NarcoNews: CIA Veteran Sees Big Hole in Sterling Espionage Conviction

Retired Counterintelligence Officer Claims Intelligence Agency’s Office of Security Dropped the Ball

By Bill Conroy

A former CIA spy manager is raising a serious question about the way the intelligence agency handled the national-security risk raised in the case of Jeffrey Sterling, a former CIA officer who was recently convicted on espionage charges for leaking classified information to New York Times reporter James Risen.

Leutrell Osborne is a 27-year veteran of the CIA who as a case officer oversaw spies and assets in 30 countries. He said he befriended Sterling, who like Osborne is African American, during the course of a discrimination lawsuit Sterling initiated against the CIA in 2000. That litigation was ultimately dismissed by the courts in early 2006 due to the government’s national security claims.

“I decided to assist Jeffrey [Sterling] in his discrimination case because I had respect for him because he was a black man, an attorney and a spy manager, and part of the reason I worked at the CIA was so people like him could follow me,” said Osborne, a CIA employee from 1957-1984. [Video: Leutrell Osborne: Black Man in the CIA]

Osborne, who now runs a business-consulting firm, had numerous interactions and conversations with Sterling, which he said should have been of interest to the CIA’s Office of Security in the course of any internal agency investigation of potential classified-information leaks.

However, Osborne said the CIA never contacted him about Sterling, prior to or during the course of the criminal investigation targeting Sterling. That criminal investigation, which led to Sterling’s indictment in 2010, was initiated by at least 2008 — when reporter Risen was first subpoenaed in the case. Osborne also said that, to date, the CIA has not returned a call he made to the agency shortly after Sterling’s conviction in late January.

If the CIA was truly concerned that Sterling was leaking classified information, then the agency should have vetted anyone who had his confidence, particularly current and former CIA personnel, to determine the extent of his alleged espionage activities, Osborne contends.

“The CIA investigated Sterling, and they knew I knew him, or should have known, yet they did not talk to me,” Osborne said. “Is the CIA that incompetent in security? The CIA is supposedly the best security organization in the world, and yet they didn’t care that there were holes in their investigation? That raises a red flag for me.”

A federal court jury in Virginia found Sterling guilty earlier this year on nine criminal counts related to charges that he provided classified documents to Risen sometime between 2001 and 2005 that were made public in a book that the journalist published in early 2006. Risen’s tome, “State of War,” included a chapter detailing a CIA covert plan to derail Iran’s nuclear-weapons development capabilities.  Sterling, now 47, was assigned from 1998 to mid-2000 as an operational officer in the unit overseeing that Iran program, dubbed Operation Merlin in court records.

The government’s case against Sterling was made with circumstantial evidence — primarily records of phone calls and emails exchanged between Sterling and Risen between 2003 and 2005, none of which contained a smoking gun proving conclusively that Sterling leaked classified information. Sterling’s lawyers argued that the trail of emails and phone calls dovetailed in time with his discrimination lawsuit against the CIA and dealt with that matter, which Risen had written about in the New York Times previously. In addition, the defense argued that there were a number of other potential sources for Risen’s book, including Senate Select Intelligence Committee staffers, given Sterling in 2003 provided information to them legally as a whistleblower on what he deemed flaws in the covert Iran program.

The Department of Justice engaged in a controversial battle across the Bush and Obama administrations to force Risen to reveal his sources on Operation Merlin. Ultimately, though, the Department of Justice backed down as Sterling’s trial got underway in mid-January and did not call Risen to testify. Government attorneys argue that Sterling was a disgruntled former CIA employee motivated to strike back at the agency and that convictions based on strong circumstantial evidence are not out of the ordinary in the judicial system.

But Osborne’s criticism has more to do with CIA internal procedures than Sterling’s criminal case itself, though he argues that there is some pause for concern that the agency may have pushed the criminal case against Sterling in retaliation for his whistleblowing and discrimination lawsuit against the agency.

Attorney Mark Zaid, who represented Sterling in the discrimination case, said Osborne “gave media interviews” during the course of Sterling’s discrimination litigation, including for national outlets such as CNN, “and was very supportive of Jeff [Sterling],” though he never testified in the case. Osborne said the CIA certainly was aware of his relationship with Sterling, or at least should have been as the world’s premier intelligence agency. In addition, Osborne said he placed a call to the CIA in early February, shortly after Sterling’s conviction, but still has not been contacted by the agency.

Osborne points out that CIA attorneys do not try criminal cases and the CIA itself has no arrest powers. Once a suspect in a classified-information leak is identified, he said, the case is normally turned over to the FBI and Department of Justice attorney’s to pursue via the criminal justice system.

However, that does not absolve the CIA, he said, of conducting its own thorough internal investigation to determine the extent of the leak and how extensive the problem is and what other agency operations might have been affected or compromised. Because he had a relationship with Sterling, the CIA should have had an interest in determining what information was exchanged between them, Osborne said.

The CIA unit responsible for protecting classified information from disclosure, and for investigating such breaches, is the Office of Security.

“That unit [the Office of Security] should have been on the job. I was a potential hole in the security, and yet no one from CIA contacted me,” Osborne stressed. “The Office of Security’s job is to look for the dirty laundry, and possibly share what they find with the FBI. I should have been contacted.”

Osborne said the fact that CIA investigators did not question him prompts a suspicion that Sterling was not the national-security threat the agency portrayed him to be and that some individuals at the CIA may have “manipulated” the Department of Justice into pursuing an espionage case against him. Alternatively, another possible implication of the agency’s failure to vet Osborne is equally troubling. That lapse, he said, points to a potential serious weakness in the CIA’s internal “security protocols” for containing espionage threats.

Dean Boyd, director of the CIA Office of Public Affairs, when asked about Osborne’s allegations, provided the following response via email:

“The criminal investigation of Jeffrey Sterling and his unauthorized disclosure of classified information was conducted by the FBI. The criminal prosecution was handled by the Department of Justice. As you may know, determinations on potential witnesses or interviews to be conducted in connection with a criminal investigation and prosecution are the purview of the FBI and Department of Justice.”

When asked in a follow-up email to address the specific concern Osborne raised about the failure of CIA investigators to contact him as part of the agency’s internal security protocols, Boyd replied: “We have no further information for you.”

“There are valleys between DOJ, FBI and the CIA,” Osborne said. “CIA uses DOJ attorneys for criminal cases, but it doesn’t’ make sense that CIA did not contact me or that DOJ should have handled that,” given any compromise of classified information potentially threatens broader CIA operations possibly not even known to DOJ. Osborne added that neither the DOJ or FBI contacted him about Sterling — nor did he reach out to them.

“This discussion just accentuates how stupid this situation is,” Osborne added.

For the record, Osborne said Sterling never shared any classified information with him.

“I did not inquire about what he did for the CIA,” Osborne said. “And he had too much respect for me to involve me in his garbage. Sterling never shared with me anything he did clandestinely for the CIA.”

Past Deceptions

This isn’t the first time the CIA Office of Security has been called out for failing to do its job properly.

In March of last year, US Sen. Dianne Feinstein, then chair of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence (SSCI), lashed out publicly at the CIA, accusing the agency and its top lawyer of illegally spying on the Senate staff charged with investigating the George W. Bush-era terrorism practices. She accused the CIA of seeking to intimidate the Senate committee by asking the Justice Department to investigate those same staffers based on what she described as “inaccurate information” provided to the Justice Department.

Although Feinstein did not then publicly identify the CIA lawyer she accused of helping to orchestrate the alleged attack on the Senate staff — via his referral of charges to DOJ — White House spokesman Jay Carney subsequently confirmed that it was then-Acting CIA General Counsel Robert Eatinger.

