Know all ye by these presents that Annie Machon is hereby honored with the traditional Sam Adams Corner-Brightener Candlestick Holder, in symbolic recognition of her courage in shining light into dark places.
“If you see something, say something.” Long before that saying came into vogue, Annie Machon took its essence to heart.
MI5, the British domestic intelligence agency, recognized how bright, enterprising, and unflappable Annie was and recruited her as soon as she completed her studies at Cambridge.
The good old boys in MI5 apparently thought she would have a malleable conscience, as well — such that she would have no qualms about secret monitoring of the very government officials overseeing MI5 itself, for example.
Annie would not be quiet about this secret abuse. Her partner, David Shayler, an MI5 colleague and — like Annie — a person of integrity and respect for law, became aware of an MI6 plan to assassinate Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi.
They decided to blow the whistle and fled to France. (Many years later, a woman of high station but more flexible integrity openly gloated over Gaddafi’s brutal assassination.)
After three years on the lam, hiding mostly in France, they returned to the UK, where Annie was arrested (but never charged with a crime). The powers-that-be, however, chose to make an example of Shayler (not unlike what they are now doing to Julian Assange).
Shayler’s whistleblowing case dragged on for seven years, during which he did a brief stint in the infamous high-security prison where Julian Assange still rots (having been denied bail, yet again). A strong mitigation plea by Annie helped reduce Shayler’s remaining prison time. All in all, though, what he was forced to endure took a hard toll on him.
More broadly, the issues that surfaced around whistleblowing at the time remain largely the same two decades later. Annie Machon has been a very prominent and strong supporter of Julian. She has also been a much admired mentor to less experienced women and men as they seek to become better informed on issues of integrity and courage, and take Annie up on her offer to “help them meet interesting people”, as she puts it.
We would be remiss today were we not to call to mind the courageous example of our first two awardees, Coleen Rowley (FBI) and Katharine Gun (GCHQ), who took great risks in exposing malfeasance and in trying to head off the attack on Iraq. And, as Julian Assange did when he won this award, we again honor his treasured source, Chelsea Manning, for her continuing courage and scarcely believable integrity.
Ed Snowden, our Sam Adams awardee in 2013, noted that we tend to ignore some degree of evil in our daily life, but, as Ed put it, “We also have a breaking point and when people find that, they act.”
Annie is still acting, as one can see as this World Ethical Data Forum unfolds.
Presented this 17th day of March at the World Ethical Data Forum by admirers of the example set by the late CIA analyst, Sam Adams.
By Jeffrey Sterling, published March 16, 2020 on Counterpunch
In 2015 I was wrongfully convicted of, and imprisoned for, violating the U.S. Espionage Act. Now, while there is no question that I stand in solidarity with WikiLeaks publisher Julian Assange in a British court as he fights extradition, little did I know that my presence is also there as fodder to support extradition. If I am going to be used in such a way, there should at least be a modicum of truth to my inclusion. I found nothing reasonable about being persecuted and sentenced to prison under the Espionage Act.
On the first day of the recent extradition proceedings in London, James Lewis QC, representing the U.S. government, attempted to counter arguments about the potential prison sentence Assange faces if convicted of violating the Espionage Act by stating that individuals such as myself serve as “benchmarks” for what Assange is facing. To Lewis and the U.S. government, my 42-month sentence or the range of 40-60 months is “reasonable.” Such use of my experience fighting the Espionage Act in order to quell concerns about Assange’s potential sentence is misleading without providing context.
As a U.S. citizen, I was ostensibly armed with certain rights going into a Virginia courtroom to fight for my freedom. I was woefully mistaken. The court in Virginia where Assange would be tried is the same court that prevented me from suing the Central Intelligence Agency for employment discrimination, on grounds that it would pose a threat to the national security of the United States. To that court and to the U.S. government, an African American fighting for his supposedly guaranteed civil rights is a threat to national security. Going to trial in 2015 as one of an ever-growing number being charged with violating the Espionage Act, I was, therefore, facing a court and judicial system that had a history of disregarding me as a living breathing citizen with any rights. The result of that one-sided CIA show-trial was my “reasonable” 42-month prison sentence. If supposed inalienable rights were not guaranteed to me as a U.S. citizen, Assange is only guaranteed to be prosecuted.
In maximum terms, Assange is facing 175 years in prison. For the charges against me, I was also facing over 100 years maximum sentence. The fact that I was sentenced to 42 months should not be any benchmark of reasonableness when the Espionage Act and the court in Virginia where the U.S. wants Assange extradited to are involved.
In a final moment of clarity after a long delay before sentencing, Judge Leonie Brinkema commented that the sentencing guidelines were “way off” and chose 42 months as my sentence. That “reasonableness” was most likely not out of any benevolence on her part. It might have been that Archbishop Desmond Tutu wrote to the court requesting fairness, or maybe she was moved by the fact that I was convicted by a government-leaning jury on absolutely no evidence. The prosecutor was visibly livid as he obviously was hoping for a much, much longer sentence. His continual questioning, if not pleading of the judge to explain the sentence was finally silenced when the judge stated, “That’s it.” I fear that Assange will face a less reasonable court and sentence.
