Thanks to FDL!

By: Friday July 15, 2011 8:23 am

We’re still kicking around the tires a bit, but if you’d like to help us kick those tires, the new home for emptywheel is at

As I’m leaving what has been home for the last three and a half years, I wanted to, first of all, wish Kevin Gosztola and Jeff Kaye the best of luck with their new blog “The Dissenter.” You all know the great work Jeff has done, particularly on torture. And Kevin has been doing great work, particularly on WikiLeaks and some other stories–like the FBI’s investigation of peace activists–FDL hasn’t otherwise covered as closely as we should have. As one of his readers, I hope, too, to see Kevin bring more video production to civil liberties discussions at FDL because he did a great job with such things at the Nation.

Now, for some thank yous.

I owe a tremendous debt of gratitude to Jane Hamsher. Not only has she created this wonderful community at FDL. But even before I moved here in 2007, Jane had worked her magic to make any number of opportunities available to me, from covering the Scooter Libby trial, to Anatomy of Deceit, to the opportunity to say “blowjob” on TV. She even taught me to wear lipstick, for better or worse. Her tremendous mix of fierce determination and generosity makes her a real gift to the progressive community. I look forward to seeing where she takes FDL from here.

I also owe big thanks to the folks backstage here at FDL. You may not know them. But trust me, they make me look a lot smarter than I am. And they keep this place running smoothly. I will sorely miss them as I struggle to keep emptywheel running smoothly without them.

Thanks, too, to those who have financially supported my work over the last several years, through the Marcy Wheeler fund, membership at FDL, or other support. It truly humbles me to consider the tremendous support I’ve received, usually from people I’ve never even met.

Finally, thanks to our absolutely superb readers. Folks from around the blogosphere often tell me how smart and interesting my commenters are–I think they’re jealous! They’re right though: your contribution as commenters adds a tremendous value to this site. I do hope to continue such discussions at the new site.

Which, I guess, is my cue to go join the conversation over there.

Sterling’s Graymail Attempt

By: Friday July 15, 2011 6:33 am

As Josh Gerstein reported, back in June, Jeffrey Sterling asked the government for details about which parts of James Risen’s account of Merlin are true and which are false. His lawyers argue that Sterling cannot be guilty of disseminating national defense information if what he disseminated–as the government claims–was actually not true.

Now, at first glimpse, this seems to be a graymail attempt: an attempt to demand information from the government it will ultimately refuse to turn over.

In addition to details of the alleged operation, the defense is entitled to know if, as a result of the publication of State of War, the identity of Human Asset No. 1 was learned by any foreign power at all. It is entitled to know if because of the publication of State of War, the Iranians shelved plans to use the blue prints that they allegedly learned, due to the publication of State of War, were allegedly flawed. The defense is entitled to know if this “Rogue Operation,” as described by Mr. Risen, did help the Iranian nuclear program in any way.

Some of this information, after all, would be the information Risen’s sources would have been trying to get out in the first place; this is precisely the kind of information the government is trying to suppress by prosecuting this case. And the emphasis on whether Iran (or another country) learned this information from Risen’s book–or from the operation itself–would make for an interesting question (though I suspect the government would retreat to a claim they’ve made before: that part of the damage comes in letting other countries know about this op).

But I’m also interested in Sterling’s focus on expert witnesses: as of June 22, when this was filed, the government had not yet revealed to the defense what expert they would call to verify that this information was actually national defense information. I suspect part of what the defense is trying to do is force that issue–and in particular, learn whether that expert will be someone who was actually involved in the operation (and therefore could refute Sterling’s version of what happened) or someone else, who would rely on second-hand information.

At a minimum, it must allow the defense to challenge the accuracy of that testimony by confronting the witness called by the government with the truth of what actually occurred.

I hope to come back to this issue in the coming days.

just as interesting as this attempt to get more information on what the government claims happened with the Merlin program is the timing. At one level, it seems very late in the process, almost a second swipe at a Bill of Particulars (the government responded to the first one by giving Sterling the chapter of Risen’s book).

But remember that this filing also came before most of the filings on whether or not Risen will have to testify. I noted that in addition to everything else the government has said to support its subpoena of Risen, they also said he cannot protect a source who passed false information. Of course, they haven’t proven that, they’ve simply gotten a grand jury to buy off on that.

It seems the stakes on whether information Sterling allegedly provided Risen was true or not have gone up. But that seems to be precisely the kind of information the government will want to keep out of court.

Happy Trails: Parting Is Such Sweet Sorrow

By: Thursday July 14, 2011 3:30 pm

As one and all know by now, the Emptywheel blog is leaving Firedoglake. But, before we leave, I have a few things to say in parting.

First, thanks to Jane Hamsher, a remarkable woman who has built a first class enterprise at FDL that melds together disparate and critical elements necessary for an informed mind in a troubled world. I have been honored to learn from, and work with, Jane over the last several years. The same goes for each and every one of the colleagues, both present and past, I have had the fortune to be associated with while at FDL. They are all, quite simply, some of the most remarkable and wonderful people I have ever met.

I would also like to wish Kevin Gosztola and Jeff Kaye, the former who I look forward to getting to know, and the latter who I know quite well, the best of luck in their new section at FDL, The Dissenter. May the wind be at their backs; and I hope you will all give them the attention and participation their work does, and will, deserve. They are both very good.

As for all our loyal readers and commenters, the warmth and love you have shown us over the years and in the post announcing the move is nothing short of stunning and humbling. A great many of you came with us here from The Next Hurrah and, well, I both hope and expect to see you nearly uninterrupted at the new digs; and I think you will be quite comfortable with them. So, while parting with FDL is tremendously hard, there is going to be an exciting new day for both us and them.

Again, to both colleagues and readers, it has been an extreme honor and pleasure to have spent the last many years with you at Firedoglake. I cannot thank one and all enough for everything.

Happy trails pardners. Second star to the right and straight on till morning!

Reggie Walton Unleashes the Rocket’s Red Glare

By: Thursday July 14, 2011 12:33 pm

. Well well well. who couldda knowd?? Acute prosecutorial foul play has ended the big Roger Clemens perjury trial at it’s gestation. From ESPN: The judge presiding over Roger Clemens’ perjury trial declared a mistrial over inadmissible evidence shown to jurors. U.S. District Judge Reggie Walton said Clemens could not be assured a fair trial [...]

Darrell Issa Steps in It, Inadvertantly Reveals Improper Use of Congressional Funds to Serve AEI

By: Thursday July 14, 2011 5:50 am

Republicans are big fans of projection. When they’re neck-deep in conflicts of interest, they like to hide it by accusing Democrats of such conflicts. When they leak stuff, they accuse Democrats. When they mismanage stuff, they accuse Democrats. And yesterday, Darrell Issa got caught doing just that. A year ago, on July 27, 2010, Issa [...]

ACLU FOIAs CIA for Documents on Juan Cole

By: Wednesday July 13, 2011 9:39 am

The ACLU has just FOIAed the CIA and Director of National Intelligence for any information on Juan Cole. It asks for, e-mails, letters, faxes, or other correspondence, memoranda, contemporaneous notes of meetings or phone calls, reports or any other material relating to the gathering, collecting, copying, collating, generating or other use of information and material [...]

Obama Administration: Don’t Cut Construction Funding to Bahrain

By: Wednesday July 13, 2011 8:46 am

In its statement of Administration policy on HR 2055–which funds military construction–the Administration expressed concern that the Senate had cut $100 million funding for two projects in Bahrain. The Administration is worried, you see, that such cuts would signal that we do not “stand by its allies.” The Administration is concerned about the reduction in [...]

On Two Torture Investigations

By: Wednesday July 13, 2011 5:24 am

Across the pond–in the investigation of British complicity with the torture of Binyam Mohamed and others–the Supreme Court has told the government it can’t present secret evidence. The supreme court has outlawed the use of secret evidence in court by the intelligence services to conceal allegations that detainees were tortured. The decision will be seen [...]

Our Unilateral Counterterrorism Operations in Somalia

By: Tuesday July 12, 2011 9:23 am

A detainee in what Jeremy Scahill describes as “a secret prison buried in the basement of Somalia’s National Security Agency (NSA) headquarters, where prisoners suspected of being Shabab members or of having links to the group are held”–one with key US involvement–describes his internment this way. I have been here for one year, seven months. [...]

Emptywheel Leaving Firedoglake

By: Tuesday July 12, 2011 7:55 am

It is with very mixed feelings that I announce emptywheel will be leaving Firedoglake at the end of this week. About six years ago, I started blogging on the abuse of power. At first it was the CIA Leak case. Then it was torture. And warrantless wiretapping. And now drones and Gitmo and corruption and [...]

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