The Senate staff was utilizing secure computers set up by the CIA that allowed them to examine millions of documents to prepare a 6,000-page report on the terrorism-detention and interrogation program. An abbreviated version of that report, some 500 pages long and released in December of last year, determined the CIA’s use of torture to obtain information from suspects held in secret prisons didn’t work, yet the agency lied repeatedly in claiming it was effective.

In the course of preparing their report for Feinstein’s committee, the CIA alleges the Senate staffers illegally hacked into the agency’s computers to obtain information — creating the basis for Eatinger’s request for a DOJ criminal investigation. Senate staffers maintain the information in question was contained in trove of records made available to them by CIA for examination.

A five-member CIA Accountability Board, which included three CIA officials, was assembled to investigate the matter and determined in findings issued this past January that CIA personnel did nothing illegal, that it was all essentially an honest misunderstanding.

However, Feinstein took issue with the findings of the board and issued a blistering critique.

“Regardless of the extent of the violation or intent of those involved, someone should be held accountable,” she said in a press release published on Jan. 27. “…The CIA IG [Inspector General, in a separate report] found the CIA criminal referral against SSCI staff was based on inaccurate information provided to Acting General Counsel Bob Eatinger by personnel in CIA’s Office of Security. The actions of these individuals were ignored by the CIA Accountability Board, which is shocking and unacceptable.” [Emphasis added.]

So, essentially, a US senator claims the CIA’s Office of Security lied to the Department of Justice as part of an effort to launch a criminal investigation into Senate staffers

…………………………………………………

You can read the complete investigative report here @ NarcoNews

The EyeOpener Report- Who Is Marc Grossman?

BFP VideoWhen Hillary Clinton appointed Marc Grossman as US Special Envoy News coverage of the appointment dutifully noted Grossman's long career at the State Department and past accomplishments, including his appointment as Career Ambassador by President Bush in 2004 and his Secretary of State Distinguished Service Award in 2005. Carefully excised from this glowing praise, however, was any mention of his early exit from Turkey before the end of his scheduled appointment as US Ambassador, the decade-long FBI investigation into Grossman's conduct at the State Department, the accusations of bribes and string pulling, his involvement in the nuclear spying ring identified by a landmark 2008 Sunday Times investigation, or, as we examined last week, his role as the first person to actually blow Valerie Plame's cover by warning Turkish officials of Brewster Jennings & Associates' role as a CIA front.

On this episode of BFP EyeOpener Report with James Corbett we look into Marc Grossman, his career and position in Gladio Operation B, his role in Plame Leak & Much More!

Watch the Preview Clip Here:

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*The Transcript for this video is available at Corbett Report: Click Here

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Keeping the Score: Fat Cats vs. Whistleblowers

Exposed Government Criminals- Where They Are Today

For the last several years former CIA officer Philip Giraldi has been fearlessly reporting and writing on two no-no topics for the US government and its extension- the US media: Espionage and Illegal Arms Trafficking by Israel and Turkey, facilitated by a group of treasonous US officials. Despite Giraldi’s credentials as a former CIA operative, his extensive first-hand knowledge and experience, and no matter the amount of documentation and numerous well-established cases he presents, these alarming facts and trends always go ignored or intentionally blacked-out by the mainstream and pseudo alternative media alike.

On August 1, 2013, Giraldi published another damning article in his long-running series involving espionage and arms trafficking by the two major US allies, facilitated by their extensions within the US government: [Read more...]

The New Great Game Round Up- August 4, 2013

Jihad From Syria To Russia, Military Secrets For Sale, Afghanistan Descends Into Chaos & More!

The Great Game Round-Up brings you the latest newsworthy developments regarding Central Asia and the Caucasus region. We document the struggle for influence, power, hegemony and profits in Central Asia and the Caucasus region between a U.S.-dominated NATO, its GCC proxies, Russia, China and other regional players.

