• AntiWar.com: Meet John Kiriakou

    January 31, 2012 // Comments Off on AntiWar.com: Meet John Kiriakou

    Antiwar.com tells the story of CIA officer John Kiriakou, indicted for leaking details of the Agency’s torture programs to the press.

    The bitter irony, the article points out, is that while Obama appears totally committed to stamping out government leaks about torture policy, he’s declined to pursue a similar course against those responsible for torturing prisoners in the first place. According to NSA whistleblower Thomas Drake:

    The Obama Administration is further criminalizing the exposure of the US’s own state sponsored and supported criminal behavior and activity — namely torture and in my case warrantless surveillance — while protecting and hiding from accountability those who authorized, approved, conducted and implemented the criminal behavior and activity under the cover and guile and guise of secrecy.

    The article quotes me:

    What is happening during the Obama administration— which has sought more prosecutions of it sown employees for “leaks” under the espionage act than any other— is a simultaneous classification of everything, coupled with a wicked hand to slap down anyone who “divulges” that info. If everything is classified than everyone in the government who speaks out is a spy.

    The hypocrisy of the government’s actions is made clear by attorney Jesselyn Radack:

    The fetid odor, the thing that really stinks about this case is that CIA officers had been immunized for committing waterboarding, for committing torture. Now, the only person being prosecuted in connection with torture is John Kiriakou, who blew the whistle on waterboarding being torture. And the only person to be prosecuted in connection with warrantless electronic surveillance is Tom Drake, a whistle-blower who blew the whistle on warrantless surveillance.

    An important article from Antiwar.com that gives a dark glimpse of America’s future. It deserves a wider audience. Better read it now, while you still can.



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    Posted in Democracy

    Dark Days for Government Whistleblowers

    January 4, 2012 // Comments Off on Dark Days for Government Whistleblowers

    Antiwar.com has an excellent article online now about Thomas Drake (right), a former NSA employee who exposed government spying on Americans, lost his job and almost went to jail over the trumped up charges that followed. Drake ultimately was only convicted of a single misdemeanor, but saw his career and life almost destroyed.

    Drake, reminds Antiwar.com, is not alone:

    Today, Drake says that 9/11 exposed all of the secrecy and cynicism and venal impulses of a government he once defended and believed in. Though not outwardly analogous, his case is not so different from other post-9/11 whistleblowers and truth-tellers, like Anthony Shaffer or Peter Van Buren, who both lost their security clearances, their government careers sidelined as though they were suddenly “enemies of the state.”

    Drake was vindicated by the efforts of the Government Accountability Project, a powerful organization determined not to see the abuse of authority.

    “At one point they said what Tom had done was endangering soldiers’ lives,” said Jesselyn Radack, an attorney for the Washington DC-based Government Accountability Project, which defended Drake during the prosecution and has a long list of whistleblower clients (Radack is also a whistleblower, having exposed the FBI of committing ethics violations – and a cover-up – when it interrogated American John Walker Lindh without a lawyer present in 2001).

    “They want to tag anyone who questions anything that happens as being unpatriotic. They are using laws that were meant to go after spies to go after whistleblowers. We have someone here who is trying to serve his country and blows the whistle on government illegality,” she said. “For the prosecution to say he is endangering lives is just offensive.

    The entire article is sobering but important reading. See Antiwar.com for more.



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    Posted in Democracy

    Iraq: No Comfort in Being Right

    December 13, 2011 // Comments Off on Iraq: No Comfort in Being Right

    Saddam StatueAntiwar.com’s Kelley Vlahos’ end-of-the-war-for-now Iraq wrap up is worth reading. Unlike some of the lumbering garbage being churned out (“we need to wait for the judgement of history”), Vlahos calls it like it is:

    After years of talking about what victory would look like (and downgrading that definition, conveniently, to accommodate evolving realities “on the ground”) it seems to matter little. No one — not the most strident defender of Bush’s preemptive strike strategy or the war’s greatest skeptic — can say with any sincerity that the U.S. and its coalition partners have achieved greatness in Iraq. For those who feel obligated to maintain pretenses, any rhetoric about democracy and peace sound like boilerplate now and feel as satisfying as a tie in a fight. Everyone just wants to go home, pride dented, bodies bloody and tired, and without cause for celebration. “Empty” seems like the right word.



    Vlahos includes comments from a number of people on the war, including me:

    So who won the war? Iran. Iran sat patiently on its hands while the United States hacked away at its two major enemies, Saddam and the Taliban, clearing both its east and west borders at no cost to Tehran. (Iran apparently reached out to the U.S. government in 2003, seeking some sort of diplomatic relationship, but after being rebuffed by the engorged Bush administration, decided to wait and watch the quagmire envelop America.) We leave Iraq now with an increasingly influential Iran seeking a proxy battleground against the United States and a nicely weak buffer state on its formerly troublesome western border.

