Interesting Timing: Senate Passes Federal Whistleblower Protection Bill

from the as-we-torture-one... dept

We were just highlighting how the government is terrible at protecting whistleblowers -- with particular attention to the horrific treatment of Bradley Manning. As all of this is going on, it's worth pointing out that the Senate (apparently without much sense of irony) has passed a "Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act," which would seek to grant greater protections to government employees who blow the whistle on government wrongdoing. Of course, some have concerns with the new bill, in that it specifically weakens some protections for "the intelligence community," while increasing protections for other government employees.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    Aerilus, Dec 16th, 2010 @ 10:46pm

    But does it apply to military personnel?

     

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  2.  
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    IronM@sk, Dec 16th, 2010 @ 11:07pm

    Whistleblowing vs. Treason

    I had an interesting comment thread going between a few friends of mine on facebook after I shared the last Manning article, that because Manning was still under military command, that he was exampt from the civilian form of due process, and was still subject to military justice.

    I am not condoning his alledged treatment at all, but things tend to take on a different light when you realise this is not a private citizen, but a member of the armed forces who has "signed away" certain rights to be in that position.

    I don't mean to play Devil's Advocate here, but my facebook friends, some who have served for the US, have family who served, and some others who are more articulate in their expression, point out that "whistleblowing" really has no meaning when it comes to military justice.

    I don't know enough to really take a side here, but one thing I can say, is that there needs to be some expediancy due with the Manning case, for the longer it drags on, the worse it looks for the US, just like in the David Hicks/Guantanomo Bay saga.

     

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  3.  
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    Rishta, Dec 17th, 2010 @ 12:50am

    Re: Whistleblowing vs. Treason

    "has "signed away" certain rights to be in that position"
    He was FORCED to "sign them away" when he was drafted. You cannot oppose drafting in the US, right? So he was in fact forced to serve, right?

     

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  4.  
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    william, Dec 17th, 2010 @ 12:51am

    Re:

    no it doesent. when you join the military, there are laws, and orders that you have to abide by, and one of the orders is that you dont tell "anything" to the press, or outside sources without written approval from higher command.

     

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  5.  
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    Jane Mountbatten, Dec 17th, 2010 @ 12:55am

    juilian assange

    Juilian Assange is free and julia gillard is a0 year old dont know what she doing is a sod and eat shyt julia fix up ur crubed police force are you going to lock me up as well for speeking up i dont think so

     

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  6.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 17th, 2010 @ 12:56am

    Re: Re:

    The United States has a 100% volunteer military. He wasn't drafted, he made a choice and signed on the line. As a former service member I hope he is considered a whistleblower and not any of the other things people want to call him. Good luck!

     

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  7.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 17th, 2010 @ 12:57am

    Re: Re:

    The United States has a 100% volunteer military. He wasn't drafted, he made a choice and signed on the line. As a former service member I hope he is considered a whistleblower and not any of the other things people want to call him. Good luck!

     

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  8.  
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    givejonadollar, Dec 17th, 2010 @ 1:00am

    It just goes to show how vulnerable our politicians are to public pressure. It's my hope the citizenry ramps it up even more.

     

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  9.  
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    Andrew, Dec 17th, 2010 @ 1:27am

    Re: Re: Whistleblowing vs. Treason

    Rishta,

    Please learn about the US military before commenting on it. The US does NOT have the draft and has not had it since the Vietnam War. Regardless of how you feel, or want to believe, when you enter the military you do so of your own volition, and part of that is the recognition that certain freedoms and rights do not apply to you. A functioning military needs this.

    As regards Manning, however, I support what he did completely. From what it sounds like, members of his own command screwed with him, and sometimes when you screw with some people, they get theirs back. I'd be investigating his chain of command to see what they did to pressure Manning into releasing these documents in the first place.

     

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  10.  
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    Andrew, Dec 17th, 2010 @ 1:31am

    Re: juilian assange

    No, Jane, I doubt they'll lock you up. I bet if you learn how to read and write, they might do, but I think you're safe because your comment really doesn't make a bit of sense at all.

