Let's just look at what's in today's news. After first threatening to veto the National Defense Authorization Act because of a freedom-offensive provision allowing the indefinite detention of American citizens without a single shred of due process, President Obama has now flip-flopped. This is just one of many items in today's news that cause me to question what country I'm living in.
A military court sentenced a prominent Egyptian blogger Maikel Nabil to two years in jail yesterday on charges that included insulting the military on his blog. The Washington Post notes that
this is a disturbing reminder of how much power the military leadership maintains.
Yet Shamai Leibowitz, an American FBI translator, was tried under the Espionage Act and sentenced to 20 months in prison for information he gave to a blogger.
What, specifically, did Leibowitz provide to the blogger? In the judge's own words:
I don't know what was divulged other than some documents, and how it compromised things, I have no idea.(Quoting U.S. District Court Judge Alexander Williams Jr.)
Liebowitz was the target of the Obama administration's first "leak" prosecution under the Espionage Act, which has been waged against people who are, more often than not, whistleblowers. It has since come to light that Leibowitz passed on transcripts of the FBI wiretapping the Israeli Embassy inside the U.S. As Leibowitz said at his sentencing, he
saw things which I considered were violation of the law . . .
The Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act [HR 3523] would create a cybersecurity exception to all privacy laws and allow companies to share the private and personal data they hold on their American customers with the government for cybersecurity purposes.
While we (correctly) decry the treatment of Nabil, which is oh-so-undemocratic, we need to look at our own behavior at home.
Jesselyn Radack is National Security & Human Rights Director for the Government Accountability Project, the nation's leading whistleblower protection and advocacy organization.