The CIA Jeffrey Sterling Trial: Leaks and Prosecution at the CIA

January 19th, 2015 - by admin

Norman Solomon / Global Research & Mitchito Ritter & Democracy Now! – 2015-01-19 14:28:29

The CIA Jeffrey Sterling Trial: Leaks and Prosecution at the CIA. “Disclosure of Classified Operations”

The CIA Jeffrey Sterling Trial:
Leaks and Prosecution at the CIA.
“Disclosure of Classified Operations”

Norman Solomon / Global Research

(January 16, 2015) — Condoleezza Rice made headlines when she testified Thursday at the leak trial of former CIA officer Jeffrey Sterling — underscoring that powerful people in the Bush administration went to great lengths a dozen years ago to prevent disclosure of a classified operation. But as The Associated Press noted, “While Rice’s testimony helped establish the importance of the classified program in question, her testimony did not implicate Sterling in any way as the leaker.”

Few pixels and little ink went to the witness just before Rice — former CIA spokesman William Harlow — whose testimony stumbled into indicating why he thought of Sterling early on in connection with the leak, which ultimately resulted in a ten-count indictment.

Harlow, who ran the CIA press office, testified that Sterling came to mind soon after New York Times reporter James Risen first called him, on April 3, 2003, about the highly secret Operation Merlin, a CIA program that provided faulty nuclear weapon design information to Iran.

Harlow testified that he tried to dissuade Risen without confirming the existence of Operation Merlin, first telling the reporter “that if there was such a program, I didn’t think a respectable newspaper should be writing about it.” The next day, when Risen called back, “I said that such a story would jeopardize national security.”

Not until cross-examination by a defense attorney did Harlow acknowledge something that he’d failed to mention when describing his initial conversation with Risen: In fact, Harlow had told Risen that only Al Jazeera would be willing to cover the story he was pursuing.

As a prosecution witness, Harlow volunteered some information that may come back to haunt the prosecutors. With alarm spreading among CIA officials, Harlow testified, someone at the agency mentioned to him that Sterling had worked on the Operation Merlin program. In his testimony, Harlow went on to say that Sterling’s name was familiar to him because Sterling, who is African American, had filed a race discrimination lawsuit against the CIA.

Left dangling in the air was the indication that Harlow thought of Sterling as a possible leaker because he’d gone through channels to claim that he had been a victim of racial bias at the CIA. Sterling’s complaint had received substantial coverage in several major news outlets. (The CIA eventually got the suit thrown out of court on the grounds of state secrets.)

According to Harlow’s testimony, everything he heard about Operation Merlin at the CIA was that it was going swimmingly. The only words otherwise came from Risen, who told him the Iranians were already aware of the flaws in the nuclear weapons design that the CIA had arranged to be passed along to them. Harlow testified that it was the first time he’d heard any assertion that Operation Merlin was not well run.

Along the way, on the witness stand Thursday afternoon, the veteran PR operative for the CIA let some paternalism slip: “I did think there was a way to dumb the story down so it would be appropriate to put in the paper,” Harlow said.

But his hopes to block the story or water it down enough to render it insignificant were clearly failing. Risen showed no sign of backing off. So the CIA called in big guns. Twenty-seven days after Risen’s first call on the subject to Harlow, national security adviser Rice hosted a meeting that included CIA Director George Tenet and other government officials as well as Risen and Times Washington bureau chief Jill Abramson.

The pressure worked. Within 10 days, the Times told the National Security Council that it would not publish the story. “I was relieved when I learned the story was not running,” Rice testified on Thursday, “and I was grateful to the Times.”

Her relief lasted almost three years, until Risen included a chapter about Operation Merlin in his 2006 book State of War. But Rice has never had a reason to rescind her gratitude to the New York Times; the newspaper never published the story. Information about the dangerous CIA program only reached the public because Risen took the risk of putting it in a book.

Norman Solomon is the executive director of the Institute for Public Accuracy and the author of War Made Easy: How Presidents and Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death. He is a co-founder of

Ex-CIA & Military Intel Analyst
Ray McGovern on CIA Whistleblower Trial

Only Amy Goodman’s Democracy Now Aired Counter-Narrative to Corp Mass Media & Powers That Be

Michito Ritter / Opinion

WASHINGTON, DC (January 16, 2015) — People in this country have only one Intelligence Service that serves the Public Interest (rather than corporate interests) and that is what remains of the Alternative Press and Netcast media. Broadcast media in the US is completely engulfed by corporate underwriting, along with advertiser-driven agendas that require concision to the exclusion of complexity.

