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?