Once Again, The Administration Vindictively Charges A Whistleblower As Being A Spy

from the scary-stuff dept

This is getting ridiculous. When President Obama was campaigning and even when he first took office, he claimed that it was a priority to support whistleblowing activities. And yet, as President, he has been ridiculously aggressive in pushing vindictive criminal lawsuits against whistleblowers — often by abusing the Espionage Act. The Espionage Act is supposed to be used against spies. But the Obama Justice Department has used it over and over again against whistleblowers in a purely vindictive manner. In fact, he’s used it to bring charges against whistleblowers more often than every other President combined. This strategy turned out to be a disaster in the Thomas Drake case (which was initiated by President Bush, but continued with strong support by President Obama), where the case completely collapsed, once it became clear that the charges were nothing but a vindictive attack on a whistleblower.

Apparently the Obama administration has not learned its lesson. It has now used the Espionage Act to go after a former CIA agent, John Kiriakou, who blew the whistle on the CIA’s waterboarding torture regime. This now makes it the sixth Espionage Act prosecution of a whistleblower brought by the Obama administration. All other presidents before him used it a total of 3 times. As the Government Accountability Project notes, the really stunning thing in all of this is that Kiriakou will be the only person prosecuted in relation to the use of waterboarding — and simply for blowing the whistle on it.

if you torture a prisoner, you will not be held criminally liable, but if you blow the whistle on torture, you risk criminal prosecution under the Espionage Act.

Something seems very, very wrong about this.

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Comments on “Once Again, The Administration Vindictively Charges A Whistleblower As Being A Spy”

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86 Comments
Skeptical Cynic (profile) says:

Re: That is because Capitalists like Bush only want control of your money

Before someone says that Obama is not a Fascist here is the definition:

fas?cism (fshzm)
a. A system of government marked by centralization of authority under a dictator, stringent socioeconomic controls, suppression of the opposition through terror and censorship, and typically a policy of belligerent nationalism and racism.
b. A political philosophy or movement based on or advocating such a system of government.
2. Oppressive, dictatorial control.

Anybody want to argue after his statements about Obamacare going before the Supreme Court?

“I’m confident that the Supreme Court will not take what would be an unprecedented, extraordinary step of overturning a law that was passed by a strong majority of a democratically elected Congress,” Obama said.

I guess Obama forgot about the Jim Crow laws when he said that.

Pwdrskir (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 That is because Capitalists like Bush only want control of your money

The BIG difference, Obama portrayed himself as the person who would NOT diminish our freedoms, Bush never made such claims.
Close Gitmo
No Lobbyists in the WH
Most transparent administration in history

Lies from Govt = Question Authority(regardless of who it is)

Cowardly Anonymous says:

Re: Re: Re:4 That is because Capitalists like Bush only want control of your money

As will any politician who gets the chance. The only way to make them honest is to scare them, badly. Vote out everyone who ever has the audacity to ignore a significant movement from their constituents in the absence of a counter movement (crucially, if there is a counter movement, do not apply this rule, no win games will only destroy the impact). This should take precedence over anything that is said during campaigning.

Once they are suitably shaken up (could take a few election cycles) they will eventually get it through their heads that serving the people is the only option. At that point, no matter what damage was done in the meantime, they will have to repeal it, because they will be forced to follow through on the petitions they receive.

DCX2 says:

Re: Re: That is because Capitalists like Bush only want control of your money

Obama is a fascist because he pointed out that the Supreme Court rarely overturns a law passed by Congress?

I guess Obama was thinking about Lochner v. New York, Hammer v. Dagenhart, Bailey v. Drexel Furniture Co., Adkins v. Children’s Hospital, Carter v. Carter Coal Company, or even Dred Scott v. Sandford when he said that quote. All of those decisions overturned acts of Congress, and all of them are looked upon poorly by history. For instance, the case in Hammer v. Dagenhart dealt with an act of Congress that regulated child labor. How dare the federal government think the commerce clause allowed it to limit the age of those employed by private industry! What’s next, will Congress think it can tell private industry the minimum wage a private industry can pay its employees?

As an a-side, I hate when people call it Obamacare. Do you think Obama wrote any of that legislation? Of course not, he’s the President, not a legislator. Senator Max Baucus (or rather, his aides and lobbyists) wrote the legislation. You should call it “Baucuscare” instead, but I guess that prevents you from exploiting the built-in animosity that surrounds Obama’s name.

