Podcast: CIA Whistleblower Jeffrey Sterling & the Government’s Campaign to Silence Him

Screen shot 2015-05-17 at 10.22.11 AMFormer CIA officer Jeffrey Sterling was sentenced to three and a half years in prison for leaking to a journalist. It was the longest sentenced issued under President Barack Obama’s administration by a federal court as punishment for a leak.

During a trial in January, he was convicted of violations of the Espionage Act and other offenses. The government convinced a jury, with largely circumstantial evidence, that Sterling had leaked information about a top secret CIA operation in Iran called “Operation Merlin” to New York Times reporter James Risen, who later published details on the operation in a chapter of his book, State of War. (“Operation Merlin” involved the passage of flawed nuclear blueprints to Iran in order to get them to work on building a nuclear weapon that would never function.)

The government pushed hard for Sterling to be sentenced to prison as long as 19 to 24 years.

This week on the “Unauthorized Disclosure” podcast Jesselyn Radack is the show’s guest. Radack is the director of the National Security and Human Rights Division of the Government Accountability Project. She has represented a number of prominent whistleblowers, such as Thomas Drake, John Kiriakou, and, currently, Edward Snowden. She is also a Justice Department whistleblower.

During the interview, Radack discusses Sterling’s sentence and compares his case to recent leak prosecutions. She highlights how he is a whistleblower and highlights the personal toll that a prosecution like this can take on a person. She reacts to some notable statements Sterling made in his first interview, which was produced by the advocacy organization, Expose Facts. In the final portion of the interview, Radack reacts to the ridiculous letter to the Times from former CIA directors, including some who leaked the names of covert agents. They lecture the Times on the need to protect the names of CIA officials involved in the drone program.

The podcast is available on iTunes for download. For a link (and also to download the episode), go here. Click on “go here” and a page will load with the audio file of the podcast. The file will automatically start playing so you can listen to the episode.

The episode can also be heard by clicking “play” on the below player:

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Podcast: Omar Khadr’s Newfound Freedom Amidst ‘Sea of Demonization’ in Canada

Janice Williamson
Janice Williamson
Omar Khadr, who was once one of the youngest prisoners at Guantanamo Bay, was released on bail in Canada on Thursday. He said of his newfound freedom that what he was experiencing was “much better” than he had thought it would be.

On this week’s “Unauthorized Disclosure” episode, Janice Williamson, editor of the book, Omar Khadr: Oh Canada, and a professor at the University of Alberta, joins the show to talk about the release of Khadr from Canadian jail. She reflects on his past history, from his experiences as one of the youngest people imprisoned at Guantanamo to his newfound freedom as the man he is now. She also highlights the “sea of demonization” fueled by Prime Minister Stephen Harper, who has pushed counterterrorism measures in government that are inspired by anti-Muslim racism.

Khadr suffered torture at the hands of the United States military, which captured him on the battlefield in Afghanistan. He was willing to plead guilty to anything in order to get out of Guantanamo and confessed in 2010 that he threw a grenade, which killed an American soldier, so he would be transferred to Canada.

In 2012, Khadr was brought to Canada where he was jailed to serve his sentence for pleading guilty to committing this war crime. It set a dangerous precedent because he was a child on a battlefield and numerous advocates for child soldiers condemned the fact that the US sought to hold Khadr accountable.

Khadr’s lawyers have appealed his conviction in the US. Although Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s government intends to fight to put Khadr back in jail, he is expected to remain free during his appeal.

During the discussion portion, the show’s hosts, Rania Khalek and Kevin Gosztola, talk about a reparations ordinance that passed in Chicago for police torture survivors, Israel’s parliament becoming even more virulently right-wing and openly supportive of violence, and two federal appeals court decisions of significance. One involves three activists having their Sabotage Act convictions reversed, and the other involves the NSA phone records collection surveillance program being ruled unlawful.

The podcast is available on iTunes for download. For a link (and also to download the episode), go here. Click on “go here” and a page will load with the audio file of the podcast. The file will automatically start playing so you can listen to the episode.

The episode can also be heard by clicking “play” on the below player: