Politico reported that yesterday
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that the massive investigation into the sources for the 2005 New York Times article revealing the National Security Agency's (NSA) warrantless wiretapping program
has "petered-out." Former NSA executive and whistleblower Thomas Drake is the only
person to be indicted in connection with that investigation. And he was not even a source for the New York Times
, and is not charged with leaking classified information to ANY newspaper, period.
After expending the energy
of 25 FBI Agents, five full-time Justice Department prosecutors, and countless taxpayer dollars over 5+ years, it is outrageous that the person facing prison is a protected whistleblower and recent recipient of the 2011 Ridenhour Prize for Truth-telling.
The people who authorized and perpetrated illegal NSA spying get a complete pass, and millions of taxpayer dollars were wasted on a fruitless, vengeful leak investigation, which ends in the indictment of a whistleblower. This is not the change Obama promised.
In no way am I suggesting that the Justice Department bring more prosecutions against whistleblowers. However, it is revelatory of the government's retaliatory motive in going after Tom Drake to compare who was not
prosecuted as part of the leak investigation with Drake.
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The Ridenhour Awards are today, and GAP, as always, is extremely proud to partner with the Nation Institute, Fertel Foundation, and others to make this event happen. There should be more events that honor the brave acts that whistleblowers take in the name of Americans. These coveted prizes are among the most respected for those citizens who act "in the spirit of courage and truth."
Every year, the awardees are exceptional. This year is no different. Whistleblower and author Wendell Potter takes the Ridenhour Book prize this year for his work in exposing the true nature of health care providers. Sen. Russ Feingold takes the Courage Award for his continued, principled fight against corporate wrongdoing. And a new award this year, the Ridenhour Documentary Film Prize, is being handed out to the producers of Budrus.
And the coveted Ridenhour Truth-Telling Prize -- hands down the most respected annual American award for whistleblowers -- is going to National Security Agency (NSA) whistleblower Tom Drake. Drake, who GAP has advocated for strenuously over the past year, helped expose multi-billion dollar waste and fraud at the NSA by going through several internal government channels. His concerns eventually were reported in the Baltimore Sun. For his actions of protecting America, he now has the dubious distinction of being the fourth American indicted under the Espionage Act for allegedly mishandling classified information. Pentagon Papers whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg was the first person.
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The Justice department wants to hold the prosecution of former NSA official and whistleblower Thomas Drake in a Soviet-era vacuum. Recently the government has moved to preclude any mention of published, properly authenticated newspaper articles, over-classification; and, as the Justice Department must be sensitive to the fact that it is trying to jail a whistleblower, it also asks to bar mention of whistleblowing! The icing on the cake is that war-on-whistleblowers "General" William Welch wants to use a "secret code" to talk about evidence in Drake's case.
What kind of fair trial will this be?
In USA Today Justice Department spokeswoman Laura Sweeney defended the Obama administration's war on whistleblowers:
At the same time, there are appropriate avenues for whistle-blowers to follow when it relates to handling of classified information. People with access to classified information cannot make unilateral decisions that such information doesn't have to be treated as classified, regardless of their motive.
That offers no defense whatsoever for the Obama administration's prosecution of Drake because Drake did not leak classified information to the media, and is not charged with leaking classified information to the media. Moreover, Drake did go through appropriate channels for providing classified information to Congress and the Department of Defense Inspector General.
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Despite the Main-Stream-Media's angst over enigmatic Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, he was featured on the cover of the New York Times Magazine and interviewed on 60 Minutes on Sunday. My friend David Swanson has already diaried Julian Assange's 60 Minutes interview in detail.
Regardless of how you see Assange, one quote from his 60 Minutes interview stands out:
If [employees] who say that there is some abuse going on and there's not a proper mechanism for internal accountability and external accountability, they must have a conduit to get that out to the public. And we are the conduit.
Assange presents the solution to Wikileaks. In a world where whistleblowers are protected through a "proper mechanism for accountability," Wikileaks would not have to be a conduit to get information out to the public.
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Recent news coverage of prosecutor William Welch's leadership of the Justice Department's war on whistleblowers reveals that his overzealous and shady tactics were not restricted to his handling of the botched prosecution of late-Senator Ted Stevens, a case that landed Welch and his team in a pile of -- still ongoing -- criminal investigations.
Welch's tactics, at best idiosyncratic and ineffective and at worst unethical, expose the government's retaliatory motive in pursuing criminal convictions for whistleblowers, and betray weaknesses in the government's cases.
Former CIA officer Jeffrey Sterling was charged under the famously ambiguous Espionage Act for "leaking" classified information to a reporter. This gives Obama, the "transparency" president, the dubious distinction of bringing the most "leak prosecutions" of any administration, ever.
Nowhere in the Washington Post article on this latest witch-hunt does the word "whistleblower" appear. But that's what he is.
Yet another indictment under the Espionage Act. Of a whistleblower. By disgraced prosecutor William Welch, who himself is still under criminal investigation for botching the prosecution of late-Senator Ted Stevens.
There's a lot that the MSM gets wrong in the articles this morning, so let me clarify what I can.
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First, as to Mr. Sterling, who worked for the CIA for nearly 10 years, he was the only black officer assigned to the Iran Task Force in January 1995 and the first black case officer to file a racial discrimination suit against the CIA. After the CIA spent your taxpayer dollars training him in Farsi and having him log long hours on the Iranian Desk, CIA officials considered him a liability because of his skin color, telling him he couldn't be a good spy because
you kind of stick out as a big black guy.