I have reasons for hating Obama and how he has performed his duties while in office, but this whole Supreme Court “intimidation” non-sense is just Obama Derangement Syndrome. There was a big stink about the “unelected” judges, when that wording was the province of *conservatives*, including Justice Antonin Scalia himself!

Justice Antonin Scalia: Value-laden decisions such as that should be made by an entire society ? not by nine unelected judges.

Jesse (profile) says:

Re: Re: That is because Capitalists like Bush only want control of your money

I don’t know if universal health is really the best example for your argument. Canada is not a fascist state, and yet we have decided as a nation that we don’t want to leave the poor without health care.

There are much better reasons to criticize American leadership than Obama advocating for universal healthcare. Picking this issue over the other more obvious choices says more about you than the Obama administration.

Chris Rhodes (profile) says:

Re: That is because Capitalists like Bush only want control of your money

“Of all tyrannies, a tyranny exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It may be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end, for they do so with the approval of their consciences.” – C.S. Lewis

weneedhelp (profile) says:

Re: Re: That is because Capitalists like Bush only want control of your money

Since we are quoting:

“Now more than ever before, the people are responsible for the character of their Congress. If that body be ignorant, reckless and corrupt, it is because the people tolerate ignorance, recklessness and corruption. If it be intelligent, brave and pure, it is because the people demand these high qualities to represent them in the national legislature…. If the next centennial does not find us a great nation … it will be because those who represent the enterprise, the culture, and the morality of the nation do not aid in controlling the political forces.”
James Garfield, the twentieth president of the United States, 1877

gorehound (profile) says:

Re: That is because Capitalists like Bush only want control of your money

The best thing we could all do is just to Vote out both of these corrupted asshole Parties.We need a few more Parties I guess.Something the Right can believe in if they want it and something for those more liberal.
We must End This Corrupted Way of Washington.
Washington Politics You Truly ROT !

Anonymous Coward says:

Overuse = Less Believable

Suggestion for Mike.

ridiculous

Synonyms: absurd, antic, bizarre, comic, comical, contemptible, daffy, derisory, droll, fantastic, farcical, foolheaded, foolish, gelastic, goofy*, grotesque, harebrained, hilarious, impossible, incredible, jerky, laughable, ludicrous, nonsensical, nutty, outrageous, preposterous, risible, sappy*, silly, slaphappy, unbelievable, wacky*

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Overuse = Less Believable

You may read it negatively if you like, but I offered a suggestion, with a resolution. Think about it.

I have been reading, and commenting, on this blog for a long enough time to actually feel some embarrassment for the overuse of this word, hence, the suggestion.

Embarrassment because I actually like his writing, most of the time, and I definitely like the subject matter, most of the time.

Skeptical Cynic (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Overuse = Less Believable

No. You are and still will be always taken as a shill by the readers of TechDirt. Thanks for doing nothing. This is coming from a person that has a grand total of 17 posts on Facebook in the last 9 years and always prefers being anonymous to being public. But when it comes to important issues I freely comment with my privacy exposed.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Overuse = Less Believable

It seems this blog may be about fascism, at least this part fits, “suppression of the opposition through terror and censorship”. And trolling, and straw man arguments, etc…

When someone says something you disagree with you shouldn’t dogpile the person and use straw man arguments to attack the person’s comment. But that is the norm here.

Cowardly Anonymous says:

Re: Re: Re: Overuse = Less Believable

1) Such broad assertion of the use of straw man arguments (why that particular fallacy?) can not possibly be substantiated.

2) The dog pile effect you refer to is simply individual commentators expressing their personal arguments or counter-examples. It is not a deliberate strategy. Thus the pejorative you are looking for is anarchy, or more accurately, mob rule. It is not fascism, which would require Masnick to deliberately incite the effect.

3) The blog may be about fascism, but it does not appear to be run in anything resembling a fascist manner.

Cowardly Anonymous says:

Re: Re: Re: Overuse = Less Believable

Just a thesaurus, or do you bother to look up the words in a dictionary before using them? I would recommend taking that extra step at the very least, in order to be sure you have the subtle connotations and nuances implied by various words well in hand before applying them.

I would further recommend pursuing some method of expanding your vocabulary such that you need not reach for either resource. After all, a full understanding of the various shadings of meaning that are available to you will cause your writing to improve by far greater margins than a few simple gimmicks and rules can provide.

