William Welch and DOJ’s Mojo Is Not Risen

Who says fun things don’t come on Fridays? There is some nice little spooky news on the wire this afternoon. Jeffrey Sterling, a former veteran CIA agent on the Iran beat, was charged back in January with leaking classified information to a reporter. the reporter is widely known and accepted to be none other than the New York Time’s James Risen, and the material supposedly was contained in his book State of War. The prosecution, headed by DOJ leak hitman William Welch (disgraced supervisor in the unethical prosecution of Ted Stevens). For some unknown reason, Welch was installed by the Obama/Holder DOJ as head of their unprecedented crackdown on leaks to the media.

Looks like Welch may have gotten in front of himself again. From the Washington Post:

The government’s case against an ex-CIA officer charged with leaking classified documents to a reporter may not make it to trial because of potential issues with a witness, a federal prosecutor said Friday.


At a pretrial hearing Friday in U.S. District Court, prosecutor William Welch told the judge that “potential witness issues” will determine “whether the case goes to trial or not.” He did not elaborate.

Uh huh. What this really means is the court is not likely to change its mind about compelling Risen to testify – Judge Brinkema has already refused and quashed a subpoena once – and the DOJ’s own written guidelines make it hard for them to pursue that further. Oh, and they bloody well do not have enough admissible evidence to make their case without Risen. Makes you wonder just how, and how legally, the prosecution got much of their evidence.

Something you might would have thought a guy like Welch, who has made such an embarrassment of himself in prior big public cases, would have figured out ahead of time. Hey, who knows, maybe Welch can salvage his witchhunt against Sterling and Risen somehow; but you sure don’t see this kind of banter in open court when things are all nice and rosy.

William Welch’s mojo ain’t Risen.

      • MadDog says:

        I actually wrote “fookin'” and in a state of lapse to civility, decided I’d re-write it and go with the PG version. *g*

        But with your permission in tow, it’s fucking Friday and Spring is here!!!

        • earlofhuntingdon says:

          The complete phrase I’m used to hearing is “fookin’ English”, said with a certain twang from the Emerald Isle.

          The appointment of Welch to spearhead the attack on whistleblowers is appalling. Why is he still with the DoJ after the debacle of the Ted Stevens case? He took an arguably solid case against a sitting Senator and tossed it away through malpractice. Then again, the choice is consistent with Obama’s decision to leave in place most of CheneyBush’s USA’s; ditto with a lot of division heads.

          It’s almost as if they liked the CheneyBush agenda, their read of the law and its utility for the Commander-in-Chief. That and Mr. Obama’s Hitchcockian fear of confrontation, even once or twice removed, which would have been unavoidable but necessary in resurrecting the DoJ from the pit into which it plunged under Ashcroft, ‘Fredo and Mikey.

          He didn’t resurrect it. He gave us a now gelded Eric Holder instead.

          • MadDog says:

            …The appointment of Welch to spearhead the attack on whistleblowers is appalling. Why is he still with the DoJ after the debacle of the Ted Stevens case?…

            I was just thinking that mayhaps there are higher-ups in the DOJ who deliberately gave the Sterling case to Welch so that when he fooked it up, as was likely to be the case, they’d use it to drive Welch out.

            Nah, nobody at DOJ is likely that devious, right?

            • earlofhuntingdon says:

              That would be one way to derail a strong case against a sitting conservative Senator, renowned for the myriad of ways he extracted money from supporters, who might blab when faced with the prospect of spending his retirement in jail.

            • liberaldem says:

              Consider that someone like Welch might have a superior who vouched for Welch’s ability at some earlier point in his career, and if they push Welch out, then that superior looks bad.

              I don’t know anything about Welch’s background, whether he was a hire during either Bush administration, or was already in DOJ when Bush came in.

              If he was a Bush hire, and attained career status, it would be harder to push him out, but that can be done-you assign people to really shitty cases, or give them makework assignments, etc.

          • earlofhuntingdon says:

            I was wrong about the quality of the case against Ted Stevens; it seems never to have been very tight, and it was plagued by the DoJ’s mismanagement from the get go. Other cases involving corruption in Alaska yielded convictions, including 6 guilty pleas.

            The Welch-led case against whistleblowers, shoe-horned into an espionage charge, is absurd. It hasn’t gone anywhere in five years because there’s no there there. Yet it hangs like a decaying corpse to guard against the evil spirits of potential whistleblowers, disgusted after 8 years of CheneyBush and deflated by the realization that Mr. Obama has no intention of fixing the problems he inherited. He wants to capture, extend and utilize those excesses.

