Tag Archive: Whistleblowers

Jul 07 2013

The Unprecedented War on Whistleblowers

Daniel Ellsberg on Snowden, Manning, Government and Whistleblowers

Daniel Ellsberg–the legend behind the pentagon papers–speaks about Edward Snowden, Bradley Manning, and the necessary business of government whistleblowing in this Buzzsaw interview. Mr. Ellsberg discusses the government’s war on constitutional rights, information, and the media, plus if there is a worthy case for impeaching President Obama (at least, any more than there was for Bush…), as well as his own experience being persecuted by the Nixon administration.

Mr. Ellsberg speaks freely and gives an uncensored or edited account of the nation with Tyrel Ventura and Sean Stone on Buzzsaw.

Slideshow: Six Whistleblowers Charged Under the Espionage Act

by John Light and Lauren Feeney, Moyers & Company

he Obama administration has been carrying out an unprecedented crackdown on whistleblowers, particularly on those who have divulged information that relates to national security. The Espionage Act, enacted during the first World War to punish Americans who aided the enemy, had only been used three times in its history to try government officials accused of leaking classified information – until the Obama administration. Since 2009, the administration has used the act to prosecute six government officials. Meet the whistleblowers.

The Price of Truth, Whistleblowers and the Espionage Act

by Thierry Meyssan, Global Research

While the international press plays up the information leaked by Edward Snowden as a revelation concerning the PRISM surveillance program, feigning to have discovered what everyone should already have known for a long time, Thierry Meyssan is particularly curious about the meaning of this rebellion.

From this perspective, he attaches more importance to the case of General Cartwright, who has also been indicted for espionage.

Are American public servants, civilian or military, who face a minimum of 30 years in prison for revealing U.S. state secrets to the press, “whistleblowers” exercising power in a democratic system or are they “resistors to oppression” at the hands of a military-police dictatorship? The answer to this question does not depend on our own political opinions, but on the nature of the U.S. government. The answer completely changes if we focus on the case of Bradley Manning, the young leftist Wikileaks soldier, or if we consider that of General Cartwright, military adviser to President Obama, indicted Thursday, 27 June 2013, for spying.

Here, a look back is needed to understand how one shifts from “espionage” in favor of a foreign power to “disloyalty” to a criminal organization that employs you.

Obama’s Crackdown on Whistleblowers

by Tim Shorrock, The Nation

The NSA Four reveal how a toxic mix of cronyism and fraud blinded the agency before 9/11.

In the annals of national security, the Obama administration will long be remembered for its unprecedented crackdown on whistleblowers. Since 2009, it has employed the World War I-era Espionage Act a record six times to prosecute government officials suspected of leaking classified information. The latest example is John Kiriakou, a former CIA officer serving a thirty-month term in federal prison for publicly identifying an intelligence operative involved in torture. It’s a pattern: the whistleblowers are punished, sometimes severely, while the perpetrators of the crimes they expose remain free.

The hypocrisy is best illustrated in the case of four whistleblowers from the National Security Agency: Thomas Drake, William Binney, J. Kirk Wiebe and Edward Loomis. Falsely accused of leaking in 2007, they have endured years of legal harassment for exposing the waste and fraud behind a multibillion-dollar contract for a system called Trailblazer, which was supposed to “revolutionize” the way the NSA produced signals intelligence (SIGINT) in the digital age. Instead, it was canceled in 2006 and remains one of the worst failures in US intelligence history. But the money spent on this privatization scheme, like so much at the NSA, remains a state secret.

h/t Aigeanta at Voices on the Square for the news links.

Jun 05 2013

The Trial of Bradley Manning: Prosecuting Whistleblowing

Michael Ratner, president emeritus of the Center for Constitutional Rights and a lawyer to Julian Assange and WikiLeaks, returned from attending the opening session of Bradley Manning’s trial at Fort Meade. He joined Amy Goodman and Aaron Maté on Democracy Now for a discussion of the trial, and the government’s claims of “aiding the enemy” in a bid to scare whistleblowers.

Hypocrisy lies at the heart of the trial of Bradley Manning

by Gary Young, The Guardian

It is an outrage that soldiers who killed innocents remain free but the man who exposed them is accused of ‘aiding the enemy’

. . . . (T)he case against him indicates the degree to which the war on terror (a campaign that has been officially retired describing a legal, military and political edifice that remains firmly intact) privileges secrecy over not only transparency but humanity. This is exemplified in one of his leak’s more explosive revelations – a video that soon went viral showing two Reuters employees, among others, being shot dead by a US Apache helicopter in Iraq. They were among a dozen or so people milling around near an area where US troops had been exposed to small arms fire. The soldiers, believing the camera to be a weapon, opened fire, leaving several dead and some wounded.

“Look at those dead bastards,” says one pilot. “Nice,” says the other. When a van comes to pick up the wounded they shoot at that too, wounding two children inside. “Well, it’s their fault for bringing their kids into a battle,” one of the pilots says.

An investigation exonerated the soldiers on the grounds that they couldn’t have known who they were shooting. No disciplinary action was taken. When Reuters tried to get a copy of the video under the Freedom of Information Act, its request was denied. Were it not for Manning it would never have been made public. So the men who killed innocents, thereby stoking legitimate grievances across the globe and fanning the flames of resistance, are free to kill another day and the man who exposed them is behind bars, accused of “aiding the enemy”.

In this world, murder is not the crime; unmasking and distributing evidence of it is. To insist that Manning’s disclosure put his military colleagues in harm’s way is a bit like a cheating husband claiming that his partner reading his diary, not the infidelity, is what is truly imperilling their marriage. Avoiding responsibility for action, one instead blames the information and informant who makes that action known. [..]

But it’s not just about Manning. It’s about a government, obsessed with secrecy, that has prosecuted more whistleblowers than all previous administrations combined. And it’s about wars in which the resistance to, and exposure of, crimes and abuses has been criminalised while the criminals and abusers go free. If Manning is an enemy of the state then so too is truth.

Aug 10 2012

Countrywide/Bank of America whistleblower practically begs for subpoena

I ran across this posting in Rolling Stone from a management-level whistleblower, who provided information about frauds which took place at Countrywide Home Loans and Bank of America.  The author has prevailed in a wrongful termination ruling from OSHA that requires Bank of America to reinstate her and pay significant damages.

The whistleblower writes:

In 2010, I was interviewed by the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission (FCIC) and offered evidence of systemic fraud. Other whistleblowers have done the same. The Commission’s report concluded that fraudulent actions were systemic in certain financial institutions, and referred these practices to federal authorities. Not a single successful criminal prosecution has resulted.

President Obama’s DOJ claims that prosecutors can’t indict and convict financial executives just because they behaved badly; greed, they say, is not a crime. Together with other FCIC witnesses, however, I alleged fraud, not greed, and that is a crime. The DOJ needs to investigate our allegations, and prosecutors could start by contacting whistleblowers like me. We have a lot to say, but many of us are gagged by our former employers unless subpoenaed.

Today, millions of Americans are paying more on their mortgages than their homes are worth, and millions more are facing foreclosure. Meanwhile, those who cashed in while ordinary Americans lost their homes and their jobs remain at large, continuing both the crimes and the cover-up. Whistleblowers like me know who they are because we were there. We’re willing to talk. Why won’t the government listen?

There are people with knowledge of serious crimes that want to come forward and help the justice system to set things right.  But there is a piece missing:

The Obama administration plans to add thousands of investigators to enforce the health care reform law, but has added just 25 positions to investigate whistleblower claims.

The Obama administration does not seem interested in what whistleblowers are reporting, nor does it seem all that interested in protecting whistleblowers that can provide valuable information to prosecutors.

If the Obama administration was paying attention, they would find that public disappointment with the lack of significant and aggressive prosecutions of the serious frauds that caused our financial crisis has spread far beyond the Occupy movement and has now entered the jury pool.  In a recent SEC prosecution of a Citigroup employee, the jury had some interesting thoughts:

As Beau Brendler sat in the jury box listening to the government’s case against a former Citigroup midlevel executive, the same question kept entering his mind.

“I wanted to know why the bank’s C.E.O. wasn’t on trial,” said Mr. Brendler, who served as the jury’s foreman. “Citigroup’s behavior was appalling.”