After all, repetition, used sparingly, can actually serve as a rather useful device for subtly highlighting the redundant word or argument. Once called out, a phrase can be wielded to generate a much greater impact.

Does this post meet your standards? (No reference materials were utilized.)

weneedhelp (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Overuse = Less Believable

I absolutely do. Which one am I being accused of using?
http://www.virtualsalt.com/rhetoric.htm

I guess you have not mastered Command/power shell scripting.
Kind of silly not knowing your professional background huh. Would be even dumber for me to try and embarrass you on that huh?

Still funny you had to copy and paste. Next time take out the * so it does not give you away.

weneedhelp (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Actually Binky, no prisoner of war would expect to be water-boarded (Tortured). See there is this thing called the Geneva Conventions (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Geneva_Conventions) Particularly the third:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Third_Geneva_Convention
Part III: Captivity

Only terrorists and rouge nations dont follow these basic human protections.

Which are we?

Chris Rhodes (profile) says:

Re: Re: Obama is one of them.

I wasn’t particularly enthused about his candidacy and I didn’t vote for him, but after he was elected I was really hoping that he’d at least keep some of his promises re: repealing the worst abuses of the Bush administration.

Instead, he’s decided to try to one-up Bush in every insane thing the man ever did . . .

John Thacker (profile) says:

Oh look, several of the counts involve “revealing a covert CIA officer’s name.” Wonder if anyone feels regret about pushing for prosecution of Scooter Libby over the Valarie Plame case?

Before that case, and the big effort to investigate and prosecute leaks, the Espionage Act was a dead letter, at least when it came to leaking to reporters. The DoJ would make some noises, but give up and say leaks were too hard to stop.

The CIA always wanted to revive leak prosecutions, though. Then they found a case where they could get Democrats and liberals excited over prosecuting leaks because it was against Republicans. And now the new precedent has been set, and the Espionage Act is reinvigorated.

The other mistake, of course, is thinking that any President would actually want to decrease the power of the Executive Branch. They just want that power “in the right hands,” i.e., their own.

The Infamous Joe (profile) says:

Re: Re:

The other mistake, of course, is thinking that any President would actually want to decrease the power of the Executive Branch. They just want that power “in the right hands,” i.e., their own.

Call me naive, but I believe Ron Paul would. The again, I believed Obama would be more transparent, like he said, so what the hell do I know?

S (user link) says:

Re: Re: Re:

I never trusted Obama; I knew he would be a disaster, and I knew he would win the vote, and I knew what would happen when he did, although it’s happening a little faster than I anticipated.

Ron Paul . . . I at least have cautious optimism about, with regards to his actual intentions vs. what he claims. I don’t particularly support him, but I do despise him less than most other candidates.

Chosen Reject (profile) says:

Re: Re:

They just want that power “in the right hands,” i.e., their own.

The best way to know if you granting a power to a position is OK, is to think of that power being given to somebody that you hate and/or that hates you. If you’re not fine with that person having that power, then you should think long and hard about whether that power is OK to grant.

Cowardly Anonymous says:

Re: Re:

Was always a gamble. Lesson learned, no politician is going to fix this. The people have to force it:

1) sign petitions (ones you would sign anyways), not in the hopes they will work, but to test who is willing to listen to the people.

2) vote out those who don’t listen.

3) make it very obvious what you are doing and encourage others to help you.

4) once the politicians are suitably terrified of defying the people, sign more petitions to effect actual changes.

5) patch the Constitution to provide for the forcing of review and either termination or renewal of old laws and provide meaningful disincentives for passing unconstitutional laws.

A Guy (profile) says:

Bush was probably one of the worst presidents in our history. The fact is our economy shrank under Bush and is growing under Obama. The abusive programs that we complain about Obama continuing were largely started under Bush.

If the choice is between a big government republican that wants to erode our civil rights and turn entire US economy into a pump and dump scam to benefit a few very rich people or a big government democrat that just wants to erode our civil rights, I’ll take the democrat every time. However, I’ll be gnashing my teeth and begging for a better choice all the way to the ballot box.

DCX2 says:

Re: It's Obama...

Yes, that makes perfect sense. A communist/socialist who imposes an individual mandate that will result in millions of new customers for private industry. That is the epitome of communism and socialism right there, yes indeed.