            Looked at narrowly, from the perspective of his extreme discomfort with confrontation, Mr. Obama is right to be afraid of the disclosures of wrongdoing whistleblowers could generate. A leader, however, would glance around the edges of the mirror, beyond his own image, look back, and see that change is needed, it’s healthy, in some cases we’re desperately in need of it,

            Effecting change hurts, it breeds conflict and eats political capital. It requires a vision, not a slogan. Mr. Obama can stomach none of it. He has a Hitchcockian fear of change; he’s more afraid of championing it than he is of the problems he and we inherited from CheneyBush.

            Whoever came up with his campaign slogan has a lot to answer for, but I don’t think voters will be fooled again.

  1. Tom in AZ says:

    Well then, I wanna fuckin’ know what these fuckin’fucks are still doing in the fuckin’ justice dept, for fucks sake?

    • eCAHNomics says:

      You sound like my late husband. His first family reported that fuck was the middle syllable for most of his words, so much so that he managed to embarrass his sons, who were grown by the time I met him.

      By then, his language had softened, but he still said it a lot.

  2. MadDog says:

    OT – The ACLU has filed a brief regarding the latest Yoo and Goldsmith OLC opinions for more disclosure.

    In addition, I would note that the ACLU makes many of the very same arguments that EW and others made here regarding improper classification of purely legal and descriptive discussions of things like the Patriot Act.

    The 6 page PDF is here.

  3. john in sacramento says:

    The prosecution, headed by DOJ leak hitman William Welch (disgraced supervisor in the unethical prosecution of Ted Stevens). For some unknown reason, Welch was installed by the Obama/Holder DOJ as head of their unprecedented crackdown on leaks to the media.

    That’s par for the course

    In December 2003, security forces boarded a bus in Macedonia and snatched a German citizen named Khaled el-Masri. For the next five months, el-Masri was a ghost. Only a select group of CIA officers knew he had been whisked to a secret prison for interrogation in Afghanistan.

    But he was the wrong guy.

    A hard-charging CIA analyst had pushed the agency into one of the biggest diplomatic embarrassments of the U.S. war on terrorism. Yet despite recommendations by an internal review, the analyst was never punished. In fact, she has risen to one of the premier jobs in the CIA’s Counterterrorism Center, helping lead President Barack Obama’s efforts to disrupt al-Qaida.

    • eCAHNomics says:

      She got an A for effort.

      Another form of militarism. The only thing the U.S. knows how to do anymore, so it seems.

    • mattcarmody says:

      And Bush’s first cousin is sitting on a case involving the 9/11 attacks on the Pentagon.
      Must be nice to be in the orbit of this country’s premier criminal enterprise.

      • eCAHNomics says:

        My late conservative friend from VT used to complain about the husband-wife teams who were parasites on each other’s careers. I could never figure out how to counter his complaint until now. (He was of an older generation & had not encountered that particular form of insider manipulation.) My obvious rejoinder to him shoulda been: so what about all the male relatives/friends who have been doing same for years? What’s so special about women catching onto the scam?

  4. wendydavis says:

    Thanks, bmaz. Risen rawks, Welch sucks! And Jamie Dimon got a 51% pay rise cus J.P. Morgan made $17 billion last year!!! We’re outta the woods!

    Fucking A!

  5. orionATL says:

    do you believe in “hope”?

    well, one could hope that welch was put in charge of this prosecution in order to mess it up and leave sterling simply impoverished, rather than impoverished and in prison.

    should one hope that our prez, acting thru his courtiers, was responsible for setting up a prosecution screw-up so a whistleblower would go free?

    should one hope that sterling’s bringing to public inattention the fact the our perpetually fucking-up-in-a-major-way cia

    blew a cool $100 million smackers on an “attack” on iranian nuclear capacity that was both a rube goldberg creation

    and a colossal policy failure?

    if this whistleblower persecution/prosecution fails, should one hope that other whistleblowers the obama caliphate has marked for persecutiom/prosecution will be released from persecution/prosecution by their government?

    should one hope that the district, appeals, and supreme federal courts will suddenly champion the citizen’s right to know
    over the right of a gov’t bureaucracy that has screwed up in a major way?

    should one hope that sterling’s lawyers will raise the issue of doj vindictiveness over sterling’s prior discrimination lawsuit?


    a beautiful word

    but, alas, a perfect choice for a rhetorical con-artist.