Corporate broadcasting operates from a top-down hierarchy little-changed from Cold War orthodoxy — as set down in the Mass Communications text-book editions edited by Wilbur Shramm in 1949 and following a marketing template devised by Paul Lazarsfeld — that systematically bound the coverage of public affairs into an entertainment template.

Our President Bait & Switch Obama has been worse on government transparency and persecuting institutional-corruption whistleblowers than any presidential predecessor and that is saying something for those who’ve been paying attention to the scandalous policies of previous administrations (of either corporate-captured political party.

This morning Pres. Bait & Switch Obama held a press conference with a few questions on Syria and Iran policy. Obama answered the Syrian questions well (in my humble estimation) by calling for the privileged journalistic pool standing in for the US body politic to think about the Syrian auto-genocide and asking how the auto-genocidal Syrian situation might’ve been made any more humane with US boots on the ground as the war wing of the US Congress and their constituencies within the ever vigilant military-industrial complex called on the President to exercise Executive-ordered military muscle beyond the air support and humanitarian aid supplied, along with a diplomatic cover for the supply lines of materiel and global suicide mujahadeen flooding into Syria through the coordination and funding of Washington’s close allies on the Arabian Peninsula and among the Gulf Emirates.

On the question of either continuing to escalate sanctions vs. Iran, none of the accredited journalists hosted by the White House asked the obvious.

As sanctions have thus far been so porous, benefiting US corporations — like Cheney-era Hallibuton’s subsidiaries (see Dresser Industries) — since the start of anti-Iran economic sanctions, what will change in enforcement to bring either Iran’s or Syria’s western money-laundering corporate enablers to heel?

Sanctions that cut off outside human goods but allow the state-controlled financial elite from continuing to launder its domestic monopolies off-shore penalizes working class Iranians and Syrians while their governmental elites double-down to hang on.

In Iran’s client state of Syria, despite so-called global sanctions, Bachar Assad along with his heavily invested family businesses (banking and ‘investing’ in London, Geneva, Paris, Liechtenstein, Wall Street, Toronto, Abu Dhabi, Lebanon and the Cayman Islands) and the Assad regime and Baath Party’s circle of state capitalists (like the global Mohammad Hamcho Construction and Engineering contractors and their diversified corporate shells with properties extending from Beverly Hills to Toronto, New York, and the European capitals of finance).

Meanwhile, Damascus has not missed making payroll to Syria’s 17 overlapping internal security services, the internal Saraya al-Difa’a (founded by Assad’s London-based uncle, Rifa’at Assad) and armed forces that include Lebanon’s Hezbollah proxies, whose supply of missiles the Israelis never quite curtail.

On this latter point, it is interesting to note that, during last summer’s single lethal-sided exchange between Gaza’s Islamic Jihad and Hamas rocketeers (at least partly supplied by Hezbollah with much of the rest going overland from Iran and Syria crossing via the Red Sea route of Port Sudan to the Sinai Peninsula, which Egypt wasn’t able to police either under the Muslim Brotherhood’s brief time in elected office or under the subsequent military take-over) and Israel’s array of US supplied Patriot and modified Arrow anti-ballistic missile systems that (along with Israel’s own state-of-the-art Tamir rockets) comprise Washington’s subsidized Iron Dome Israeli air defense system, it was the Israelis who ran out of ammunition first and had to be resupplied.

No matter how many boots the Israeli Defense Force sent into Gaza or naval and satellite assets (not to mention drones) were deployed to cordon off the Gaza coast, somehow the supply of the jolly Jihadi rocketeers’ inventory remains inexhaustible. Of course, youse gets what youse pays for.

Not one journalist at this morning’s Presidential press conference asked about that. Not one journalist asked the President why China and Russia wouldn’t have more to lose given proximity and restive separatist Islamic movements within their borders and spheres of influence (Caucasus) if Iran gained nuclear weapons capabilities.

