GAP National Security & Human Rights Director Jesselyn RadackWidespread media coverage continued on NSA/PRISM whistleblower Edward Snowden’s disclosure that the US government is behind a massive data sweep of American citizens’ personal online and telecommunications records, which has been ongoing for years. Media outlets around the world continue to seek out GAP expertise on the matter with our National Security & Human Rights team and NSA whistleblower clients giving countless interviews, emphasizing the extreme importance and relevance of Snowden’s actions.
Key Quote(The Diane Rehm Show):“If Americans were aware of the secret interpretation of section 215 in the Patriot Act, they would be angry and shocked…” – GAP National Security & Human Rights Director Jesselyn Radack.
(San Francisco Chronicle):"These cases are incredibly hard to fight ... I've never seen this kind of debate on this issue," she said. "People are paying attention and saying, 'This is not right.' It may be a tipping point."– GAP National Security & Human Rights Director Jesselyn Radack.
(Westmoreland Times):“I think he is a whistleblower and it was [an] incredibly brave, well thought out, risky action that he took for the benefit of people in this country… So the laws have been clearly broken and he definitely disclosed information that reveals massive waste, abuse and patent illegality on a grand scale that I have not seen in a long time.” – GAP National Security & Human Rights Director Jesselyn Radack
(International Business Times):“Legally, that would definitely be overcharging him ... there have been Americans fighting on the battlefield against us, and we never charged them with treason.” – GAP National Security & Human Rights Director Jesselyn Radack
(Washington Post):“If he thinks that it rises to the level … and he believes its in the best interest of the country to disclose it … he made that call. It’s very similar to what I did… There was a point, this is where we overlap. I had this fateful choice, fraught with peril, I had to go to the press… I think he went there first … because if he had attempted to bring any of this up within the national security establishment he would have [been] censored and snuffed immediately.” – NSA Whistleblower/GAP Client Thomas Drake
(The Atlantic Wire):“It's simply validation of this vast, systemic, industrial-scale, leviathan surveillance system. And it's twelve years of growth ... None of what I've seen published in The Guardian or the Post surprises me.” – NSA Whistleblower/GAP Client Thomas Drake
According to a poll conducted by Reuters, more Americans believe that NSA/PRISM whistleblower Edward Snowden is a ‘patriot’ rather than a traitor, while the vast majority has yet to make up their minds on the matter.
US intelligence officials are using the story of Mumbai plotter David Coleman Headley’s foiled terrorist attack as a defense for the NSA’s vast internet and data sweep. This article indicates, however, that the connection between Headley’s capture and the surveillance program is being exaggerated by the intelligence community and in Congress.
Editorialist Tom Keane calls Snowden an “American hero” and highlights the major issues with the NSA surveillance program. Namely, the fact that the entire decision to survey Americans’ online and telecommunications records was made completely in the dark.
Key Quote:But no matter which side of the equation you’re on, Snowden’s actions are justified, and for a quite different reason. The real problem with the NSA program may be not what it was doing but that none of us knew. Secrecy is the death of democracy. Without information, without knowing, there can be no opportunity for debate, no oversight by the people.
While GAP recognizes the historic importance of Snowden’s disclosure, there are many politicians and pundits who are not impressed. This article illustrates the worst, knee-jerk reactions to Snowden's disclosures – including calling him a traitor, narcissist and calling for the death penalty – highlighting the danger and ignorance underlying these reactions.
There has been ample coverage of recently appointed SEC chair Mary Jo White’s decision to appoint Robert Rice, a former Deutsche Bank executive, as counsel at the financial watchdog agency. Because the SEC is currently undergoing investigation on a Deutsche Bank complaint from GAP client Eric Ben-Artzi that accuses Rice himself of being complicit in billion-dollar fraud, her decision also sends an intimidating message to whistleblowers.
Key Quote:The Government Accountability Project (GAP) supports Ben-Artzi's wrongful dismissal claim. In a press release in December, GAP legal director Tom Devine said, "Dr. Ben-Artzi was a model corporate citizen who discovered SEC violations that could incur serious liability, and stuck his neck out internally to warn bank management. Deutsche Bank's response was to personally harass him, and fire him as soon as it pinned down what he knew. The retaliation was crude, and not camouflaged. Quite clearly, the point was to scare other would-be whistleblowers into silence. The lesson learned is that working within Deutsche Bank's corporate compliance and reporting system is an act of professional suicide."
A former employee of a New York-based food and beverage company alleges it violated the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) when it fired him after he raised safety and health concerns. It's the first FSMA whistleblower case to be filed in federal court. GAP's Food Integrity Campaign has the details.
Jack Davis is Communications Associate for the Government Accountability Project, the nation's leading whistleblower protection and advocacy organization.
GAP National Security & Human Rights Director Jesselyn Radack, along with NSA whistleblowers and GAP clients Tom Drake and Bill Binney, appeared on Piers Morgan Live on Monday night to illustrate the importance of Edward Snowden’s recent disclosure that the NSA has been gathering the online and telecommunications records of American citizens – namely through a top-secret program called PRISM – for years. GAP has remained a steadfast source for numerous journalists throughout the media frenzy since Snowden revealed his identity over the weekend.
Key Quotes: (Piers Morgan Live):“If the government wants to survey foreign terrorists, no one has a problem with that, we’re allowed to do that. The problem is why is the government spying on its own people, without any probable cause, without any reasonable cause, without any suspicion whatsoever, on completely innocent people. That violates the fourth amendment of the constitution and two major laws in the books.” – GAP National Security & Human Rights Director Jesselyn Radack
(The Guardian):… Snowden would also get no benefit from the 1989 Whistleblower Protection Act, as it excludes those working for the armed services or intelligence community … the legal and constitutional implications of the Espionage Act had not been properly tested in its application to whistleblowers. Snowden could challenge whether the material involved was properly classified, arguing that the Espionage Act is not supposed to be a cover for illegal conduct… – GAP National Security & Human Rights Director Jesselyn Radack
(National Geographic):"Leaving the country was definitely a good idea," … The U.S. "has a horrible record with regard to whistleblowers, in terms of charging them under the Espionage Act and trying to put them in jail." – GAP National Security & Human Rights Director Jesselyn Radack
(KQED):First of all there was wrongdoing exposed. Just because a couple people from congress say it wasn’t wrong and the government who was breaking the law … that doesn’t mean it was okay. It in fact violated the Patriot ACT section 215 and the FISA amendment act which governs foreign surveillance because what this man revealed was purely domestic surveillance on a vast dragnet scale of millions of Americans… so he did in fact expose wrongdoing. That’s why he’s a whistleblower. – GAP National Security & Human Rights Director Jesselyn Radack.
(Outlook Series): I think he is a whistleblower and it was [an] incredibly brave, well thought out, risky action that he took for the benefit of people in this country. So I can’t think of a better definition of a hero … So the laws have been clearly broken and he definitely disclosed information that reveals massive waste, abuse and patent illegality on a grand scale that I have not seen in a long time. – GAP National Security & Human Rights Director Jesselyn Radack.
(ABC Australia):Frankly, if you read the laws and then you look at what they’re doing the two don’t match up so if there’s some secret interpretation of the law that is completely antithetical to the legal system in this country. [FISA] has essentially been a rubber stamp. Over 90 percent of the requests that come to the FISA court from the government are approved… I think Americans, once they realize it’s their privacy being invaded … the whole 'I have nothing to hide, people can see my information' dismissal of privacy… it’s going to fade away.” – GAP National Security & Human Rights Counsel Kathleen McClellan
(OpEdNews): “Snowden has become "one of the most significant leakers in my lifetime and in US history." – GAP National Security & Human Rights Director Jesselyn Radack.