  6. JohnLopresti says:

    I thought the Stevens prosecution had a detectable turning point as perhaps some influential senators began introspective harkening back to years of comity with the Senator who represented the Proud Oil State in the middle of one of the last, forbidding wildernesses on the planet. My thesis therefrom continues that given the influential Senators* disgruntlement with the prosecution; and the prosecution*s endphase timing proximate to the transition to a new presidency set in a context of rejecting much of what Cheney and Bush had done in their Rovian way; well, the postulate concludes, someone in DoJ made a series of evidentiary policy decisions to create an effect much like a skillful baseball batter who draws a pitcher to balk, or a barrister who feints a judge into making a courtroom error, say, in jury instructions. So, Stevens suffers the ignominy but not much else; and the botched rules of prosecutor conduct can go to OPR for thorough, protracted review, replete with administrative procedure revision recommendations…Stevens skates, DoJ is tarnished but not much by comparison to, say, some of the civil division escapades of Hans A. Spakovsky, or his cavorting at FEC.

    This is all theory, I guess.

    But I still think Reggie was wrong about Locy*s reporter shield, the merits of grand jury rules of evidence, and the disposition of the Hatfill matter, not to mention the BIvins affair in its wake.

    Maybe the Risen matter brooks the divide between over-reach and licitude in a way somewhat similar to the Antoine Jones warrantless GPS tail, which was 08-3034 DC Circuit Appeals.

  7. Gitcheegumee says:

    Daily Kos: Can Prosecutor Welch Prosecute Himself?Mar 17, 2011 … War-on-whistleblowers prosecutor William Welch continues his suspect … Can Welch indict himself? If Welch wants to send secret but …

    ►Jesselyn Radack at Daily KosYet another indictment under the Espionage Act. Of a whistleblower. By …
    jesselyn-radack.dailykos.com/ – Cached – Similar

    Jessalyn Raddack did this terrific piece on another whistleblower,Thomas Drake of the NSA-and the oxymoronic antics of prosecutor William Welch.

    Truly a must read.

  8. Gitcheegumee says:

    Can Prosecutor Welch Prosecute Himself?by Jesselyn Radack

    War-on-whistleblowers prosecutor William Welch continues his suspect strategy in the latest filing in the case against whistleblower and former NSA senior official Thomas Drake. Welch has initiated another outrageous government attempt to silence any meaningful debate at Drake’s trial, now set for June 2011.Josh Gerstein of Politico reports that Welch is now seeking to have sealed already publicly-released letters marked “Unclassified//For Official Use Only” that Welch himself wrote to Drake’s defense team. Drake’s defense team filed the letters in response to another Welch absurdity – the government’s motion to prohibit mention of over-classification at trial.

    Perhaps Welch should consider a rare pro-transparency move his boss, Obama, undertook: Executive Order 13556, which dictates that Controlled Unclassified Information designations do not have a bearing on whether or not something can be released publicly, under the Freedom of Information Act for example. EO 13556 mandates that,

    The mere fact that information is designated as [Controlled Unclassified Information] shall not have a bearing on determinations pursuant to any law requiring the disclosure of information or permitting disclosure as a matter of discretion, including disclosures to the legislative and judicial branches.Welch’s request is even more absurd considering that Drake is charged under the Espionage Act for improper handling (retention) of classified information. Yet, Welch is now saying that the public filings, marked “unclassified,” that Welch himself wrote should not be public. Confused? Were Welch’s letters mislabeled “unclassified?” Can we expect another Espionage Act prosecution? Can Welch indict himself?

    (Link @ #42)

  9. Gitcheegumee says:

    China hits back with report on U.S. human rights record

    Source: xinhuanet

    BEIJING, April 10 (Xinhua) — China retorted the U.S. criticism on its human rights situation by publishing a report of the U.S. human rights record on Sunday.

    The Human Rights Record of the United States in 2010 was released by the Information Office of China’s State Council, or cabinet, in response to the Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2010 issued by the U.S. Department of State on April 8.

    The U.S. reports are “full of distortions and accusations of the human rights situation in more than 190 countries and regions including China. However, the United States turned a blind eye to its own terrible human rights situation and seldom mentioned it,” China’s report said.

    The United States has taken human rights as “a political instrument to defame other nations’ image and seek its own strategic interests,” the report said.

    Read more: http://news.xinhuanet.com/english2010/china/2011-04/10/