    None of that tallies toward a stable Iraq. Indeed, quite the opposite. Worst-case scenario might look a lot like the darkest days in Lebanon, with many of the same players at the table.



    Also featured are remarks by Boston University professor and author Andrew Bacevich, Celeste Ward Gventer, director of the Robert S. Strauss Center for International Security and Law at the University of Texas and former deputy assistant secretary of defense in the Bush administration, Gordon Adams, professor of international relations at American University and a former White House national security official in the Clinton administration and others.

    The whole article is worth reading over at Antiwar.com.



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    Posted in Democracy

    State Dept. Suspends Clearance over Wikileaks

    October 18, 2011 // 1 Comment »

    Stories on State suspending my security clearance because I wrote about Iraq, and because I linked to a Wikileaks documents now on both Antiwar.com and The American Conservative.

    When was the last time those two news sources agreed on a story?



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    Posted in Democracy

    Who’s Afraid of a Book?

    October 4, 2011 // Comments Off on Who’s Afraid of a Book?

    Kelley Vlahos at Antiwar.com has an excellent article online showing how in 21st Century America when the government does not like what a book has to say, bad things tend to happen to the author.

    She talks about my own troubles with the State Department, as well as the case of Anthony Shaffer, an Army reservist who worked 25 years in intelligence before and after 9/11, lost his security clearances and was maligned for such petty things as mismatched travel expenses after he published Operation Dark Heart: Spycraft and Special Ops on the Frontlines of Afghanistan in 2010. The Pentagon also demanded redactions (even though the book had been vetted), and when it couldn’t get what it wanted, bought up the remaining 9,500 copies for $50,000 taxpayer dollars and destroyed them.

    Vlahos also discusses former FBI agent and author Ali Soufan. The CIA had demanded similar redactions in his newly published memoir, The Black Banners: The Inside Story of 9/11 and the War Against al-Qaeda, which charges the CIA blew its chance to derail the 9/11 attacks by not disclosing to the FBI that it knew two of the hijackers when they were living in San Francisco. He also provided firsthand accounts of the CIA’s brutality in counterterror interrogations.

    The article paints a sad picture of the gasps of a dying empire, not sad, just pathetic, as it attempts to clumsily stifle criticism by its own employees.

    Read the entire article online now at Antiwar.com.



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    Posted in Democracy

    “How I Helped Lose Hearts and Minds” Author Under Fire

    September 27, 2011 // 4 Comments »

    From Antiwar.com:


    The Net is abuzz today with the irony, that Peter Van Buren, a 23-year foreign service officer with the U.S Department of State, may be the only department personnel to be fired over the WikiLeaks’ scandal. Van Buren, who just published the book, We Meant Well: How I Helped Lose the Battle for the Hearts and Minds of Iraqi People this week, relayed in a powerful column at TomDispatch this morning how he was called in, interrogated and accused of disclosing classified material. His crime? Embedding links to WikiLeaked cables in a post on his personal blog.

    The State Department is going after the messenger, but we need to keep a laser focus on the message: that our post-invasion efforts to “reconstruct” Iraq in the name of “counterinsurgency” has been a gigantic failure, the proportions of which we will still be measuring for years to come.





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    Posted in Democracy

    Interview: How I Helped Lose Hearts and Minds in Iraq

    July 13, 2011 // Comments Off on Interview: How I Helped Lose Hearts and Minds in Iraq

    Journalist Kelley B. Vlahos, of Antiwar.com and Fox News, recently interviewed Peter about his work at the State Department and of course, the book.

    Vlahos wrote:

    We Meant Well, appears to be one part exposé, one part confession, because when talking to Peter, it’s clear (not just from the title) that he wants you to know that for a time, he willingly participated in the failure of US policy in Iraq and truly believes that if he does not tell his story, the government will continue to repeat the same mistakes in Afghanistan, unchecked by an American public kept largely in the dark about the ugly facts on the ground.

    Van Buren is not your typical American bureaucrat. As a foreign service officer with the U.S. State Department, he does not put his head down, he does not keep his mouth closed, and he doesn’t put his 23-year career in front of the good of the country.

    He remains one of the few American bloggers still devoted to talking about the War in Iraq. To him, it is all of a piece, Afghanistan and Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan, so-called modern counterinsurgency.


    Read the whole interview at Antiwar.com.



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    Posted in Democracy