(Reuters):"Be lawyered up to the max and find a place where it's going to be that much more difficult for the United States to make arrangements for his return … And always check six, as we said when I used to be a flyer in the Air Force. Always make sure you know what's behind you…When you offer up information about the dark side of the surveillance state they don't take too kindly to it," he said. "They want to stay in the shadows. – NSA Whistleblower/GAP Client Thomas Drake
(BBC):It doesn’t matter who it is, it doesn’t matter what their citizenship is, we just want the data and they’re increasing access …. I believe there’s a place for what’s within the law and to ensure we go after the bad guys but not at the expense of our liberties and freedoms. – NSA Whistleblower/GAP Client Thomas Drake
(Business Insider): … Now I can pull your entire life together from all those domains and map it out and show your entire life over time – NSA Whistleblower/GAP Client Bill Binney
GAP National Security & Human Rights Director Jesselyn Radack contributed to the New York Times' ‘Room for Debate’ section, which brings together experts in a given field to discuss an issue in a point/counter-point forum. Yesterday’s focus was Snowden’s disclosure, with this question spurring the debate: “How should the government handle the case of Edward J. Snowden, who admitted disclosing secrets about NSA surveillance?”
Key Quote:Focusing on Snowden is a distraction from the government’s law-breaking massive domestic surveillance program. Criminally prosecuting Snowden has little to do with Snowden’s alleged crimes and everything to do with making an example of him and sending the most chilling of messages to anyone even thinking about exposing government wrongdoing, especially criminality.
GAP President Louis Clark contributes to the debate over Snowden, establishing him as an important whistleblower in a time of overly secret and unconstitutional government programs. Clark specifically urges readers to consider the motives of those attempting to bring down Snowden through attacks on his character – taking into account that Congress intentionally denies whistleblower protection for national security workers.
Key Quote:Obviously, those who, for whatever reason, are now defending this unprecedented surveillance of Americans—not to mention the citizens of all other countries—have decided that the best defense for these policies is an offense against Snowden. Our view is that it would serve both the fight against terrorism and the need to preserve our liberties as a people to have the debate that secrecy and the abuse of power against whistleblowers and the press have not allowed us to have. Since the supreme motive to quash whistleblowers is usually to eliminate embarrassment and cover-up wrongdoing, it behooves all of us to question the motives of those trying to kill the messenger.
Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer: Is NSA Leaker a Hero or Traitor? Hundreds of media outlets produced stories on Edward Snowden, the NSA contractor who exposed the massive surveillance program PRISM that infringes upon American citizens’ privacy. GAP and our clients have been instrumental throughout the reporting process, providing numerous interviews, insights and definitions for television, radio and newspaper stories around the world. The scale of Snowden’s disclosure has led numerous whistleblowers, including Pentagon Papers whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg, to call it the most monumental in American history. GAP clients and NSA whistleblowers Tom Drake, Bill Binney, and J. Kirk Wiebe along with GAP’s National Security & Human Rights department (Director Jesselyn Radack and Counsel Kathleen McClellan) have also been prominently featured in outlets – the BBC, Piers Morgan, and The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer, to name just a few – illustrating the historical importance of Snowden’s actions.
Edward Snowden, who left his home in Hawaii for a hotel room in Hong Kong when he made his disclosures, is now seriously considering asylum in Iceland, a country known for its protection of free-speech and privacy rights and where he has at least one supporter within the Parliament already. Getting into the country from Hong Kong to begin the asylum process, however, will pose serious difficulties for the high-profile whistleblower.
Key Quotes (Reuters): “What he found with the program was that it did massive, sweeping dragnet surveillance with people who were under no suspicion whatsoever. Normally you would go to court and get a probably cause warrant because you think a foreign terrorist may be doing something illegal. To turn these laws and… use them against American who have done nothing … I think a lot of people feel violated by that and they should.” - GAP National Security & Human Rights Director Jesselyn Radack.
(Time):... Snowden should be protected by a federal whistle-blower statute, since he “said very clearly … that he was doing this to serve a public purpose.” – GAP National Security & Human Rights Director Jesselyn Radack.
(Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer):It’s more a question of whether the Government broke the law when they spied on millions of Americans who had done nothing wrong… Unfortunately those legal channels that Mr. Toobin referenced are not effective. You can ask other NSA whistleblwoers that are clients of ours at the Government Accountability Project, Thomas Drake, J. Kirk Wiebe and William Binney who raised concerns years ago about this same exact type of surveillance. Not only were their concerns ignored but the government prosecuted them. – GAP National Security & Human Rights Counsel Kathleen McClellan
(Voice of America):He is a whistleblower and it was an incredibly brave, well thought out, risky action that he took for the benefit of the people in this country so I can’t think of a better definition of a hero…the laws have been clearly broken and he definitely reveals information that reveals massive waste abuse and patent illegality on a grand scale that I have not seen in a long time.” – GAP National Security & Human Rights Director Jesselyn Radack
(FireDogLake): “You can ask some other NSA whistleblowers that are clients of ours at the Government Accountability Project, Thomas Drake, William Binney and J. Kirk Wiebe, who raised concerns years ago about this same exact kind of surveillance. And not only were their concerns ignored, but the government prosecuted them, criminally investigated all of them, and prosecuting Mr. Drake under the Espionage Act.” – GAP National Security & Human Rights Counsel Kathleen McClellan
(RT: The Big Picture): The disclosures from Edward were not a surprise to me because my client, Thomas Drake… revealed embryonic versions of what later became PRISM. [They] have been on the lecture circuit talking about this for the last few years. – GAP National Security & Human Rights Director Jesselyn Radack
(Scientific American):What does NSA need with a 100 million phone records? We are losing the foundation of innocence until proven guilt. The assumption of innocence no longer exists in a surveillance state…we are all foreigners now. To me that’s crossing over into a form of governance that is a clear violation of the Fourth Amendment. We are eroding a foundational part of this country. The important distinction is the law that exists right now allows the government with some [limitations—] at least on paper—to collect all meta-data without any particularized suspicion on someone without getting a warrant for someone. – NSA Whistleblower/GAP Client Tom Drake
(NPR):For a more technical definition of whistle-blower, let's turn to the nonprofit Government Accountability Project, which advocates on their behalf. Here's how the organization defines a whistle-blower, using state, federal and international cases:
"An employee who discloses information that s/he reasonably believes is evidence of illegality, gross waste or fraud, mismanagement, abuse of power, general wrongdoing, or a substantial and specific danger to public health and safety. Typically, whistleblowers speak out to parties that can influence and rectify the situation. These parties include the media, organizational managers, hotlines, or Congressional members/staff, to name a few."
(Lou Dobbs Tonight): Simply, it’s twelve years later of what was already started in the post 9/11 security space… The question is do we trust what the government says? We certainly couldn’t trust them after 9/11 because they were in direct violation of the fourth amendment. Do we really want the government having this much information or the temptation to go trolling and diving for other information? – NSA Whistleblower/GAP Client Tom Drake
(TribLive):“That's what everyone needs to understand. The NSA's programs didn't start out so eerie and Orwellian ... The program that they would've been using, if they hadn't canceled it, was cheaper, more efficient and didn't trample on anyone's constitutional rights.” – GAP National Security & Human Rights Counsel Kathleen McClellan.
(Salon):“Most whistle-blowers deeply believe in their organization and are speaking out to defend it against mistakes which could backfire.” A few might be “type A personalities” spoiling for a fight ... but “most whistle-blowers are trying to honor their professional responsibilities.” He added, “the ideological breadth of whistle-blowers is virtually unlimited. We have the most conservative clients at GAP as well as those who are more radical activists.” – GAP Legal Director Tom Devine.
(The Guardian):I applaud Snowden. He is brave, courageous and clearly has a strong moral compass. But it is an incredibly isolating process. Most people don't wake up saying, "I'm going to be a whistleblower today". They struggle with it. It is a crisis of conscience. – GAP National Security & Human Rights Director Jesselyn Radack
(Mother Jones):Gov't is no doubt apoplectic behind the scenes - not just with w'blower but also with reporter and have already launched a major criminal investigation. The info from Prism was increasingly showing up in the PDB [the President's Daily Brief, the top-secret and selective intelligence report he receives each morning].They will move shadows and shades to identify the w'blower and turn the surveillance system inside out to find and fry him. – NSA Whistleblower/GAP Client Tom Drake.
