Under Obama's self-proclaimed "most transparent administration in history," not only did the number of "original classification decisions" rise by 22.6% in his first year in office, but the secret no-fly list has doubled in the past year and now includes 21,000 names, including at least 500 Americans.
As Obama well knows, his predecessor too often used the no-fly list as a punitive measure. I have a bee in my bonnet about this issue, having been placed on the "selectee" portion of the no-fly list after I became the Justice Department whistleblower in the case of "American Taliban" John Walker Lindh. While I no longer have that dubious distinction, no doubt other people have been improperly added to the list and still have no reasonable, convenient or comprehensive redress procedure. In fact,
Read more »
The government will not disclose who is on its list or why someone might have been placed on it.
After the 2009 attempted "Christmas Day" bombing – an attack stopped by alert, courageous passengers, not by a bloated, ineffective no-fly list –
The government lowered the standard for putting people on the list then scoured its files for anyone who qualified. . . .Among the most significant new standards is that now a person doesn't have to be considered only a threat to aviation to be placed on the no-fly list. People who are considered a broader threat to domestic or international security or who attended a terror training camp also are included, said a U.S. counterterrorism official who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive security matters.
Read more »
Here's what my son just learned in 7th grade civics:
The Due Process Clause of the Fifth Amendment is in many ways the backbone of the rights guaranteed by the Constitution. Due process is the simple notion that the Constitution requires governmental procedures to be fundamentally fair before a person may "be deprived of life, liberty or property."
The Obama administration's "justification" for the targeted assassination of Anwar al-Aulaqi--an American radical cleric who was killed by a U.S. drone strike yesterday--is that "What constitutes due process in this case is a due process in war," which is apparently no process at all.
If any presidential administration is going to commit controversial, and by all standards I can find, illegal, acts (like the targeted killing of an American citizen outside the United States who is suspected of terrorism), then it should be forced to articulate publicly its rationale, not hide behind some secret memo--that's so George W. Bush.
Under the Bush administration, and now the Obama administration, the due process guarantee is losing force as it has historically in times of national security crises.
"Due process in war" means no due process. Once again, anonymous government officials roll out the meme that governmental excesses are reasonable and necessary during times of war.
How's that been working for us? During World War I, the government imprisoned people for years for speaking out against the war effort. During World War II, the infamous and shameful Korematsu case endorsed the internment of more than 110,000 persons based solely on their Japanese ancestry. During the Cold War thousands of innocent people lost their jobs, were the subject of congressional investigations, or were incarcerated for their association with the Communist Party.
Read more »
GAP today praises Tuesday’s White House release of the U.S. National Action Plan that emphasizes intensified support for protection of federal employee whistleblowers. The plan is part of a new global transparency initiative by the Obama administration.
GAP Legal Director Tom Devine commented, “We welcome President Obama’s much-needed, renewed support for government whistleblower rights. The last election was supposed to be a voter protest against government fraud, waste and abuse. But the newly-elected House majority has not even introduced a bill to provide rights for whistleblowers who risk their careers for those goals.”
The White House commitment was as follows (italicized):
Strengthen and Expand Whistleblower Protection for Government Personnel
Employees with the courage to report wrongdoing are a government’s best defense against waste, fraud and abuse. Federal law clearly prohibits retaliation against most government employees who blow the whistle, but some employees have diminished protections, and judicially-created loopholes have left others without an adequate remedy. To address these problems, we will:
Read more »
I know we are all supposed to be writing about the debt ceiling deal, but today's Philadelphia Inquirer published a joint op-ed by myself and NSA whistleblower Thomas Drake, his first public writing since pleading guilty to a minor misdemeanor after the Justice Department's Espionage Act case against him unraveled in spectacular fashion days before trial.
Drake and I wrote:
The Espionage Act was meant to help the government go after spies, not whistle-blowers. Using it to silence public servants who reveal government malfeasance is chilling at best and tyrannical at worst.
