Ex-CIA man likely to plead guilty in leak case

October 23, 2012

The Associated Press on October 22, 2012 released the following:

“By MATTHEW BARAKAT
Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) — A former CIA officer accused of leaking the names of covert operatives to journalists is expected to enter a guilty plea as part of a plea deal.

A change of plea hearing was scheduled for Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Alexandria, Va., for John Kiriakou. He initially pleaded not guilty to the charges that he disclosed the names of two covert CIA operatives.

The apparent change comes shortly after Kiriakou lost a key pre-trial ruling that established a lower legal burden for prosecutors to prove their case. Kiriakou’s lawyers had argued unsuccessfully that prosecutors should have to prove that Kirkiakou intended to harm the United States through his alleged leaks. Such a strict legal standard had been imposed recently on a leaks prosecution against two pro-Israel lobbyists.

But U.S. District Judge Leonie Brinkema ruled last week that such a high standard should not apply to Kiriakou, a government employee with top-secret security clearances who knew well the dangers of disclosing classified information.

Instead, prosecutors would only have to show that Kiriakou had “reason to believe” that the information could be used to injure the U.S.

Court records do not make clear exactly what charges Kiriakou would plead to. When he was indicted in April, he was charged with one count of disclosing classified information identifying a covert agent, three counts of illegally disclosing national defense information and one count of making false statements. He faced up to 45 years in prison if convicted on all counts in the indictment.

Kiriakou, who wrote a book detailing his CIA career, had tried to argue after the charges were filed that he was a victim of vindictive prosecution by government officials who believed he portrayed the CIA negatively, but the judge rejected those arguments as well.

Peter Carr, a spokesman for U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia Neil MacBride, whose office is prosecuting the case, declined comment Monday. Kiriakou’s attorney, Robert Trout, also declined comment.

Kiriakou was a CIA veteran who played a role in the agency’s capture of al-Qaida terrorist Abu Zubaydah in Pakistan in 2002. Abu Zubaydah was waterboarded by government interrogators and eventually revealed information that led to the arrest of “dirty bomb” plotter Jose Padilla and exposed Khalid Sheikh Mohamed as the mastermind of the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks.

Accounts conflict, though, over whether the waterboarding was helpful in gleaning intelligence from Zubaydah. Kiriakou, who did not participate in the waterboarding, expressed ambivalence in news media interviews about use of the tactic.

Court papers indicate that the investigation of Kiriakou began in 2009 when authorities became alarmed after discovering that detainees at Guantanamo Bay possessed photographs of CIA and FBI personnel. The investigation eventually led back to the alleged leaks by Kiriakou, according to a government affidavit.

The papers indicate prosecutors believe Kiriakou leaked the name of one covert operative to a journalist, who subsequently disclosed the name to an investigator working for the lawyer of a Guantanamo detainee.

Kiriakou had planned to subpoena three journalists connected to the case. Those journalists had filed motions to quash the subpoenas, but that issue will now be rendered moot by the apparent plea deal.”

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Douglas McNabb – McNabb Associates, P.C.’s
Federal Criminal Defense Attorneys Videos:

Federal Crimes – Be Careful

Federal Crimes – Be Proactive

Federal Crimes – Federal Indictment

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To find additional federal criminal news, please read Federal Criminal Defense Daily.

Douglas McNabb and other members of the U.S. law firm practice and write and/or report extensively on matters involving Federal Criminal Defense, INTERPOL Red Notice Removal, International Extradition Defense, OFAC SDN Sanctions Removal, International Criminal Court Defense, and US Seizure of Non-Resident, Foreign-Owned Assets. Because we have experience dealing with INTERPOL, our firm understands the inter-relationship that INTERPOL’s “Red Notice” brings to this equation.

The author of this blog is Douglas C. McNabb. Please feel free to contact him directly at mcnabb@mcnabbassociates.com or at one of the offices listed above.


FBI gets a broader role in coordinating domestic intelligence activities

June 20, 2012

The Washington Post on June 19, 2012 released the following:

“By Greg Miller, Published: June 19

The FBI has been given an expanded role in coordinating the domestic intelligence-gathering activities of the CIA and other agencies under a plan enacted this year by Director of National Intelligence James R. Clapper Jr., officials said.