(Huckabee):It is extremely tempting to do so, especially when you have access to all of that information … an index of your individual life … right now there’s no controls at all… it’s all in secret. – NSA Whistleblower/GAP Client Tom Drake
(Fox News) I call him a whistleblower, it’s an extraordinary act of civil disobedience. He exposed the pandora’s box of the leviathan surveillance state.” – NSA Whistleblower/GAP Client Tom Drake
(USA Today):"I haven't seen this level of public discussion about what the government is doing since 9/11 ... People are talking about it at Starbucks, at the diner."– GAP National Security & Human Rights Director Jesselyn Radack.
(Democracy Now!): “They’re using a target list I’m sure to target people they want to record and transcribe… they route that audio to recorders and put on a priority list and that get’s transcribed…They’re not going to change the way they operate just because it comes out in the US press…The government here is not trying to protect it from the terrorist they’re trying to protect that information from the citizens of the United States” – NSA whistleblower/GAP client Bill Binney
(Glenn Beck): “I think I can say that the whole program started emid to late October 2001 and it started by just pulling the various phone records of US citizens making phone calls in the entire world and in the united states. That totaled 3 billion phone calls every day … Who you talked to daily or how you interact with them was being recorded so you could like at a timeline to see how you interact with others. “ – NSA Whistleblower/GAP Client Bill Binney
As is the case with so many whistleblowers who disclose evidence of government misconduct, the government and commentators are quick to attack whistleblower Edward Snowden's character rather than focusing on his disclosures.
It's surprising that such a reputable forum like The New Yorker, which published Jane Mayer's award-winning article on other NSA whistleblowers (and my clients) Thomas Drake, Bill Binney and J. Kirk Wiebe, would run such an uninformed character assassination of Snowden from Jeffery Toobin. Toobin's name-calling ("[Snowden is a] grandiose narcissist") is irrelevant to Snowden's whistleblower status and a transparent attempt to divert attention from the larger issue at hand: the government's widespread domestic surveillance of innocent Americans.
As a lawyer, you would think Toobin would read the laws, including the legal definition of whistleblowing, which Snowden quite clearly meets, and the surveillance laws the NSA is side-stepping to conduct its massive domestic spying operation.
Watch my colleague at the Government Accountability Project, Kathleen McClellan, take on Toobin's outlandish arguments on CNN:
Toobin's primary argument is something to do with the completely irrelevant fact that Snowden went to "China." (I'm not sure it's worth giving Toobin the benefit of the doubt of knowing that Hong Kong and "China" are not the same). Regardless, if there is any question worth asking about Snowden's current location, it is why in a country with a First Amendment does a whistleblower not feel safe to expose what is very reasonably believed to be government abuse and illegality?
Snowden's disclosures say far more about the government than they do about Snowden. They reveal that the Obama administration has been engaging in - and expanding - widespread electronic surveillance on millions of Americans who are not suspected of any wronging and who have no idea the government is collecting dossiers on them so the government can, as Senator Diane Feinstein said, "go through it later" when and if someone becomes a suspect. Under a bastardized secret interpretation of an already extraordinarily broad surveillance power (Section 215 of the PATRIOT Act), the government has been secretly collecting millions of Americans' phone records. It has been using a loophole in FISA Amendments Act to take Americans' data directly from tech companies on a vast scale. The President has authorized offensive cyber-attacks against countries with which the U.S. is not at war. There are more far important questions to ask about these issues than about Snowden's high school transcripts.
But, it's no wonder the government would rather have the media focus on digging into Snowden's character when Director of National Intelligence James Clapper is scrambling to gloss over prior congressional testimony denying that NSA sweeps up millions of Americans' communications with explanations like:
I responded in what I thought was the most truthful, or least untruthful manner by saying no.
The American people should not be fooled by the smears thrown at Snowden. They are the same accusations used against Bradley Manning, Daniel Ellsberg and Thomas Drake, and they are a transparent attempt to distract the media and the American public from the more significant issue: that the government has been secretly spying on its own citizens.