    There's a concept called "proofreading". It takes 30 seconds. Can I invite you to do this next time you feel the need to post what is the equivalent of a jack-ass heehawing?

     

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  11.  
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    Rose M. Welch (profile), Dec 17th, 2010 @ 1:46am

    Re: Whistleblowing vs. Treason

    I disagree. The current legal model for whistleblowing may not include protections for military personnel, but that doesn't mean that he's not a whistleblower.

    Remember, whistleblowing is a time-honored tradition that has not always included legal protections. In fact, many whistleblowers, including Daniel Ellsburg, weren't acting legally when they became whistleblowers, either, but were later exonerated by the courts.

    Ironically, the Pentagon Papers are still classified.

     

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  12.  
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    penser (profile), Dec 17th, 2010 @ 2:06am

    Re: Re: Re: Whistleblowing vs. Treason

    Andrew- Your last comments seem to imply that Bradley Manning has no sense of moral or ethical decency...that his actions in leaking the information was a vengeful act. Is it possible that Bradley simply came to grips with an ethical dilemma??? Is it possible that he KNEW (as I know, being an active service member myself) that if he took his concerns of war crimes to his chain of command, the case would be killed? Is it possible that Bradley is a better person than you OR me, combined? I think so. Bradley Manning, in his own words, saw through the system. He saw his nation, prostrate to the disinformation of a deceptive government and its puppet media, and he did chose to do the right thing. Give the people the facts. Pure, undiluted, un-spun FACTS.

     

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  13.  
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    Cyra, Dec 17th, 2010 @ 2:16am

    Re: Re: Whistleblowing vs. Treason

    no he wasn't forced because he wasn't drafted, he joined the military voluntarily just like everyone else since the 80's.

     

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  14.  
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    penser (profile), Dec 17th, 2010 @ 2:40am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Whistleblowing vs. Treason

    Please don't beat me Grammar Nazi...

    Consider that maybe some of us were not blessed with the same level of education you were. You condescending FUCK.

     

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  15.  
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    Hilary (profile), Dec 17th, 2010 @ 3:18am

    Re: Whistleblowing vs. Treason

    I had a USA Navy person stay at my home under the billeting program, they were on a WESPAC. He told me that six month prior he had be caught driving a copious amount of dope across the Mexican boarder. His brother was the dealer, but he was getting to much attention at the boarder (prolly paranoid)so sent him instead.
    When he went before the Judge after after he was busted with his brothers dope, the Judge gave him a ultimatum, 5 years prison OR 2 years military.
    He chose the later, obviously, he couldn't believe that 6 months in he was sitting on a beach having a 'cold one' with me and my family.
    It was a successful program for him I guess, I did wonder however, how many it's NOT a successful program for and how many members of the US military are actually ex criminals.

     

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  16.  
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    penser (profile), Dec 17th, 2010 @ 3:36am

    Re: Re: Whistleblowing vs. Treason

    I have personally met two men in the 8+ years I've served, who were given similar ultimatums by a judge. Army or jail. I had thought that practice had been ruled illegal...? Apparently not. Those two are the only ones who ever admitted it openly...how many kept the facts hidden? Who knows...

     

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  17.  
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    Hilary (profile), Dec 17th, 2010 @ 4:02am

    Re: Penser

    Well, well, I didn't know it was spose to be a secret??

     

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  18.  
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    penser (profile), Dec 17th, 2010 @ 4:34am

    Re: Re: Penser

    I don't know...but as I said, I thought that judges were not allowed to make such ultimatums. (In fact, I still wonder HOW it can possibly be allowed BY LAW!)

    At any rate, both of these individuals' character was already questionable (in MY eyes, at least) even before I learned of their ultimatum situation; I thought even less of them once I knew.