So, despite the fact that the jury found that the SEC had failed to prove its case against the midlevel employee, in an unusual act for a jury, they issued a statement along with their verdict:

“This verdict should not deter the S.E.C. from continuing to investigate the financial industry, review current regulations and modify existing regulations as necessary.”

The jury foreman explained their reasoning this way:

“We were afraid that we would send a message to Wall Street that a jury made up of regular American folks could not understand their complicated transactions and so they could get away with their outrageous conduct,” Mr. Brendler said. “We also did not want to discourage the government from investigating and prosecuting financial crimes.”

There is a thirst for justice in the American public.  It is long past time for the Obama administration to demonstrate that they are on the side of regular Americans and do something.  

Let’s see, there’s big money on one side of this issue and votes on the other side.  What’s a politician to do?  

Mar 27 2012

The System is Blinking Red

This past week two related stories broke, James Bamford’s article on the NSA’s “Stellar Wind” project in Utah which will dramatically enhance the governments ability to store and process intercepted communications and records and Eric Holder’s announcement that the US will now keep and analyze information gathered about Americans or U.S. residents for 5 years, 10 times the previously allowed period.

These are both somewhat ominous stories.  In describing the Stellar Wind project former senior NSA official and whistleblower, William Binney put it, “We are this far from a turnkey totalitarian state.”  The extension of time announced by Eric Holder for retention and analysis of records increases Americans jeopardy of having their information misused or misinterpreted by agencies that have repeatedly done so and Americans (including Senator Ted Kennedy) have found themselves wrongfully placed on no-fly lists or worse, find their homes bugged and burgled, and their phones wiretapped leading to them being arrested and jailed in error, as happened to Brandon Mayfield.

The details of the Mayfield case illustrate some of the problems with “human factors” in intelligence work:

From the Wikipedia article linked above:

Following the September 11, 2001 attacks, Mayfield was concerned for the safety of his children and wife, and according to his father, he suspected that he was under surveillance by the federal authorities. In the weeks before his arrest, Mayfield’s family was under the impression that their house had been broken into at least twice, although nothing was stolen. According to court documents, the FBI used National Security Letters in order to wiretap his phones, bug his house, and search his house several times.

Fingerprints on a bag containing detonating devices, found by Spanish authorities following the Madrid commuter train bombings, were initially identified by the FBI as belonging to Mayfield (“100% verified”). According to the court documents in judge Ann Aiken’s decision, this information was largely “fabricated and concocted by the FBI and DOJ”. When the FBI finally sent Mayfield’s fingerprints to the Spanish authorities, they contested the matching of the fingerprints from Brandon Mayfield to the ones associated with the Madrid bombing. Further, the Spanish authorities informed the FBI they had other suspects in the case, Moroccan immigrants not linked to anyone in the USA. The FBI completely disregarded all of the information from the Spanish authorities, and proceeded to spy on Mayfield and his family further. …

Before his arrest, Spanish authorities informed the FBI in a letter from April 13, that they reviewed the fingerprint on the bag as a negative match of Mayfield’s fingerprint, though this letter was not communicated to Mayfield’s attorneys. On May 19 the Spanish authorities announced that the fingerprints actually belonged to an Algerian national, Ouhnane Daoud; Brandon Mayfield was released from prison when the international press broke the story the next day – May 20, 2004. A gag order remained in force for the next few days. By May 25, the case was dismissed by the judge, who ordered the return of seized evidence and unsealing of documents pertaining to his arrest.

The FBI conducted an internal review of Mayfield’s arrest and detention, concluding that although he was not arrested solely due to his religious beliefs, they may have contributed to investigator’s failure to take into account the Spanish concerns over fingerprint identification. The FBI issued a press release announcing the report’s conclusion that they had not misused the USA PATRIOT Act in the investigation.

Mar 20 2012

President Obama’s Propaganda Wars

In the last week or so two news stories have broken that are both quite important and remarkably underreported.   First is the story about the issuance of an official accusation by the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture that the Obama administration has engaged in cruel and inhumane treatment of Bradley Manning and the rapporteur cannot say whether torture has occurred because of the refusal of the Obama administration to grant him the usual and customary access to Bradley Manning for evaluation purposes.