Another groundbreaking story from The Guardian over the weekend revealed the identity of the whistleblower behind the recent NSA surveillance disclosures to be a young, former technical assistant for the CIA and current defense contractor employee who – until very recently – lived a comfortable life with his girlfriend in Hawaii. Years of working on the technical side of surveillance for the world’s most pervasive spy organizations led to increasing disillusionment for 29 year-old Edward Snowden. Witnessing the unethical practices employed by CIA operatives while stationed in Geneva and playing his own role in the NSA’s vast stockpiling of American and foreign citizens’ information, collected through the PRISM program, drove Snowden toward his decision. Already having fled the country to Hong Kong where he is currently pent up in a hotel room, Snowden is fully aware of the Obama administration’s ferocious stance on whistleblowers and is prepared for full pursuit and prosecution.
In this video interview with The Guardian reporter Glenn Greenwald, who has reported the series of disclosures from the NSA/PRISM whistleblower, Snowden describes exactly what compelled him to bring knowledge of the NSA surveillance program into the public realm. He illustrates the extremely invasive authority that the agency can and does use to spy on everyone. A transcript of Greenwald’s interview can be found here. Snowden emphasizes the non-democratic and secret practices of the NSA that go far beyond public consciousness saying, “The extent of their capabilities is horrifying. We can plant bugs in machines. Once you go on the network, I can identify your machine. You will never be safe whatever protections you put in place.”
Daniel Ellsberg, the father of modern whistleblowing responsible for the Pentagon Papers disclosure, has called Snowden’s leak the most important in American history – even more so than Ellsberg’s own disclosure 40 years ago. Snowden’s actions come at an incredibly precarious time for American privacy and the upholding of the constitution. Ellsberg makes clear that since 9/11, American citizens have experienced a revocation of their rights and a neglect of their societal roles in the democracy, and this move by Snowden serves to bring some of the democratic power back to the public to which it originally belonged.
Key Quote (Washington Post): The Government Accountability Project, a nonprofit that advances “corporate and government accountability by protecting whistleblowers,” has a broader, “composite” definition drawn from “state, federal and international cases”:
An employee who discloses information that s/he reasonably believes is evidence of illegality, gross waste or fraud, mismanagement, abuse of power, general wrongdoing, or a substantial and specific danger to public health and safety. Typically, whistleblowers speak out to parties that can influence and rectify the situation. These parties include the media, organizational managers, hotlines, or Congressional members/staff, to name a few.
Jesselyn Radack, director of the national security and human rights program at the Government Accountability Project, says that “source” is the “most neutral term” and doesn’t much like “leaker.” “There’s a derogatory implication to it,” says Radack, who says she’s represented hundreds of whistleblowers.
“I see [Snowden] as a classic whistleblower,” she says. “He is revealing massive abuse and illegality by … the biggest spy agency in the nation and in the world, for that matter.” In some quarters, Radack might encounter some pushback on that last point.
(Reuters): Jesselyn Radack, a former Justice Department lawyer who represents whistleblowers, said she expected prosecutors would "try to indict him as soon as possible" with "voluminous" Espionage Act charges followed by Interpol warrants for his arrest. But she said Snowden fit the profile and legal definition of a whistleblower and should be entitled to protection under a federal law passed to protect people who reveal waste and abuse.
"He said very clearly in statements that he's given that he was doing this to serve a public purpose," Radack said
(The Guardian): But Snowden drew support from civil liberty activists and organisations. Jesselyn Radack, a former justice department attorney who represents whistleblowers, told Reuters: "As a whistleblower myself, this is one of the most significant leakers in my lifetime and in US history."
Radack said she hoped the case could become "a watershed moment that could change the war on whistleblowers and the broader war on information in our country".
