Nelson Mandela: A life in pictures
Nelson Mandela and his wife Winnie in this undated file picture.
[Glenn Greenwald is on vacation this week and three writers will be filling in for him]
By Jesselyn Radack
Former Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) officer John Kiriakou — the sixth whistleblower the Obama administration has indicted under the Espionage Act for alleged mishandling of classified information — was arraigned this morning in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia. As expected, Kiriakou pleaded “not guilty” to all the charges. No-nonsense U.S District Court Judge Leonie Brinkema set a pre-trial motions hearing for July 20, 2012 and trial for November 26, 2012.
The arraignment was more notable for who was not present than for who was there. Conspicuously absent was the esteemed Patrick Fitzgerald — well-known as the federal prosecutor in charge of the investigation of theValerie Plame CIA leak case, which led to the prosecution and conviction of Vice President Dick Cheney’s chief of staff for perjury—whose name graces the Indictment. Instead the Department of Justice (DOJ) sent four junior-level attorneys, making it a distinct possibility that DOJ knows its case if full of gaping holes. Judge Brinkema even pointed out that one of the DOJ attorneys “had not practiced before this court much” (paraphrased), which was just one of her choice one-liners during the proceedings.
The green DOJ attorneys seem an uneven match for Kiriakou’s formidable defense team, which included legal Titan Plato Cacheris and his partner Bob Trout, were it not for the fact that the DOJ attorneys have the full resources of the entire Executive Branch, including it’s not-so-secret weapon — secrecy — which was no more evident than when Judge Brinkema forced DOJ to reveal that it still had “lots” of classified discovery to hand over to the defense even though Kiriakou had been charged nearly three months ago (something she also noted).
Judge Brinkema’s No-Nonsense Approach
Judge Brinkema is no stranger to national security cases. She presided over the case against 9/11 conspirator Zacarias Moussaoui and is currently presiding over the Espionage Act case against another former CIA whistleblower, Jeffery Sterling. In the Sterling case, Judge Brinkema rebuffed the government’s third attempt to subpoena New York Times reporter James Risen to testify about his source, writing in July 2011 that “A criminal trial subpoena is not a free pass for the government to rifle through a reporter’s notebook.” DOJ appealed her ruling to the 4th Circuit.
As might be expected from the judge currently dealing with the government’s shenanigans in the Sterling case, Judge Brinkema “strongly recommend[ed]” that the government turn over discovery sooner rather than later to Kiriakou’s defense team. Tellingly, she cautioned that the government’s production of discovery had been “a problem in other cases.”
It does not take too much reading between the lines to know Brinkema is referring to other Espionage Act cases. In the spectacularly failed case against National Security Agency (NSA) whistleblower Thomas Drake, whom I represent, DOJ kept potentially exculpatory evidence from Drake’s defense team for months after the Indictment was handed down. For over six months, DOJ failed to produce the obviously exculpatory evidence that one of the allegedly classified documents that formed the basis of an Espionage Act charge was declassified two months after the indictment. DOJ waited ten months to turn over evidence that another document (which formed the basis of a different Espionage Act charge against Drake) had been “. . . published as ‘unclassified’ and had never been deemed ‘classified’ until after it was recovered from Mr. Drake’s home.”
In the Kiriakou arraignment, after pushing the DOJ to specify that it still had “boxes” of classified discovery to turn over, Judge Brinkema then sua sponte edited the proposed discovery order to force DOJ to hand over all potentially-exculpatory material (a.k.a. Brady/Giglio/Jencks Act) earlier than DOJ requested (only 5 calendar days before trial.) Does the government really think that it’s fair or reasonable to do a discovery document dump on Thanksgiving and make the defense spend the holiday weekend plowing through it while simultaneously preparing for trial?
Considering DOJ’s shady approach to the Espionage Act prosecutions, and that the Kiriakou case is already facing legal (and moral) obstacles, which I discussed today on NPR, Judge Brinkema’s tough, candid approach is a welcome addition to the case.