Second, there is a journalist, Abdulelah Haider Shaye, who is being held in a Yemeni gulag at the behest of President Obama.  Despite the fact that major human rights and journalism organizations are standing up and calling out the President on this, the issue has gotten little attention from the mainstream press.

These two stories add to the growing body of evidence of the Obama administration’s extraordinary actions to chill the speech of journalists and whistleblowers in an effort to control information about US actions in the Global War on Terror.

Feb 13 2012

Afghanistan: Dereliction of Duty

The Afghanistan Report the Pentagon Doesn’t Want You to Read

Dereliction of Duty draft pdf

Truth, lies and Afghanistan

How military leaders have let us down

By LT. COL. DANIEL L. DAVIS

In Afghan War, Officer Becomes a Whistle-Blower

By SCOTT SHANE

Lt. Col. Daniel Davis’ Truth-Telling Continues: Long Report Published by Rolling Stone

by Jim White

Col. Davis Goes to Washington: A One-Man Battle for Truth-Telling About Afghanistan

by Jim White

Honorable Military Whistleblower: Why Daniel Davis Is and Bradley Manning Is Not

by bmaz

Jan 24 2012

Obama’s War On Whistlerblowers

President Barack Obama once again has gone after a whistle blower while letting the criminals completely off the hook or walk away with a slap on the wrist. Since taking office Obama has waged unprecedented war on whistleblowers despite campaign promises to have a transparent government.

Former CIA Officer John Kiriakou Charged with Disclosing Covert Officer’s Identity and Other Classified Information to Journalists and Lying to CIA’s Publications Review Board

   A former CIA officer, John Kiriakou, was charged today with repeatedly disclosing classified information to journalists, including the name of a covert CIA officer and information revealing the role of another CIA employee in classified activities, Justice Department officials announced.

   The charges result from an investigation that was triggered by a classified defense filing in January 2009, which contained classified information the defense had not been given through official government channels, and, in part, by the discovery in the spring of 2009 of photographs of certain government employees and contractors in the materials of high-value detainees at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. The investigation revealed that on multiple occasions, one of the journalists to whom Kiriakou is alleged to have illegally disclosed classified information, in turn, disclosed that information to a defense team investigator, and that this information was reflected in the classified defense filing and enabled the defense team to take or obtain surveillance photographs of government personnel. There are no allegations of criminal activity by any members of the defense team for the detainees.

Like she did with the outing of CIA operative Valerie Plame-Wilson, Marcy Wheeler, along with Jim White at emptywheel, dissects this case exposing the hypocrisy of the government and the cover up of the real crime, a war crime, torture, here, here, here, here and here. In those articles they expose the weakness of the DOJ’s case against Kiriakou and that Obama has covered for and refused to prosecute war crimes committed by CIA agents and covers up military war crimes by hiding the evidence under the guise of national security.

A prime example of this hypocrisy it outrageous that has allowed war criminal to get off with just a tap on the wrist while the commanding officers were not even mentioned:

Marine accepts plea deal in Iraqi civilian deaths

January 23, 2012 – CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. (AP) – A Marine sergeant who told his troops to “shoot first, ask questions later” in a raid that killed unarmed Iraqi women, children and elderly pleaded guilty Monday in a deal that will carry no more than three months confinement and end the largest and longest-running criminal case against U.S. troops from the Iraq War.

The agreement marked a stunning and muted end to the case once described as the Iraq War’s version of the My Lai massacre in Vietnam. The government failed to get one manslaughter conviction in the case that implicated eight Marines in the deaths of 24 Iraqis in the town of Haditha in 2005.[..]

Kamil al-Dulaimi, a Sunni lawmaker from the Anbar provincial capital of Ramadi, called the plea deal a travesty of justice for the victims and their families. “It’s just another barbaric act of Americans against Iraqis,” al-Dulaimi told The Associated Press. “They spill the blood of Iraqis and get this worthless sentence for the savage crime against innocent civilians.”

This is a disgrace.

Obama is not upholding his oath of office and that is an even bigger disgrace.

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