Freedom of the Press a key Issue in Trial of Former CIA Officer Jeffrey Sterling
In the aftermath of a series of brutal terrorist attacks that claimed the lives of 17, including eight journalists at the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, police officers and hostages at a kosher food market, more than three million people marched in Paris in solidarity with the victims and in support of freedom of the press. Forty heads of state also joined the march, but as many critics pointed out, some of the nations they represented, such as Turkey, Egypt, Jordan, Russia and Israel, have poor records when it comes to press freedom at home. The U.S., criticized by some for not sending a high-level representative to participate in the Paris march, also has a flawed record on freedom of the press.
During six years of the Obama administration, the number of whistleblower investigations under the 1917 Espionage Act is more than double the number of those conducted in all previous presidential administrations combined. For more than six years, New York Times Pulitzer Prize winning investigative reporter and author James Risen has been the target of federal prosecutors for his refusal to disclose his sources. The Department of Justice had ordered Risen to testify against one of his alleged sources, former CIA officer Jeffrey Sterling, who it is believed provided the journalist with confidential information regarding a failed CIA operation to sabotage Iran’s nuclear weapons program, which was published in his 2006 book, “State of War.” Risen has refused to cooperate with prosecutors and identify his source, risking imprisonment. However, the day before Jeffery Sterling’s trial began on Jan. 13, the Justice Department said it would not call Risen to testify, effectively taking the threat of prison off the table.
Between The Lines’ Scott Harris spoke with Marcy Wheeler, an investigative journalist with ExposeFacts, who discusses what’s at stake in the trial of former CIA officer Sterling and the larger issue of the government’s prosecution of whistleblowers – as well as the consequences for journalism and the public’s right to know.
Learn more about the campaign to end the government prosecution of whistleblowers and journalists by visiting ExposeFacts.org.
Declining Global Demand Triggers Dramatic Oil Price Drop
Plummeting oil prices are grabbing headlines all over the world. The price has dropped in the past few months from over $100 a barrel to less than $50. That price drop had repercussions throughout the energy sector, and also led, among other things, to more Americans buying gas-guzzling vehicles. Gasoline prices in the U.S. are heading to as low as $2 a gallon in some places, down from $4 a gallon.
The drop in oil prices is mostly due to more supply and less demand. But at least one analyst, independent petroleum geologist Art Berman says the drop was exacerbated by the fact that quantitative easing ended in July 2014, exactly when prices began to fall. Because world oil prices are tied to the U.S. dollar and the U.S. government was no longer printing massive amounts of money, the dollar grew stronger and the price of oil went down.
Between The Lines’ Melinda Tuhus spoke with Richard Heinberg, senior fellow at the Post Carbon Institute who notes that before the recent drop, oil prices were exceptionally high. Here, he explains how the drop in oil prices is impacting other energy sectors with a focus on natural gas and liquefied natural gas produced for export.
For more information on the Post Carbon Institute, visit postcarbon.org.
Opponents Campaign to Defeat Fast Track Trade Authority and Trans-Pacific Partnership
As President Obama begins his last two years in office, one of his administration’s legislative priorities is Congressional approval of the Trans Pacific Partnership. The TPP, as it’s known, is a proposed 12-nation trade agreement between the U.S., Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam. The agreement would set new rules on trade and non-trade issues such as food safety, Internet freedom, the cost of pharmaceutical drugs, financial regulation and environmental protection.
With TPP negotiations nearing a conclusion, the administration is now pushing for a Congressional vote on fast track Trade Promotion Authority, a mechanism created by Richard Nixon that would force Congress to vote on a trade agreement within 60 to 90 days of receiving it, with only limited debate and no amendments allowed.
A broad coalition of progressive Democrats, labor unions, environmentalists, consumer advocates and human rights activists have come together to oppose fast track, the TPP and the Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, another proposed multi-trillion dollar free trade agreement being negotiated with the 28-nation European Union. Opponents maintain that these trade agreements, negotiated in almost complete secrecy, will weaken U.S. regulations on labor rights, environmental protections, food safety and medicine prices enhancing corporate power to the detriment of middle-class workers. Some conservative Republicans also oppose fast track, declaring it gives the executive branch too much power. Between The Lines’ Scott Harris spoke with Alisa Simmons, deputy director of Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch, who talks about the campaign to defeat the Trans-Pacific Partnership and fast track authority amid the changed political climate in Washington after the GOP took control of the U.S. Senate earlier this month.
Learn more about the campaign to defeat the Trans Pacific Partnership free trade treaty by visiting citizen.org/tradewatch.
- Interview with Alisa Simmons, conducted by Scott Harris, Counterpoint, Jan. 12, 2015 (24:54)
This week’s summary of under-reported news
Compiled by Bob Nixon
- Long before the recent terrorist attacks in France, a growing wave of anti-Muslim and anti-immigrant protests have surged in eastern Germany. (The Associated Press, The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times)
- Pakistan has established new military courts to try terrorism suspects, in response to the Dec. 16 massacre of nearly 150 children by Taliban terrorists at a military run-school in Lahore. (The Wall Street Journal, The BBC)
- While the new Republican Congress is aggressively pushing for the construction of the Keystone XL oil pipeline, Canadian energy giant Enbridge is promoting twin pipelines that could transport as many as 4 million barrels of oil a day across rural Minnesota to Superior, Wis. (In These Times)