And Lewis failed to mention how conditions in U.S. prisons will be a part of that benchmark. The U.S. prison system is one of deplorable living conditions, disregard for human life, and perpetual punishment. And given Assange’s health, he will be lucky to receive adequate care. While I was in a U.S. prison, it took the intervention of a U.S. Senator for me to receive the health care that quite possibly saved my life. Should not this reality be part of Lewis’ benchmark?
Given the long history of the U.S. government’s pursuit of Assange and the obvious political nature of his potential prosecution, I fear there will be nothing reasonable with regard to any sentence to be imposed. My prosecution should serve not as a benchmark for being sentenced under the Espionage Act, but rather a warning about how the perverse use of the Espionage Act started by the Obama administration and continued by the Trump administration to quell and silence dissent is a threat to free speech, not only in my country, and as the extradition proceedings demonstrate, in the entire world.
The above video is of our 2019 Sam Adams award presentation on January 15, 2020 to former CIA agent and hero whistleblower Jeffrey Sterling. The evening began with a song dedicated to Jeffrey and the integrity he (and his wife Holly) displayed throughout Jeffrey’s truth telling ordeal. (While viewers must “bear with us” as the singing was unrehearsed so a bit offkey), the (partial) lyrics below by songwriter Ann Reed DO “tell the story.”
The presentation to Sterling was preceded by a showing of the poignant docudrama “Official Secrets,” the true story of the second (2003) Sam Adams award recipient Katherine Gun. SAAII members Ray McGovern, Tom Drake, Jesselyn Radack, John Kiriakou, Larry Wilkerson, Ann Wright, and Coleen Rowley spoke at the event while Todd Pierce and Elizabeth Murray made the actual presentation. Among the other members in attendance were William Binney, Clement “Lu” Laniewsky, Robert Wing, Karen Kwiatkowsky and Gareth Porter. Stellar defense attorneys Edward MacMahon and Barry Pollack were also on hand to publicly congratulate Jeffrey as well as a standing-room-only full of admirers of the integrity Jeffrey displayed in telling the truth during these troubled times when, as CIA analyst Sam Adams learned the hard way during Vietnam, truth tends to be the first casualty during a time of war.
by Raymond McGovern in Consortium News, Jan 12, 2020, excerpt:
Former CIA operations officer Jeffrey Sterling will receive the Sam Adams Award for Integrity in Intelligence this Wednesday, joining 17 earlier winners who, like Sterling, demonstrated extraordinary devotion to the truth and the rule of law by having the courage to blow the whistle on government wrongdoing.
Tuesday will mark the fifth anniversary of the eerie beginning of Sterling’s trial for espionage — the kind of trial that might have left even Franz Kafka, author of the classic novel The Trial, stunned in disbelief.
There can be a heavy price exacted for exposing abuse by secretive governments — especially ones that have neutered the press to the point where they are immune to exposure when they take serious liberties with the law. Making this reality plainly obvious, of course, is one of the U.S. government’s primary aims in putting whistleblowers like Sterling in prison — lest others get the idea they can blow the whistle and get away with it.
With his Sam Adams award, Sterling brings to five the number of award recipients imprisoned for exposing government abuse (not counting 2013 Sam Adams laureate, Ed Snowden, who was made stateless and has been marooned in Russia for over six years). Worst still, Julian Assange (2010) and Chelsea Manning (2014) remain in prison, where UN Special Rapporteur on Torture Nils Melzer says they are being tortured… (Read remainder of article at Consortiumnews.)
By Edward Snowden in the Washington Post on Jan 26, 2020, excerpt:
“On Tuesday, Brazilian federal prosecutors filed criminal charges against Glenn Greenwald, the Pulitzer-Prize winning journalist and founding editor at the Intercept Brazil, for his explosive reporting on corruption at the very highest levels of Brazil’s government.
- What: Sam Adams Associates awards its 17th annual award for integrity in intelligence to CIA whistleblower Jeffrey Sterling
When: Wednesday, January 15, 2020 from approximately 5:00 PM to 9:00 PM
- Where: Stewart Mott House 122 Maryland Avenue NE Washington, DC 2000
More details as to the exact evening schedule will follow but we’re hoping to first show the “Official Secrets” docu-drama at 5 pm, followed by some food and drink before the actual award presentation. We also hope that we can have this year’s award recipient Jeffrey Sterling sign and sell some of his books.
Please RSVP by clicking this link (which will help us keep track of the expected guest number). Also you can forward the invitation to friends or to others in the DC area you know who might be interested in the topic of integrity in intelligence, stressing they need to RSVP at http://evite.me/7j16gYpM1v