Hence, why is the US (with its Israeli client state) acting like the only global cop on the beat? Turkey is the Sunni power in the region with total control of the water supply feeding the intervening Asian states. Why wouldn’t Turkey have more to lose from the rise of a new Shia’a Persian Empire on its borders?

Hasn’t Washington already tacitly turned the defense of Iraq from (Sunni) Islamic Caliphate forces and those Saudi and Gulf Arab supply lines over to post-US invasion and de-Baathified Iraq and its Shia’a Iranian ‘Shadow Commander’ Qassem Soleimani? Washington has monitored that fait accompli (and not the first since the neo-Cons and the Cheney-Bush-Rummy-Rice administration decided in all its geo-political and national security wisdom after 09-11-01 to invade Iraq and take out Iran & the Sunni Caliphate Revivalist Movement’s fiercest regional natural predator in the person of Saddam Hussein and what was then Iraq; Republic of Fear.

Now touring Iraqi Army bases is Iran’s Shadow Commander Qassem Soleimani, reviving the spirits of Iraq’s remaining fighting forces to repel the Caliphate forces.

Moreover, Iran is now seeking to shore up its US-sponsored hegemonic gains in the Muddle East while finding itself happy to have the US take the lead in underwriting this latest war against the Sunni Islamic State that had been sponsored by Washington’s closest regional allies.

Again, if Iran is the nuclear-threat-we-cannot-allow-to-happen (wasn’t Sunni Pakistan already a regional member of the nuclear club that includes Israel?) and if on Iran’s borders are such powerful antagonists to the Shia’a Revolutionary ambitions of Iran as Turkey, China and Russia’s spheres of influence, why can’t an accredited journalist ask the question that will force Obama and his discredited generals of the US Armed Forces and National Security State to shift outdated and failed-in-the-field paradigms that drew the US into the Islamic World’s perpetual jihad against its own Umma?

Just asking…

Mitchito Ritter has written for the World Cultures & Music magazine, Dirty Linen, for SF Weekly and the SF Bay Guardian among other outlets.

Ray McGovern Speaks at News Conference on
Prosecution of CIA Whistleblower Jeffrey Sterling

(January 14, 2015) — Former CIA Analyst Joins with Petition Signers Urging DOJ to Drop Charges. A news conference, addressing key issues in the ongoing trial of former CIA officer Jeffrey Sterling took place at 9 a.m, January 14, 2015 in front of the US District Court Building in Alexandria, Va.

Speakers included former CIA analyst Ray McGovern, who chaired the National Intelligence Estimates in the 1980s. McGovern prepared the daily briefs for presidents from John F. Kennedy to George H.W. Bush. For his CIA service he received the Intelligence Commendation Medal. Also speaking were Norman Solomon, co-founder of, and David Swanson, the organization’s campaign coordinator.

A coalition of press freedom and whistleblower support organizations is releasing a petition with more than 50,000 signers, urging the government to drop all charges against Sterling.

Posted online at, the petition says: “As a whistleblower, former CIA officer Jeffrey Sterling went through channels to inform staffers of the Senate Intelligence Committee about the ill-conceived and dangerous CIA action known as Operation Merlin.

The current effort to prosecute Mr. Sterling, for allegedly providing information about Operation Merlin to journalist James Risen, comes 15 years after that CIA operation took place. This prosecution serves no valid purpose. “Moreover, this is a case that smacks of selective prosecution. Top officials, including General James Cartwright and the former CIA Director and Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, reportedly leaked classified information on far more recent and sensitive matters. “We urge you to drop all charges against Mr. Sterling.”

Sponsors of the petition include, the Government Accountability Project, Reporters Without Borders,The Nation, the Center for Media and Democracy,

Ex-CIA Analyst Ray McGovern Beaten,
Arrested for Silent Protest at Clinton Speech

Amy Goodman & Juan Gonzales / Democracy Now!

(February 2011) — This week, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton gave a major address calling for Internet freedom around the world. As Clinton condemned the Egyptian and Iranian governments for arresting and beating protesters, former US Army and CIA officer Ray McGovern was violently ejected from the audience and arrested after he stood up and turned his back in a silent protest of America’s foreign policy. Ray McGovern joins us from Washington, D.C. [includes rush transcript]

This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.
JUAN GONZALEZ: On Tuesday, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton gave a major address calling for Internet freedom around the world. Speaking at George Washington University, Clinton condemned the Egyptian and Iranian governments for arresting and beating protesters.

