From Jeffrey Sterling via RootsAction Education Fund <[email protected]>
Subject A whistleblower "standing by the truth"
Date August 17, 2021 1:21 AM
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We're very glad to be releasing in this email a new essay by CIA whistleblower Jeffrey Sterling -- who assesses two events that underscore how the U.S. government treats vital truth tellers much more harshly than violent insurrectionists.

Jeffrey writes from the perspective of someone who spent *two and a half years in prison* after being convicted on the basis of flimsy non-evidence under the widely discredited Espionage Act. (For details on his "trial by metadata," see Background links below.)

Here at the RootsAction Education Fund, we're proud to continue working with Jeffrey, who's the coordinator of The Project for Accountability. You'll *give him a lift* if you *make a tax-deductible donation in support of that important venture* [ [link removed] ]. Half of every dollar you donate will go directly to Jeffrey as he works to rebuild his life, while the other half will go to sustaining his project.

And now, here's what Jeffrey has written for sharing with supporters of the RootsAction Education Fund and The Project for Accountability.

[ [link removed] ]

"[From Jeffrey:]"

This month marked another notch on the weapon that is the Espionage Act, as it continues to be misused by the Department of Justice. Drone whistleblower Daniel Hale was sentenced to spend 45 months in federal prison. Once again, so-called justice in this country will subject a person of truth to the desolate confines of prison, not out of the rule of law and justice, but out of a continuing desire to retaliate against those who dare stand up for truth and accountability in our government.

I know what Daniel must have felt standing there in front of a judge, not knowing what his fate would be. It is an indescribable sense of confusion and disbelief. There is no way to reconcile doing the right thing, telling the truth, and then being punished for doing so. I remember not knowing what "punishment" Judge Brinkema would feel appropriate for having the nerve to stand up against the CIA, Operation Merlin, and the Espionage Act. For her, 42 months was my damnation. Facing 10 years for each of the nine counts by which I was wrongfully convicted, I imagined being put behind bars for the rest of my life. In a way, I was surprised that she levied "only" 42. After all, the prosecution in my case labeled me a threat to and traitor of the very foundation and security of the nation. The nonsense, if not folly of it all became clear, the trial and the sentence had nothing to do with justice, they had more to do with revenge. The same applies to Daniel Hale receiving 45 months, certainly less than the nine years the prosecution was aiming for.

One moment behind bars for telling the truth is too much for any whistleblower. The injustice of how the Espionage Act is being used by the federal government is self-evident via the travesties inflicted upon Reality Winner, John Kiriakou, Terry Albury, Chelsea Manning, among others. In addition, even though he is not behind bars here in the U.S., make no mistake that Julian Assange is bearing the same heavy weight of being charged under the Espionage Act as the others. What makes it all even more unpalatable, is how differently whistleblowers are being treated from those who really are and have been threats to our national security. Daniel Hale is going to spend up to 45 months in prison for telling, and standing by the truth; the cowards who stormed the Capitol on January 6, 2021 have been and are facing a different form of justice.

Just a week and a day prior to Hale's sentencing, Paul Hodgkins became the first of the Jan. 6th insurrectionists to face sentencing; he received a scant eight months behind bars for his involvement with the deadly assault upon the Capitol. Of course, he pled guilty to a charge not indicative of the threat to this country that he and that mob represented, a single count of obstructing an official proceeding. In sentencing, Judge Randolph Moss commented, "It's essential to send a message that this type of conduct is utterly unacceptable, and that grave damage was done to our country that day… But at the same time, I do not believe that Mr. Hodgkins, other than having made some very bad decisions that day... that he is a threat." In addition, the judge added, "Although Mr. Hodgkins was only one member of a larger mob, he actively and intentionally participated in an event that threatened not only the security of the Capitol but democracy itself…" Hodgkins, for his actions commented that he was "truly remorseful and regretful… the way this country that I love has been hurt…"

In contrast, eight days later, Judge Liam O'Grady had these words to say during Hale's sentencing: "You're not facing prison for speaking out about the drone program injuring and killing innocent persons. … A majority of Americans would have commended you for coming forward… You could have been a whistleblower and garnered all this attention without leaking any of these documents, frankly." O'Grady's comments reflect what I believe is an intentional naivete regarding the realities for whistleblowers that federal Eastern District of Virginia judges continue to use as spurious rationalization when it comes to sentencing. Hale pointed out the realities through a handwritten, 11-page letter to Judge O'Grady explaining the trauma he witnessed and experienced as well as his motivation to speak out. Only speculation can determine if it had any impact on O'Grady and the sentence he handed down.

