of 2010, Sterling’s lawyer called him to say the case appeared to be winding down.

ON JANUARY 6, 2011, Sterling was asked to attend a meeting at his office. He was on medical leave after a knee-replacement operation, so he hobbled into work with a cane, and after checking on the mail that had piled up on his desk, a colleague told him the security staff needed to see him because there was a problem with his badge. It was urgent, Sterling was told. When he visited the security staff he was confronted, he says, by several FBI agents and police officers who placed him under arrest. His cane was taken away, his arms were handcuffed behind his back, and he was marched out of the building, limping, as his co-workers gaped. The indictment accused him of leaking to Risen out of “anger and resentment” at the CIA.

The timing of his arrest was unusual. The exchanges between Sterling and Risen began in 2001 and finished in 2005, according to records of their phone calls and emails that were listed in the indictment. Why was Sterling arrested six years after he last communicated with Risen and five years after his home was searched by the FBI? If, as the government claimed, he had caused so much harm, why did prosecutors wait so long to press charges?

The answers appear to be political. Until Barack Obama was elected president, the Department of Justice rarely prosecuted leakers. Obama promised, as a candidate, to create the most transparent administration ever, but he has presided over more leak prosecutions under the Espionage Act than all previous administrations combined. Dennis Blair, the director of national intelligence during Obama’s first term, told the Times that a decision was made in 2009 to “hang an admiral once in a while,” as Blair put it, to show would-be leakers they should not talk to the press. The Justice Department did not charge high-level officials, however; mid-level officials were the principal targets, and it appears that Sterling’s all-but-shut case was brought back to life as part of the crackdown.

Sterling, detained for weeks, became despondent.

“All of it came crashing down on me, sitting in that jail cell,” he said. “So many years, so many struggles, and I had gotten to a point where I had picked myself up and was just moving on. But this behemoth of anger, of retaliation, was having its way. It was an extremely low feeling that I was going through, disbelief, shock.”

He stopped eating until Holly was allowed to visit.

“Just seeing her face shocked me back into knowing that here’s this woman who loves me and she’s been with me through thick and thin,” he said. “I made a promise to her that I would stay alive, I won’t try to hurt myself.”

RELEASED FROM JAIL, Sterling no longer had a job and could not find a new one, due to the taint of an Espionage Act indictment, and he had to wait four years for his trial to begin. A large part of the delay was due to a legal battle between the prosecution and Risen — the prosecution wanted Risen to name his source, whom the government believed was Sterling, but Risen refused to cooperate, raising the prospect of a journalist going to jail for defying the government. The Obama administration, criticized for violating First Amendment protections, backed off just before the trial began.

On January 13, the trial opened with the lead prosecutor, James Trump, telling the jury that Sterling was a traitor.

“The defendant betrayed his country,” Trump said. “He betrayed his colleagues. He betrayed the CIA and compromised its mission. And most importantly, he betrayed the Russian asset, a man who literally placed his trust and his life into the defendant’s hands.”

Trump addressed the question of motive.

“And why?” he asked. “Anger, bitterness, selfishness. The defendant struck back at the CIA because he thought he had been treated unfairly. He had sued the agency for discrimination and demanded that they pay him $200,000 to settle his claim. When the agency refused, he struck back with the only weapon he had: secrets, the agency’s secrets.”

The government’s case consisted mostly of records of emails and phone calls between Sterling and Risen that began in 2001 and continued into 2005. The emails were very short, just a line or so, and did not reference any CIA programs. The phone calls were mostly short too, some just a few seconds, and the government did not introduce recordings or transcripts of any of them.

Sterling was represented by two lawyers, Edward MacMahon Jr. and Barry Pollack. In his opening statement, MacMahon pointed to the lack of hard evidence against his client.

“Mr. Trump is a fine lawyer,” MacMahon said. “If he had an email with details of these programs or a phone call, you would have heard it, and you’re not going to hear it in this case .… Mr. Trump told you that [Sterling] spoke to Risen. Did you hear where, when, or anything about what happened? No. That’s because there isn’t any such evidence of it whatsoever .… You don’t see a written communication to Mr. Risen from Mr. Sterling about the program at all, no evidence they even met in person.”

After a two-week trial that included some CIA witnesses testifying from behind a screen, so that their identities would not be revealed, the jury convicted Sterling, based on what the judge, Leonie Brinkema, described at the sentencing as “very powerful circumstantial evidence.” She added, “In a perfect world, you’d only have direct evidence, but many times that’s not the case in a criminal case.”

Sterling sat motionless as she explained the reasoning behind the sentence that she was about to announce. I had asked Sterling, when we met in St. Louis, what he expected would happen.

“This process has destroyed a lot of me,” he began, his voice shifting in the halting way that means anguish has broken loose. “The thought that I’m going to be sent to prison, I can’t and haven’t been able to deal with that. I don’t know where to put it or how to deal with it because it doesn’t make any sense. I’m dreading going to jail. Maybe some miracle will happen and I won’t. But I still have to be realistic and prepare for the worst.”

A few minutes before three in the afternoon, Judge Brinkema said that Sterling would go to prison for three and a half years. This was far below the sentencing guidelines — and was seen as a rebuke of the prosecution’s portrayal of Sterling as a traitor who had to be locked away for a long time. But that wasn’t much comfort for Sterling or his wife, because he would nonetheless be locked away. After the hearing ended, Sterling walked to the front row of seats to console his sobbing wife. You could hear her wails in the courtroom.

His lawyers requested that he be allowed to serve his sentence in his home state of Missouri, so that his wife and other family members could easily visit him.

Earlier this week, Sterling reported to the prison that was selected for him.

It is in Colorado.

https://firstlook.or...ost-everything/


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#11 shaktiman

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Posted 21 June 2015 - 08:47 PM

Once again Mr. Zharkov, a terrific post, albeit over time.

"Outrage at program that enables America to spy on EVERY home computer in the world is uncovered"
"Thanks, Mr. Snowden, America Needed To Know"

This spying of course has been going on for decades only now it is more high tech and powerful. Those that were on the street or the inside of law enforcement and/or security have always done this. I've seen and experienced it over decades far too many times. Including lasar beams that could hear what anyone talked about in the privacy of their own home. The latter to my knowledge was never "perfected" but it's the stuff paranoia is made of.

"Every politician who has defended the NSA and called Snowden a traitor, is a traitor to everything the United States ever stood for."
"When the most important decisions being made affecting all of us are made in secret, we lose our ability to check the powers that control."

Perfect! And they say they're 'patriots"? These public officials are part of the shadow government and they sometimes don't even know it. They are the Judases of America.

"Current surveillance is far beyond an Orwellian state."

True, but the extreme is so perverse this unpatriotic and un-American spying against our own citizens and the constitution is falling by its own ominous weight.

"Although on a much smaller scale, we need to remember that these type of activities were some of the primary “articles of impeachment” of president Nixon."

It is part of the indictment but Richard Nixon, but whether or not we agree with his politics, he was more the victim due to Kissinger and other assorted jew and israeli espionage which pervades the NSA as we speak.

"The government is doing everything it can to completely destroy privacy."
"Spying by the NSA is also worse than in Nazi Germany:"
"Edward Snowden is a patriot and deserves freedom"
"What is the responsibility of public servants who believe that the government is abusing its authority?
In most cases, US law encourages them to expose wrongdoing."

 

Agreed, he does, and he will.

 

Thanks to you as well Mr. Zharkov.


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#12 Shura

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Posted 21 June 2015 - 09:43 PM

The Government is capable of destroying people, who are dedicated to fairness and telling the truth, just because Govenment wants to prove its power to do it.


Edited by Shura, 21 June 2015 - 09:44 PM.

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#13 shaktiman

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Posted 21 June 2015 - 10:00 PM

Mr. Shura,

 

Heaven knows they have tried with me and my family. I refuse to capitulate to demons.

 

You as well as so many on this forum have been a breath of fresh freedom air to me.

 

Thank you my friend.


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#14 Zharkov

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Posted 01 July 2015 - 01:06 PM

A Christmas Gift To America:

 

It’s fitting that the character of Edward Snowden doesn’t appear in the new teaser trailer (movie) for the Oliver Stone-directed flick about his life. Real-life Snowden is not just “the most wanted man in the world,” as the trailer forebodingly tells us, he is also the best-known champion of personal privacy on Earth.

Snowden, which stars Joseph Gordon-Levitt as the title character, tells the story of how one thoughtful young man went from Army recruit to government employee to the most important whistleblower of the 21st century, blowing the lid off the surveillance state we are living inside.

 

Snowden released his massive trove of National Security Agency documents back in 2013, but the repercussions of his actions are still rippling through the US. Just this month, the Senate let an aspect of the Patriot Act lapse that was used to justify NSA spying on the metadata of American citizens. It was the small but important first step in holding government accountable in the tug-of-war between personal liberty and national security. (And even this isn’t over, as just today a court ruled that the NSA could extend its bulk collection of that data for 180 days.) None of it would be possible without the complicated figure at the center of Stone’s film.

Will Stone portray Snowden as a hero, or a traitor? Hard to say. The trailer emblazons text over an image of an upside-down flag, which can be interpreted as the upheaval of our nation that Snowden’s revelations unleashed. It’s a rich symbol, which will undoubtedly be seen differently by Snowden’s fans and detractors. Many argue this upheaval is vitally important to maintaining a healthy, transparent, and honest society. Snowden’s critics will see in the inverted flag a symbol of treason. Famous for not shying away from politically fraught territory, Stone co-wrote the screen adaption, which is based on two books, The Snowden Files: The Inside Story of the World’s Most Wanted Man and Time of the Octopus.

