The Espionage Act And NSA Whistleblower Reality Winner’s Uphill Struggle To Defend Herself

The defense for Reality Winner, a National Security Agency contractor accused of mailing a classified document on Russian hacking to The Intercept, contends the government misstates the law under the Espionage Act. They believe the government ignores “serious constitutional problems” raised by their interpretation of the statute.

But Winner’s defense faces a tremendous uphill struggle. Under President Barack Obama’s administration, leak prosecutions intensified the government’s ability to wield the Espionage Act as a strict liability offense, which means there is very little the government has to prove beyond the fact that an unauthorized disclosure took place.

My husband gets out of prison soon

Jeffrey and I would like to express our sincerest gratitude for your support you have shown us throughout his wrongful incarceration. It is difficult to fathom that my beloved husband has been imprisoned for the last 2.5 years and that truth and justice did not prevail. Forever Jeffrey must wear the scarlet letter of being a supposed traitor to his country. The country he still loves.

As the new year begins, we are preparing for Jeffrey’s transfer to a halfway house scheduled for January 16, 2018, where he will complete the remainder of his sentence. This new year brings hope that we can begin the arduous journey of rebuilding our life that the government vehemently destroyed.

CPC Demands Meaningful Reform to Mass Surveillance Law

Congressional Progressive Caucus Co-Chair Rep. Rául M. Grijalva (D-AZ) released the following statement following the markup of the USA Liberty Act (H.R. 3989) by the House Judiciary Committee:

“As the deadline to reauthorize broad government surveillance powers established under Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act approaches, it is clear that only a bill that includes substantial reforms to protect journalists, activists, and citizens can pass the House and become law. “

Insider Threat Program Training and Trump’s War on Leaks: A Chilling Combination for Whistleblowers

The Trump administration has declared a war on media leaks and called for the U.S. federal workforce and contractors to receive “anti-leak” training. The centerpiece of Trump’s anti-leak campaign, aside from early morning tweet-storms railing against leakers and media, is the National Insider Threat Taskforce.

The Insider Threat Program is not Trump-era creation. In then-secret testimony to Congress in 2012, Directorate of National Intelligence official Robert Litt touted the original Insider Threat Program as a highlight in administrative efforts to “sanction and deter” leaks. In the past, Insider Threat Program training has improperly included “WANTED”-style images of whistleblowers pictured alongside actual spies and mass murderers.

Progressive Groups Invoke Trump In New Push For Surveillance Reform

Leading progressive organizations hope to turn the reform of government surveillance programs into a litmus test for 2020 presidential candidates.

In a letter to congressional Democrats, 34 groups, led by the digital rights-focused Demand Progress Action, demand new protections for civil liberties in the reauthorization of a key surveillance law. The groups favor allowing the expiration of Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, which enables the federal government to search the electronic communications of Americans without a warrant.

Chelsea Manning Tells Off Harvard and the CIA

Chelsea Manning never ended up lecturing at Harvard University after loud objections from the Central Intelligence Agency. But late Monday afternoon, the day she was supposed to begin her fellowship, Manning did talk about surveillance, tech, and social repression down the street—at the similarly prestigious Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

For someone who enlisted in the Army at a young age and spent most of her adult life in prison, seeing the prevalence of domestic surveillance and the militarization of policing is “like I’m walking out into the most boring dystopian novel I can imagine,” she told The Daily Beast shortly after her talk. “It feels like American cities, certain parts of them, are occupied by an American force, the police department.”

The Mark Zaid Materials from the Jeffrey Sterling Trial

Because he just formed a new whistleblower group with John Napier Tye, there as been renewed interest in allegations an FBI Agent made during the Jeffrey Sterling case about attorney Mark Zaid. But there was actually a second detail regarding Zaid released just after the trial that has not been publicly reported: Zaid was interviewed by the FBI, twice, and was even interviewed before Sterling himself was.

I asked Zaid whether he was obligated to do the FBI interviews on Twitter but got no response. I think it’s possible FBI asked to interview him as much because the Senate Intelligence Committee was refusing to cooperate in the investigation as anything else; at the time, FBI considered SSCI staffer Bill Duhnke a more likely suspect than Sterling (and it’s not clear they ever ruled him out).

Institutional Lack of Candor

The FISC has twice found that certain Section 702 collection violated the Fourth Amendment. In 2011 the
government revealed that as part of its “upstream” Section 702 collection it collected non-targeted, entirely domestic
communications. When NSA violated the rules that were supposed to make this collection legal, FISC again deemed
the practice “a very serious Fourth Amendment issue.”

For almost 12 years, both under Section 702 and other programs before it, NSA was always engaging in or retaining
some kind of electronic surveillance the FISC would go on to deem unauthorized, and NSA would only fix the
problem when threatened with criminal sanctions.

Chelsea Manning and Harvard – Let’s Talk About Disgrace

Harvard University on Friday revoked whistleblower Chelsea Manning’s invitation to be a “visiting fellow” following former CIA deputy director and torture proponent Mike Morell’s resignation in protest of the hiring and CIA director Mike Pompeo’s refusal to accept a speaking invitation at the school.

The smug pronouncements from the CIA crowd were stunning in their hypocrisy. Morell, in a letter he released to all major media outlets following his resignation, said, “I cannot be part of an organization — the Kennedy School — that honors a convicted felon and leaker of classified information, Ms. Chelsea Manning, by inviting her to be a Visiting Fellow at the Kennedy School’s Institute of Politics. Ms. Manning was found guilty of 17 serious crimes, including six counts of espionage, for leaking hundreds of thousands of classified documents to Wikileaks, an entity that CIA Director Mike Pompeo says operates like an adversarial foreign intelligence service.”

Harvard Kennedy Succumbs to CIA Pressure, Revokes Chelsea Manning’s Fellowship

The Institute of Politics at the Harvard Kennedy School revoked an invitation for United States military whistleblower Chelsea Manning to serve as a visiting fellow after intense pressure from the CIA.

According to the Harvard Crimson, the school newspaper, “high-ranking current and former CIA officials” convinced the Dean of the Kennedy School of Government to reverse course.