Both judges unequivocally sent the message that truth itself is not important, what matters is how it is revealed and by whom. Hale shed light on a truth that the U.S. government would prefer not to be revealed; Hodgkins and the Jan. 6th insurrectionists revealed a truth about this country that America is tolerant of. In other words, if you reveal a truth that is embarrassing to the U.S., the revenge to fall upon you will be terrible. However, if your actions don't discomfit the U.S., you will face a different, more lenient form of justice, regardless of the danger presented. This is the truth about the lie that is "national security." Hodgkins and the Jan. 6th insurrectionists posed a direct and real threat to national security, Hale was merely revealing a terrible truth about it.

True, both Hale and Hodgkins will spend time in federal prison, but my question is, with whom behind bars should we feel safer, Hodgkins or Hale? A 45-month sentence for Hale has nothing to do with justice, and everything to do with revenge and retaliation. A mere eight-month sentence for Hodgkins is justice defiled.

Justice cannot exist without truth. That an insurrectionist received a lesser sentence than a brave soul who revealed the war crimes being committed by his country shows how neither the prosecutions nor the sentences imposed had anything to do with justice. Without truth, justice is not blind, it is mutilated.

"That Justice is a blind goddess
Is a thing to which we black are wise:
Her bandage hides two festering sores
That once perhaps were eyes.

― Langston Hughes"

Despite what continues to take place against whistleblowers in this country and the world over, I continue to have hope that there will be a change, that truth will matter. I have encountered many frustrated Americans who feel that there will never be any meaningful change, and while I can understand such a fatalistic viewpoint, I am not sure I can believe in such sentimentality. I believe that change is inevitable, the timing of it depends on how badly it's fought for. I feel in some small way, I am fighting for change regarding the issues that not only interest me but also those that have touched directly upon my life by reaching out to you and others with a perspective that may align with those who still believe that change is possible. Maybe, just maybe my words can spark a resonance that will lead to real change. Thank you so much for your continued support.

Jeffrey Sterling

"PS from the RootsAction Education Fund:"

Jeffrey has paid a very steep personal price for whistleblowing. That's the way top CIA officials wanted it. But his enduring capacity to speak truthfully *can help strengthen a wide range of whistleblowers -- past, present and future*.

You can help make that happen with a tax-deductible donation of any amount.

Please do what you can to *support Jeffrey's work as coordinator of The Project for Accountability* [ [link removed] ].

Thank you!

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-- The RootsAction Education Fund team

Please share on *Facebook* [ [link removed] ] and *Twitter* [ [link removed] ].

>> "BBC News:" "Jeffrey Sterling's Trial by Metadata" [ [link removed] ]
>> "Jeffrey Sterling:" "Unwanted Spy: The Persecution of an American Whistleblower" [ [link removed] ]
>> "ExposeFacts: "Special Coverage of the Jeffrey Sterling Trial [ [link removed] ]
>> "Marcy Wheeler," "ExposeFacts:" "Sterling Verdict Another Measure of Declining Government Credibility on Secrets" [ [link removed] ]
>> Norman Solomon, "The Nation:" "CIA Officer Jeffrey Sterling Sentenced to Prison: The Latest Blow in the Government's War on Journalism" [ [link removed] ]
>> "Reporters Without Borders: ""Jeffrey Sterling Latest Victim of the U.S.' War on Whistleblowers" [ [link removed] ]
>> Documentary film: "The Invisible Man: CIA Whistleblower Jeffrey Sterling" [ [link removed] ]


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