"Snowden" hits theaters Dec. 25.


http://www.wired.com...teaser-trailer/


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#15 Gilgamesh

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Posted 08 August 2015 - 07:36 AM

The Chinese are the most spied on, all computers sold in China have spying software installed. http://indiatriks.bl...ese-devices.htm  http://cbsnews.com/news/hacked-from-china-is-your-kettle-spying-on-you/  http://the epoch times.com/n3/743811-spying-software-pre-installed-on-chinese-star-n9500-smartphone/  An effort is currently under way to have Mr. Snowden exonerated as the secret program he revealed has now been ruled illegal. This makes him a whistleblower and not a criminal.


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#16 Gilgamesh

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Posted 08 August 2015 - 11:05 PM

I see where a Russian news site (pravda?) is running an exploit for Firefox (http://blog.mozilla....-found-in-wild/ ). Fortunately, while I do run Firefox, I am not vulnerable.  But others do not have my system so it would be wise to follow the suggestions I'm the above article.


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#17 Zharkov

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Posted 17 September 2015 - 01:19 PM

Snowden: Traitor or Hero?
http://english.pravd...traitor_hero-0/

 

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

1.   Snowden expects to return to America some day, as it was never his intention to become a Russian citizen and learn Russian, according to news reports.   He remains a guest in Russia and an object of persecution in America, so he cannot appear to have acted on Russia's behalf in exposing NSA illegal activities.    He cannot praise Russia without appearing to have become a defector, which he is not.    He was never a defector and never wanted to be, according to journalists.   Snowden cannot send public thank you notes to Russian officials without the Western media turning that into a story of him being a Russian defector or spy.    It would be too much of a gift to his enemies in the Obama regime as well.

 

2.   Watching movies is a pleasant way to pass the time if there is nothing else that can be done.    As long as some people inside the US government want to assassinate Snowden while others want him to suffer life in prison, there is no returning back to America, but that may not always be the situation.   Some day, maybe even government officials will recognize Snowden as an American patriot who tried to warn his countrymen about an agency that has turned into a tyranny.

 

3.   Snowden is no expert on human rights.   If he complains about human rights in Russia, it is to make it crystal clear that he was never a Russian spy.    Snowden has to maintain his physical distance from the US but not his ideological distance because he hopes to return home some day in the future.   There is a certain public relations matter that needs maintenance periodically, and that is to reassure his supporters in America that he was never a traitor and remains loyal to his country, if not his government.    It was his government that has violated its constitution, not Snowden.   That point has to remain very clear to everyone.

 

4.   Nobody can stay long in Russia without learning some Russian language - it is a matter of necessity and no doubt Snowden now knows more Russian words than he expected to know.    Some day when he returns to America under a guarantee of immunity, he will probably thank Russian officials for their help in protecting him.


Edited by Zharkov, 17 September 2015 - 01:19 PM.

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#18 Zharkov

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Posted 03 February 2016 - 03:33 AM

The Secret Plot To Capture Snowden

 

THE UK GOVERNMENT is facing demands to reveal the details of a secret flight through Scottish airspace which was at the centre of a plot to capture whistleblower Edward Snowden.

The plane, which passed above the Outer Hebrides, the Highlands and Aberdeenshire, was dispatched from the American east coast on June 24 2013, the day after Snowden left Hong Kong for Moscow. The craft was used in controversial US ‘rendition’ missions.

Reports by Scottish journalist Duncan Campbell claim the flight, travelling well above the standard aviation height at 45,000 feet and without a filed flight plan, was part of a mission to capture Snowden following his release of documents revealing mass surveillance by US and UK secret services.

That the flight passed over Scotland, airspace regulated by the UK, has raised questions over UK complicity in a covert mission to arrest Snowden and whether any police, aviation or political authorities in Scotland were made aware of the flight path.

Alex Salmond, the SNP foreign affairs spokesman and Scotland’s First Minister when the flight took place, has called for full transparency from the UK Government over the case.

He said: “As a matter of course and courtesy, any country, particularly an ally, should be open about the purposes of a flight and the use of foreign airspace or indeed airports.”

“What we need to know now is, was this information given to the UK Government at the time. If so, then why did they give permission? If not, then why not? As a minimum requirement, the UK authorities should not allow any activity in breach of international law in either its airspace or its airports.

“That is what an independent Scotland should insist on. Of course, since no rendition actually took place in this instance, it is a moot point as to whether intention can constitute a breach of human rights. However, we are entitled to ask what the UK Government knew and when did they know it.”

The flight took place after US federal prosecutors filed a criminal complaint against Snowden on June 14. Regular meetings with the FBI and CIA, convened by US Homeland Security adviser Lisa Monaco, then planned Snowden’s arrest for alleged breaches of the Espionage Act, according to The Washington Post.

New documents, revealed by Danish media group Denfri, confirm that the N977GA plane was held at a Copenhagen airport for “state purposes of a non-commercial nature”. Two days later Danish authorities received an “urgent notification” from the US Department of Justice to cooperate in arresting Snowden.

N977GA was previously identified by Dave Willis in Air Force Monthly as an aircraft used for CIA rendition flights of US prisoners. This included the extradition of cleric Abu Hamza from the UK. Snowden accused the Danish Government of conspiring in his arrest. In response to flight reports, he said: “Remember when the Prime Minister Rasmussen said Denmark shouldn’t respect asylum law in my case? Turns out he had a secret.”

Snowden was behind the largest leak of classified information in history, revealing spying activities that were later deemed illegal on both sides of the Atlantic. He was elected rector at the University of Glasgow in February 2014, yet is unable to fully carry out his duties.

Patrick Harvie, co-convener of the Scottish Green Party, echoed calls for an inquiry into the flight: “It will certainly raise suspicions that an aircraft previously identified as involved in rendition flew through UK airspace at that time. We have a right to know what UK and Scottish authorities knew about this flight given it is implicated in the US response to whistleblowing about global surveillance.”

ATTEMPTS to arrest Snowden have failed as Russian authorities refused to comply. However, pressure from US authorities made it dangerous for Snowden to travel from Russia to Latin America, where Ecuador, Nicaragua, Bolivia, and Venezuela have all offered him asylum.

The presidential plane of Bolivian leader Evo Morales was forced to ground in Vienna, after four EU nations refused airspace access on the mistaken belief that Snowden was hidden on board.

In 2013 Police Scotland launched an investigation into whether other US rendition flights – where prisoners were taken to blacklist torture sites – used Scottish airports or airspace.

In 2006 aviation expert Chris Yates said it was likely that a US rendition flight had passed through Scottish airspace to Syria, in a case where the prisoner, Maher Arar, said he was tortured.

In 2008 then foreign secretary David Miliband admitted that UK airports had been used for US rendition flights and apologised for previous government denials.

American politics lecturer John MacDonald, director of foreign policy group the Scottish Global Forum, said: “Given the constitutional arrangements, there are a number of areas in which the Scottish Government may well have interests or concerns but will be excluded because security arrangements with the US are deemed ‘out of bounds’ for Scotland.

“However, if you take serious the supposition that all responsible governments have a moral and legal obligation to raise questions about flights which may be involved in dubious security and intelligence activities, then the Scottish Government may well have an interest in – or even be obliged to –raise questions.

“Questions have already been raised about the nature of military and intelligence air traffic through Scotland and if this activity is raising concerns within Scottish civil society – and it seems to be – then it is surely incumbent upon the Scottish Government to raise the issue with London.”

National Air Traffic Control Systems (Nats), who control flight access to UK airspace, said rendition flights are an issue for the UK Government. In response to questions, the UK Government refused to provide details on attempts to arrest Snowden or on the passage of the N977GA flight.

The Scottish Government also avoided a direct statement on the case on legal grounds. A spokesman said: “There is already an ongoing Police Scotland investigation, directed by the Lord Advocate. This investigation will seek to gather all available evidence of rendition flights using Scottish airports. As this is a live investigation it would be inappropriate to comment further.”

During his two and a half years in Moscow, Snowden has caused diplomatic ruptures and a worldwide debate on privacy and state security. In October 2015 the European Parliament voted narrowly, in a non-binding motion, to drop charges against him in recognition of “his status as [a] whistle-blower and international human rights defender”.

http://www.thenation...e-snowden.13226
 


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#19 wirehaired

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Posted 03 February 2016 - 10:03 PM

"The disclosures that Edward Snowden revealed don't only expose a threat to our privacy but to our democracy itself," Poitras, who also co-produced the film, said during her acceptance speech.

 

"When the most important decisions being made affecting all of us are made in secret, we lose our ability to check the powers that control."

Poitras currently lives in Berlin and has said she does not feel she could continue her work if she remained in the United States.

 

She was apparently placed on the Homeland Security Department's terror watch list and was repeatedly detained at airports in the years after the September 11 attacks.

http://www.nationalj...entary-20150222

I don't know just when it happened but there was a Coup in the US,its clear as day the elected Politicians don't run a damn thing.


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#20 Shura

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Posted 04 February 2016 - 04:04 AM

THIS IS HOW it ended for Jeffrey Sterling:

A former covert officer for the Central Intelligence Agency, Sterling sat down in a federal courtroom with a lawyer on either side, looking up at a judge who would announce in a few moments whether he would go to prison for the next 20 years. A few feet away, three prosecutors waited expectantly, hoping that more than a decade of investigation by the FBI would conclude with a severe sentence for a man who committed an “unconscionable” crime, as one of them told the judge.

In Sterling’s blind spot, behind his left shoulder, his wife tried not to sob so loudly that the judge would hear. A social worker, she had been interrogated by FBI agents, her modest home was searched, she had been made to testify before a grand jury, and she had given up her hopes for an ordinary life — a child or two rather than the miscarriages she had, a husband who could hold a job, a life that was not under surveillance, and friends who were free of harassment from government agents asking for information about her and her husband.

