The Washington Post and others just adhered to the Justice Department’s own policy of protecting their own while wrecking the lives of those who have the guts to stand up to them.
By John Kiriakou
Special to Consortium News
The Washington Post and other media outlets last week reported that a former FBI attorney allegedly altered a document related to the FBI’s 2016 surveillance of Carter Page, a Trump campaign adviser. FBI Inspector General Michael Horowitz apparently concluded that the conduct “did not affect the overall validity of the surveillance application,” which was made with the secret FISA court.
The Post article, as well as articles in The New York Times, at CNN, and in other outlets, downplayed the behavior as having had “no effect” on the FBI’s surveillance of Page, ignoring the fact that tampering with a federal document is a felony. That’s consistent with the Justice Department’s own policy of protecting their own while wrecking the lives of those who have the guts to stand up to them.
Look at The Washington Post’s original account of the inspector general’s findings. The FBI attorney was just a “low-level employee” who has already “been forced out of the Bureau.” The altered document “did not affect the overall validity of the surveillance application.” The employee “erroneously indicated he had documentation to back up a claim he had made in discussions with the Justice Department about the factual basis for the application. He then altered an email to back up that erroneous claim.”
Let’s straighten a few things outs.
First, the employee was not “low-level.” Attorneys enter the FBI at the GS-11 level. That’s a starting salary of $69,581. On Day One of his career, the attorney would actually be a mid-level employee. Furthermore, “low-level employees” are not assigned to sensitive operations involving counterintelligence against a major-party presidential campaign. Hand-picked senior employees get that honor.
Second, even if the altered document didn’t affect the FISA warrant application, the statement is irrelevant. The attorney committed a felony, plain and simple.
Third, the media says that the attorney “erroneously indicated” that he could back up the document. But that, too, was a felony. It’s called “making a false statement” and it’s punishable by up to five years in prison.
To make matters worse, there is no indication from the Justice Department that this attorney will be prosecuted. “He’s already resigned,” The Washington Post tells us, as if that’s supposed to make everything OK. Why is the mainstream media shielding FBI malfeasance? For FBI crimes? Because the victim is the Trump campaign, and we’re not supposed to like the Trump campaign. It’s all about Russia, Russia, Russia, remember? If the evidence doesn’t show that, you just change the evidence.
Letter from Terry Albury
We shouldn’t be surprised about this kind of behavior from the FBI or from the Justice Department writ large. I received a letter this week from FBI whistleblower Terry Albury. He’s the courageous former FBI agent who blew the whistle on systemic racism in the bureau. And he received four years in prison for his trouble. Terry wrote to tell me about an experience that he’s having identical to my own, when I was in prison after blowing the whistle on the CIA’s torture program.
Terry has less than a year left on his sentence. He has watched over the past year as dozens of prisoners around him have been sent from their low-security prison to a minimum-security work camp. These are prisoners who have committed violent crimes; prisoners who have attempted escape in the past; and prisoners who are incarcerated because they are recidivists. Here’s what Terry wrote:
“On 11/13/2018, I self-surrendered to FCI Englewood in Littleton, CO. In assigning me to a Low Security Prison (LSP), the Bureau of Prisons (BOP) placed a Management Variable (MGTV) on my case to counteract my extremely high security score of zero. Of the variables at their disposal, I was deemed to be a ‘Greater Security Threat.’
According to institutional policy:
When the BOP believes that an offender represents a greater security risk than the assigned security level would suggest, it may apply this Management Variable and place the inmate in an institution with a higher security level. The BOP typically applies this MGTV to offenders with lengthy prior arrest records but few convictions, nonviolent offenders who have a history of poor adjustment under probation or community supervision, offenders with a history of organized crime, offenders with significant foreign ties and/or financial resources, and offenders who have had disciplinary problems during prior incarceration. Inmates who receive this MGTV are placed one security level higher than their score would otherwise require.
The facts of my case and background confirm that none of these parameters apply. Furthermore, an analysis of the policy clearly demonstrates that I should never have been placed (and continue to be held) in an LSP.
Over the past year, I’ve consistently complied with all institutional rules, taken extensive BOP-sponsored educational courses, and earned the support of my case manager, unit manager, and warden who followed BOP Policy and authorized the removal of my erroneous MGTV and subsequent transfer to a Minimum Security Prison (MSP) within 500 miles of my residence (in line with Congressional guidance under the First Step Act).
In authorizing my 10/11/2019 transfer to an MSP and the removal of my MGTV, Case Manager D. Taylor specifically cited “unit team discretion outlined in PS P5100.08” which further states “when a management variable no longer applies, institution staff will remove the variable(s) accordingly.” Program Statement 5270.09 is also clear in that “the Unit Team may recommend a greater security transfer, using their professional judgment, and in accordance with the policy on inmate security designation and custody classification.”
However, on 10/30/2019, I was informed that the DSCC’s Designation and Sentence Computation Center (DSCC) discounted, rejected, and overturned my legally justified transfer and MGTV removal. Furthermore, they unilaterally assigned a new MGTV to my case (“monitoring required”) in spite of the fact that all federal prisoners are subjected to comprehensive phone, e-mail, and traditional mail monitoring at every prison around the country (minimum, low, medium, and high).
To say that I’m being held to a different institutional standard would be an understatement. Over the past year, I’ve watched prisoners transfer to MSPs with nine security points, violent backgrounds, five or more years remaining on their sentence, and histories of escape.
Yet somehow, a man with zero security points, a non-violent background, less than a year remaining on his sentence, and someone authorized to self-surrender, I was deemed to be ineligible for placement in an MSP. And to exacerbate the issue, the entire executive staff of FCI Englewood supported my transfer and no longer believed I warranted the misguided and inappropriate MGTV of “greater security threat.”
In an effort to resolve this issue, I’ve filed a series of administrative grievances, which is on par with applying scotch tape to fill a leak in the Hoover Dam. I have no confidence in the internal process which is why I am pursuing all available external channels to voice my concerns.”
The fix is in, not just with Terry Albury, but with the whole system. Want to tell the press that the FBI is an inherently racist organization? Go ahead. You’ll get years in prison. Want to tamper with federal documents to prove a political point? Don’t worry. The press will cover for you and the chances are that the Department of Justice won’t even bother to prosecute.
Terry Albury will be home soon, where he’ll continue the fight for transparency and honesty in government. But the fight is a daunting one, especially when the mainstream media is one of your enemies. It’s a fight we should all be happy to take on.
John Kiriakou is a former CIA counterterrorism officer and a former senior investigator with the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. John became the sixth whistleblower indicted by the Obama administration under the Espionage Act—a law designed to punish spies. He served 23 months in prison as a result of his attempts to oppose the Bush administration’s torture program.
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