- The Washington Times - Friday, October 14, 2011


The June victory for the Department of Justice in USAv.IshmaelJones, apenname, has produced several unique legal transgressions, the most important of which is that for the first time since the American Revolution, an American has been accused of violating censorship laws and then denied the right to defend himself in court.

Censorship cases are extremely rare, given our First Amendment protections, and denial of the right of trial to a defendant is also extremely rare. The combination is a historical first.

I wrote a book called “TheHumanFactor; Inside the CIA’s Dysfunctional Intelligence Culture,” which criticizes CIA waste, fraud and inefficiency. I submitted the book to CIA censors, and after a year of analysis, the censors could not find a single bit of classified, secret or even sensitive information. They objected to the criticism, however, and disapproved every word. In 2008, I decided to publish the book anyway.

The First Amendment protects many kinds of speech, but its most vital purpose is to protect the written words of Americans who criticize intrusive and fraudulent government. My use of the First Amendment, therefore, enjoys the full force of its protection. Written words are powerful weapons used by the forces of liberty, from the American Revolution to the fall of the Iron Curtain to the Arab Spring. I have reason to believe, based on communications with former colleagues at the CIA, that the criticisms in my book have led to changes that have saved American lives and protected American freedoms. (It also may have affected CIA censorship procedures. CIA censors approved every word of this article.)

You may not agree with my work on intelligence reform, my methods or my politics. But I ask you to agree that any American who is taken to court should have the right to defend himself. The right to a trial is essential to our way of life; it is in our DNA. Denial of a trial means that I cannot confront my accusers, cannot stand up in court and question my accusers and cannot demand that they show evidence to prove their case. It means there are no witnesses and no jury. It means that the defendant is guilty without the opportunity to prove his innocence. According to my attorney, Craig Edmonston, “It’s as if an umpire walked out on the field and declared one team a winner before the first pitch was thrown.”

The government denied me a trial for the most obvious of reasons: It knew I would win.

The reason this case is taking place years after the June 2008 publication of “TheHumanFactor” is that during the George W. Bush administration, the Department of Justice chose not to pursue this case, but after the appointment of Eric H. Holder Jr. as attorney general, the department moved forward on behalf of the CIA.

The department’s victory in this case through summary judgment strengthens and affirms precedents that have been created in a series of obscure cases since the 1970s. A body of law now exists that can give solid legal structure for any government agency that wishes to create an internal censorship bureau and enforce the decisions of that bureau without need for trial. If the CIA and the FBI can have censorship bureaus, why can’t the Transportation Security Administration or the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives? Or the Internal Revenue Service, Fannie Mae, the National Labor Relations Board, the U.S. Postal Service or the city of Chicago?

Censorship bureaus in America should be unconstitutional. The CIA’s bureau has insulated the agency from change and financial accountability. As the founders foresaw, censors eventually come to serve their own agendas, approving words they like and disapproving those they don’t. I repeat: My book contains no secret, classified or even sensitive information. It is only highly critical. I have an unblemished record of service with the CIA and attempted repeatedly to work within the system. When this proved impossible, I resigned and wrote the book as a tool in intelligence reform.

At the CIA, a handful of heroes still guard America. But with more than 90 percent of CIA employees living and working entirely within the United States and with the CIA as a place to get rich, it is much in need of constructive criticism that will make it more efficient and will make Americans safer.

The Justice Department has stated that one of its demands is the confiscation of my profits from the publication of “The Human Factor.” I did not profit, however, and have sent the money to savings accounts for nine children of American soldiers killed in action.

In USA v. Ishmael Jones, therefore, the department has a long list of transgressions, some of them unique in American history: It was able to attack an American citizen who criticized government waste and fraud; it was able to select the court most favorable to its case; it was able to wait years before bringing its case because it has not been subject to any statue of limitations; knowing it would lose in a trial, it has achieved victory by denying a trial; and the reward it now seeks is to confiscate property belonging to children of American soldiers killed in action.

Ishmael Jones is a pseudonym for a former officer in the CIA’s clandestine service, and author of “The Human Factor: Inside the CIA’s Dysfunctional Intelligence Culture” (Encounter Books, 2008).

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