Don’t believe the dangerous myths of ‘Drone Warrior’

By Alex Edney-Browne, Lisa Ling | LA Times

Drone pilots have been quitting the U.S. Air Force in record numbers in recent years — faster than new recruits can be selected and trained. They cite a combination of low-class status in the military, overwork and psychological trauma.

But a widely publicized new memoir about America’s covert drone war fails to mention the “outflow increases,” as one internal Air Force memo calls it. “Drone Warrior: An Elite Soldier’s Inside Account of the Hunt for America’s Most Dangerous Enemies” chronicles the nearly 10 years that Brett Velicovich, a former special operations member, spent using drones to help special forces find and track terrorists. Conveniently, it also puts a hard sell on a program whose ranks the military is struggling to keep full.

In Opinion Mostly Rejecting Jeffrey Sterling Appeal, Fourth Circuit Criminalizes Unclassified Tips

by emptywheel

The Fourth Circuit just codified the principle that you can go to prison for four minutes and 11 seconds of phone calls during which you tell a reporter to go find out classified details you know about.

They just released an opinion mostly upholding Jeffrey Sterling’s conviction. The majority, penned by Albert Diaz, overturned one conviction based on whether Sterling handed a letter (about which the court seems to have misunderstood the evidence) to James Risen in Virginia, but that didn’t result in any reduction in sentence. The court not only upheld all other convictions, but did so in ways that will be really horrible for any clearance holders charged with leaks in the Fourth Circuit (the jurisdiction of which covers all the major government spy agencies).

A whistleblower imprisoned, not silenced

By Jeffrey Sterling

Two years of imprisonment have given me ample time to reflect on the circumstances in which I find myself today. I often retrace my steps, carefully recalling each conversation I had and action I took that landed me in this prison. However, in the two years that I have served, my position has never wavered. I know who I am, and I know what my values are. My name is Jeffrey Alexander Sterling, and I am an innocent man who has been wrongfully convicted of espionage after dedicating my life to serving the U.S. government.

Corporate Democrats and Republicans Persecute Whistleblowers

In an interview with The Real News, Norman Solomon tells Paul Jay that when it comes to defending the deep state, there’s really no difference between the two parties.

Reality Winner is a Whistleblower

Reality Winner, the 25-year-old Air Force veteran and NSA contractor charged with mailing classified material to a news outlet, is a classic whistleblower. She hasn’t claimed that mantle, which is understandable given America’s love-hate relationship with whistleblowers. They are alternately celebrated and denounced, depending on who has the microphone and who has the power.

Should Journalists Care If Sources Go Off to Prison?

In view of recent events, ExposeFacts is reposting this article that the Columbia Journalism Review published on Feb. 5, 2016.

By Norman Solomon

Ask yourself this question: Is it sufficient to protect journalists who report classified information while sources go off to prison?

During the last half decade, a growing roster of national-security reporters has withstood government pressure to reveal confidential sources. They’ve done so with the steady support of news organizations and well-heeled groups that work to protect journalists from threats of jail. Yet those media outfits show scant interest in advocating for the whistleblowers who put themselves at risk. If they go to prison, c’est la vie.

Former NSA executive: Agency used ‘blanket’ surveillance during 2002 Olympics

Washington Post – Former National Security Agency senior executive and whistleblower Thomas Drake revealed himself this week as the source for a lawsuit alleging the NSA conducted “blanket, indiscriminate surveillance” of Salt Lake City during the 2002 Winter Olympics.

In a declaration filed in discovery in the case in U.S. district court in Utah, Drake asserted the NSA, in coordination with the FBI, scooped up and stored the content of emails and text messages sent and received by anyone in the city and Olympic venues — including American citizens.

Killer Drones in the Empire State

By Norman Solomon

At dusk I stood on a residential street with trim lawns and watched planes approach a runaway along the other side of a chain-link fence. Just a few dozen yards away, a JetBlue airliner landed. Then a United plane followed. But the next aircraft looked different. It was a bit smaller and had no markings or taillights. A propeller whirled at the back. And instead of the high-pitched screech of a jet, the sound was more like… a drone.

What Have We Done: Executive Power, Drones, and Trump?

by Jesselyn Radack

The news is rife with President Trump’s threatened and actual military misadventures: in Syria, Yemen, and North Korea. But these military actions take on a new gravity considering the vast and secret powers Trump inherited.

Former President Obama escalated the use of drone strikes—including in non-battlefield arenas such as Libya, Pakistan, Somalia, and Yemen—so it is no surprise that President Trump has continued with abandon. While Obama put some constraints on drones, Trump gave the secretive, unaccountable CIA new authority to conduct drone strikes against “suspected militants.”

Muslims inside FBI describe culture of suspicion and fear: ‘It is cancer’

By Spencer Ackerman | The Guardian

Muslim special agents and intelligence analysts at the FBI are reporting a climate of fear inside the agency coinciding with the political ascendance of Donald Trump, the Guardian has learned.

FBI officials from Muslim-majority countries, a minority in a predominantly white bureau, say they are subject to an organizational culture of suspicion and hostility that leadership has done little to reform. At least one decorated intelligence analyst has been fired this year after a long ordeal which began with a routine foreign visit to see his family.