One of Sterling’s lawyers stood up to ask for leniency. Sterling was a good person, the lawyer said, not a traitor. He was the first in his family to graduate from college. After leaving the CIA, he worked as a healthcare investigator and won awards for uncovering millions of dollars in fraud. He loved his wife. He did not cause any harm and did not deserve to be locked up until he was an old man for talking to a New York Times reporter about a classified program that he believed had gone awry. Please let the sentence be fair, the lawyer said.

It was time for Sterling to say a few words. His lawyers followed him to the lectern, standing a half step behind, as though to steady him if he wavered. A tall man with a low voice, Sterling thanked the court for its efforts to conduct the trial and thanked the judge for delaying its start so he could attend the funeral of one of his brothers. He did not say whether, as the jury had decided, he was guilty of what they had convicted him for — violating the Espionage Act and other laws related to disclosing classified information.

Sterling’s battle against the government had begun more than 15 years earlier, when he was still at the CIA. After he lodged a racial discrimination complaint, he was fired by the agency and filed two federal lawsuits against it, one for retaliation and discrimination, another for obstructing the publication of his autobiography. He also spoke as a whistleblower to Congress. Soon, his savings ran out and he became all but homeless, driving around the country, lost in despair. He eventually returned to his hometown near St. Louis and rebuilt his life, finding the woman who became his wife and landing a job he thrived at.

His new life was torn apart when FBI agents came to his workplace in 2011, placing him in handcuffs and parading him past his colleagues. A few days later, still in jail, he was fired because he had not shown up for work. The drama ended in a wood-paneled courtroom in Alexandria, Virginia on a warm afternoon in May, after Sterling finished his brief statement to the judge.

Sterling’s case has drawn attention primarily for two reasons: it was part of the Obama Administration’s controversial crackdown on leakers and whistleblowers, and prosecutors had tried to force the Times reporter, James Risen, to divulge the name of his source, whom the government believed was Sterling. The case, known as United States of America v. Jeffrey Alexander Sterling, was treated mainly as a freedom-of-the-press issue, with Risen as the heroic centerpiece. Lost in the judicial briefs about the First Amendment was the black man in the middle.

This is Sterling’s story.

DURING HIS LAST year of law school in St. Louis, Sterling was reading a newspaper between classes. He noticed an advertisement that showed a man standing at the edge of a body of water and looking at the horizon in an inspirational way. See the world, the ad said. Serve your country. Join the CIA.

It got him.

As a teenager, Sterling had become fascinated with the rest of the world. When he arrived home from high school, he would watch the MacNeil/Lehrer Report on PBS. Attending a racially mixed high school, he didn’t fit in. He remembers being called an Oreo, black on the outside and white on the inside, because his interests didn’t coincide with some people’s concept of what a black kid should do or think or say. Within hours of reading the CIA ad he began working on his application.

His first day at Langley — what people at the agency call their “EOD,” or Entrance On Duty — was May 13, 1993. He was told to park behind the main building and enter through the back doors used by most employees. But Sterling made a detour around the long sides of the building to walk through the grand entrance — the one with the shiny CIA emblem on the marble floor, where you walk by a wall that has stars for each CIA officer killed in the line of duty.

“That was a thrill,” he told me. “I actually did that for the first few days. It meant that much to me, to be able to walk in that front door knowing that I was part of something special. I was so proud of it.”

I met Sterling in April, at his home in O’Fallon, on the outskirts of St. Louis. It had been three months since the jury convicted him, and he was waiting for the hearing at which he would find out whether he would receive the term recommended under federal sentencing guidelines — between 19 to 24 years in prison. He was surprisingly tranquil, occasionally stroking his gray-flecked goatee as he talked about his long fight with the government. Other than discussing his case in a short documentary directed by Judith Ehrlich and produced by Norman Solomon, Sterling has not talked publicly about it. The Justice Department, asked to respond to his account, refused to provide any comment.

IT DID NOT take long, apparently, for the color of Sterling’s skin to set him apart at the CIA.

Once he had completed the agency’s version of basic spy training, Sterling was assigned to the Iran Task Force and dispatched to language school to learn Farsi. In 1997, just before he was to leave for his first overseas post in Germany, he was told that somebody else was going instead.

“We’re concerned that you would stick out as a big black guy speaking Farsi,” Sterling recalls his supervisor saying.

Shocked, he responded, “Well, when did you figure out I was black?”

The agency did not have a good record on diversity. At the time, all of its directors, deputy directors and chiefs of espionage operations had been white men. In 1995, the agency had agreed to pay $990,000 to settle a class-action lawsuit filed by female case officers who accused the agency of sex discrimination. The agency promised to do better on both racial and gender diversity — but it wasn’t, as far as Sterling could tell.

“I seriously considered leaving the agency,” he told me. “But I believed in what I would be able to do. I believed in the career I could have there.”

