Skip to main content

Yesterday, I was fortunate to have a diary on the Rec. List all day about NSA whistleblower Tom Drake, who is being prosecuted under the Espionage Act for mishandling allegedly classified documents.

Much to my dismay, the same rogue prosecutor, William Welch, who has been heading the full frontal assault on journalists and whistleblowers, just issued a fourth subpoena against New York Times reporter James Risen to force him to testify against Jeffrey Sterling--another whistleblower charged under the Espionage Act for allegedly mishandling classified information.

Instead of tipping me, please sign the petition in support of Thomas Drake.  Actions speak louder than tip and Tweets.

Jeffrey Sterling is suspected of blowing the whistle on a botched CIA effort to sabotage the Iranian nuclear program.  The CIA sent a Russian scientist to give Iran blueprints for a nuclear triggering device with a hidden design flaw.  But, as James Risen reported in his book, State of War, the CIA effort was botched and actually helped Iranian scientists gain valuable and accurate nuclear information.  

The government thinks that Sterling provided information that served as the basis for a chapter in James Risen's book about this debacle.  The book was published in 2006, so like the Drake case, Obama's violating his own "look forwards, not backwards" decree to go after moldy-oldy "leak investigations" of whistleblowers while the perpetrators of war crimes, torture, and warrantless wiretapping wallow in their freedom.

Risen was twice served a grand jury subpoena by the Bush administration.  But then surprisingly, Obama renewed the Bush-era grand jury subpoena, even though by now the government knew that Sterling was Risen's source.  That's improper because under Justice's own rules, the Department should only subpoena reporters as a last resort--if there's no other way to obtain the information.  Thankfully, Judge Leonie Brinkema quashed that subpoena.

This subpoena is even worse.  It is for Risen to testify against his source.

A number of journalists, including Jane Mayer and the AP, have noted the link between this subpoena and the prosecution of Drake as being part of Obama's assault on freedom of the press. Jane Mayer summed it up:

The subpoena is expected to pit the freedom of the press to cover highly sensitive intelligence issues against the government’s authority to define what must remain secret in order to protect national security.

Sterling's attorney, Edward MacMahon, speculated about how Obama's Justice Department is getting away with his war on whistleblowers:

Eric Holder’s every bit as aggressive a prosecutor as John Ashcroft. He just has more friends in the media, . . .If John Ashcroft had brought any of these cases, there would have been a whirlwind of ‘Shame on you!’

The writing is on the wall.  Risen said:

I will always protect my sources, and I think this is a fight about the First Amendment and freedom of the press.

That's exactly what it's about.  Risen is willing to go to jail to protect a source.  But are most journalists?  

Drake is willing to go to jail instead of "plea bargaining with the truth."  But I can tell you that most whistleblowers are not willing to sacrifice their liberty.  It's bad enough that they most often already had to choose their conscience over their career.

When is enough, enough?

Originally posted to Jesselyn Radack on Tue May 24, 2011 at 01:19 PM PDT.

Also republished by Pink Clubhouse.

Your Email has been sent.
You must add at least one tag to this diary before publishing it.

Add keywords that describe this diary. Separate multiple keywords with commas.
Tagging tips - Search For Tags - Browse For Tags


More Tagging tips:

A tag is a way to search for this diary. If someone is searching for "Barack Obama," is this a diary they'd be trying to find?

Use a person's full name, without any title. Senator Obama may become President Obama, and Michelle Obama might run for office.

If your diary covers an election or elected official, use election tags, which are generally the state abbreviation followed by the office. CA-01 is the first district House seat. CA-Sen covers both senate races. NY-GOV covers the New York governor's race.

Tags do not compound: that is, "education reform" is a completely different tag from "education". A tag like "reform" alone is probably not meaningful.

Consider if one or more of these tags fits your diary: Civil Rights, Community, Congress, Culture, Economy, Education, Elections, Energy, Environment, Health Care, International, Labor, Law, Media, Meta, National Security, Science, Transportation, or White House. If your diary is specific to a state, consider adding the state (California, Texas, etc). Keep in mind, though, that there are many wonderful and important diaries that don't fit in any of these tags. Don't worry if yours doesn't.

You can add a private note to this diary when hotlisting it:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from your hotlist?
Are you sure you want to remove your recommendation? You can only recommend a diary once, so you will not be able to re-recommend it afterwards.
Rescue this diary, and add a note:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from Rescue?
Choose where to republish this diary. The diary will be added to the queue for that group. Publish it from the queue to make it appear.

You must be a member of a group to use this feature.

Add a quick update to your diary without changing the diary itself:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary?
(The diary will be removed from the site and returned to your drafts for further editing.)
(The diary will be removed.)
Are you sure you want to save these changes to the published diary?

Comment Preferences

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site