Government Accountability Project Homeland Security Director Jesselyn Radack posted an extremely popular blog yesterday on her Daily Kos Diary about the recent aggressive behavior by the Obama administration toward reporters and sources.
The administration authorized a subpoena Monday that would require a New York Times journalist to turn over documents and testify about his confidential sources for a chapter of his 2006 book, State of War: The Secret History of the C.I.A. and the Bush Administration. Journalists James Risen and a colleague won a Pulitzer Prize in 2006 for reporting on the NSA's warrantless wiretapping program. That article had been blasted by the Bush administration, which opened an investigation into the sources used by the journalists. But no one was indicted under Bush.
Was the Risen subpoena an aberration? Apparently not. The Obama administration has indicted a NSA source for blowing the whistle on agency mismanagement. In a follow-up blog on Daily Kos. Radack quotes a statement by President Obama on government whistleblowing:
Often the best source of information about waste, fraud, and abuse in government is an existing government employee committed to public integrity and willing to speak out. Such acts of courage and patriotism, which can sometimes save lives and often save taxpayer dollars, should be encouraged rather than stifled.
The official who was indicted is Thomas A. Drake, a former senior executive for the NSA. As the Washington Post notes, "[Drake] has not been accused of sharing the most sensitive of the NSA's secrets: the means it uses to intercept e-mails and phone calls around the world, or the tools it employs to crack adversaries' codes." Instead, Drake was indicted on charges that he mishandled classified information and tried to obstruct an investigation of his actions. What was the information that he "mishandled?" As Radack writes, the information led to articles in the Baltimore Sun that "exposed technical failings and cost overruns of several agency programs that cost billions of dollars."
What’s going on here? Could President Obama please reconcile for us the treatment of Drake and Risen with his March 16 pronouncement:
I want to applaud everyone who has worked to increase transparency in government and recommit my administration to be the most open and transparent ever, an effort that will strengthen our democracy and ensure the public’s trust in their government. We came to Washington to change the way business was done, and part of that was making ourselves accountable to the American people by opening up our government.
Well Mr. President, this applause has the resonance of one hand clapping. As you have eloquently observed, “Words matter.” Well, so too do acts. Saying one thing and doing another has a name: It’s called hypocrisy.
You can do better.