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Drone Killings, Cyber Attacks, War on Whistleblowers: Does Obama Think He Is Above the Law?

The United States rains Hellfire missiles down on its enemies, with the president alone sitting in judgment of who will live and who will die by his hand.

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On the Other Side of the Mirror

 

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 a  victim 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. (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.

Upside Down Is Right Side Up

In ever-more polarized Washington, the story of Obama’s self-serving leaks is quickly devolving into a Democratic/Republican, he-said/she-said contest -- and it’s only bound to spiral downward from there until the story is reduced to nothing but partisan bickering over who can get the most advantage from those leaks.

But don’t think that’s all that’s at stake in Washington. In the ever-skittish Federal bureaucracy, among the millions of men and women who actually are the government, the message has been much more specific, and it’s no political football game. Even more frightened and edgy than usual in the post-9/11 era, bureaucrats take their cues from the top. So expect more leaks that empower the Obama Superman myth and more retaliatory, freelance acts of harassment against genuine whistleblowers. After all, it’s all been sanctioned.

Having once been one of those frightened bureaucrats at the State Department, I now must include myself among the victims of the freelancing attacks on whistleblowers. The Department of State is in the process of firing me, seeking to make me the first person to suffer any sanction over the WikiLeaks disclosures. It’s been a backdoor way of retaliating for my book,  We Meant Well: How I Helped Lose the Battle for the Hearts and Minds of the Iraqi People, which was an honest account of State’s waste and mismanagement in the “reconstruction” of Iraq.

Unlike Bradley Manning, on trial under the Espionage Act for allegedly dumping a quarter million classified documents onto the Internet, my fireable offense was linking to just one of them at  my blog. Just a link, mind you, not a leak. The document, still unconfirmed as authentic by the State Department even as they seek to force me out over it, is on the web and available to anyone with a mouse, from Kabul to Tehran to Des Moines.

That document was discussed in several newspaper articles before -- and after -- I "disclosed" it with my link. It was a document that admittedly did make the U.S. government look dumb, and that was evidently reason enough for the State Department to suspend my security clearance and seek to fire me, even after the Department of Justice declined to prosecute. Go ahead and click on a  link yourself and commit what State now considers a crime.

 
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