The dispute between the United States and Russia about NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden serves as perfect pretext for Washington to expedite NATO's Cold War Revival. U.S. Senator John McCain, famous for his warmongering and staunch support of terrorists from Libya to Syria, is leading the way:

McCain: Expand NATO, Missile Deployments To Punish Russia

US Senator John McCain disapproves whistleblower Edward Snowden’s newly-acquired asylum, and demands that Washington re-examine its relations with Moscow and `strip away the illusions that many Americans have had about Russia.` [Read more...]

Classified Woman: The Sibel Edmonds Story

CWIn this startling new memoir, Sibel Edmonds—the most classified woman in U.S. history—takes us on a surreal journey that begins with the secretive FBI and down the dark halls of a feckless Congress to a stonewalling judiciary and finally, to the national security whistleblowers movement she spearheaded. Having lived under Middle East dictatorships, Edmonds knows firsthand what can happen when government is allowed to operate in secret. Hers is a sobering perspective that combines painful experience with a rallying cry for the public’s right to know and to hold the lawbreakers accountable. With U.S. citizens increasingly stripped of their rights in a calibrated media blackout, Edmonds’ story is a wake-up call for all Americans who, willingly or unwillingly, traded liberty for illusive security in the wake of 9/11.

You can visit the Classified Woman website here: http://classifiedwoman.com

Classified Woman can now be purchased at Amazon, Kindle, Nook and directly here:

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Podcast Show #50

The Boiling Frogs Presents James Bamford

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James Bamford joins us to discuss the case of NSA whistleblower Thomas Drake, the government’s overreach in bringing espionage charges against him, and the Obama Administration’s unprecedented level of retaliation against government whistleblowers. He discusses the Obama Administration’s shift from military wars to covert-secret wars, the increased use of the CIA as a war branch, and Obama’s violation of the Presidential War Powers Act. Mr. Bamford talks about the CIA operations in Yemen and the use of cluster bombs there as early as December 2009, the implications of WikiLeaks, the absurdity of Obama’s Nobel Peace Award and his recently given Transparency Award, the ineffectiveness and uselessness of NSA in monitoring Osama Bin-Laden’s activities, the absence of real coverage and analyses in the US Mainstream Media, and more!

JamesBamfordJames Bamford is one of the country’s leading writers on intelligence and national security issues. His books include “The Puzzle Palace,” “Body of Secrets,” “A Pretext for War: 9/11, Iraq and the Abuse of America’s Intelligence Agencies,” and most recently “ The Shadow Factory”. Mr. Bamford coproduced NOVA’s “The Spy Factory”, which was based on his latest book. He has written for many magazines, including investigative cover stories for The New York Times Magazine, The Washington Post Magazine and The Los Angeles Times Magazine, and is a contributing writer for Rolling Stone. His 2005 Rolling Stone article “The Man Who Sold the War” won a National Magazine Award for reporting. He also spent a decade as the Washington investigative producer for the ABC News program, World News Tonight with Peter Jennings, and taught at the University of California, Berkeley, as a distinguished visiting professor.

Here is our guest James Bamford unplugged!

This site depends exclusively on readers’ support. Please help us continue by contributing directly and or purchasing Boiling Frogs showcased products.

Podcast Show #40

The Boiling Frogs Presents Grant Smith

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Grant F. Smith joins us to discuss Start-Up Nation: The Story of Israel’s Economic Miracle, a 2009 Council on Foreign Relations book authored by Dan Senor and Saul Singer. He tells us about rarely discussed “massive non-market subsidies and distortions” designed and implemented to benefit Israel, such as an agreement with the Pentagon for Israel to provide goods and services to the US military, and gain access to the US military procurement system, and other congressionally approved agreements that create jobs in Israel rather than in the US. Mr. Smith talks about AIPAC, Israel’s vast network of legal and illegal campaign contributions, their influence and propaganda infrastructure with the US media, and more!

GrantSmithGrant F. Smith is director of the Institute for Research: Middle Eastern Policy in Washington, D.C. He is the author of Spy Trade: How Israel’s Lobby Undermines America’s Economy, America’s Defense Line: The Justice Department’s Battle to Register the Israel Lobby as Agents of a Foreign Government and Foreign Agents: The American Israel Public Affairs Committee from the 1963 Fulbright Hearings to the 2005 Espionage Scandal. He is a contributor to Radio France Internationale and Voice of America’s Foro Interamericano, and has appeared on BBC News, CNN, and C-SPAN.

Here is our guest Grant Smith unplugged!

This site depends exclusively on readers’ support. Please help us continue by contributing directly and or purchasing Boiling Frogs showcased products.

Is Israel the Sole Determinant of US Presidential Elections?

They Say They Are…

IsraelAre the elections results of US presidential elections determined by 2% of the population? Can the five million or so Jewish population be counted as the US majority? Does the Israel lobby shape the majority of US voters’ decisions? Is Israel the main determinant of political elections’ results when it comes to high US public offices? I don’t know your take or answers to these questions, but we do have ‘theirs, on the record, loud and clear, and of course, delivered with hubris and cockiness:

Metzger to Obama: Release Pollard or lose reelection
By Jonah Mandel, Jerusalem Post

Chief Ashkenazi rabbi says he's not making prophecy, just reflecting the feelings of US Jews who supported US president's election.

Chief Ashkenazi Rabbi Yona Metzger wants US President Barack Obama to know that unless he acts to release Israeli agent Jonathan Pollard, he will not be elected for a second time in November 2012.

“If Obama wants another term as president, he must immediately release Pollard,” the rabbi said on Saturday.

I don’t believe the above article is in need of any interpretation or explanation. It is pretty straightforward: Mr. President if you do A, we won’t let you get reelected, but if you do B, we will; yes, we have that much power and influence. The condition put on this one way negotiation has nothing to do with the topic I am discussing here. Period. In this case it is about Jonathan Pollard, the convicted Israeli spy who betrayed his nation and endangered lives. It could very well be about Iran: Mr. Obama you either attack or advocate for an attack on country X, and we’ll ensure you get reelected, or, stand against it, and lose your chance of getting reelected. Why? Because ‘we’ have that power. Because ‘we’ perceive country X as a threat to ‘us,’, and ‘we’ want you to put your nation at war for ‘us.’ 

Now you may say, ‘hey, that’s a ludicrous empty threat! Give or take two percent of the voting population can’t carry that level of influence over a United States President!’ And, you will be wrong; flat out wrong. It is true that the population of American adherents of Judaism was around 5 million, 1.7% of the total US population in 2007, and including those who identify themselves culturally as Jewish (but not necessarily religiously), around 6.5  million, 2.2% as of 2008. But who ever claimed that these things are all about size, and that only size matters?!!! If you don’t have the size you go about compensating for it; don’t you? Well, that’s exactly what ‘they’ have been doing, and doing successfully. How? In more than one way: [Read more...]

Obama Administration’s Neocon Easter

Resurrecting the Neocons: Marc Grossman in … Richard Perle & Douglas Feith in Queue

Grossman215Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has chosen a new special envoy to Afghanistan and Pakistan: a long-time controversial neocon, a man who has been famous for parading as a foreign agent in the lobby circuit, the scandalous former diplomat Marc Grossman. The not-so-gradual resurrection of the old neocon cabal under the Obama administration, led by Hillary Clinton, should not come as a surprise. According to Washington insiders, Richardl Perle and Douglas Feith have been consulted more than a few times in their ‘unofficial’ capacity, but are not far down in the queue to receive ‘official’ acknowledgement. This shouldn’t come as a surprise; at least to those who’ve been following the steady momentum building at the Obama White House towards a soon-to-come Neocon Easter.

Hillary Clinton appointed Dennis Ross as Special Advisor for the Persian Gulf and Southwest Asia; a man well-known as a hard-core neocon,  Paul Wolfowitz’ protégé, cofounder of the AIPAC sponsored Washington Institute for Near East Policy, and one of the loudest advocates for the Israel lobby. A man who is known to consider himself more Israeli than American; a Jewish American who is known to have spent ‘a lot of time’ in Israel to find his real identity-nationality.

KaganWe had Frederick Kagan, a neocon of choice for Mr. Obama, who was hired to manage General Petraeus on Afghanistan. A man whose father was born into a Jewish family in Lithuania; a man cherished by his bosses at the American Enterprise Institute; a man who authored the book, While America Sleeps, arguing in favor of a large increase in military spending and warned of future threats, including the imaginary WMD program in Iraq. We are talking about the man who was one of the main signatories of Project for the New American Century manifesto - the Neocon Bible. The man who was one of the Bush-Cheney administration’s favorite masterminds when it came to perpetual wars. [Read more...]

Podcast Show #8

The Boiling Frogs Presents John M. Cole

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John M. Cole discusses his 18 year journey at the FBI as a Counterintelligence and Counterespionage Operations Manager. He talks about Turkish and Israeli espionage operations in the US, the infiltration of the Bureau by a Pakistani spy, abuses of FISA applications, the TRILOGY software fiasco, and more.

John M. Cole, Former Veteran Intelligence Operations Specialist, worked for 18 years in the FBI’s Counterintelligence Division as an Intelligence Operations specialist and counterespionage manager. Cole is the author of While America Sleeps – now available at Amazon.

*Sibel’s Note- This interview was recorded prior to the cover story by the American Conservative Magazine. For a recent interview with John Cole visit Peter B Collins site: http://www.peterbcollins.com/podcast-45/

Here is our guest John Cole unplugged!

Grossman Confirmed as FBI Target in Espionage Investigations



Former FBI Official Confirms Buried Espionage & Corruption Cases

John M. Cole, a former FBI Counterintelligence and Counterespionage Manager, has publicly confirmed FBI’s decade long investigation of the former State Department Official. According to Cole, as in over one hundred cases involving Israeli espionage activities within the US government, this case too has been covered up and buried despite mountains of evidence collected.

Here is the public response from John Cole after the publication of The American Conservative magazine’s cover story:


"I read the recent cover story by The American Conservative magazine. I applaud their courage in publishing this significant interview. I am fully aware of the FBI's decade-long investigation of the High-level State Department Official named in this article [Marc Grossman], which ultimately was buried and covered up. It is long past time to investigate this case and bring about accountability..."

In November 2006, in an article published by CQ on covered up espionage cases involving Israel, Cole was quoted extensively:

“John M. Cole, an FBI spy catcher who retired in 2004, says that from 1993 to 1995 alone, he had “125 open cases” of Israeli espionage, representing nearly half of all the investigations carried on in his Global Unit, part of the now-defunct National Security division.” Inside the FBI itself, Cole said, tracking suspected Israeli spies was hush-hush.In a sharp break with FBI procedures, he was prohibited from notifying field offices when an investigation crept into their jurisdictions. “No one was supposed to know we were investigating the Israelis,” Cole said.”

Stein’s article quoted several other FBI officials confirming Cole’s disclosure:

“The 125 figure “makes sense,” another former top FBI counterintelligence official said, speaking only on condition that he not be identified because of the issue’s sensitivity. This official called the Israeli embassy’s denials “horse [manure].” In fact, he said, U.S. officials repeatedly warned the Israelis to back off. But the finger-wagging only seemed to energize them. “We would call them in, call them on the carpet, and next week there would be 10 more cases,” he said. The Justice Department never seemed much interested in prosecuting them, he and other counterintelligence veterans said. Agents would get pissed off,” said the former top official. “We knew they were going to walk, that they were going to get a pass. . . . It was frustrating.””

John M. Cole, Former Veteran Intelligence Operations Specialist, worked for 18 years in the FBI’s Counterintelligence Division as an Intelligence Operations specialist and counterespionage manager. Cole is the author of While America Sleeps, which will be available in bookstores this November. He was recently our guest on The Boiling Frogs Show.

Coming Soon: Boiling Frogs exclusive interview with John M Cole on his upcoming book and latest revelations