This administration's attack on national-security whistle-blowers expands Bush's secrecy regime and cripples the free press by silencing its most important sources. It's a recipe for the slow poisoning of a democracy.
Drake was sentenced to one year of probation and community service on July 15th after pleading guilty to a minor misdemeanor (misuse of a government computer), a far cry from the 35 years he was facing under the Justice Department's original charges. Steven Aftergood of Secrecy News obtained a transcript of the sentencing hearing, and summarized Judge Bennett's choice words for the Justice Department's handling of the case:
Read more »
NSA whistleblower Thomas Drake standing with GAP's Jesselyn Radack after the trial. Photo courtesy of the Baltimore Sun.
I went to the sentencing of former National Security Agency official Thomas Drake, who was charged with 10 felony counts and faced 35 years in prison for allegedly retaining allegedly classified information.
The case extravagantly collapsed as Drake pleaded guilty to a minor misdemeanor of "Exceeding Authorized Use of a Computer" and received a sentence of no jail time and no fine.
Besides the flop of the Obama administration's centerpiece "leak" prosecution, what really stood out to me were the strong words of Judge Richard Bennett, who called the government's handling of the case "unconscionable."
Read more »
Note: Some may find this diary wandering, overlong, meandering, obtuse, and scatterbrained. I agree. However one person has expressed a like for it, so I reckon I'll post it anyways.
I am not the sharpest tack in the box. I'm not trained in national security, law, or much of anything really. Like most people, I first heard about the NSA whistleblower Thomas Drake case back in mid 2010. I didn't, at first, think he was a whistleblower. I thought he was just some guy who had been caught doing something dumb. Some of the news stories quote anonymous sources, saying that it was "hubris" or "corporate IT politics" that Drake had gotten caught up in. I believed that. Part of the problem was that I couldn't understand the basic facts of the case. It was like swimming through algae. I looked at the news stories; many were titled something like 'leak case' or 'leaker', and they had this 'tsk tsk' vibe and they were short on details. Most of them didn't even list the actual specific charges against him; they just said 'leaking'. I don't think any of the headlines said 'Whistleblower'. Now, looking back, I have to wonder; how can the word 'leaker' meet journalistic ethics rules for neutrality, but not the word 'whistleblower'?
Something about those words "Espionage" or "Leaking" seem to switch off the logic center of my brain. Maybe I just don't wan't to support anything that might "harm the troops"; maybe I want to be patriotic. When the government says things, I'm inclined to believe them. In the Drake case, I believed what the indictment said... that he shredded documents, that he copy-pasted classified info, that he gave classified information to a reporter, and that he lied about all of it. I was totally, completely, one hundred percent wrong. And now I'm ashamed of myself.
Read more »
I was just on Democracy Now! discussing the prosecution of whistleblower Thomas Drake, who used to be a senior executive at the National Security Agency (NSA). I'm glad people are finally paying attention to this case, thanks to Jane Mayer's explosive cover story in the New Yorker, which Glenn Greenwald referred to as the "must-read article of the month."
The government would have you believe that this is a case involving the disclosure of classified information to a journalist. It is not. It's a "retention" case about 5 innocuous pieces of information that Drake allegedly took home, if at all, by mistake. His real crime? Committing the truth by revealing gross waste, mismanagement and illegality at NSA.Let's get down to brass tacks. Drake never leaked classified information to a reporter, or anyone, and is not CHARGED with "leaking" classified information. So, what is he charged with?:
Count 1 - a "Regular Meetings" document that appeared on NSA's intranet marked as UNCLASSIFIED;
Count 2 - a self-congratulatory "What a Success" document that appeared on NSA's intranet, which was declassified in July 2010 (but the prosecution didn't tell Drake this for 8 months);
Counts 3-5 - information that in whole or in part formed the basis of some of Drake's protected communication to the Department of Defense Inspector General as part of their investigation into NSA's gross waste, mismanagement and illegality related to a secret surveillance program;