     

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  19.  
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    Bill, Dec 17th, 2010 @ 4:36am

    Re: Re: Whistleblowing vs. Treason

    No one has been drafted since Vietnam. We're still forced to register for the draft when we're 18, but in spite of efforts by Charles Rangel the draft itself has not been reinstated.

     

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  20.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 17th, 2010 @ 4:58am

    It is very unlikely that Manning would qualify as a whistleblower, if only because of the sheer volume of stuff he produced that was not relevant to the situation.

    Also, I would have to say that Manning wasn't whistleblowing on any one person or situation, but rather attempting to damn the entire system. Whistleblowing is more like "so and so is stealing from the company" and not "this embassy person said something naughty about someone".

     

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  21.  
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    Brad Eleven, Dec 17th, 2010 @ 5:07am

    Only in America...

    ... could we convert something meant to solve the problems inherent with royalty into royalty. Disconnected wealthy white men taking bribes disguised as campaign contributions, ignoring what is urgently needed, helping to prop up the institutions that are failing or have long since failed.

     

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  22.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 17th, 2010 @ 5:07am

    See both sides

    For getting the truth out about the helicopter attack that killed the journalists, I personally think Manning is a hero. That was whistleblowing.

    When it comes to the cables, it gets murkier.

    There may be things in those cables that need the whistle blowing. But releasing them en masse means you cannot have checked them and some will simply have a destructive effect when aired without actually exposing any wrongdoing.

    Of course, Bradley Manning (if 'twas he, and he's innocent until proven guilty) probably doesn't have the resources to check through 250k cables, so he'd delegate looking through them to Wikileaks. I wonder what unwritten "contract" he had with Wikileaks exactly ?

    Therefore I expect Wikileaks to honour his sacrifice by spending the time to just release stuff that needs the whistle blowing, and not do anything that is just blatantly destructive.

    That assumes that whistleblowing is the objective.
    If "destroying the secrecy of government" is actually the aim, that is a wider goal and one for which you could argue any secret doc can be released.
    You might believe in this cause and think Julian Assange is a hero for it, but you'd probably be forced to admit he'd breached the law in pursuit of such a goal, however well intentioned the goal. There's no law protecting people who simply aim to reveal secrets for the hell of it !

    I think that even if the whistleblowing laws did extend to Bradley Manning, it would be easy to argue that (for example) exposing secret embassy messages reporting the views of the Saudi leader are NOT whistleblowing per se. They don't seek to expose hidden wrongdoing.

    So there'd still be a ton of stuff they could string Manning up for.

    I think the way the US has handled it has been counter productive. The most futile game of whack-a-mole ever.

    I wonder if Wikileaks are actively toning down the embarrassment for countries that have so far given tacit support for Assange's rights ?

     

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  23.  
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    penser (profile), Dec 17th, 2010 @ 5:26am

    Re: See both sides

    If the release of the information is destructive, then is it not whistleblowing-worthy?

    Further, I don't consider anything released to be "just for the hell of it"--rather, the intent is that the U.S. be given appropriate insight into the games its elected officials are playing, and therefore demand accountability, and theoretically vote better choices into those positions that have been abused.

     

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  24.  
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    swish, Dec 17th, 2010 @ 5:34am

    whistleblowers

    Being a whistleblower of sensitive info is what makes the blower a policeman against corruption calling for assistance to clean up the mess or a traitor giving away state secrets. There's a lot of corruption around the world and based on the documents manning released, "we the people" need to be more vigilant and active in our own government. Damn the rich.

    swish

     

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  25.  
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    Mark Adams, Dec 17th, 2010 @ 5:41am

    Re: Re: Whistleblowing vs. Treason

    EX-criminals? How many of them are now criminals? In 1975 I was in boot camp with a guy who was given a similar choice after burying a hatchet in the back of a guy's head in a bar.

     

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  26.  
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    penser (profile), Dec 17th, 2010 @ 5:53am

    Re: Re: Re: Whistleblowing vs. Treason

    And we can't forget about the obvious war criminals; how many of THEM do you think actually get any punishment whatsoever...let alone making headlines in public view? Sure, a couple here and there...thanks to whistleblowers. But I have suspicions those few are not even scratching the surface of the problem.

     

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  27.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 17th, 2010 @ 5:58am

    Re: Re: Whistleblowing vs. Treason

    Draft? Really... We havent had a draft in a long long long time, so unless the guy is the oldest serving person in the military, your point is useless, and by association i dis-like you....

     

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  28.  
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    Gabriel Tane (profile), Dec 17th, 2010 @ 5:59am

    Re: Re: Whistleblowing vs. Treason

    I don't hold to your argument Hilary... Considering that the whole point of Boot Camp is (as my brother described it to me) is to break down one's individuality and rebuild you as a soldier and part of a team/family. With that kind of change, I'm going to say that most 'scofflaw' criminals (those that do it because of a lack of respect for the law, as opposed to a psychological condition) will shed that attitude in exchange for the discipline and respect for command. Yes, I know that a lot of soldiers will roll their eyes at a CO's back, etc... but the discipline and the willingness to respect those who’ve earned it is there.

    From the change I saw in my brother, going from a pussy-whipped whiner to a very respectable man who has his shit together more than I do, I say that one's past doesn't matter that much in who they are after joining service.

     

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  29.  
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    Martin Young (profile), Dec 17th, 2010 @ 6:19am

    protection act

    Since the senate just passed this bill It cannot apply to previous incidences

     

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  30.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 17th, 2010 @ 6:34am

    Re: protection act

    That may not necessarily be true. It would depend on whether or not charges had already been brought. In the case of Manning, no charges have yet been levied against him. He was just tossed in a hole to rot without being formally charged.

     

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  31.  
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    Mike, Dec 17th, 2010 @ 6:39am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Whistleblowing vs. Treason

    uh... but you were blessed with education... its called public school... you however were not blessed with motivation to actually use it.

     

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  32.  
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    Haris, Dec 17th, 2010 @ 7:20am

    Re: Re: Whistleblowing vs. Treason

    Well, this statement would be true, if the US drafted him. However todays ARMY is a 100% volunteer army, and it is not mandatory to serve. There hasnt been a Draft since Vietnam if im not mistaken.

    First you volunteer to join, second is you dont have to deploy if you dont want however there is consequences if you go AWOL.

    When you sign on the dotted line nobody is threatning you with jail time or has a gun to your head.

     

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  33.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 17th, 2010 @ 8:18am

    Re: Re: Whistleblowing vs. Treason

    He wasn't drafted; while males are required to register for the draft, there has not been a draft call since the 70's. All current members of the US armed forces are volunteers, including Mr. Manning.

     

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  34.  
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    tonymooga, Dec 17th, 2010 @ 9:29am

    Re: Re: Re:

    Its called a 'backdoor' draft....an economic draft you fool. Some people don't want to work at McDonalds. Obviously, you are rich and have never served....are you a Congressman?

     

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  35.  
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    Ivan Dumais, Dec 17th, 2010 @ 9:33am

    As a Canadian, I can't beleive you would do this to your own citizens under the guise of security. Your government has been lying to you for a long time all under pressure of your military industrial complex. They're are running your country and economy into the ground and like sheep you stand and watch. where are the demonstrations? at least your veterans are protesting against the wars and see whats happening. You want to see injustice ask your returning vets and what kind of support are they receiving for helping to protect democracy, when you don't even have it in your own country.

     

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  36.  
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    The eejit (profile), Dec 17th, 2010 @ 10:00am

    The first rule of USAF...

    is that you do not talk about USAF.

     

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  37.  
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    Lindy, Dec 17th, 2010 @ 10:10am

    Re: juilian assange

    There are just sometimes you shouldn't use the Google translator

     

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  38.  
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    monkyyy, Dec 17th, 2010 @ 11:09am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Whistleblowing vs. Treason

    HA public school,HAHAHAG u called it education, XD

     

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  39.  
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    dawt, Dec 17th, 2010 @ 11:10am

    Under a true rule of law, legality and legitimacy are the same. So I don't think it matters whether what he did was legal or not. The question is: Was it legitimate or not? And uncovering lies, murders and all kinds of other bad stuff _cannot_ be illegitimate.

