CIA Whistleblower Faces 100 Years in Prison for Talking to NY Times Reporter

Originally published on January 29, 2015, at NationofChange.org

A former CIA case officer has been convicted for telling a New York Times reporter details concerning a reckless CIA operation that potentially sped up Iran’s nuclear advancement. Although the case against the CIA whistleblower was largely circumstantial and lacking evidence, former case officer Jeffrey Sterling faces a maximum sentence of 100 years in prison for speaking to New York Times reporter James Risen. Under threat of arrest, Risen tenaciously refused to reveal his sources to the government.

After joining the CIA on May 14, 1993, Sterling eventually rose to the rank of case officer and began working with the agency’s Iran Task Force. Between November 1998 and May 2000, Sterling had been assigned to a mission conspiring to deliver flawed nuclear blueprints to the Iranian government codenamed Operation Merlin. Unaware of the design flaws, the Iranian government would waste years devising a nuclear weapon that could not detonate.

The CIA planned to use a Russian nuclear engineer codenamed Merlin to transport the nuclear blueprints to the Iranians. In a luxurious hotel room in San Francisco, Sterling and a senior CIA officer gave the blueprints to Merlin, who immediately identified a flaw even though he had not been debriefed. Instead of aborting the mission because the design flaw was too obvious, the senior CIA officer went ahead with the operation.

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New GOP Chairman Suppresses Full CIA Torture Report

Originally published on January 22, 2015, at NationofChange.org

The new Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman sent a letter to the White House and several federal agencies last week demanding the return of every copy of the Committee’s entire classified CIA torture report. The new chairman, Sen. Richard Burr, also intends to return the notorious Panetta Review to the CIA. Critical of the agency’s false statements regarding the reliability of information obtained through torture, the Panetta Review’s release under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) has been blocked by the CIA.

On December 9, 2014, the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence released nearly 500 pages of the heavily redacted Executive Summary of the CIA’s Detention and Interrogation Program. According to the Committee, the CIA lied to Congress, the National Security Council, the Justice Department, and the American public about the severity of torture committed and the effectiveness of information gathered through enhanced interrogations. The Committee also accused former CIA Director Michael Hayden of lying to the Committee regarding prisoners’ deaths, the abusive backgrounds of CIA interrogators, threats against detainees’ family members, and reliability of information acquired through torture.

The CIA claims enhanced interrogation techniques were necessary to determine the secret locations of Osama bin Laden and Khalid Sheikh Mohammed (KSM), but the Committee discovered these assertions are false. A CIA detainee provided the agency with information leading to bin Laden’s location before agents subjected him to torture. The detainees who were subjected to the CIA’s enhanced interrogation techniques withheld and fabricated intelligence.

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Sen. Feinstein Introducing New Laws to Prohibit CIA Torture

Originally published on January 9, 2015, at NationofChange.org

Before stepping down as Chairperson of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Sen. Dianne Feinstein sent a letter to President Obama enumerating her recommendations to prevent the CIA from committing further acts of torture. Sent on December 30, 2014, but made public on Monday, the letter acknowledges the existence of legislative loopholes allowing future administrations to reauthorize the use of enhanced interrogation techniques. Although Feinstein urges stronger oversight of CIA programs and holding intelligence officials accountable, the GOP-led Senate is unlikely to enact her proposals.

Releasing the heavily redacted Executive Summary of the CIA’s Detention and Interrogation Program on December 9, 2014, the Senate Intelligence Committee detailed several acts of abuse and torture committed by the CIA during the incessant war on terror. According to the Committee, the CIA lied to Congress, the National Security Council, the Justice Department, and the American public about the severity of human rights violations and the effectiveness of information gathered through enhanced interrogations. The Committee also accused former CIA Director Michael Hayden of lying to the Committee regarding prisoners’ deaths, the questionable backgrounds of CIA interrogators, threats against detainees’ family members, and reliability of information obtained through torture.

According to her letter to the president, Sen. Feinstein recommends closing all torture loopholes buried within the Detainee Treatment Act of 2005, the U.S. Army Field Manuel, and Executive Order 13491. She notes that the Office of Legal Counsel interpreted the Detainee Treatment Act to allow the CIA to use coercive and abusive interrogation techniques. Intelligence community personnel are not limited to conducting only the interrogation techniques listed in the U.S. Army Field Manuel. And although Obama’s Executive Order 13491 revokes Bush’s Executive Order 13440, a future president could just as easily revoke Obama’s order ensuring lawful interrogations.

Feinstein also recommends requiring the U.S. government to notify the Red Cross and provide timely access to captured detainees. According to the report, CIA officer Matthew Zirbel left black site detainee Gul Rahman beaten and half-naked from the waist down in an unheated cell overnight while shackled to a wall in November 2002. Rahman was found dead of hypothermia the next day. In a case of mistaken identity, German citizen Khalid El-Masri endured months of beatings and forced rectal suppositories before being released without charges.

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UN Torture Report Condemns US Human Rights Abuses

Originally published on December 1, 2014, at NationofChange.org

The United Nations Committee Against Torture released a report addressing a myriad of human rights violations committed by the U.S. government. While commending President Obama for qualifying enhanced interrogation techniques as torture, the U.N. Committee decries his administration’s lack of transparency, refusal to prosecute, and inability to prevent rampant abuse.

In its first review of the U.S. since 2006, the U.N. Convention against Torture and Other Cruel Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment held hearings in Geneva throughout November. U.S. Representative to the Human Rights Council Keith Harper and State Department Acting Legal Adviser Mary McLeod gave statements during the proceedings, while the parents of Michael Brown testified against police brutality.

“The United States is proud of its record as a leader in respecting, promoting, and defending human rights and the rule of law, both at home and around the world,” stated McLeod. “But in the wake of the 9/11 attacks, we regrettably did not always live up to our own values, including those reflected in the Convention. As President Obama has acknowledged, we crossed the line and we take responsibility for that.”

In the conclusion of its report, the Committee applauded President Obama’s statements qualifying enhanced interrogation as torture at a press conference on August 1. The president admitted, “In the immediate aftermath of 9/11, we did some things that were wrong. We did a whole lot of things that were right, but we tortured some folks. We did things that were contrary to our values.”

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CIA Exposed: Traitors, Patriots, and Madmen

Originally published on December 3, 2013 at WeAreChange.org

From the ashes of the dissolved Office of Strategic Services, in 1947 the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) was born. Shrouded in secrecy, the agency has operated within the shadows for 66 years. Only a few CIA officers, such as Richard Helms, William Colby, and John Brennan, have risen to the coveted position of Director of Central Intelligence.

But this isn’t their story. These are the crimes and confessions of the analysts, contractors, interrogators, and officers of the CIA. From political assassinations to state-sponsored torture, this is the CIA’s story in their own words.

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