A few months later, he accepted a different overseas assignment. Shortly before he was to leave, a supervisor said he would instead go to the position in Germany that he had previously been turned down for, because the officer they were planning to send had pulled out. Sterling, a proud man, said he didn’t want to take a position for which he had been deemed second-best.

“You either go where we want or you’re going nowhere,” Sterling says he was told.

He went.

“I was like, OK, I can deal with this, I at least have an assignment,” Sterling told me. “I’ll prove to them how I’m a great case officer.”

Sterling recalls being the only black officer at the agency’s station in Bonn. His cover was as an Army logistics officer rather than a State Department officer, and he says this made it more difficult to gain entry to the social and political circles where foreign spies are recruited; doors that open for diplomats are closed to logistics officers. He believes his bosses thought the color of his skin meant he wouldn’t do as well as other officers, so they didn’t bother giving him a good cover.

“I couldn’t get into a janitor’s convention,” he said.

Sterling returned to the U.S. and was assigned to the counter-proliferation division at the agency’s headquarters before being dispatched to the New York station, where he says that once again he was the only black officer. Things did not go smoothly. He was given an unusual ultimatum — start recruiting three new spies, hold three meetings with each of them, or leave New York. He felt singled out, asked to do more than other officers while lacking the cover they had.

“That was the last I could take of it,” Sterling recalled. “I just said ‘No, I don’t accept this and I’m going to file a complaint.’”

He was transferred back to Langley, where he was given a closet-sized office that he and the co-worker he shared it with jokingly called “the penalty box.” He filed an internal racial discrimination complaint that didn’t succeed, and soon he was fired. John Brennan, who at the time was the agency’s deputy executive director and is currently its director, told the New York Times that “it was an unfortunate situation because Jeffrey was a talented officer and had a lot of skills we are looking for, and we wanted him to succeed. We were quite pleased with Jeffrey’s performance in a number of areas. Unfortunately, there were some areas of his work and development that needed some improvement.”

In O’Fallon, Sterling and I met at the single-story home he shares with his wife and two cats in a community of nearly identical red-and-white houses. “We’re really outside the beltway here,” he joked at one point. He has a voice that’s made for radio — deep and fluid, a bass that usually stays in the same comfortable register. He was dressed in jeans and a short-sleeved shirt, with sandals on his feet. On the wall, there was a print by Salvador Dali of two butterflies dancing in the air. His tone varied only once or twice, when his steady voice sharpened into a knife.

“I had dedicated myself to that agency,” he said, when I asked why he chose to confront the CIA rather than, as many people might have done, carry on quietly or resign without filing a lawsuit. “I couldn’t just walk away from something that was so vital to me and that I knew I was good at, proved I was good at. That was it for me … No, you are not going to treat me that way.”

IN 1972, JIM CROCE came out with a hit song, “You Don’t Mess Around with Jim,” that had several lines about the things a sensible person never does, such as spitting into the wind, pulling off the mask of the Lone Ranger, and tugging on Superman’s cape. Sterling pointed to that last bit of advice — not tugging on Superman’s cape — to describe the path he took. He challenged the CIA, and it probably wasn’t a sensible choice.

In 2001, as he was leaving the agency, he filed a federal lawsuit that said the CIA retaliated against him for making an internal discrimination complaint, and that he had indeed faced a pattern of discrimination there. The suit was dismissed by a judge after the CIA successfully argued in pre-trial motions that a trial would expose state secrets by disclosing sources and methods of intelligence-gathering. An appeals court upheld that ruling, though it noted that the dismissal “places, on behalf of the entire country, a burden on Sterling that he alone must bear” by being deprived of his right to a trial. The dismissal spared Sterling’s supervisors from testifying about their interactions with him. The government has not provided specific responses, in court or to the media, about his accusations of racial discrimination, other than to generally state that he faced none.

He tugged on the CIA’s cape in other ways. He wrote a memoir, tentatively titled Spook: An American Journey Through Black and White, and submitted chapters for pre-publication review. According to a lawsuit Sterling filed in 2003, the CIA determined that his manuscript contained classified information that should not be published, and demanded that he add information that, his suit said, was “blatantly false.” Facing a tough legal battle with a presiding judge who seemed sympathetic to the CIA, Sterling eventually agreed to drop the suit. His manuscript has not been published.

Also in 2003, Sterling met staffers from the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence to let them know his concerns about the mismanagement of a classified program he worked on at the agency. Merlin, as the program was called, involved the CIA giving Iran faulty nuclear blueprints. If the blueprints were used, Iran’s nuclear program would be delayed. The blueprints were given to the Iranians by a Russian scientist who lived in the United States, and Sterling was his CIA handler. The CIA has said the program worked well, but Sterling told the committee staffers it was botched and that the Iranians learned the blueprints were flawed; the Iranians might have gained nuclear insights from the accurate parts.

