Senate Intelligence Committee A Lot More Interested In Punishing Whistleblowers Than In Investigating Why They're Blowing The Whistle

from the but-of-course... dept

A few weeks back, we noted how ridiculous it was that Senator Dianne Feinstein seemed a lot more upset that information about questionable US activities abroad was being leaked than she was about the fact that the US was involved in questionable activities abroad. And, now the Senate Intelligence Committee (of which Feinstein is the chair) has pushed out new rules targeting those who leak information to the press (what most of us call whistleblowing). The Secrecy News blog does a good job highlighting how this seems to be much more about sweeping bad activities under the rug and blaming whistleblowers, rather than actually stopping bad behavior by government:

In an earlier generation of intelligence oversight, leaks led to leak investigations in executive agencies, but they also prompted substantive oversight in Congress.  When Seymour Hersh and the New York Times famously reported on unlawful domestic surveillance in December 1974, the urgent question in Congress was not how did Hersh find out, or how similar disclosures could be prevented, but what to do about the alarming facts that had been disclosed.

In contrast, while pursuing leaks and leakers, today’s Senate Intelligence Committee has not held an open public hearing for six months. The Committee’s investigative report concerning CIA interrogation practices from ten years (and two presidential terms) ago has still not been issued.  Upon publication — perhaps this fall — it will essentially be a historical document.

Most fundamentally, the Committee’s new draft legislation errs by treating “classification” as a self-validating category — i.e., if it’s classified, it warrants protection by definition — rather than as the flawed administrative instrument that it is.

Effectively, the new rules would make it that much harder for anyone in the intelligence community to blow the whistle if they come across illegal activities by the government. It effectively treats all activity by the government as good and any "leak" as bad, even if it would serve to highlight massive government abuse. That's pretty scary. Not only will it create massive chilling effects for anyone seeking to stop illegal government behavior, but it will actually provide even more cover for the government to ignore the laws.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 27th, 2012 @ 10:10am

    HE STOLE MY BALOONS!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2.  
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    Ninja (profile), Jul 27th, 2012 @ 10:19am

    Not only will it create massive chilling effects for anyone seeking to stop illegal government behavior, but it will actually provide even more cover for the government to ignore the laws.

    US Govt said: Mission accomplished.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3.  
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    art guerrilla (profile), Jul 27th, 2012 @ 10:20am

    difi is one of the worst 'offenders'...

    the estimable glenn greenwald had a recent post at salon about this very subject...
    needless to say, difi is well known among insiders as one of THE primary leakers of confidential/top secret gummint info...
    'course, she is leaking to make the spooks look 'good', while the 'bad' leakers are leaking to make the spooks look 'bad', so there's that...
    i'll say this again, it is one of the essential lessons of a free and open democracy (which we no longer are):
    ALL secret, non-transparent institutions WILL become corrupted; it is not a matter of IF, it is only a matter of WHEN...
    they will ALL become corrupted, as all of 'our' (sic) institutions (including 'our' (sic) gummint) have become...
    simply inevitable human nature...
    precisely why openness, transparency are CRITICAL to enforce on all institutions...
    art guerrilla
    aka ann archy
    eof

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4.  
    identicon
    Kassam Spayed, Jul 27th, 2012 @ 10:29am

    "Senate Intelligence"

    Senate Intelligence

    OK, stop with the hilarious quips - I can't stop laughing after those first two words!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5.  
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    :Lobo Santo (profile), Jul 27th, 2012 @ 10:37am

    Re: difi is one of the worst 'offenders'...

    Yep, it's practically sacrilegious to offend the 'powers-that-bye'.

    How DARE the proles think they can speak out about abuses!!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6.  
    icon
    :Lobo Santo (profile), Jul 27th, 2012 @ 10:37am

    Re: Re: difi is one of the worst 'offenders'...

    *be

    dammit.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7.  
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    Nick Dynice (profile), Jul 27th, 2012 @ 10:37am

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8.  
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    Mesonoxian Eve (profile), Jul 27th, 2012 @ 10:41am

    I just want to remind people the Senate Intelligence Committee works under the motto "Shoot First So Questions Are Never Asked."

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 27th, 2012 @ 10:41am

    The business of government...

    If Congress were to investigate all of the questionable and shady dealings revealed by whistleblowers, they'd never have time to do anything else.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10.  
    identicon
    gnudist, Jul 27th, 2012 @ 10:49am

    Re: Re: difi is one of the worst 'offenders'...

    Ignorance is strength doncha know.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 27th, 2012 @ 10:51am

    the reason for that is obvious. how much work is involved in saying to someone 'you've been naughty and this is your punishment (5 years in Gitmo!)'

    compare that to conducting an investigation to find out what was the cause for the whistle blowing in the first place, what exactly has happened, who was involved, when it happened, the consequences of what was leaked, then trying to change the law to fit the 'crime' and decide on a punishment, whilst keeping it secret from the rest of the world.

    seems like a 'no-brainer' to me!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12.  
    identicon
    Thor Luther, Jul 27th, 2012 @ 10:51am

    Crooks in the kitchen

    This is what happens when cooks cap their teeth, buy nice hair (etc.) and muscle/buy their way into power. But... we play Let's Pretend that "we" are a nation of laws (democracy, indeed).

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 27th, 2012 @ 10:55am

    Re: Re: Re: difi is one of the worst 'offenders'...

    Ignorance is strength doncha know.

    And the US is the strongest, by far.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14.  
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    Rapnel (profile), Jul 27th, 2012 @ 11:13am

    Re: The business of government...

    I'm sorry, I'm sorry but what "else" else is it that they're doing? Apart from jockeying for their next term of course.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  15.  
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    Anonymous Monkey (profile), Jul 27th, 2012 @ 11:14am

    Re: Re: Re: difi is one of the worst 'offenders'...

    actually .. you were closer earlier:
    'powers-that-buy'

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  16.  
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    Jeff_Vader_runs_the_Deathstar? (profile), Jul 27th, 2012 @ 11:15am

    Re: The business of government...

    You say that like it's a bad thing...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  17.  
    identicon
    Rekrul, Jul 27th, 2012 @ 11:16am

    This country needs an enema...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  18.  
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    Machin Shin (profile), Jul 27th, 2012 @ 11:23am

    Re:

    "US Govt said: Mission accomplished."

    You should be expecting the FBI any moment now. This information had been deemed "classified" and they must close this "leak"

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  19.  
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    Josef Anvil (profile), Jul 27th, 2012 @ 11:28am

    The result of terrorism

    This is largely the result of using "Terrorism" as the reason to ignore all rights. Couple that with using "Patriotism" as the reason not to question anything the government does and you have the perfect environment for government.

    We are stopping the terrorists by [delete right], and the opponents of this legislation are not patriotic.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  20.  
    identicon
    New Mexico Mark, Jul 27th, 2012 @ 11:31am

    Re: Re: difi is one of the worst 'offenders'...

    "powers-that-bye'

    For a moment there, I was hopeful about the US Gov. Trust me, I'd like to say "buh bye" to a lot of the powers we have now!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  21.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 27th, 2012 @ 11:56am

    Re:

    I would think a lobotomy (they are the supposed to be the "head" after all)...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  22.  
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    Tunnen (profile), Jul 27th, 2012 @ 12:00pm

    I'm surprised that no one in Congress has though of introducing a bill to outlaw "whistles". Perhaps also make the manufacturing, possession, and/or use of whistles illegal. This will help protect the children's ears!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  23.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 27th, 2012 @ 12:21pm

    I seems we owe anapology to Caligula.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  24.  
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    Jay (profile), Jul 27th, 2012 @ 12:24pm

    Hold the phone...

    There's a lot of media saying that the largest leaker is Diane Feinstein herself.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  25.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 27th, 2012 @ 12:35pm

    These are proposals right now. I am worried that leaving out details like this would cause panic.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  26.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 27th, 2012 @ 1:40pm

    Re: Re: The business of government...

    Those tax cuts won't extend themselves!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  27.  
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    Keii (profile), Jul 27th, 2012 @ 1:46pm

    Re: Re:

    I think it could go either way at this point.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  28.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 27th, 2012 @ 3:30pm

    More laws to hide more corrupt behavior? Whistleblowers will find better ways to hide their identities, and increased corruption will just increase the number of leaks.
    Honesty is still the best policy.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  29.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 28th, 2012 @ 8:41am

    So what they're saying is if I want to break the law with the least risk of it actually going public I should work for the government.

    It would be pretty nice to rob a bank then receive a 6 month administr... paid vacation.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  30.  
    icon
    McCrea (profile), Jul 31st, 2013 @ 8:37am

    Re:

    Who? Glenn Greenwald?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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