Organizing Notes

Bruce Gagnon is coordinator of the Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space. He offers his own reflections on organizing and the state of America's declining empire....

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Thursday, April 23, 2015

Obama Gives Petraeus Easy Ride

      Petraeus "Sweetheart Deal" Exposes Obama's War on Whistleblowers

By Institute for Public Accuracy

Reuters is reporting: "Former U.S. military commander and CIA director David Petraeus will appear in federal court in North Carolina on Thursday to face sentencing for allegedly leaking secrets to a mistress who was writing his biography." Many, especially whistleblower advocates, contrast the light sentence -- a fine and probation -- Petraeus is widely expected to receive today with the harsh sentences whistleblowers have faced from Obama administration prosecutions.

Seven whistleblowers will be speaking to this and related issues at a news conference organized by ExposeFacts: “The Obama Administration’s War on Whistleblowers” on Monday. Speakers will include: William Binney (NSA), Thomas Drake (NSA), Daniel Ellsberg (Pentagon Papers), Raymond McGovern (CIA), Jesselyn Radack (Justice Department), Coleen Rowley (FBI) and Kirk Wiebe (NSA) -- see media advisory.

The Star-Ledger in a recent editorial titled "Eric Holder's brand of justice: Whistleblowers whacked, all-star generals walk" writes that: "What makes it galling is how Petraeus compares to men like Jeffrey Sterling." Sterling is facing decades in prison for allegedly disclosing information to New York Times reporter James Risen about an apparently bungled CIA plot to give flawed nuclear plans to Iran. He was to be sentenced tomorrow (Friday) -- immediately after Petraeus' deal is finalized today -- but his sentencing has been delayed and is now scheduled for May 11.

MARCY WHEELER,, @emptywheel
    Wheeler writes widely about the legal aspects of the “war on terror” and its effects on civil liberties. She is the “Right to Know” investigative journalist for ExposeFacts and blogs at She just wrote the piece "DOJ Claims Grossly Disparate Treatment Will “Promote Respect for the Law.” Past related articles include "David Petraeus Gets Hand-Slap for Leaking, Two Point Enhancement for Obstruction of Justice."

    See also Wheeler's piece: "Desmond Tutu Calls for Justice for Jeffrey Sterling, Citing Petraeus Deal."

JOHN KIRIAKOU, @johnkiriakou
    Kiriakou is a former CIA counterterrorism officer and a former senior investigator for the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. The Real News recently conducted a series of interviews with him, available here, and reports he "was recently released from prison after serving 23 months of a 30 month sentence for exposing the CIA's illegal torture program. ... He's under house arrest after spending 23 months in jail."

    Kiriakou said today: "I don't think General Petraeus should have been prosecuted under the Espionage Act, just as I don't think I should have been prosecuted under the Espionage Act. Yet only one of us was. Both Petraeus and I disclosed undercover identities (or confirmed one in my case) that were never published. I spent two years in prison; he gets two years probation."

JESSELYN RADACK,, @jesselynradack
    Radack is the director of National Security & Human Rights at the Government Accountability Project (GAP), the nation’s leading whistleblower organization. She will be speaking at the ExposeFacts news conference on Monday and said today: "Petraeus' sweetheart plea deal, likely a $40,000 fine and two years of probation, for leaking classified information shows how deep the government's hypocrisy is when prosecuting whistleblowers. I've had national security whistleblower clients who have disclosed far less sensitive information in the public interest and have faced decades in jail under Espionage Act charges. Patraeus' comparative slap on the wrist shows the government has plenty of options when dealing with whistleblowers -- I wish my clients could get such lenient sentences.

    "Petreaus' light sentence makes clear that the consequences for whistleblowing are far more severe than the negligible consequences for Petreaus' leaks. GAP's whistleblower clients lost their careers and spent millions on legal fees while Petraeus was able to retain his security clearance, advise the White House, make lucrative speeches across the globe, and pull in a massive salary as a partner in one of the world's biggest private-equity firms.

    "The fact that Petraeus is the recipient of a such a comparatively light sentence is of particular significance considering that three most recent directors of the CIA -- Leon E. Panetta, Petraeus and John O. Brennan -- have all leaked classified information casually, regularly and with impunity.

    "The leak prosecution double standard makes clear that the Obama administration's record breaking number of Espionage Act prosecutions has nothing to do with protecting classified information and everything to do with punishing and silencing whistleblowers. If leaks were the real concern, Petraeus would receive punishment as harsh as the government demanded for other accused leakers."


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