By the time he talked to the Senate staffers, Sterling had become radioactive by Washington standards. This is the usual whistleblower’s fate. He applied for jobs with the private-sector contractors that tend to eagerly recruit experts like him, and they initially seemed quite interested, Sterling recalls, but their attention vanished suddenly, presumably when they learned about his disputes with the CIA. His descent began in full. Running out of money, he sold his belongings on Craigslist, gave his cats to a woman who had a farm, and packed a few things into his car and took off.

The idea was to drive to his mother’s house in Missouri, but he wandered, parking at truck stops at night and sleeping in his car. “I had nowhere to go,” he recalled. “I had worked hard and it all fell apart.” He eventually visited friends in St. Louis who had a newborn and they made a deal — Sterling cared for their baby and lived rent-free in their house. “It was very humbling to go from being a case officer with the Central Intelligence Agency to now I’m a manny,” Sterling noted.

Then, as things do, his life turned around. In 2004 he landed a job as a healthcare investigator at WellPoint, and he also met a woman, Holly Brooke, and after a few months moved into her house. He now had a job, a life partner, a home. Everything was great until, on the morning of New Year’s Eve in 2005, the CIA’s top lawyer, John Rizzo, was woken up at home by a phone call on his secure line.

RIZZO GROGGILY ANSWERED the phone and was told by an official at the National Security Council that a book was about to be published that disclosed one of the CIA’s most sensitive intelligence programs. The book, by James Risen, was called State of War, and it described the Merlin program as perhaps “one of the most reckless operations in the modern history of the CIA.” Risen’s book did not identify who his source, or sources, were.

Rizzo, who described the day’s events in his memoir, threw on his clothes and drove into town to get the book from the NSC official, then drove to Langley to share it with senior officials who had been dragged from their homes to figure out what to do. The White House wanted to take the extraordinary step of stopping the book from being published. President Bush’s top lawyer, Harriet Miers, asked Rizzo to call Sumner Redstone, the chairman of Viacom, which owned Simon & Schuster, the book’s publisher. In the end, Rizzo didn’t call Redstone, but he made a mental note to file a crimes report with the Department of Justice; the leaker had to be found.

Within a month, two FBI agents were at Sterling’s house outside St. Louis. They claimed they were concerned that an Iranian was on the loose who might do harm to him. Sterling sensed it was a ruse; he told the FBI agents he’d be able to spot someone following him, particularly an Iranian because there were no Iranians where he lived. The agents then asked if they could come inside and Sterling refused. They had a copy of Risen’s book and asked if he knew about it.

“I was like, ‘I don’t know anything about that book. That was the first I had ever seen of that,’” Sterling told me.

This wasn’t the first time Sterling was questioned by the FBI. Risen had interviewed Sterling in 2002 and published a story about his discrimination lawsuit. The next year, Risen reported a story about the Merlin program, but it wasn’t published. Risen asked the CIA for pre-publication comment on the story and was soon summoned to the White House, along with his editor. They were told by then-National Security Adviser Condoleeza Rice that the story, if published, would reveal a valuable covert program and could cost lives. The Times decided to kill it.

The Justice Department launched a criminal investigation in 2003 and FBI agents questioned Sterling that year. However, until the agents showed up at his doorstep in 2006 with Risen’s book, Sterling thought his struggles with the government were behind him.

After that visit, Holly was subpoenaed to testify before a grand jury. She was questioned for seven hours at FBI headquarters in Washington and, she told me, the next day she spent three hours before the grand jury in Alexandria, Virginia. When she returned to St. Louis, she got a call from her lawyer, who said the FBI was coming to search her home. More than a dozen agents soon showed up to confiscate some of the couple’s belongings.

“They left and I had a meltdown,” Holly said during lunch at a pub near her home, as easy-listening rock music played in the background. “I was sobbing and crying and couldn’t understand this. I attempted to go to work the next day and I just lost it. My boss came to me and she said, ‘You need to leave. I think you are suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder.’”

Then, as mysteriously as it had intruded into their lives, the FBI’s investigation seemed to dissipate. In the fall of 2010, Sterling’s lawyer called him to say the case appeared to be winding down.

ON JANUARY 6, 2011, Sterling was asked to attend a meeting at his office. He was on medical leave after a knee-replacement operation, so he hobbled into work with a cane, and after checking on the mail that had piled up on his desk, a colleague told him the security staff needed to see him because there was a problem with his badge. It was urgent, Sterling was told. When he visited the security staff he was confronted, he says, by several FBI agents and police officers who placed him under arrest. His cane was taken away, his arms were handcuffed behind his back, and he was marched out of the building, limping, as his co-workers gaped. The indictment accused him of leaking to Risen out of “anger and resentment” at the CIA.

The timing of his arrest was unusual. The exchanges between Sterling and Risen began in 2001 and finished in 2005, according to records of their phone calls and emails that were listed in the indictment. Why was Sterling arrested six years after he last communicated with Risen and five years after his home was searched by the FBI? If, as the government claimed, he had caused so much harm, why did prosecutors wait so long to press charges?

The answers appear to be political. Until Barack Obama was elected president, the Department of Justice rarely prosecuted leakers. Obama promised, as a candidate, to create the most transparent administration ever, but he has presided over more leak prosecutions under the Espionage Act than all previous administrations combined. Dennis Blair, the director of national intelligence during Obama’s first term, told the Times that a decision was made in 2009 to “hang an admiral once in a while,” as Blair put it, to show would-be leakers they should not talk to the press. The Justice Department did not charge high-level officials, however; mid-level officials were the principal targets, and it appears that Sterling’s all-but-shut case was brought back to life as part of the crackdown.

Sterling, detained for weeks, became despondent.

“All of it came crashing down on me, sitting in that jail cell,” he said. “So many years, so many struggles, and I had gotten to a point where I had picked myself up and was just moving on. But this behemoth of anger, of retaliation, was having its way. It was an extremely low feeling that I was going through, disbelief, shock.”

He stopped eating until Holly was allowed to visit.

“Just seeing her face shocked me back into knowing that here’s this woman who loves me and she’s been with me through thick and thin,” he said. “I made a promise to her that I would stay alive, I won’t try to hurt myself.”

RELEASED FROM JAIL, Sterling no longer had a job and could not find a new one, due to the taint of an Espionage Act indictment, and he had to wait four years for his trial to begin. A large part of the delay was due to a legal battle between the prosecution and Risen — the prosecution wanted Risen to name his source, whom the government believed was Sterling, but Risen refused to cooperate, raising the prospect of a journalist going to jail for defying the government. The Obama administration, criticized for violating First Amendment protections, backed off just before the trial began.

On January 13, the trial opened with the lead prosecutor, James Trump, telling the jury that Sterling was a traitor.

“The defendant betrayed his country,” Trump said. “He betrayed his colleagues. He betrayed the CIA and compromised its mission. And most importantly, he betrayed the Russian asset, a man who literally placed his trust and his life into the defendant’s hands.”

Trump addressed the question of motive.

“And why?” he asked. “Anger, bitterness, selfishness. The defendant struck back at the CIA because he thought he had been treated unfairly. He had sued the agency for discrimination and demanded that they pay him $200,000 to settle his claim. When the agency refused, he struck back with the only weapon he had: secrets, the agency’s secrets.”

The government’s case consisted mostly of records of emails and phone calls between Sterling and Risen that began in 2001 and continued into 2005. The emails were very short, just a line or so, and did not reference any CIA programs. The phone calls were mostly short too, some just a few seconds, and the government did not introduce recordings or transcripts of any of them.

Sterling was represented by two lawyers, Edward MacMahon Jr. and Barry Pollack. In his opening statement, MacMahon pointed to the lack of hard evidence against his client.

“Mr. Trump is a fine lawyer,” MacMahon said. “If he had an email with details of these programs or a phone call, you would have heard it, and you’re not going to hear it in this case .… Mr. Trump told you that [Sterling] spoke to Risen. Did you hear where, when, or anything about what happened? No. That’s because there isn’t any such evidence of it whatsoever .… You don’t see a written communication to Mr. Risen from Mr. Sterling about the program at all, no evidence they even met in person.”

After a two-week trial that included some CIA witnesses testifying from behind a screen, so that their identities would not be revealed, the jury convicted Sterling, based on what the judge, Leonie Brinkema, described at the sentencing as “very powerful circumstantial evidence.” She added, “In a perfect world, you’d only have direct evidence, but many times that’s not the case in a criminal case.”

Sterling sat motionless as she explained the reasoning behind the sentence that she was about to announce. I had asked Sterling, when we met in St. Louis, what he expected would happen.

“This process has destroyed a lot of me,” he began, his voice shifting in the halting way that means anguish has broken loose. “The thought that I’m going to be sent to prison, I can’t and haven’t been able to deal with that. I don’t know where to put it or how to deal with it because it doesn’t make any sense. I’m dreading going to jail. Maybe some miracle will happen and I won’t. But I still have to be realistic and prepare for the worst.”

A few minutes before three in the afternoon, Judge Brinkema said that Sterling would go to prison for three and a half years. This was far below the sentencing guidelines — and was seen as a rebuke of the prosecution’s portrayal of Sterling as a traitor who had to be locked away for a long time. But that wasn’t much comfort for Sterling or his wife, because he would nonetheless be locked away. After the hearing ended, Sterling walked to the front row of seats to console his sobbing wife. You could hear her wails in the courtroom.

His lawyers requested that he be allowed to serve his sentence in his home state of Missouri, so that his wife and other family members could easily visit him.

Earlier this week, Sterling reported to the prison that was selected for him.

It is in Colorado.

https://firstlook.or...ost-everything/

Terrific story, Thank you. I have read about him briefly, before, but this is the first time full picture came into focus. Sadly for this country and its justice system we are going down the tube much faster than some think.


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