Look, I hate Obama as much as the next guy, but at least try to be reasonable with your arguments. Obama is pretty clearly a center-leaning-right kinda guy if you look at his policies and “achievements” (aside from a couple bones like repealing DADT, itself a policy of a Democratic administration)

Chargone (profile) says:

Re: It's Obama...

every time i see someone claiming anyone in the US government system that actually has ANY power is a communist i wish they were in range so i could kick them in the face.

repeatedly.

the entire mainstream US political spectrum is right-shifted.

so far as i can tell, most of the world that gives a damn would rate Obama and his buddies as problematically RIGHT leaning. (or, more specifically, corporate interest leaning. possibly Fascist.) …. or at least centered.

anyone claiming the major players in US politics are even Approaching communist simply shows their own ignorance and idiocy.

Rekrul says:

When President Obama was campaigning and even when he first took office, he claimed that it was a priority to support whistleblowing activities. And yet, as President, he has been ridiculously aggressive in pushing vindictive criminal lawsuits against whistleblowers — often by abusing the Espionage Act.

You have to understand the proper definition of “whistleblower”. When it’s someone exposing corruption in a country or company that the US doesn’t like, it’s whistleblowing. When it’s someone exposing corruption in the US government, it’s espionage.

See, his position makes perfect sense!

Bergman (profile) says:

One of the definitions of the crime of treason is making war against the military or people of the United States.

One of the definitions of the crime of espionage is transmitting secrets of the United States to its enemies.

Think about those two statements for a moment.

Is the Obama administration truly asserting that informing the American people of what the government is covertly doing in all our names, an act of giving secrets to the enemy?

And if Obama and his cronies are the undeclared enemy of the American people, isn’t that rather close to treason?

Jose_X (profile) says:

Mike, the strategy is not crazy

The White House’s approach being criticized has blunted the ability of political enemies to beat up on the President for being soft on crime and leading our nation into weakness and chaos (even if not really true had the President been average). He cannot be tagged as weak. This is a particular concern of Democrats, who tend to be more comfortable avoiding wars more so than Republicans (eg, with the exception of Paul and few others) and focusing domestically. The administration already inherited a financial collapse and tanking economy and two costly wars, providing lots of opportunities for mistakes so to have political enemies tag the administration as a catastrophic administration that jumped on naive “Democratic” methods. Further, as a result of this approach of picking select cases showing horrible subjective decision-making by prosecutors, the dialog has become one of a need to fight government attack on citizens: defense of liberty from government rather than defense from enemies within or outside the US. This is also arguably a form of reverse psychology to get the conversation into what it should be. The many that dislike you will tend to see the gray in the cloud and go in opposite direction by reflex. At the same time, the government has almost secured a loss in court. It also, not accidentally, has sent a message to troublemakers looking to make trouble not to get confidence and think you can walk all over the administration. At a minimum, be prepared to be harassed.

While it’s not necessarily clear this has been their strategy, we have some evidence. One, they would be taking a surprising about face and being rather out of character and extreme (6 now vs 3 prior all time, say). Two, the prosecution has been incompetent over and over and the cases have frequently been weak. Three, attacking troops or the military system during war is bad for morale and for Obama. Sabotage/mutiny/etc is also a concern throughout various parts of governments. Obama already has to deal with balancing act with foreign nations and prosecution of some soldiers. I think I saw discussion of a Manning mistrial as well as for some other cases. Four, this approach by prosecutors would be consistent with other policy areas where the ugly unpopular happened first and the popular has been increasing as election time approaches and perhaps also as the political enemies have adopted a position that can be accepted much more easily by the administration or else went way off the deep end doubling down. Five, they have claimed to have enough powers with current law even if they don’t. While this can be seen as negative, it does also help reduce pressure on Congress to avoid passing more draconian laws. There has been success in this area, I think.

I admit this can be argued differently (either as pure incompetence and/or ill-will towards citizens and whistleblowers), and I am very short on specifics and may have misread things. Assuming anyone reads this, I would like to hear the other side of the coin and also support for this view if any. Even if this comment were flawed in various ways, I think it has some truth to it.

Also, there is justification for most of these actions. Many people do fear whistle-blowing effects on morale and order, for example. It’s always debatable how much might be subterfuge or politics by the administration and how much is incompetence (as many might want to believe).

Finally, remember that we are in a different era than in times past. Internet power is relatively new. Wikileaks.. what was that 100, 50, 20 or even 10 years back? It’s also post 9/11, a moment when our capital was attacked and our defenses penetrated in ways many would not have believed possible and dangerously close to home to those who work in DC. Computers are way advanced compared to even 10 years ago. Etc. etc.

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