As I touched on earlier this week, Kiriakou blew the whistle on waterboarding and exposed torture as policy rather than the actions a few rogue agents. But waterboarding was not Kiriakou’s last disclosure. In his book, “The Reluctant Spy: My Secret Life in the CIA’s War on Terror”, he writes critically of the CIA’s torture program, the deception leading into the war in Iraq, and the FBI’s failure to pursue potential leads in the immediate aftermath of 9/11. For those wondering why Kiriakou’s disclosures in his book did more than ruffle a few feathers in the intelligence community, here are a few key quotes:
Remember, these are the words of the only person to be criminally prosecuted in connection with the CIA’s torture program. These are the words of the glaring exception to Obama’s mantra of “looking forward, not backward” when Americans demand accountability for torture, extraordinary rendition and illegal domestic spying. These are the words of an Espionage Act defendant—of someone facing 50 years in prison, who the Obama administration will argue in court “intended to harm the United States or assist a foreign nation.” All things considered, perhaps it is no surprise Patrick Fitzgerald avoided tarnishing his impeccable reputation by making an appearance at the arraignment this morning.
There’s a big difference between the unmasking of covert CIA operative Valerie Plame and Kiriakou’s case. Kiriakou did not “leak.” He made valid disclosures revealing clear illegality, ranging from America’s torture program to its use of specific “coercive interrogation techniques” like waterboarding, which even Attorney General Eric Holder agrees is torture. Even if the allegation that he revealed the identity of an undercover office, the nameSuch disclosures are clearly in the public interest. In contrast, when Richard Armitage, Bush’s Deputy Secretary of State, outed undercover CIA operative Valerie Plame, he was not trying to disclose evidence of wrongdoing; in fact, quite the opposite. He put at risk national security and people’s lives to undermine a critic. He was trying to punish former Ambassador Joseph Wilson by exposing his wife. Libby was leaking, not whistleblowing. His disclosure to the media had no intrinsic public value whatsoever.
Perhaps Patrick Fitzgerald is distancing himself from the Kiriakou case because he is too smart not to get this distinction.
Nelson Mandela and his wife Winnie in this undated file picture.
Mandela is accompanied by his former wife Winnie, moments after his release from prison February 11, 1990 after serving 27 years in jail. (Reuters)
In this February, 1990 photo, shortly after his release from 27 years in prison, Nelson Mandela, gives the black power salute to the 120,000 supporters packing Soccer City stadium in Soweto, near Johannesburg. (AP Photo)
Nelson Mandela showed his passport in February 19, 1990, shortly after his release from prison. The South African government authorized an application for himself and his wife Winnie - (Juda Ngwenya / Reuters)
In this July 27, 1991 photo, Cuban President Fidel Castro, and Nelson Mandela gesture during the celebration of the "Day of the Revolution" in Matanzas, Cuba. (AP Photo)
In this July 4, 1993 photo, President Bill Clinton and Nelson Mandela listen during Fourth of July ceremonies in Philadelphia during which Clinton presented the Philadelphia Liberty Medal to the African National Congress president and South African President F.W. de Klerk. (AP Photo/Greg Gibson)
President of the African National Congress Nelson Mandela acknowledges cheers from the crowd as he prepares to unveil the ANC's official election platform in 1994. (AP Photo/David Brauchli)
African National Congress (ANC) leader Nelson Mandela greeted residents of Mmabatho in March 1994, during a visit after the nominal homeland came under South African control following the ousting of the former President Lucas Mangope. (Reuters/Howard Burditt)
South African President Nelson Mandela smiles with actor Sidney Poitier at a press conference in Cape Town in 1996. Poitier played Mandela in the film "One Man, One Vote" (AP Photo / Sasa Kralj)
South African President Nelson Mandela waves to crowds as he sits next to Queen Elizabeth II in a an open carriage on the way to Buckingham Palace.(AP/Louisa Buller)
Chairman of the Constitutional Assembly Cyril Ramaphosa, left, holds up a copy of the country's constitution which was signed by President Nelson Mandela, in December 1996. (AP Photo / Adil Bradlow / POOL)
Nelson Mandela at a news conference in Johannesburg in February 2000. (AP Photo / Denis Farrell)
South African rugby captain Francois Pienaar, right, received the Rugby World Cup trophy from President Nelson Mandela also wearing a South African rugby shirt, after South Africa defeated New Zealand in the Rugby World Cup , in 1995. (AP Photo / Ross Setford)
Glenn Greenwald (email: GGreenwald@salon.com) is a former Constitutional and civil rights litigator and is the author of three New York Times Bestselling books: two on the Bush administration's executive power and foreign policy abuses, and his latest book, With Liberty and Justice for Some, an indictment of America's
two-tiered system of justice. Greenwald was named by The Atlantic as one of the 25 most influential political commentators in the nation. He is the recipient of the first annual I.F. Stone Award for Independent Journalism, and is the winner of the 2010 Online Journalism Association Award for his investigative work on the arrest and oppressive detention of Bradley Manning.