Obama Brooks No Leaks: Inside the Administration's Hypocritical Prosecution of Wiretap Whistleblower

In today's New Yorker, Jane Meyer, who has previously taken on the Koch Borthers as well as exposing torture and other "dark side" activities of the Bush years writes about the case ofThomas Drake, a onetime government employee who helped expose corruption and illegal spying at the NSA. Drake has been charged under the Espionage Act because he spoke to a reporter the Baltimore Sun, in his words, about "fraud, waste and abuse and the fact that there were legal alternatives to the Bush Administration’s ‘dark side.’”

Drake says that nothing he told the reporter were secrets, but he is being prosecuted as though they were. Writes Mayer:

When President Barack Obama took office, in 2009, he championed the cause of government transparency, and spoke admiringly of whistle-blowers, whom he described as “often the best source of information about waste, fraud, and abuse in government.” But the Obama Administration has pursued leak prosecutions with a surprising relentlessness. Including the Drake case, it has been using the Espionage Act to press criminal charges in five alleged instances of national-security leaks—more such prosecutions than have occurred in all previous Administrations combined. The Drake case is one of two that Obama’s Justice Department has carried over from the Bush years.

Gabriel Schoenfeld, a conservative political scientist at the Hudson Institute, who, in his book “Necessary Secrets” (2010), argues for more stringent protection of classified information, says, “Ironically, Obama has presided over the most draconian crackdown on leaks in our history—even more so than Nixon.”

Throughout Mayer's piece, she speaks to several other players, many of them conservative in political orientation, who worked at the NSA and were concerned that its wiretapping program was so extensive and unfettered that it could become "Orwellian." She concludes by pointing out that none of the other culprits in the NSA surveillance scandal have been properly punished--not higher-ups in the Bush administration, not the giant telecom companies which complied with spying on their customers-- except for brave whistleblowers like Drake.

Read the full story here.


AlterNet / By Sarah Seltzer

Posted at May 16, 2011, 6:45am

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