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What’s the difference between a whistleblower and a conspiracy theorist? Sometimes it can be very hard to tell.
This week, Annie Machon, former MI5 intelligence official, won praise for announcing that she is setting up a fund called Courage to help whistleblowers. According to Wired, the aim of the Courage Fund to Protect Journalistic Sources, to give it its full title, is to “encourage [more] whistleblowers to come forward” and spill the beans on the dastardly doings in the government or security department they work in. Ms Machon, who together with her then partner David Shayler left MI5 in 1996 and subsequently told the world about some of the dodgier things it was getting up to, was earlier this year included in a list of “brave whistleblowers” in the Guardian.
Tag Archives | Whistleblowers
The New York Times Editorial Board evidently thinks it’s safe to be openly liberal in New York now that we have an unabashed left-wing Mayor, Bill de Blasio. In this opinion piece in today’s “paper of record,” the Times calls for leniency with respect to Edward Snowden, who they notably dub a whistleblower, not a traitor or other epithet bandied about by the likes of Matt Drudge and Fox News Channel:
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… Considering the enormous value of the information he has revealed, and the abuses he has exposed, Mr. Snowden deserves better than a life of permanent exile, fear and flight. He may have committed a crime to do so, but he has done his country a great service. It is time for the United States to offer Mr. Snowden a plea bargain or some form of clemency that would allow him to return home, face at least substantially reduced punishment in light of his role as a whistle-blower, and have the hope of a life advocating for greater privacy and far stronger oversight of the runaway intelligence community.
First, a little bit of context for those of you not in a part of the British Commonwealth: on Christmas Day at 3 PM GMT the BBC broadcasts the Queen’s annual Christmas message. The UK’s underdog broadcast television network, Channel 4, has its own alternative message and this year its programmers chose Edward Snowden, the infamous NSA whistleblower, to deliver it. Channel 4 has been hard at work taking down the message from YouTube as fast as it can, so this version is via CNN with some commentary.
Who’d be a whistleblower? As Robert Greenwald’s documentary War On Whistleblowers all too easily showed, there is little upside other than the moral victory of doing the right thing. The men and women who have learned the hard way are telling Edward Snowden to stay away from the United States, reports Al-Jazeera:
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Every day at 5:45 a.m., John Kiriakou wakes up. He pulls on green pants and a green button-down shirt with his name and number on the front. Breakfast is at 6. He watches the news from 6:30 to 7:30, then goes back to sleep. He wakes up again at 11 a.m. for lunch, after which he exercises until around 2:30 in the afternoon. Mail call is at 3:30. Dinner is at 5 p.m.
Kiriakou, a former CIA agent, is serving 30 months in prison. He emailed a freelance reporter the name of a covert CIA officer, violating the Intelligence Identities Protection Act.
Conscientiousness as a domino effect, via Common Dreams:
The “courage” of Edward Snowden is “contagious,” according to lawyer and transparency advocate Jesselyn Radack.
In an interview with ABC News on Thursday, Radack revealed that an influx of NSA whistleblowers, inspired by Snowden, are now knocking on the doors of her organization, coming forward with what they consider objectionable practices by their employer.
According to Radack, several more whistleblowers have approached the Government Accountability Project (GAP)—the nation’s leading whistleblower protection and advocacy organization where she is the director of National Security and Human Rights—since Snowden’s story broke.
“There definitely could be more revelations in addition to those that Snowden has revealed and that are continuing to come out,” she told ABC News.
Ideas at the House: Panel – The War on Whistleblowers and Their Publishers: “US Journalist and activist Alexa O’Brien and Australian commentator Robert Manne are joined by video conference with Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, Guardian Journalist Glenn Greenwald and Chelsea Manning’s Lawyer David Coombs on stage at the Sydney Opera House (moderated by Bernard Keane of Crikey).”
Via Salon, Chase Madar on the limits of a legalistic outlook:
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Law remains our litmus test. Very often the mightiest anathema we can muster for something we oppose is that it’s “illegal” or, even worse, “unconstitutional.” One of the first reasons given for the Iraq War’s wrongness is it’s “illegality”; today, the mass surveillance is denounced as “unconstitutional.”
These condemnations pack all the fierce visceral impact of Ned Flanders trying to curse. Would the Iraq War have been redeemed by a permission slip from the UN Security Council? Were the sanctions against Iraq, which killed hundreds of thousands, okay because they were in conformance with the UN charter? And even if the NSA surveillance is ruled unconstitutional is this really the problem with it? And what if the courts determine, as is entirely possible, that the NSA surveillance is legally permissible?
We urgently need to remind ourselves that “lawfulness” is never an indicator of wisdom, efficacy, prudence, or even justice.
Dear President Obama:
As commander in chief, you’ve been responsible for the treatment of the most high-profile whistleblower in the history of the U.S. armed forces. Under your command, the United States military tried — and failed — to crush the spirit of Bradley Manning.
Your failure became evident after the sentencing on Wednesday, when a statement from Bradley Manning was read aloud to the world. The statement began:
“The decisions that I made in 2010 were made out of a concern for my country and the world that we live in. Since the tragic events of 9/11, our country has been at war. We’ve been at war with an enemy that chooses not to meet us on any traditional battlefield, and due to this fact we’ve had to alter our methods of combating the risks posed to us and our way of life. I initially agreed with these methods and chose to volunteer to help defend my country.”
From the outset, your administration set out to destroy Bradley Manning.… Read the rest
Thirty-Five years in military prison. Is that really a reasonable sentence for Bradley Manning’s “crimes” against the state? From ABC News:
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FT. MEADE, Md. — Bradley Manning, the Army private convicted of leaking hundreds of thousands of classified documents to the website WikiLeaks, was sentenced to 35 years in a military prison today.
Manning, 25, a former Army intelligence analyst, was convicted July 30.
He was found guilty of 20 of the 22 charges he faced, mostly for espionage, theft and fraud. But a judge found him not guilty of the most serious charge of aiding the enemy, which carries a life sentence.
The 20 charges originally carried the possibility of 136 years in prison, but Judge Col. Denise Lind later granted a defense motion that reduced the potential maximum sentence to 90 years.
Bradley Manning Guilty on Most Charges, but Not Aiding Enemy
At the end of the sentencing phase of the trial, Army prosecutors said Manning should serve at least 60 years in prison.
NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden has been granted temporary asylum in Russia and is allowed to enter the country’s territory. The whistleblower has been granted temporary political asylum in Russia, Snowden's legal representative Anatoly Kucherena said. “I have just handed over to him papers from the Russian Immigration Service. They are what he needs to leave the transit zone,” he added. Kucherena showed a photocopy of the document to the press....