The bureau’s highest-ranking field agents now also serve as the DNI’s representatives across the country. The change is intended to improve collaboration, but some officials say it has created new friction between the FBI and CIA.

Army Lt. Gen. Michael T. Flynn, assistant director of national intelligence, said the move is meant to enhance the FBI’s ability to lead efforts by federal, state and local authorities to confront terrorist threats and other domestic security concerns.

“This is a connecting bridge between intelligence and law enforcement,” Flynn said in an interview. He added that the DNI designation does not give regional FBI officials power over other agencies’ operations or personnel.

The program was endorsed by CIA Director David H. Petraeus and officials at other affected agencies. But concerns have surfaced in some regional offices that the FBI is exploiting its new clout at the CIA’s expense.

One former U.S. official said senior FBI agents recently used a meeting with executives from major manufacturing companies on the West Coast to instruct them to cut off contact with the CIA.

The FBI’s message was that “they were now in charge of relationships with the corporate sector, so the folks there should feel no need to deal with the agency,” said the former U.S. official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the topic. The FBI agents apparently were not aware that a former CIA officer was among the executives in attendance. The former official declined to provide more details about the location of the meeting or its participants.

FBI spokesman Michael Kortan said that officials could not confirm the alleged incident and that such a statement to company executives by an FBI agent would be inaccurate.

Although the CIA is best known for its spy work overseas, the agency has stations in most major U.S. cities. The National Resources Division, as this group is known, routinely debriefs executives, university officials and other Americans who volunteer to share information gathered on their trips out of the country. The CIA is also allowed to approach foreign nationals in the United States and try to recruit them as spies upon their return to their home countries.

The FBI dramatically expanded its domestic intelligence-gathering operations as part of a reorganization after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

Flynn said the DNI program is not meant to disrupt CIA efforts in the United States. “This program doesn’t change the authorities of the CIA, the Department of Homeland Security or anybody else in the system,” he said. “But there is more of a responsibility to share and work together.”

It is unclear whether the change will require the CIA to disclose more information about its domestic sources. In his memoir, former senior CIA official Henry A. Crumpton writes that during his tenure as head of the National Resources Division, the FBI “repeatedly demanded the identities of NR sources” and he refused.

The new DNI program began as a pilot operation in four cities — New York, Washington, Los Angeles and Chicago — and was expanded to 12 regions covering the entire country this year.

The program is analogous to an arrangement overseas in which CIA station chiefs serve as the nation’s senior intelligence officers and main points of contact with their foreign counterparts. A 2009 proposal to change that policy and give the DNI power to select officers from other spy services prompted a fierce bureaucratic battle that the CIA won.

A CIA spokeswoman said the agency has not opposed the move to elevate FBI agents in the United States. “The CIA endorses and supports the DNI’s decision,” said spokeswoman Jennifer Youngblood. “The decision makes sense, and the program is working well. DCIA Petraeus has already met with several of the domestic DNI representatives and has been impressed with them and with their cooperation.””

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Douglas McNabb – McNabb Associates, P.C.’s
Federal Criminal Defense Attorneys Videos:

Federal Crimes – Be Careful

Federal Crimes – Be Proactive

Federal Crimes – Federal Indictment

————————————————————–

To find additional federal criminal news, please read Federal Criminal Defense Daily.

Douglas McNabb and other members of the U.S. law firm practice and write and/or report extensively on matters involving Federal Criminal Defense, INTERPOL Red Notice Removal, International Extradition Defense, OFAC SDN Sanctions Removal, International Criminal Court Defense, and US Seizure of Non-Resident, Foreign-Owned Assets. Because we have experience dealing with INTERPOL, our firm understands the inter-relationship that INTERPOL’s “Red Notice” brings to this equation.

The author of this blog is Douglas C. McNabb. Please feel free to contact him directly at mcnabb@mcnabbassociates.com or at one of the offices listed above.


New FBI Probe of Bomb Plot Highlights Administration’s Tough Stance on Leaks

May 18, 2012

National Journal on May 16, 2012 released the following:

“By Yochi J. Dreazen and Olga Belogolova

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story incorrectly said that the Associated Press had first reported that a recent bomb plot had been foiled by an undercover Saudi Arabian intelligence operative. That was first reported by The Los Angeles Times.

The FBI has launched a criminal probe designed to identify the government officials who leaked key details of a foiled al-Qaida bomb plot, the latest indication of the Obama administration’s unrelenting push to find and punish those sharing classified information with the media.

FBI Director Robert Mueller, appearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday, said that the agency was trying to identify which officials had spoken to reporters about the foiled attack, helping the Associated Press report that the scheme was part of an al-Qaida plot to down a U.S.-bound airliner with an sophisticated underwear bomb. The agency is also looking for who told media outlets that the plot was broken up with the help of an undercover agent working for the Saudi Arabian intelligence service, a detail first reported by The Los Angeles Times.

The Saudi assistance doubtlessly saved significant numbers of American lives, and Mueller — like other Obama administration officials — warned that future cooperation could be hampered by the disclosure of the Saudi role.

“Leaks such as this threaten ongoing operations, puts at risk the lives of sources, makes it much more difficult to recruit sources, and damages our relationships with our foreign partners,” Mueller said. “And consequently, a leak like this is taken exceptionally seriously, and we will investigate thoroughly.”

Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, pressed Mueller on whether the information had been leaked by the administration for political gain, likening the details on the bomb plot to what he described as the “authorized leaks from the White House about the operation to kill Osama bin Laden.” The FBI director declined to answer the question.

The hearing offered an unusually vivid illustration of the Obama administration’s hard-line approach to the news media.

The administration took office with a promise of unprecedented transparency, including – in a sharp change from the Bush administration — posting the names of those visiting the White House onto its website. The White House also offered strong support for a so-called shield law preventing reporters working national-security stories from being forced to identify confidential sources.

But those moves have been increasingly outweighed by the administration’s aggressive effort to crack down on those responsible for sharing classified information with the news media.

The White House’s main tool has been the Espionage Act, a 1917 law passed during the height of World War I as a way of finding and punishing officials passing useful information to enemy countries. The legislation had been used to bring cases against suspected leakers a grand total of three times in the previous 91 years; the Obama administration has invoked it to prosecute six such cases in the past three years alone. If the FBI believes it has found the official or officials who spoke to the AP, that tally will increase to seven.

The first case brought under the Espionage Act targeted Thomas Drake, a whistle blower from the National Security Agency who was indicated for giving a reporter information detailing massive waste, fraud, and inefficiencies at the secretive agency. The Justice Department’s case against Drake fell apart days before the trial was set to begin last summer, highlighting the difficulties of winning convictions in such cases.

That hasn’t stopped the administration from trying. In January, the Justice Department indicted John Kiriakou, a former CIA officer accused of providing classified information about waterboarding and other controversial interrogation methods to journalists and misleading the agency while trying to get permission to publish a memoir about his time there. The case is ongoing.

The others facing potential prison time for their dealings with the media are former FBI translator Shamai Leibowitz, State Department contractor and analyst Stephen Jin-Woo Kim, former CIA officer Jeffrey Sterling, and Pfc. Bradley Manning, accused of leaking thousands of classified military and State Department documents to online whistle-blower WikiLeaks. Leibowitz was sentenced to 20 months in prison in 2010 for leaking classified information to a blogger regarding Israel’s efforts to influence Congress and public opinion; the other cases are continuing.

The new investigation began earlier this month when news leaked that the CIA had helped to foil a Yemeni-based attempt to use a sophisticated underwear bomb to bring down a Western airliner. The Los Angeles Times soon reported that an undercover Saudi agent had penetrated the al-Qaida affiliate there, volunteered for the supposed suicide mission, and then secreted the bomb safely into the hands of other intelligence operatives.

The leak infuriated the Saudis, who said it put the agent at risk and endangered other undercover operatives elsewhere in the field. The unnamed agent and his family were subsequently placed into protective custody. The anger was felt just as fiercely in Washington, where an array of powerful lawmakers warned that disclosing the source and method of the information would make the Saudis less likely to work with the U.S. in the future and make it harder to foil new plots.

The AP has defended its reporting, with spokesman Paul Colford saying in a written statement that the news service “acted carefully and with extreme deliberation in its reporting on the underwear bomb plot and its subsequent decision to publish.”

That argument fell on deaf ears on Capitol Hill on Wednesday, with Mueller saying that he didn’t want to say the leak would have a “devastating” impact on U.S. intelligence gathering efforts — but then effectively saying just that.

“The relationship with your counterparts overseas are damaged and which means that an inhibition in the willingness of others to share information with us where they don’t think that information will remain secure,” he said. “So it also has some long-term effects which is why it is so important to make certain that the persons who are responsible for the leak are brought to justice.”

Those who leaked the new information may or may not be caught. But the ferocity of Mueller’s comments mean that the administration’s war against those who disclose such information won’t wind down anytime soon.”

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Douglas McNabb – McNabb Associates, P.C.’s
Federal Criminal Defense Attorneys Videos:

Federal Crimes – Be Careful

Federal Crimes – Be Proactive

Federal Crimes – Federal Indictment

————————————————————–

To find additional federal criminal news, please read Federal Criminal Defense Daily.

Douglas McNabb and other members of the U.S. law firm practice and write and/or report extensively on matters involving Federal Criminal Defense, INTERPOL Red Notice Removal, International Extradition Defense, OFAC SDN Sanctions Removal, International Criminal Court Defense, and US Seizure of Non-Resident, Foreign-Owned Assets. Because we have experience dealing with INTERPOL, our firm understands the inter-relationship that INTERPOL’s “Red Notice” brings to this equation.

The author of this blog is Douglas C. McNabb. Please feel free to contact him directly at mcnabb@mcnabbassociates.com or at one of the offices listed above.


Feds Eye Retired CIA Officer Steve Stormoen in Prisoner Death

July 13, 2011

The Associated Press (AP) on July 13, 2011 released the following:

“By MATT APUZZO and ADAM GOLDMAN
Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) — A CIA officer who oversaw the agency’s interrogation program at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq and pushed for approval to use increasingly harsh tactics has come under scrutiny in a federal war crimes investigation involving the death of a prisoner, witnesses told The Associated Press.

Steve Stormoen, who is now retired from the CIA, supervised an unofficial program in which the CIA imprisoned and interrogated men without entering their names in the Army’s books.

The so-called “ghosting” program was unsanctioned by CIA headquarters. In fact, in early 2003, CIA lawyers expressly prohibited the agency from running its own interrogations, current and former intelligence officials said. The lawyers said agency officers could be present during military interrogations and add their expertise but, under the laws of war, the military must always have the lead.

Yet, in November 2003, CIA officers brought a prisoner, Manadel al-Jamadi, to Abu Ghraib and, instead of turning him over to the Army, took him to a shower stall. They put a sandbag over his head, handcuffed him behind his back and chained his arms to a barred window. When he leaned forward, his arms stretched painfully behind and above his back.

The CIA interrogated al-Jamadi alone. Within an hour, he was dead.

Now, nearly eight years after a photo of an Army officer grinning over al-Jamadi’s body became an indelible image in the Abu Ghraib prison abuse scandal, federal prosecutors are investigating whether al-Jamadi’s death amounted to a war crime.

The instructions from CIA lawyers could become an important element of that inquiry. Though it’s not required for prosecutors to show that someone knew such interrogations were against the rules, it’s still valuable evidence, said David Crane, a Syracuse law professor and former war crimes prosecutor. The instructions also undercut the argument that the CIA officers were simply following rules laid out by their superiors.

“The government can say, `He was told not to, and he went ahead and did it anyways,'” Crane said.

Two witnesses who testified before a grand jury in Virginia said they were asked about Stormoen’s role at the prison and his whereabouts when al-Jamadi died. The witnesses and officials agreed to discuss the case only on condition of anonymity because they were told not to speak with reporters.

Stormoen, who ran what was known in the CIA as the detainee exploitation cell, processed al-Jamadi into the prison but was not in the shower room when al-Jamadi died.

Stormoen, 56, was part of the CIA’s paramilitary arm, the Special Activities Division, after leaving the Army. He retired after al-Jamadi’s death and received a letter of reprimand for his role in Abu Ghraib. He has since rejoined the intelligence community as a contractor working for a company called SpecTal, which was bought last year by BAE Systems, a leading defense contractor.

Stormoen, whose identity is no longer classified, did not return numerous messages seeking comment. His lawyer also declined to comment.

CIA spokesman George Little had no comment on the inquiry.

Much of the public attention in the al-Jamadi case has been on interrogator Mark Swanner, who was in the shower room when al-Jamadi died. Another CIA officer, who goes by the nickname “Chili,” also came up at the grand jury, one witness said. Chili continues to work with the agency and his name is classified. The witness, who was at the prison, told prosecutors that Chili was at Abu Ghraib the day al-Jamadi died.

Though President George W. Bush’s administration allowed the CIA to interrogate terrorism suspects in secret overseas prisons, that authorization did not apply in Iraq. CIA lawyers determined that, as a traditional war zone, Iraq fell under the Geneva Convention rules of war. That meant prisoners had to be documented and treated without cruelty, with access to medical attention.

Tactics such as waterboarding and sleep deprivation, which the CIA used in other overseas prisons, were prohibited at Abu Ghraib without prior approval. In videoconferences with headquarters, Stormoen and other officers in Iraq repeatedly asked for permission to use harsher techniques, but that permission was never granted, one former senior intelligence official recalled.

Current and former officials say the CIA officers at Abu Ghraib saw ambiguity in the rules, believing they could interrogate detainees before they were formally processed into the military prison. That gray area could last several days or longer.

Military investigators said the informal nature of the CIA’s ghosting program contributed to a sense that the rules didn’t apply at the prison.

At the time, the CIA’s station in Baghdad, which was in charge of overseeing agency operations at the prison, was in such disarray that its top two officers were pulled out for mismanagement. An internal CIA inquiry did not single out any officer as responsible for al-Jamadi’s death and no one has been charged.

A military autopsy labeled the death a homicide. Doctors said al-Jamadi died from a combination of factors: injuries he received while being captured by Navy SEALs and breathing difficulties caused by a lung injury and made worse by having a sandbag over his head.

Shortly after al-Jamadi’s death, senior CIA officials once again circulated the rules. In January 2004, the agency sent a blunt memo flatly ordering agency officials to stop all interrogations, officials said.

Al-Jamadi’s death has twice been reviewed by the Justice Department and prosecutors have declined to bring charges. Attorney General Eric Holder has appointed a new prosecutor, John Durham, to investigate CIA interrogation tactics. Durham is now re-investigating the al-Jamadi death, and Holder said the investigation has uncovered new information, though he did not say what it was.

Prosecutions for torture and war crimes are rare in the United States. The most high-profile recent case was the successful torture prosecution of the son of former Liberian President Charles Taylor in Florida in 2008.

There is no statute of limitations on war crimes if a death is involved.”

To find additional federal criminal news, please read The Federal Crimes Watch Daily.

Douglas McNabb and other members of the U.S. law firm practice and write extensively on matters involving Federal Criminal Defense, INTERPOL Red Notice Removal, International Extradition and OFAC SDN List Removal.

The author of this blog is Douglas McNabb. Please feel free to contact him directly at mcnabb@mcnabbassociates.com or at one of the offices listed above.

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Former CIA Officer Jeffrey Sterling Indicted

January 6, 2011

Douglas McNabb, federal criminal defense attorney, discusses a just unsealed federal criminal indictment charging Jeffrey Sterling, a former CIA officer, with national security crimes involving Iran and The New York Times.

Douglas McNabb and other members of the firm practice and write extensively on matters involving Federal Criminal Defense, Interpol Litigation, International Extradition and OFAC Litigation.

The author of this blog is Douglas McNabb. Please feel free to contact him directly at mcnabb@mcnabbassociates.com or at one of the offices listed above.

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