    So a true court of law in a truly free country would have to exonerate him from any wrongdoing.

     

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  40.  
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    Karl (profile), Dec 17th, 2010 @ 12:10pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Its called a 'backdoor' draft.

    Small point of contention: The "backdoor draft" is what the military calls "stop-loss." It's when you've finished active duty, but they involuntarily re-up you to go fight another tour in whatever Middle Eastern country we've invaded this time.

    The "economic draft" argument is different... though I'm betting with the economy, we'll be hearing more about it pretty soon.

     

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  41.  
    identicon
    avenger, Dec 17th, 2010 @ 2:36pm

    leaving nothing on hard drive to implicate you in these tough times

    for those that fear a hard drive with incriminating evidence because of a security leak use puppy linux. It lets you run the computer in Ram alone, it starts by loading the operating system in Ram and all is run in ram only. No need to mount the hard drive. If you need to save something you can save it to a thumb drive. When you shut it down all information is lost. Nothing on hard drive nothing to implicate yourself, that with a proxy setting for your network access leaves no trace of you on the computer. Newest distro is puppy 5.1.1. Available at www.distrowatch .com. Burn it to a disk, set your computer to start from cdrom and away you go.Completely free and easier than windows. If you wish to save the operating system it will save the info on a file on your hard drive , if not when its starts type in puppy pfix=ram it will ask info about resolution, language,time zone it recognizes your network card when you use the network daemon after start up. It recognizes your video card and tells you what will work. Why leave something that could get you in trouble on your hard drive. Its free, its efficient. I can run it on a 300mhz computer or a 2.6ghz computer which is what I use. Helpful hints for the new world we live in. Pass it around the os is only 120 mb, very small very quick. NSA uses a version of Linux. Not this one though.. All info you need is on the disk, if you can run windows you can run puppy linux. I have used for 5 years

     

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  42.  
    identicon
    bob, Dec 17th, 2010 @ 8:45pm

    Re: Re: Whistleblowing vs. Treason

    I am so glad I do not live in your upside down parallel universe.
    The year after I drew the lottery number of 23 for the draft, the draft was ended in the United States.
    So there was no "Force" nor was he drafted, He was a volunteer. In fact the last call for a draft was in Nov. of 06 by a Congressman who was recently "Censured" in the Well of Congress.

     

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  43.  
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    Hilary (profile), Dec 18th, 2010 @ 1:48am

    Conspiracy

    Prior to the release of these documents anyone questioning the goings on behind closed doors, would of be considered paranoid
    or a conspiracy theorist. http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/video/2010/nov/30/hillary-clinton-wikileaks-us-embassy-cables-video
    Hillary Clinton, not only admits to the content of the documents, by saying, confidential and private conversations, but goes on to say that the policies from these observations are made in Washington.
    Or am I reading too much between the lines. I don't know you decide.

     

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  44.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 18th, 2010 @ 3:44pm

    manning

    If this is a government of the people for the people and BY the people, then people, regardless of their status, have an obligation to reveal the truth to their fellow citizens when the men in control of their government lie to the people.

     

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  45.  
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    nasch (profile), Dec 20th, 2010 @ 12:41pm

    Re: Re:

    Not correct, though only Congress and the Inspector General are covered by this law:

    http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/10/1034.html

     

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  46.  
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    nasch (profile), Dec 20th, 2010 @ 12:44pm

    Re:

    It's kind of a catch-22. If documents he leaked didn't show anyone doing anything wrong, then it's hard to argue there was any harm done. Embarassment maybe, but we should not be up in arms about that.

     

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  47.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 28th, 2012 @ 4:59pm

    Re: Re: Whistleblowing vs. Treason

    These is NO DRAFT for the US military at this time.

     

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