More on the new SEC counsel, a former head of governance, litigation and regulation at Deutsche Bank, who is currently facing scrutiny as his former colleague, GAP client Eric Ben-Artzi, has filed a Dodd-Frank whistleblower complaint against the massive German bank. According to the article, the new SEC counsel Robert Rice is one of the five Deutsche Bank executives named in Ben-Artzi’s claim as being complicit in the billion dollar violations that kept the Bank afloat during the worst of the global economic crisis.
GAP client and NSA whistleblower Bill Binney appears on Democracy Now! along with The Guardian journalist Glenn Greenwald as part of the continuing coverage of the current NSA/PRISM disclosures from whistleblower Edward Snowden.
The National Security Agency has obtained direct access to the systems of Google, Facebook, Apple and other US internet giants, according to a top secret document obtained by the Guardian.The NSA access is part of a previously undisclosed program called PRISM, which allows officials to collect material including search history, the content of emails, file transfers and live chats, the document says.
More credence should be paid to their warnings about content, but also their expertise in explaining that the government can learn an incredible amount about individuals from metadata alone, including who people associate with, who they talk to, and the depth of relationships. Binney and Wiebe proposed to glean all of the necessary foreign intelligence to protect the country while protecting privacy prior to 9/11. The NSA rejected the privacy protections, and has since been spying on Americans with impunity.
The Obama administration has offered weak explanations for the spying, which it would not have even told Americans about but for getting caught red handed with records of millions of innocent Americans phone calls. As the New York Times Editorial Board put it:
The administration has now lost all credibility on this issue. Mr. Obama is proving the truism that the executive branch will use any power it is given and very likely abuse it.
If the press and the public pay due credence, finally, to what my client NSA whistleblowers have to say, they won't buy Director of National Intelligence James Clapper's rationalizations.
There was a media storm yesterday after The Guardian reported on late Wednesday night that they had obtained a secret court order requiring Verizon to provide the National Security Agency (NSA) with far-reaching information about customers' calls on an "ongoing, daily" basis. GAP National Security & Human Rights Director Jesselyn Radack, National Security & Human Rights Counsel Kathleen McClellan, along with GAP clients and NSA whistleblowers Bill Binney, J. Kirk Wiebe and Thomas Drake were quoted or mentioned in numerous outlets, including KCRW’s To The Point, MSNBC, US News & World Report, Al Jazeera, Huffington Post, and Associated Press. These revelations confirm what the above-mentioned whistleblowers have been warning Americans about for years.
According to reports released late yesterday by the Washington Post and The Guardian, the NSA has also obtained access to the systems of Google, Facebook, Apple and other giant Internet companies under a program called PRISM, which allows the government to collect material including search history, email content, file transfers and live chats. Columnist Glenn Greenwald recalls the Obama administration's consistent prosecution against national security whistleblowers and the government's likely move to go after the whistleblower who revealed these new secret documents. This demonization of whistleblowers, Greenwald says, is "a means of distracting attention from their own exposed wrongdoing and destroying the credibility of the messenger so that everyone tunes out the message." He states that every whistleblower who has come under attack by the administration is a "hero" who "undertook great personal risk and sacrifice … to make their fellow citizens aware of what their government is doing in the dark."
Key Quote:(from MSNBC) “Obviously, a scandal like this makes AP and Fox—what happened there—look like child’s play,” said Jesselyn Radack, the Government Accountability Project’s National Security and Human Rights director. She took it as proof that “the vast national security state put in place after 9/11 has expanded even further than we’d ever thought.”
(from US News & World Report) "I think that NSA since 2001 and within weeks of 9/11 began hoarding as much digital data as they can get on anyone," says Jesselyn Radack, Director of National Security and Human Rights at the Government Accountability Project.
Radack is familiar with what she says is a long history of the federal government collecting as much personal data as they can get its hands on. Radack has defended a series of high-profile whistle blowers including Thomas Drake, a former NSA employee who revealed the scope of NSA's spying during the Bush Administration.
(from Huffington Post) “There is no need to call this the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court,” [Thomas] Drake said in an interview with Democracy Now on Thursday. “Let’s just call it the surveillance court. It’s no longer about foreign intelligence. It’s simply about harvesting millions and millions and millions of phone call records and beyond.”