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Robert Greenwald Exposes the War on Whistleblowers and the Rise of Our National Security State

A new film directed by Robert Greenwald looks at four whistleblowers who had their lives practically destroyed after they went to the press with evidence of government wrongdoing.

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DANIEL ELLSBERG: We talk about a national security state that pretends that it’s interested in our national security, but in fact it’s interested in the security of corporate interests, of agency interests, of politicians keeping their jobs.

DANA PRIEST: It is, as one source said, a self-licking ice cream cone. It’s there to support itself.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: The Obama administration has not only cracked down on whistleblowers, but also the journalists who assist them. Let’s go to this clip. This one begins with Danielle Brian, executive director of the Project on Government Oversight, then goes to Ben Freeman of the—national security investigator at the Project on Government Accountability, then  Jane Mayer, a staff writer at  The New Yorker, and ends with David Carr, a  New York Times journalist.

DANIELLE BRIAN: One of the most disappointing things we’ve seen has been the president’s commitment to going after the journalists that they’ve worked with, when all they’re doing is exposing wrongdoing.

BEN FREEMAN: It’s put a lot of journalists on the defensive to make them even more reluctant to work with whistleblowers.

JANE MAYER: It really criminalizes the news-gathering process.

JAKE TAPPER: There just seems to be disconnect here: You want aggressive journalism abroad; you just don’t want it in the United States.

JAY CARNEY: Well, I—I—I would hesitate to speak to any particular case.

DAVID CARR: The Obama administration had taken what was an understandable sense of governmental discipline and kind of gone over the top with it and began prosecuting every which way.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: That was David Carr,  New York Times journalist, and before that, Jane Mayer, Ben Freeman and Danielle Brian. Robert Greenwald, what about this and the pressures then on the journalists in terms of being able to persist in digging up these stories?

ROBERT GREENWALD: Look, investigative journalists, as you all know, has never been an easy task. And we really should be celebrating the journalists and celebrating the whistleblowers. Instead, we have an administration affected far too significantly by the national security state, affected far too significantly, as Dana and Jane say in the film, from listening to the CIA, and working to keep secrets rather than the promise that we all had of transparency.

AMY GOODMAN: I wanted to go back to Jake Tapper. That was the last clip that we just saw, Jake Tapper at the White House. Last year, the White House correspondent for ABC News questioned the Obama administration for applauding truth seekers abroad while simultaneously prosecuting them at home. Tapper raised his concern shortly after White House Press Secretary Jay Carney lamented the deaths of journalists  Anthony Shadid and Marie Colvin, saying they had given their lives in order to bring truth while reporting in  Syria. This is Jake Tapper.

JAKE TAPPER: How does that square with the fact that this administration has been so aggressively trying to stop aggressive journalism in the United States by using the Espionage Act to take whistleblowers to court? You’re currently—I think that you’ve invoked it the sixth time, and before the Obama administration, it had only been used three times in history. You’re—this is the sixth time you’re suing a CIA officer for allegedly providing information in 2009 about CIA  torture. Certainly that’s something that’s in the public interest of the United States. This administration is taking this person to court. There just seems to be disconnect here: You want aggressive journalism abroad; you just don’t want it in the United States.

JAY CARNEY: Well, I—I—I would hesitate to speak to any particular case, for obvious reasons, and I would refer you to the Department of Justice for more on that.

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