SECRETARY OF STATE HILLARY CLINTON: What happened in Egypt and what happened in Iran, which this week is once again using violence against protesters seeking basic freedoms, was about a great deal more than the Internet. In each case, people protested because of deep frustrations with the political and economic conditions of their lives. They stood and marched and chanted, and the authorities tracked and blocked and arrested them.

AMY GOODMAN: Just moments before Hillary Clinton spoke those words, a 71-year-old man was violently ejected from Clinton’s own event and arrested for turning his back on the Secretary of State. TV cameras caught part of what happened.

SECRETARY OF STATE HILLARY CLINTON: Then the government pulled the plug. Cell phone service was cut off. TV satellite signals were jammed, and Internet access was blocked for nearly the entire population.

RAY McGOVERN: So, this is America! This is America! Who are you? I’m standing there quietly! You’re breaking my arm!

SECRETARY OF STATE HILLARY CLINTON: The government did not want the people to communicate with each other, and it did not want the press to communicate with the public.

JUAN GONZALEZ: The voice you heard screaming was that of Ray McGovern as he was dragged away by security guards who left him bruised and bloodied. He was then arrested. McGovern is a former Army intelligence officer and a 27-year veteran of the CIA. He was one of the CIA’s daily briefers for President George H.W. Bush. He has since become a vocal critic of US foreign policy.

AMY GOODMAN: Ray McGovern joins us now in Washington, D.C. Ray, you were seriously hurt. Tell us what happened.

RAY McGOVERN: Well, I was pounced upon. I was blindsided, really. I was looking straight to the back, minding my own business, the only offense being standing up when everyone else was sitting down. And without any warning, I was pounced upon by and what I call large-manhandled by a fellow who looked like an NFL football player in plain dress. I don’t know who he was.

That’s why you hear me screaming, “Who are you? Who are you?” I never did get the answer to that. So it was really quite abrupt, quite violent.

And the supreme irony, of course, is — and it sounds like something right out of Franz Kafka — four paragraphs later, Hillary Clinton is saying what you just quoted her as saying.

You know, one has to keep one’s sense of humor in all this, especially when one bears these kinds of bruises, and I can’t show you the ones down below.

I was listening on the way in. I tuned in a little late to your show. And what I heard Hillary Clinton say, that little clip, “We strongly oppose the use of violence” — this is yesterday. “We have deep concern over the actions of security forces.” And I’m saying, “Yes! Oh, she’s going to apologize like my Veterans for Peace colleagues asked her to do.” But then I realized, she’s talking about Bahrain. Straight out of Kafka.

AMY GOODMAN: So, you were seriously hurt. What parts of your body? What did they do to you?

RAY McGOVERN: Well, they put two sets of handcuffs on me very roughly. They were the iron or the steel handcuffs. They dug into my wrists. Well, you could see some of the stuff right here. And they put it behind my back, of course, and I started bleeding profusely over my pants. We have the pants; they’re full of blood. When somebody said, “Is that his blood?” one of the cops said, “No, no, I pricked my finger.”

Right. The whole back seat of the pants is suffused with blood. They threw me — well, they didn’t throw me. They placed me in a patrol car — I try not to exaggerate here — I was taken up to one of the police headquarters in D.C., mugshotted, fingerprinted to a fare-thee-well, and put in a little cell of the size that Bradley Manning now occupies in Quantico, kept there for three-and-a-half hours.

AMY GOODMAN: Ray, we only have a minute, but why were you there? Why did — were you standing up?

RAY McGOVERN: I was standing up in silent witness to the fact that Hillary Clinton is responsible, partly responsible, for countless thousands of Iraqis, Americans, Afghans and, God help us, Iranians — I hope not — and that she should not get the idea that everybody is going to sit down and applaud politely when there are so many of us that are usually excluded from these sessions who are feeling very, very, very sad and very angry at the foreign policy of our government.

Very seldom do you have a chance to express that. I thought that I expressed that in a most nonviolent way by simply standing quietly with my back to her with a T-shirt that said “Veterans for Peace.”

AMY GOODMAN: Well, Ray McGovern, we want to thank you for being with us, a former top briefer of Vice President George H.W. Bush. Ray worked for the CIA for more than a quarter of a century.

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