October 24, 2013
The Honorable Loretta A. Preska, Chief Judge United States Courthouse
Southern District of New York Courtroom 12A
500 Pearl Street
New York, NY 10007
Re: Sentencing of Jeremy Hammond Dear Judge Preska:
I am the President Emeritus of the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR). Along with CCR I represent WikiLeaks and Julian Assange. I strongly endorse the reasoning and the conclusions in the letter from the CCR recommending that Mr. Hammond be given no more than time served. I write to add some additional reasons.
WikiLeaks as well as numerous other publishers and journalists have published important stories based on documents that were obtained from Stratfor (Strategic Forecasting Inc.) by Mr. Hammond. Those documents for the first time gave the American people and others in the world a picture of the malevolent part that private intelligence corporations play in surveillance of legally and constitutionally protected activities and the activists involved. This is a role that they often appear to do hand in glove with our own or other governments. In my legal career I have often attempted to rein in government spying and surveillance. As an attorney with CCR I have sued the FBI, CIA, NSA and other government entities numerous times. The Stratfor documents have now given us the understanding that the private intelligence companies may be a bigger problem for civil liberties than or own government and it is those companies we ought to be suing as well.
The documents showed that Stratfor employed a network of paid informants including government officials and journalists who carried out this work. They also showed us the corruption of officials, serious wrongdoing by corporations and efforts to spy on if not suppress dissent. Despite the revelations in the Stratfor documents I am aware of no efforts by my own government or governments anywhere in the world to investigate much less prosecute those who engaged in this illegal conduct. I raise this to point out the injustice and hypocrisy in prosecuting Mr. Hammond, a person committed to revealing this wrongdoing, while doing nothing to get at those who may have committed the very crimes he brought to light. It may be that those who engage in civil disobedience and whistleblowing against injustices often face the wrath of the state, but that does not mean it is right and just to punish them and certainly not to do so severely. Oftentimes, as years go by they become our society’s heroes.
In years of litigating cases involving surveillance, torture, renditions and war crimes against our government (as well as some private corporations), we are often met with claims by the government that the lawsuits cannot continue because the matters concern state secrets. Cases are routinely dismissed for this reason and the truth is neither revealed nor is the legality of the conduct litigated. This trend of dismissal of cases on state secrets grounds has been increasing and it is fair to say that the illegal acts of our government and the private security and
intelligence companies that work with it are increasingly hidden from the American public and world. In fact, litigation against the government is no longer a path to the truth or justice.
It is for this reason that truth tellers like Mr. Hammond have become more and more important in insuring that people know what their government and private intelligence companies are doing in their names. It is the case that Mr. Hammond has pleaded guilty to violation the law, but the greater crime is keeping from us knowledge, particularly of criminality, that ought to be public and prosecuted. Truth tellers are always necessary in a society. Sadly, now, they are more necessary than ever.