Obama’s Crackdown On Military Whistleblowers

Free Bradley billboardWhen it comes to abuses, the government is using severe punishment of high-profile whistleblowers as a method of encouraging silence, TomDispatch writes:

On January 23rd, the Obama administration charged former CIA officer John Kiriakou under the Espionage Act for disclosing classified information to journalists about the waterboarding of al-Qaeda suspects. His is just the latest prosecution in an unprecedented assault on government whistleblowers and leakers of every sort.

The Obama administration has already charged more people—six—under the Espionage Act for alleged mishandling of classified information than all past presidencies combined. (Prior to Obama, there were only three such cases in American history.)

By now, there can be little doubt that government retaliation against whistleblowers is not an isolated event, nor even an agency-by-agency practice. The number of cases in play suggests an organized strategy to deprive Americans of knowledge of the more disreputable things that their government does. How it plays out in court and elsewhere will significantly affect our democracy.

Kiriakou, in particular, is accused of giving information about the CIA’s torture programs to reporters two years ago. Like the other five whistleblowers, he has been charged under the draconian World War I-era Espionage Act.

That Act has a sordid history, having once been used against the government’s political opponents. Targets included labor leaders and radicals like Eugene V. Debs, Bill Haywood, Philip Randolph, Victor Berger, John Reed, Max Eastman, and Emma Goldman. Debs, a union leader and socialist candidate for the presidency, was, in fact, sentenced to 10 years in jail for a speech attacking the Espionage Act itself. The Nixon administration infamously (and unsuccessfully) invoked the Act to bar the New York Times from continuing to publish the classified Pentagon Papers.

Read the rest at TomDispatch

26 Comments on "Obama’s Crackdown On Military Whistleblowers"

  1. It makes you wonder what kind of insane behavior the government wants kept secret…what are they doing / what have they done that’s so horrible it can’t be revealed to We The People, hmmmmm?

  2. It’s kind of a useless comparison to contrast the numbers of people charged now with mishandling classified information and the number that have been charged in the past.  Apple meet orange.  Never in the history of the Espionage Act has there been such ease of access to outlets of dissemination.  If one had classified information in the past (let’s say the 70s, 80s, or even 90s), to disseminate that, they would need to get in contact with someone who they could secretly meet with and hope this information would get published.  Nowadays, one has numerous options of publishing such information, including publishing it themselves anonymously on the internet.  It’s a completely different environment.
    I’m not an apologist for the government and I think their treatment of Bradley Manning has been horrible.  But there are secrets the govt needs to keep.  If bin Laden had known that they had found out his courier, he would have moved and gotten a different courier.  If he knew they were coming for him, he would leave.  There are certain secrets the govt needs to keep: the identity of CIA agents, the locations of said agents, the defense plans of the US, the location of chemical labs, the movements of troops, etc.

    • Padraig22 | Feb 13, 2012 at 11:26 am |

      you most certainly are an apologist for the government, you and people like you are the reason for your country’s descent into totalitarianism

      • If our country descends into totalitarism, it will be becouse the irrisponsible liberal whistleblowers had put us in danger, exposing our plans to fight islamic terror worldwide: they are using freedom of speech against any other freedom, preventing the real CHANGE from happening. 

        • Padraig22 | Feb 13, 2012 at 3:51 pm |

          there is no ‘if’ about it, take a look at what’s happening on the streets with your police, and it has nothing to do with whistleblowers, and as for exposing plans for ‘fighting terrorism’ you expose them yourselves every day by your murderous actions world-wide

          • We wouldn´t need to fight protestors if they didn´t take the streets in the first place, so it is clearly their fault. Same thing with those “murderous” actions: they are a response to 9-11´s islamic declaration of war, and are necesary if we want to keep our right to peacefully potest.

        • Anarchy Pony | Feb 13, 2012 at 4:01 pm |

          I don’t rightly get you, are you being sarcastic? Or are you just insane? 

        • gwen jackson | Feb 14, 2012 at 1:15 am |

           lol, you make my sides hurt. I can’t tell if you’re sincere, but you’re HILARIOUS! oh i hope you post here every day, you’re my new favorite.

    • I totaly agree with you. It is cristal clear that to act in someone else´s interests you have to hide your actions from him or her, or else they could use that information against themselves. God has told us only so far in the Bible, so that the devil can´t use the holy book to his advantage.

      • gwen jackson | Feb 14, 2012 at 1:19 am |

        according to the diagnostic bible, belief that supernatural beings exist and give a shit what we do is a symptom of schizophrenia.
        now i understand you perfectly.

  3. UselessJunk | Feb 13, 2012 at 12:37 pm |

    Obama 2012!  I want to keep pretending things are changing!

    • I undestand your cinicism, but you Kant possibly expect Obama to bring the Judgement Day in only one presidential period: Bush could have done it in three periods, and he is republican. But americans have no patience when it comes to the Judgement Day: humanity has been waiting for two thousand years! And you expect a single men to finish the job in four years? Let´s give Obama four more years at least: i bet we will hear apocalypse´s trumpets before 2016, and that will be a real CHANGE.

  4. marklar_primus | Feb 13, 2012 at 4:53 pm |

    Time and time again when “sensitive” information is finally declassified 50 years after the fact it can be seen in nearly every instance that the information reveals the shocking criminality and/or incompetence of our government officials. The primary reason for secrecy is to avoid prosecution. The more secretive your totalitarian regime is the more criminal. The only reason there could ever be to keep a state secret for 50 years or more is to assure that the perpetrators of vicious criminal acts or bumbling criminal stupidity are dead before they can be held accountable. 

  5. If its truth , decency, honor, or moral in any way this criminal governemnt is against it. In fact i remember reading an FBI hand out that declared any one against  murderous war, torture, the perssuit of truth, thinking, questioning is all declared terrorism.

  6. GoodDoktorBad | Feb 14, 2012 at 1:17 pm |

    Moral acts of conscience and decency…..

    We can’t have that!!!

    Paradise lost…

    Paradox found….

    Stuff your head below the ground.

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