What a difference a decade makes!
joins the Obama administration in equating whistleblowers with spies, a characterization aimed at silencing other potential whistleblowers. As I wrote yesterday, the magazine’s cover story is a complete disaster. It pictures hacktivist Aaron Swartz, National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden & WikiLeaks defendant Bradley Manning under the screaming words, “THE INFORMERS.” Worse, it ignores key facts, the law, and the magazine’s prior recognition of whistleblowers when it named “The Whistleblowers” persons of the year in 2002.
The article reads like government propaganda rather than journalism, and fumbles around looking for a “reason” why Manning, Snowden and Swartz strongly objected to the surveillance state.
Despite candidate Obama’s pledges to be the most transparent administration in history, we’ve seen the opposite. As another whistleblower himself, Peter Van Buren, wrote in “Obama’s War on Whistleblowers” for Mother Jones,
The Obama administration has been cruelly and unusually punishing in its use of the 1917 Espionage Act to stomp on governmental leakers, truth-tellers, and whistleblowers whose disclosures do not support the president’s political ambitions. As Thomas Drake, himself avictim of Obama’s crusade against whistleblowers, told me, “This makes a mockery of the entire classification system, where political gain is now incentive for leaking and whistleblowing is incentive for prosecution.”
The Obama administration has charged more people (six) under the Espionage Act for the alleged mishandling of classified information than all past presidencies combined.[ed note: emphasis mine] (Prior to Obama, there were only three such cases in American history, one being Daniel Ellsberg, of Nixon-era Pentagon Papers fame.) The most recent Espionage Act case is that of former CIA officer John Kiriakou, charged for allegedly disclosing classified information to journalists about the horrors of waterboarding. Meanwhile, his evil twin, former CIA officer Jose Rodriguez, has a best-selling book out bragging about the success of waterboarding and his own hand in the dirty work.
Obama’s zeal in silencing leaks that don’t make him look like a superhero extends beyond the deployment of the Espionage Act into a complex legal tangle of retaliatory practices, life-destroying threats, on-the-job harassment, and firings. Lots of firings.
Although that piece was published a year ago, Van Buren is still writing. In fact, his blog post in the wake of the verdicts yesterday consisted of a photo of Manning with the headline RIP Justice (In Memory of Bradley Manning).
This morning on the show, we discussed the verdicts, the TV coverage or lack thereof, and the implications going forward for whistleblowers.
On the subject of media coverage, I spoke with Media Matters‘ Eric Boehlert. We also detoured briefly to talk about Rush Limbaugh and his obscene salary that’s cost the jobs of thousands of Clear Channel employees.
On the Manning court-martial and the verdict, I was joined by Chase Madar, author of the book, The Passion of Bradley Manning: The Story Behind the Wikileaks Whistleblower – and of the cover story of the new issue of The Nation, “The Trials of Bradley Manning.”
I also reached out to Stephen Kohn, executive director of the National Whistleblowers Center and author of The Whistleblower’s Handbook: A Step by Step Guide to Doing What’s Right and Protecting Yourself, who painted a dim picture of the government’s stance on protecting whistleblowers.
The NWC site has a fascinating section called “Meet the Whistleblowers” which tells about some of our nation’s most heroic who put their lives and livelihoods at risk to do the right thing. We’ll try to get some of them on the show in the coming days and weeks…