What is it about whistleblowers that the powers that be can’t stand?
When I blew the whistle on the CIA’s illegal torture program, I was derided in many quarters as a traitor. My detractors in the government attacked me for violating my secrecy agreement, even as they ignored the oath we’d all taken to protect and defend the Constitution.
All of this happened despite the fact that the torture I helped expose is illegal in the United States. Torture also violates a number of international laws and treaties to which our country is signatory — some of which the United States itself was the driving force in drafting.
I was charged with three counts of espionage, all of which were eventually dropped when I took a plea to a lesser count. I had to choose between spending up to 30 months in prison and rolling the dice to risk a 45-year sentence. With five kids, and three of them under the age of 10, I took the plea.
Tom Drake — the NSA whistleblower who went through the agency’s chain of command to report its illegal program to spy on American citizens — was thanked for his honesty and hard work by being charged with 10 felonies, including five counts of espionage. The government eventually dropped the charges, but not before Drake had suffered terrible financial, professional, and personal distress.
This is an ongoing theme, especially in government
While we always knew the U.S. government’s line that Snowden had avenues for effective whistleblowing through official channels was a heaping pile of bullshit, it’s always good to prove the point.
The Guardian reports:
Edward Snowden has called for a complete overhaul of US whistleblower protections after a new source from deep inside the Pentagon came forward with a startling account of how the system became a “trap” for those seeking to expose wrongdoing.
The account of John Crane, a former senior Pentagon investigator, appears to undermine Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton and other major establishment figures who argue that there were established routes for Snowden other than leaking to the media.
Crane, a longtime assistant inspector general at the Pentagon, has accused his old office of retaliating against a major surveillance whistleblower, Thomas Drake, in an episode that helps explain Snowden’s 2013 National Security Agency disclosures. Not only did Pentagon officials provide Drake’s name to criminal investigators, Crane told the Guardian, they destroyed documents relevant to his defense.
Snowden, responding to Crane’s revelations, said he had tried to raise his concerns with colleagues, supervisors and lawyers and been told by all of them: “You’re playing with fire.”
Thomas Drake’s legal ordeal ruined him financially and ended in 2011 with all serious accusations against him dropped. His case served as a prologue to Snowden’s. Now Crane’s account has led to a new investigation at the US justice department into whistleblower retaliation at the Pentagon that may serve as an epilogue – one Crane hopes will make the Pentagon a safe place for insiders to expose wrongdoing and illegality.
Snowden cited Drake’s case as a reason for his lack of faith in the government’s official whistleblower channels.
“When I was at NSA, everybody knew that for anything more serious than workplace harassment, going through the official process was a career-ender at best. It’s part of the culture,” Snowden told the Guardian.
“If your boss in the mailroom lies on his timesheets, the IG might look into it. But if you’re Thomas Drake, and you find out the president of the United States ordered the warrantless wiretapping of everyone in the country, what’s the IG going to do? They’re going to flush it, and you with it.”
Thanks for playin’.
For related articles, see: